Thursday, November 4, 2010

They're Coming For Me...

This morning, I woke to the alarm, turned it off, turned on my bedside lamp, and was greeted by this sight.
[It's deliberately blurry. My vision uncorrected is 20/600]




With my glasses on, the image resolved to this...

Oh. Okay.


Life Lesson: Clean up your clutter before it starts spontaneously generating new life forms.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Department of OMG

I think the guy taking notes is one of the Afghanis

A group of Afghani officials are touring South Carolina prisons this week. The visit was arranged "so Afghan officials can see how the state maintains a modern prison system while spending less per inmate than nearly every other state in the country."

"We're going to learn some more, have some more experiences from here, and then we're going to implement it in Afghanistan and use it in our system," Lt. Gen. Amir Muhammed Jamsheed, director of Afghanistan's prison system, said Monday through an interpreter. "South Carolina is an American prison system,'s probably somehow similar to the Afghanistan prison system."

Things that almost happened to me when I heard this on the radio:

Grand Mal seizure
Other types of brain explosions
Ruptured aorta
Collapsed lung (s)
Traffic accident

The brain explosions were caused, understandably, by all of the obvious jokes rushing the exits in gleeful abandon.

Two unexpected thoughts:
1. I'm kind of.......proud.
2. The Afghan officials don't seem to be in any danger. (That's progress.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

OCD Friday - Wait, Monday. Is today Monday?

Today's OCD Kodak moment:

My friend Jen gave me 2 lazy Susans. FREE. Marred only by ugly industrial-looking label/stickers around the sides. But FREE.

Three weeks later, (or so) still sitting on my counter, taking up space rather than maximizing it.

37 minutes, one razor blade, half a roll of clear packing tape, slightly bloody fingers later, shelf-ready.

* * * * *

In related news, when Tigrrl went back to school this fall, excuse me SUMMER, as in August 16 this state is insane, I was ready to tackle the housework. NOW I will be able to keep ahead of the curve. Or the tsunami. All those chores beyond the bare minimum that I tend to put off are now going to get done regularly. Efficiently. Without franticness on rare occasions (major holidays). Things will be KEPT NICE. Not real estate open house Nice, but regular nice.

Someone might, say, drop by for coffee -- because I will now cultivate the kind of friendships wherein this is a possibility -- and I will pour them some in a cup that is already clean, and find the sugar bowl without having to clear the counter or the table with a sweeping motion onto the nearest chair, and then pile it all back on the counter so she can sit in the chair...

I think we understand each other.

On the day Tigrrrl went to school, I came home and mopped the kitchen floor. And the downstairs bathroom floor. And it felt good.

Note today's date. Apparently that rush of endorphines cured my sense of purpose.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

This recipe post was inspired by Rae over at Us In Tejas, so she can live in peace with her dove-hunting neighbors.

What I love about this recipe is the evidence that it was written at a time when the idea of standardized measurements was newfangled. That and the fact that I feel all Little-House-On-The-Prairie knowing I'm cooking something brought down by my own Man with a gun. I got it from my mother-in-law, and the recipe card she gave me notes that it came from Charleston Receipts (p. 141). I like that too -- I've never had a cited and footnoted recipe card before or since. I'm not kidding when I say that attribution of cooking authority is serious business around here.

[See -- again with the attribution]

12 partridges (dove, snipe, etc.)
1 bunch minced parsley
1 onion chopped fine
3 whole cloves
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lb. salt pork, diced
2T. browned flour
Butter size of an egg
1 pt. potatos, diced small
Rich pie crust

[my handwritten notes on the back of the card say: "Peggy says -can use up to 24 birds -a little bacon instead of salt pork - brown flour in a dry iron skillet." Another, later note: "COOK the potatos beforehand." ]

Split birds in half, put in saucepan with about 2 qts. of water.
[Note: birds have to be plucked, skinned, cleaned, and de-boned before you do this. I insist that the person who shot them do that part.]

When it boils, skim off all the scum, then add salt and pepper, parsley, onion, cloves, and salt pork. Let all boil until tender, using care that there be enough water to cover the birds.
Thicken with flour and let boil up. Stir in butter. Remove from fire [!] and let cool.

Line sides of a buttered pudding dish with the crust. [I think this means a pie plate -- deep dish works better. BTW I think "rich crust" means you make it with lots of lard. I don't know where to buy lard, and my historical geekiness does not extend to spending hours over the cauldron rendering pork and beef fat. So just use crisco, okay?]

Lay in birds, then some of the potatos, then birds and so on until the dish is full. Pour over the gravy. Put on the top crust with a split cut in the center and bake in hot oven 15-20 minutes.

Serves 12. [It's up to you to find 12 people who will eat dove.]


