Archive for December, 2010

But I mean, well, GOD! Look at that, would you? We had that for our Christmas dinner and everybody FELL ON THE FLOOR DEAD, it was that good. And the gravy? That was supposed to be au jus but I thickened it? Was the BEST DAMNED GRAVY I have EVER made. I would totally take a bath in that gravy. And lick it all off when I got out.

(Head’s up, this is where the swearing and the all caps starts.)

Oh, ha. Speaking of gravy. Did I ever tell you guys this story? Back when Bill and I first got together – like, the first MONTH we were together, we were making fried chicken for dinner. He asked me if I knew how to make gravy. At that time, I did not. Because:

1. My ex didn’t like gravy (I KNOW, RIGHT);
2. My Grandmother had never taught me because she was the Gravy Maker Extraordinare and Get Thee Hence From My Kitchen You Amateur;
3. I usually stuck with buffalo wings and plates of asparagus when I was single;
4. I was 23 years old. How many 23-year-olds do you know that know how to make gravy from scratch, I ask you?

So. We’re in the kitchen, puzzling until our puzzlers were sore. He looked at me, looked at the drippings, looked at the phone, and visibly came to a decision. As I watched in growing HORROR, he picked up the phone, DIALED HIS EX-WIFE (who wasn’t actually officially “ex” yet, at the time) and ASKED HER HOW TO MAKE GRAVY. I could hear her incredulous, “You’re kidding, right?” from across the kitchen. But, here’s the thing. She told him, step by step, and didn’t include such waylaying ingredients as, oh, say, HEMLOCK. Which was nice. BUT, she told him in a mocking manner that was all, “Oh HO, you’re new pretty little plaything doesn’t know how to do EVERYTHING that makes you happy, does she?” Which was NOT nice. I don’t blame her, but still. Hey now.

(Of course, if I have to teach Bill’s next little chippie how to make my meatloaf, I’m gonna be all, “… and then you add a half-cup of chopped pickled herring… yes really! Trust me…”)

Anyway. He hung up, I beat him about the head and shoulders, and we made a passable gravy. And then, OH AND THEN, BY GOD, I learned how to make fucking gravy. BETTER gravy. Absolutely fucking AWESOME goddamn motherfucking gravy.

(End swearing/all caps zone.)

———-

New Year’s Eve is upon us. We are foregoing the partying, but probably not foregoing the hangover. Just gonna hang at home and watch movies, and feed whoever shows up. Here’s the planned nosh, in case you need some inspiration for your own festivities:

Bruchetta with toast points
Buffalo Chicken Dip, with tortilla chips and celery
Cheese Enchilada Chowder
– Finger sandwiches (chicken salad, ham, whatnot)
Four Bean Salad
– Chips and pretzels and whatnot

Of course, if you happen to be in the area, you can drop on by! Pajamas are encouraged. Pants are optional.

Chamomile

Posted: December 27, 2010 in insomnia, Memory Lane
Tags: ,

It’s 2:30 in the ay-em, and I’ve been awake since 1:15. I don’t think anyone ever greets bouts of insomnia with enthusiasm. So, dammit.

I’ve suffered with insomnia off and on for my entire life. I distinctly recall weekends spent at my aunt and uncle’s home – they lived the next town over and took me for the weekend at least once a month, from the time I was about two or three, until my teenage years. My aunt would make up the living room couch for me, and everyone in the household went to bed at 9:00. The lights would switch off, goodnight’s would be called, and in very short order I’d hear my uncle’s distinct snore rumbling from down the hall. I’d try to settle my mind to sleeping, and was just never able to manage it. I’d listen to the clock tick, stare out the window at the streetlight, and wait and wait and wait. Sometimes I would cry in frustration – sleeplessness is, after all, an entirely lonely, solitary, frustrating occupation.

Sometimes I would get up and sit in the kitchen with a glass of water, and my aunt would find me just sitting there, blinking, in the dim light coming from the stove lamp. She’d fix me a cup of chamomile tea, sit at the counter while I sipped at it, then usher me back into the living room and tuck me back in. And there I’d lay, blinking at the lightening horizon, until I heard my uncle’s alarm go off and everyone would roll out to start the day. Every time I stayed with them, I walked into the visit with the knowledge that I would get exactly zero sleep – or, any sleep I managed to grab was during afternoon naps laying across the foot of my aunt’s bed, on her folded wedding ring quilt.

I never could explain – to them or to myself – why I could never sleep when I visited them. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the worst news I’d ever received in my young life – that of my mother’s passing, and that of Brad’s passing – occurred at that house, while I was visiting them. That I was there at the time of my mother’s passing was intentional – I was left in my aunt and uncle’s safekeeping while the family dealt with my mother’s hospital stay, surgery, and eventual passing. That I was there when Brad died was just an unhappy coincidence – his accident just happened to occur on one of my weekends with them.

