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, but...it'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.]