I have a friend who has an antique wood stove that he actually cooks on (he and his wife own a fantastic B&B, and he is a mega-history geek, and the results are awesome) and I am determined to cook this recipe in his stove some time. Probably in my 18th century re-enactment garb. Actually my 1850s outfit would be more appropriate. I'm sensing that this doesn't interest you.

A regular oven works just fine, too.

The Name of This Post is Talking Dogs


1. BUCEPHALUS. Greek for "Big ol' Head." If you'd seen him, you'd understand.
2. HASENPFEFFER. And I would say it like the king in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, every single time.
3. HAIR OF... Get it? snork, snork. Okay, but I think it's funny, and he's my dog, so shut up.
6. *ERIC. "Are all your pets named Eric?" "Kamal Attaturk had an entire menagerie named Abdul."
6b. ABDUL. (this wasn't on my list when I started it, I just thought of it).
8. COMA .
10. GUMP.


1. You.
3. &*$%^#@ (Usually swearing, but also a good approximation of apoplectic gargling sounds I make when I'm angry.)
4. No.
6. Dammit.
7. Sh##head
8. Dumba&&
9. Idjit
10. Brutappotamus.
11. Pig.
12. Lump (This is actually what my Dad calls him, but I started using it too.)

*"Eric" is a reference to the Cat License skit from Monty Python. We had a wonderful cat named Eric, for that very reason, yet we never could remember to name our other pets Eric.
**I just noticed that the last item on both lists rhyme. This is entirely coincidental.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fabulous (Pity Party) Hat, Part II

SPOILER ALERT: Downer ahead. Bleak.

Death by cancer sucks. That is such an inadequate word, but no synonym I can think of works any better to express the suck factor. A woman I know has been poleaxed by cancer, diagnosed just a couple of months ago and the damn stuff ate the chemotherapy for breakfast, it didn't even hiccup. Having gotten used to uplifting, movie-of-the-week candy-ass depictions of "living with cancer," I am (ludicrously) surprised and bewildered by the reality of cold, implacable and painful death.

So I pray for her every day, for undending blessed morphine, for enough ease of physical and mental pain that she can listen to the voices of family and friends and delight in their presence.

I am embarrassed by my need to say things that are morbidly humorous (to me), because I know that others don't necessarily find them funny. And most of them involve self-pity, which is so appallingly inappropriate, but be fair, I KNOW that, and it deflects some of the pain, and I hate it when people put on their Holy Angel Don't-Look-At-The-Cancer Face and Blessed Pathos Terminal Illness voice when speaking of (or to) the impending dead. Get angry, for God's sake, for their sake, I mean, there's this ghoul in the room -- I'd rather spit at it and make fun of it than tiptoe around it. It's awake, all right? Whispering and cringing won't make it step out of the room.

Ovarian Cancer

None of which I can say, because being mean to sad people won't make it leave, either.

Sorry. I'm not angry at you. You're just here, you know?

In this case the #1 item on my self-pity and recrimination list is that I don't know her very well. Our social orbits intersect at various places. She's intelligent and puckishly witty and kind, makes me feel warmer and a little less dark whenever the orbits coincide. We're going to be friends. I would enjoy trying to make her laugh, and she would lean in with that conspiratiorial tilt of her head and confide some wicked and charming bon mot and make me laugh. She has a gift for being kind that I lack.
Only, we never did that. I don't know if she wanted that, so it also pisses me off that I won't have the opportunity to be pissed off and chagrinned when she gracefully dodges my friendly overtures.
Or did she? Hmm.

What kind of idiot thinks the universe is going to go along with such procrastination?

So. More practice in losing a friend to cancer. I found a good hat after the last lesson, [yes, I'm pitying myself for having to go to another funeral, I already said I know it's inappropriate, so I have a free pass for the remainder of this post. Get off my back.] Maybe gloves this time. Or I could go with the goth black lace parasol like Abby's on NCIS, and draw cannon fire instead of small darts. I wish I knew what the guest of honor will be wearing, I don't want to clash.

Where do you buy black gloves?
[Lucy passed away Sunday morning, September 12, sleeping peacefully, with loved ones present.So many people will miss her.]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nobody Makes a Cake as Tasty

It's been a cake sort of week. Started with a big cake for a funeral luncheon, mid-week I was experimenting with red-velvet cake recipes for an upcoming event, and I wrapped it up with this morning's indulgence in a nostalgic snack cake, procured from a recently discovered source. (Tastycakes are a regional delicacy where I grew up but are not widely available outside of the Philadelphia area.)

The funeral cake was supposed to be a slam dunk but ended up "giving me fits," as my neighbors would say. Late last week a member of our church passed away; my Circle was at bat for the funeral luncheon on Sunday, so I spent Saturday making a large sheet cake as my contribution. Nothing I haven't made before, but as I had been asked this time, the pressure was on, and OF COURSE things did not go smoothly, requiring 11th hour -- literally, as in I finished frosting the repaired cake at 11:45 -- alterations.

Pride was on the line, as well as respect for the deceased. I was pleased as punch that I had been asked (ordinary Request, not a Special Request, see below for the distinction), and eager for the chance to improve my place in the rankings. The whole experience led me to pondering the intricacies Public Cooking as a competitive sport.

Public Cooking is nearly synonymous with Church Cooking, at least around here. There are very few secular events other than the occasional company picnic, office party, or PTA gathering, mostly in the Level 2 category of difficulty. The religious connection invests it with overtones of social service, of Mission, if you will; one reason why amateur status is a matter of pride. It is distinct from catering, which is a professional endeavor. Though it's not unheard of for a Public Cooking star to cross over, the true believers' reward is honor and glory, unstained by filthy lucre.

P.C. is also quite distinct from Competitive Barbecue, which is a loud testosterone-driven crowd-pleaser but the object of secret derision amongst Public Cooking competitors. "Entrees:Meat" is considered one of the least interesting categories, (although purists point out that it is rarely well-done, even by seasoned competitors) and making the physical act of cooking part of the presentation is well, vulgar.

So here it is, my Competitive Public Cooking Primer.

Level 1: Ordinary Potluck dinners. The openest of Open events. A mix of mere Entrants (obligation-driven or simple masochists) and actual Competitors. Mostly social, like a neighborhood 5k. A good way for beginners to get their feet wet-- work on their timing and presentation, tweak content, get some feedback from the judges. Alongside the storeboughts and instant-mix entries, scratch-cooking always shows to it's best advantage, which is a confidence-builder.

It's also the venue for ranked competitors to try out a new entry, or change course category (from, say, Side Dish:Vegetable to Entree:Meatless). Occasionally you get to witness a top seed signal intent for a run at dual-course standing.

On the social side, a good place for divorcees to troll for pity dates with deliberately pathetic cooking as bait.

*Some aficionados class kids birthday parties as Level 1, but I consider them semi-public at best. If your social circle is competitive and upwardly mobile, and has a significant one-upmanship component, then do class them as Level 1.

Dos and Don'ts for Level 1 Beginners:
1) DO make your first few offerings in anonymous serving dishes -- either disposable, or something like the ubiquitous pyrex 13x9. Deniability is important. Judges have long memories. Even pros use disposables if they're too tired to do their best and just want to fulfill the social obligation without working too hard.

2) DON'T debut with an exotic ethnic dish if you're new to the community, even if it's superb. Try it out at private venues, to gauge the community palate. If you garner a Request you can leapfrog to Level 2 events.

3.) DO cultivate Insiders and longstanding Judges as taste-testers. The feedback is valuable, and the flattery will bank some goodwill points. It might also generate some buzz if you're campaigning for a Special Request.[See Level 2:Special Potluck Dinner, below].

4.) DON'T debut with your version of a regional specialty, if you are an Outsider of any sort. It will be interpreted not as homage but as hubris of the worst kind. After a suitable length of time, you'll be able to finesse it as long as you attribute the recipe to a credible authority, like an old Junior League cookbook, or a distant relative who was an Insider. CAUTION: before you undertake such attribution be very sure about the credibility of your chosen authority. For instance, in many regions celebrity chefs have no credibility with Public Cooking consumer/judges.

5.) DO bank goodwill points. Always be gracious, flatter whenever possible, deflect credit to someone else somehow, and above all, ask for other Competitors' recipes, even if you secretly hate their entry or are allergic to the ingredients.

6.) DO consider underrepresented entries, such as Beverage or Bread. Recipes are easier, Judges are more lenient, and even storebought can win you praise.

Lastly, NEVER offer anything but glowing praise for any other entry. Even storeboughts. Even behind the entrant's back. Even to your most trusted friends, your therapist, or a cabdriver when vacationing on another continent. Every consumer is a potential Judge, and it WILL get back to them.
Once you've tried your wings, you're ready for

Level 2: Specialty Potluck
There are more secular events in this category than any other. As with Level 1, Specialty provides opportunities to rub elbows with stars, solicit advice, hone presentation etc. These events often draw greater attendance, so it's a chance to work out doubling or tripling your recipe. Specialties are the first opportunity to fulfill a Request, i.e. someone asks you to make your signature entry. If someone in charge asks you, then it's a Special Request, and automatically confers ranking. Subdivisions are:

2A Winter Holidays: It is possible (though still somewhat risky) to debut an exotic ethnic or regional dish here, in the ecumenical spirit of the season. Winter holidays are also excellent debut venues for Comfort Food entries, giving them polish in preparation for Condolence events. Some classify Easter as a Winter Holiday, but in the Southeast it's an event with a very narrowly defined menu, therefore public meals are reserved for Level 4 Competitors (see below) and Caterers.

2B Cocktail/Appetizer: affectionately known as "Finger Foods," this Specialty draws the risk-takers. Lots of room for creativity: judges will try anything if its bite-sized or fried, and are surprisingly open-minded. Some Competitors train exclusively for this event, but many view it as cross-training for their "big plate" entries. Receptions:Non-Wedding often appear in this category. CAUTION: In some regions there are "Heavy" and "Light" Appetizer divisions, so be sure to ask for clarification.

2C Picnics: Sometimes called "Summer Holidays." Very popular with family teams and doubles partners due to the BBQ connnection. If Barbecue were to be included in Public Cooking, it would be here; but in reality, a Picnic is a dual, or rather parallell, competition. Amusingly enough, BBQ competitors view Picnic PC as "side dishes," willfully ignoring the crowds continuously grazing the table and going back for third helpings of ambrosia salad. Picnics are not recommended for PC beginners because of food safety issues, unless you have trained extensively on the private/family level in this event.

*Tailgates are an up-and-coming subdivision of Picnics, but to my mind they are simply private/family venues conducted in public, like a kid's party held at a public park. Competitive, to be sure, but still a leisure activity and a training opportunity rather than a serious PC venue.
I consider lavish football tailgates and the droll champagne-and-caviar offerings of the steeplechase set theater, not Public Cooking.

Level 3: Hospitality Committee [Name varies regionally and denominationally]
Invitation only, for top seeds and rising ranks. Any event important enough to have an official command structure is an HC event. In some areas many Level 4 events are subsumed into this category, especially Funerals. Menu is usually dictated, so a Competitor is likely to be chosen based on past execution of the relevant entry. CAUTION: HC events are compulsories, not freestyles. There is no room for innovation: conformity with tradition and expectation is required. Often several Competitors will be asked to make the same dish, and they will confer to establish conformity of ingredients and presentation if these are not dictated by the organizers. Given such constraints, competition at this level is extremely subtle and technically challenging.

Condolence/Sympathy subdivision: these are small events that can fall into HC or Specialty. In private or semi-public events the level of competitiveness is subtle, and unsung. They often afford only the satisfaction of a Personal Best performance, and some points toward future Requests. Comfort Food dominates the entries.

Level 4: Life Passages
Christenings, Weddings, and Funerals. (a.k.a. Babies, Brides and Bones). There are some other special subdivisions, (e.g.Retirement Dinners, Sports Awards Banquets), but the Big 3 dominate. LP is the most idiosyncratic category. The competitiveness of any given event is dependent on so many variables that generalizations are difficult. Some are so small and relaxed that there is hardly any competitive merit, yet tensions can run so high at LP events that both Judges and Competitors become unpredictable, which makes this category very popular with spectators. So much so, in fact, that many families now opt for Caterers; as a result, the most demanding and prestigious division - Weddings - has almost died out as a PC event. CAUTION: beginners should not attempt a Level 4 event, no matter who asks. Even Caterers are cautious with LPs. It's popular with spectators because it's DANGEROUS. With so much emotional investment, the most minor mistakes are magnified, and things can get ugly very quickly.

Competitors, start your ovens; the dishtowel will drop in 5, 4, 3, 2......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rebel Breakfast

Around these parts people know how to do breakfast. Breakfast here makes me want to have been born Southern, it makes me so proud. Waffle House is a particulary good iteration of the category restaurant:diner:breakfast. I don't know if its a southern-based chain, but for the most part they have a Southern [perfect] understanding of what should be on a breakfast menu, and how it should be cooked.

1. They give you a sturdy, laminated menu that doubles as a placemat. I am all about multi-functional, and it's nice that they don't presume to tell me when I'm done with the menu. AND, the menu has some pictures of the food, so there's a standard of accountability, and you know up front what you're getting.

2. Coffee. (They even fill up my favorite pint cup.)

3. Carbohydrates with various combinations of sugar, salt, butter and cheese.

4. Eggs any style, with various combinations of salt, butter and cheese.

5. High-fat meat products. Note they have both kinda ham, there. [Country and City.]

On our most recent visit to breakfast heaven, however, I encountered an abomination. A fly in the proverbial grits. Because of their wonderfulness, I am not going to hold it against Waffle House. I am convinced that some marketing reptile dreamed it up and foisted it on franchise managers. To wit:

That is described as a sausage biscuit. (Modeled by The Him). Let me make this clear: THAT IS NOT A SAUSAGE BISCUIT. It may involve something like sausage, and something like a biscuit, but its just NOT RIGHT, at all.

Hillshire smoked sausage links. WRONG
Sausage links of any kind: WRONG
"Grilled" biscuit. WRONG . I don't even know what this means. How can you grill a biscuit? I don't even want to know.
Mayonnaise. SO WRONG.

This is a for-real sausage biscuit.

Note absence of mayonnaise.

Note the correct sausage.

Note lack of "grill" marks.

If your mama loves you, she may get fancy and make you a biscuit with sausage gravy, like this one here. In a pinch you could get away with calling that a sausage biscuit. Note there is no other condiment.
It's a little too glisteny, but this was the best I could find. Sausage gravy is a little bit of heaven, but it's not what you'd call photogenic. Gooogle it. Go on.

Marketing reptiles, you leave my breakfast alone.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Relationship Paradigm #327

Did you know that Jimmy Cagney never actually said, "You dirty rat?" I didn't.

I was about 14 when I discovered, quite by chance, that it was possible to hook a boy's interest by liking the same music he does, and that common interests can backfire.

John Zimmerman and I were sitting in the hall outside the principal's office at the elementary school, which means either that we had come over there from the Jr. High in order to work on some project, like a drama performance, or that this took place much earlier than I first thought and I was actually 10. Entirely possible.

John was humming a tune which I recognized as "Today's Tom Sawyer" and I started singing the lyrics to his accompaniment. He looked up with awe and wonder in his eyes, and said, nearly breathless, "You like Rush?"

One millisecond prior to his question I did not feel any particular attachment to either that band or that boy. But at that moment, the epiphany of social possibility claimed me as surely as Paul's conversion on the Damascus Road.

I said, "Yeah!"

I think I sat up straighter, which was pure instinct but in the near future would become a deliberate tweak to my curb appeal [breasts].

Looking into his shining eyes I knew that I loved Rush more than any other band, and noticed that John was suddenly covered in a shimmery golden haze of delicious cuteness despite the fluorescent lighting.

I went home and listened to more Rush lyrics until I had them memorized. I probably made my brother tape Rush songs from the radio for this purpose.

(At present I can't recall the title or lyrics of any other Rush song.)

Sadly, our love lasted only about a week. I lamented this sad fact when I told my friend Ivy this story, and she said, "Well, hell, when you're 14 that's about as long-term as you can get," which is true, even more so if you're actually 10.

The turning point in our relationship happened while we were walking home from school together. Okay, now I'm sure that I was 10, because we didn't walk that route in Jr. High. Having the same walking-to-school route was another point we had in common, and it's these little things that cement a relationship. Except that on this day, we came upon a dead rat by the side of the road. It had announced it's presence blocks away, naturally, so we had followed our noses with growing dread and anticipation. We found it.

In a moment of ignorance and distraction, I made the fatal mistake: I did not get shrieky. I did not cry, or hold my nose, or make throwing up noises.

Instead, I picked up a stick at the same moment he did, and poked at the rat.

He didn't notice right away, but at some point it registered and he looked at me. He said nothing at the time. Being a novice I did not understand the import of That Look. Within a couple of days I discovered that it meant I had crossed over the line of acceptable common interests with my beloved.

I am still in awe of the haiku-like perfection of a relationship arc that begins with Rush and ends in a dead rat.

And "Today's Tom Sawyer" still makes me smile and get a bit misty.

[Note: The Him is Mr. Literal-and-factual and is the sort of guy who memorizes liner notes. He is raining all over my memory parade. Today's Tom Sawyer was released in 1981, which doesn't coincide with my memory of chronology. So I was 16 rather than 14 or 10, still within the realm of possibility given my level of relational cluelessness. Unless the song was not Tom Sawyer. But it was definetely a Rush song. I think. I hate it when he does this.]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Green Acres is the Place for Me

I want this book. And there's and indie movie based on it, Red Dirt Rising.

I'm too lazy to come up with something original today (week, month fine, okay) so I want to share with you a tidbit from the Green Acres News & Astonisher. Names have been changed to protect me from imagined liability.

Usually, action at the local dirt track [Green Acres Speedway] is limited to Friday and Saturday nights. But this week was special:

"...the high-speed action was on Tuesday, when employees of a sprinkler service company decided to drink beer[s] and take a turn on Green Acres' dirt track, according to a Green Acre County Sheriff's office report. The report said Darryl Jr.,28, was riding home from work with his boss, Darryl, 40, [no relation. On second thought, I don't really know that] when they stopped and bought some beer[s].
... Darryl[s] decided to go to the Speedway. Some workers preparing the red dirt [I'm not up on the finer points of dirt-track. I'll have to find out if red dirt has special qualities. Other than being red, which by the way it's really red, which is pretty cool in it's own way] for Saturday's racing saw the work truck that Darryl and Darryl were in enter the racetrack, speed up, and lose control in turn two of the track.
[Did they make a complete lap, and then lose control? If so I'm impressed. But I'm thinking it's more likely that Turn Two was the first non-linear challenge they encountered.]
...The truck hit a wall and nearly hit a motor grader in the area, [just missed it by like, that much] and then left the track. [Intentionally? Or did they just get lost?].
...One of the track employees followed in another truck. The [miscreants'] work truck stopped outside the track and the track employee spoke with [shouted WTF you #$%*& morons? Is that you, Darryl? Does your mama know you're out here?] Darryl and Darryl, who then ran into the nearby woods. [When the track employee went to get the rifle from his gun rack. Plus, they really had to pee.]
...Deputies responding to the incident [were laughing their butts off as they] spoke to Darryl the younger [and slower. Or maybe just more drunker. Same thing] who, according to the report, "was very unsteady on his feet and the odor of an alcoholic beverage was emanating from his person."
[I think we're going to invite this deputy to dinner. I greatly admire that sentence.]
...Damage to the [miscreants' employer's] truck was estimated at $10,000. [Make that unemployed miscreants]. There was no damage to the race track. [Dirt, wait, red dirt, and concrete. Check. Thank God they didn't total the motor grader, or there would have been serious hell to pay. Haven't even finished paying that off yet. They'd a had to go to Darryl's mama with that, and you know she would have fried his bacon but good, especially after that thing right before Easter, run his sister's ATV off the boat ramp at the river? 'Member that? Damn.]
...The report said a deputy talked to Darryl the elder [and faster] by phone. [Mama answered but they didn't mention why they were calling, figured he had enough trouble already. So he'll be buying a few extra plates of barbecue at the next fundraiser]. Darryl admitted to driving the truck and was also charged with trespassing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Social Anthropology

See 14. below.

There are a number of interesting things I've learned from Athena. Granted, some of these things shouldn't be extrapolated from a sample of one, but what's the fun in that?

1. German keyboards are not "QWERTY" but "QWERTZ." I understood that there would be different lettters, but this fact surprised me.

2. There are no tornados in Germany.

3. Or hurricanes. (Actually I kind of knew that, but it had to be confirmed before I could really believe it.)
3.b. I don't know about flash floods, I'll have to ask about that.
3.c. The prospect of an event of this type is very alarming to Europeans.

4. Power outages are so rare that a person can live 16 years in Munich and never experience one.
4.b. Power outages are very alarming to Europeans.
4. c. Not knowing how long the power will be out causes distress as well.

5. There is no emergency alert system for the National Weather Service on the radio. I guess they do have a National Weather Service, but then again without tornados, hurricanes, and flash floods who needs those creepy robot-voice alerts?
5.b. NWS radio alerts are alarming to Europeans. Or maybe that's just a manifestation of 3.c.

6. The southern pronunciation of the word "brrrrr" (as in, it's cold outside) is hilarious in German. Or, to Germans.

7. Everything in America tastes or smells like it has lots of sugar in it.
7.b. Including things like shampoo.
8. It is virtually unheard of in Germany for a person to teach himself to play a musical instrument.

9. In German, "Schmooze" means to snuggle up or cuddle someone you love.
9.b. There is no negative connotation to the word schmooze.
10. "Pups" means farts in German.
10.b. Maybe that's where the whole thing about blaming the dog came from.

11. Churches in Germany do not support themselves through tithing by members. All church members pay a tax to the government, who [which? whatever] then distributes the money to the denominations proportionally.
11.b. If someone were to applaud in church, something bad would probably happen.

12. In Germany, only crazy people and religious fanatics homeschool their children. Although it could be argued that this is the case in the U.S., also. Anyway, I think it's illegal to homeschool in Germany.

13. There is no Autobahn. There are any number of autobahns, it just means "highway," and most have speed limits.

14. The symbol or mascot of Munich is the Munchnerkindl, a little child dressed as a monk. Its a medieval thing. Since the 13th Century. Really.
14.b. Maybe the whole Atlanta Braves kerfuffle will seem quaint in seven or eight centuries.

15. Someone might be able to make a fortune introducing snickerdoodles to the German public.

16. Germans do so have a sense of humor. At least one does, anyway.
16. b. Sorry, that was probably very un-p.c. and culturally insensitive.
16.c. And they don't all wear lab coats and carry clipboards and a spray bottle of bleach.
16.d. See 15.b.
Q.E.D. #1

Friday, March 26, 2010

Heloise Meets Kliban

Occasionally I like to offer household tips, since I am 20-50% housewife (depends who you ask). I will say I have experience. "Expertise" would be going too far.

CLEARING THE AIR: You know that funky smell under the kitchen sink? It's possible that it's not coming from the garbage can. Sometimes it's coming from the mousetrap that you set last week and kind of forgot about after checking it faithfully for a few days.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Peeps With Love

Like Persephone returning to the sunlit world, my beloved Peeps* have arrived. The True Peeps, that is, the chickie Peeps. Christmas trees and pumpkins are just not the same.

My first blue Peeps, and first Peeps of the Peep year.

Peeeeps! Peeeeeep Peeeep Peep Peep! Daffodils soon to follow.

My Peep face impression

[* I was a bit chatty in that post. Scroll way down to Effervescent Moment #2 to experience more Peep love.]
[In the future I think I'll shower and dress before I show my face to the world. Maybe do my hair.]

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Crabapple Cove Courier

Couldn't find a photo of him reading the paper.

I read yesterday's paper this morning. I often delay the pleasure because there are only three per week, actually because I often forget what day it is. Anyway.

The choice item yesterday/today (WHATEVER) is this classified notice :

"Epson Printer/Scanner
scanner works great,
printer doesn't work
the greatest, been
told it is something
simple if you know
what to do $40 o.b.o.
[tel #]"

1. After you read it a couple of times, it's like haiku.
2. Small town newspapers rock.
3. Hawkeye would definitely read this one out loud.
4. I bet I could fix it.

{Sip coffee.}

1. Who told him it was something simple?
2. Did anyone proofread this and gently suggest different wording?
3. Will he get more than one offer?
4. What would my $ offer be?

{Sip coffee.}

Sanity, i.e. meds reasserting executive function:
1. I don't need a printer.
2. I would never get around to fixing it.
3. I have plenty of broken stuff already.
4. I'm broke.

Bonus points if you comment in haiku form. This means you, Rae.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Valentine

I sat down next to The Him at his desk and asked him to bring up a photo he has on his laptop. (He is very obliging.) As he was tapping away I noticed he was shifting in his chair to block the blast of sunlight pouring over his shoulder from the east-facing window, so that he could see his computer screen.
You have to nip this sort of thing in the bud.
"I am not hanging curtains in that window until you put the casing around it," I responded firmly. I was perfectly pleasant about it.
"I haven't asked you to...did I say anything? I did not even say anything. No, " He protested.
"A good wife..." I started to say --
feeling the faintest twitch in the musculature of his arm, I quickly added, "LIKE ME --anticipates her husband's needs..."
At which point we both leapt on the obvious conclusion like cheetahs on a wildebeest,
"So that she can deny them immediately."
I love this man.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

And Then What Happened: Part Second

So, Tuesday's to do list was :
1. Bury the dog.
2. Dentist appointment.

Can I have your pity now? K, Thanx. #2 didn't really bother me, but it sounds pitiful so I threw it in.

This past weekend Lucy developed a paralysis of one of her hind legs, a result of nerve damage from an old back injury. Since she was 17, blind, deaf, confused, and toothless -- I wavered only because she was, despite all of that, apparently happy and not in pain -- I decided that crippled was one decline too many, and made the decision to euthanize her.

The Him and I were out at first light digging a grave out back where our other bygone pets are interred. Thinking of that departed host I sniffled, "I hope that Dog Heaven is pretty close to where I'm staying, because I'll be visiting a lot." He smiled sadly. He feels my pain, but he is an atheist, so he can't really say, "of course."
I like to tweak him about it.

"You, on the other hand," I said, "will be in Hell. With the cats."

Rest in Peace, Lucy. You've earned it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Then What Happened

Our friend Cee died last Friday. So, not weeks, but days, unless you count the preceding 16 months. She was 46.
Getting dressed for the funeral on Monday, I thought, well, it's a good thing it's cold out, since my only black dress that's not a Little Black Dress wouldn't be too comfortable on a hot day.
Then I wondered if I had a hat that would go with it, since I've always wanted to wear a fabulous black hat with a veil. Then I wondered what the hell I was thinking.

I left the house a little late. I really wanted a hat. The only one I could find in my box of vintage stuff was a little 50's headband-type thingie, too Vegas cocktail lounge for a southern funeral. Especially a Lutheran funeral.
Five minutes into the 1 1/2 hour drive and my bottom lip is already doing that spastic thing it does when I'm trying not to cry.
I should have worn the headband thing. It even had a little veil. Cee loved hats. Maybe the navy blue velvet one. Didn't I have a red cloche somewhere? Dammit, I need a fabulous hat. She would have loved it, and I owe it to her to wear one. Because face it, I am not going to be able to sustain emulating her in any other way -- she was organized, driven, positive, athletic, successful, and never even glanced over her shoulder at the past -- but by God, I can and will wear hats.

No, I cannot turn around, because my dithering has caused me to cut the time a little too fine.

By now I am imagining something akin to that huge serving platter hat Kate Winslet wore in Titanic. With maybe a few more plumes, and some artificial fruit and birds.

Some women hereabouts wear traffic-stopping hats to church on a regular basis. This is a benefit of living in the South. I may not wear them to church, but I know where I can find them, you betcha. So, as I pass the shopping center and see Belks [department store] I know what I have to do.

I am going to find me a hat. I am going to go in there and find the foofiest Sunday-go-to-meeting hat they have, if it matches my outfit, and I will buy it, and when I get to the church people will raise their eyebrows at me. And I will square my shoulders and sail on in and they will know that I am thinking,"Shut up! She would have loved this hat, and you know it."


As I pull into the parking lot my phone rings. It is my husband, asking if I have left the house yet and if I am bringing the shoes, to which I reply yes, I have and no, because he told me he'd found a pair of shoes. Well, they're Dad's and they don't really fit, have you really left the house?

By that last question you can tell that we have been married eighteen years and he knows me pretty well. "I'm already passing Belks now," I lie as I ease into a parking space. "Can't go back. Bye."

Can I find and purchase the hat in under 5 minutes? Of course. God will help me, because God wants me to wear that hat. He will lead me to it. It will be there, fabulous, the first thing I set my eyes on.

Except, of course, Belks doesn't open for another hour.

As I pull away I toy with the idea of a detour to the mall, and then tell myself to stop being ridiculous and get your ass to the funeral. If God wants you to have a hat he will have to drop it onto your head. Step on the gas, girl.

No one seemed to notice that I wasn't wearing a hat.

PS The other great moment involved the minister cracking a diet Mountain Dew in the pulpit to toast Cee. It came very close to being a Chuckles the Clown moment. I'm wondering if she paid him to do it.

Myrna Loy would have kicked ass at a funeral. Even Lutheran ass.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Damn Punks Get Off My Lawn

The Him and I have come to understand that we are now grownups in the chronological if not intellectual sense.
We are slightly post-Boomer so we have been used to being either granchildren or younger siblings in the greater schema of American culture. This has tended to compound the natural human delusion of perpetual youth.

But the wolf is at the proverbial door.

The principal delusion-puncturing device is our
Hold on a minute.
Thanks. The dogs were into the trash, I hied thence and banished them to Padua.
Close approximation of their work

I was trying to say that lately we keep hurting ourselves in the most laughably mundane ways.
A sampling:
-turning over in bed
-carrying a pillow
-turning around
-standing up
-folding a shirt

None of these injuries requires medical treatment or even a bandaid, but when performing an action as simple as the above causes something to go sproink and all hurty, I can't help but be astounded and a little angry, I mean


Suddenly the comments of elderly friends and relatives take on sinister hues; one extrapolates the trend and realizes that when they say it hurts to walk, they may mean it HURTS. As in actual, nauseating, I'm-not-getting-out-of-this-chair-and-you-can't-make-me PAIN.
Empathetic fear is a good thing, I guess, if it makes us more compassionate. What I regret most about my sense of humor and my impulse-control deficits is that the combination makes me seem callous.
My mordant sense of humor does help me cope but sometimes it opens a little window on something frightening. I've noticed that as the decades accumulate the "firsts" among one's peers get darker. That joke about introducing the person you're married to as your first spouse gets more painful, making it either truly funny or tasteless, depending on one's disposition. When we were thirtysomething a friend died in a car accident and I made the comment that this was our first dead friend. Fear that deep makes me laugh, I don't know why, maybe it's chimp wiring that makes a scream indistinguishable from laughter.

In a few weeks we will know what it's like to lose a friend to cancer. It is essential to acknowledge that what is happening to her is far more important than what I feel about it, I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm laying the groundwork because this is the place where I can blurt those awful connections my mind makes, so that I don't blurt them at a time or place that severs yet another relationship.
So I'll be getting back to you soon. It will be something really, really funny.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In celebration of the New Year, some things I am thankful for.
The Him and Tigrrl top the list, of course. And I am thankful to have my parents close, 5 minutes close. And now my brother and sister-in-law and their remaining nestlings are living a mere hour away: that is high on the list of thankings. We hosted the mob for Christmas dinner and I seated twelve people around my dining room table, which makes me a bit misty just thinking about it.

But wait, there's more...
Note, at left, a new photo: as of August we are parents to a remarkable young woman who came to us fully formed, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Except without the armor and thunderbolt and stuff. Athena is on loan from Munich, ostensibly for a year, but we think we will have to keep her. She is much, much smarter than us, and also much nicer than we deserve. She thinks we're crazy but she's even nice about that.
She makes coffee in the morning.
She makes dinner whenever I ask for help.
She makes wonderful food, dumplings and apfel thingies and chocolate stuff -- there's this one called chocolate sausages that are AWESOME, no actual sausage involved, trust me

-- and bredzels, and gingerbread hearts for Octoberfest.

She is witty and asks lots of questions about American popular culture and language -- is there anything The Him and I love to talk about more, than our observations on these topics? Can you see that this is a match made in heaven?

Athena is also endlessly patient with Tigrrrl, okay not endlessly, she's learned the necessity of setting firm limits, but WAY more patient than I am, which sets a good example for all of us, and makes Tigrrl happy. After four months T has not yet tired of saying, (to Athena, about us) "do you SEE what I have to put up with?!"

I am in awe of her parents, and more than a little jealous of the wonderful job they have done.
Welcome, Athena. We are not worthy.