I was also never able to sleep at my friend Elizabeth’s house. As is often the case for kids living in the sticks, weekend sleepovers were common. I’d stay at her place on Friday night, right “off the bus” from school. Then her mom would drive us to Grandma’s in the early afternoon, and she’d stay at my house on Saturday night. Grandma would haul our butts to church on Sunday (this was before she became a Witness and we were attending a Baptist church), and Elizabeth would be dropped back off at home after the service. On the nights I stayed with Elizabeth, more often than not it was my asthma that kept me awake. Back in those days inhalers were little more effective than Primatine Mist, and since she had an abundance of pets AND her home was heated primarily with a wood stove, I was never really able to breathe well. I could handle it for the most part during the day, when our adventures took us outside, and when I was upright.

But at night, laying down, things quickly escalated to the point of near panic. So I would sit outside in the middle of the night, on their front steps in the weak light of their porch lamp, brace my arms behind me and shoulders climbing to my ears to help expand my lungs. I’d do the breathing exercises my doctor taught me, listen to the crickets if it was summer or shiver my ass off if it was winter, and wait and wait and wait. Many times Elizabeth’s mother caught me creeping in or out, and her cure for what ailed me was a hot cup of chamomile. She’d sit me down in the kitchen, or she’d bring it to me out on the steps, she’d pat my head and tell me not to wander around in the middle of the night, and she’d go back to sleep. Leaving me to sip, and stare, and breathe.

Sleeplessness happened less often at my own home, but when it did it wasn’t nearly the exercise in loneliness and frustration that it seemed to be elsewhere. I would simply switch on my bedside lamp, choose a book from my bookshelf, and wile away the hours. Or I’d quietly let myself out the back door and into the screen house in the back yard, where I would sit and breathe and listen to the night sounds. Occasionally my Grandmother, who was a light sleeper, would discover my awake state, and she’d fix me a mug of chamomile tea. We’d sit together in the screen house, or at the kitchen table, and she’d stay up and talk with me until I finished every drop. She’d ask me if I was sleepy, and if I was she’d tuck me back in, kiss my forehead, turn off my light, and leave my bedroom door open a crack. If I wasn’t sleepy she’d tell me to “keep my butt inside the house”, then tuck me in with my book and a glass of water, hunt up the cat and deposit him on the foot of my bed, kiss my forehead, and leave my bedroom door open a crack.

Tonight – this morning – I’m awake yet again. The routine hasn’t changed all that much, I just address my sleepless state with a great deal less frustration than I used to. It’s an opportunity for me to read, or surf the web, or watch something I DVR’ed. Tonight, I have a warm ball of purring cat at my side, an itch to write, and a hot mug of chamomile tea. Funny thing is, I don’t particularly like the taste of chamomile. Some things are just ingrained, I guess.

“We’re Extremely Fortunate”

We’re extremely fortunate
not to know precisely
the kind of world we live in.

One would have
to live a long, long time,
unquestionably longer
than the world itself.

Get to know other worlds,
if only for comparison.

Rise above the flesh,
which only really knows
how to obstruct
and make trouble.

For the sake of research,
the big picture,
and definitive conclusions,
one would have to transcend time,
in which everything scurries and whirls.

From that perspective,
one might as well bid farewell
to incidents and details.

The counting of weekdays
would inevitably seem to be
a senseless activity;

dropping letters in the mailbox
a whim of foolish youth;

the sign “No Walking On The Grass”
a symptom of lunacy.

— Wislawa Szymborska
(Translated, from the Polish, by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.)

The final poem from the collection View With A Grain of Sand: Selected Poems.

Bad. Kitty.

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Bring the funny, Holiday, pets
Tags: ,

I finished wrapping presents last night. I’d been storing them in the workout room until they were wrapped, and probably would have left them in there until Christmas had I not been claimed by an unanticipated and unwelcome motivation to exercise. So, in order to clear the weight bench and the floor, I moved the presents out onto the pool table. I figured they’d be safe enough there until the Grand Paper Tearing Extravaganza of Saturday afternoon.

I know you know where this is going.

I let the dogs in this morning – they’re so old, poor things, that the cold effects them more than it used to. I put them in their crate with the door open so they could lay in padded comfort, but still be able to venture over to their water bowl should they need a drink. I heard them shuffling around, the vinyl bottom of the pad making a rustling sound against the bottom of the crate.

Then the rustling got more enthusiastic… urgent, even. I hopped up, thinking that maybe Gypsy had gotten her foot caught between the bars – it’s happened before. I rounded the corner from the living room to the game room, and saw Ozzy digging at one of Bill’s presents in a SPECTACULAR, GLEEFUL fashion. I stood, flabbergasted, for a fraction of a second, then YELLED BLOODY BLUE MURDER at that asshole cat.

He took off like a bat outta hell, and now he’s glaring balefully from the safety of their litter closet.

I KNOW it’s my own fault for putting temptation in his reach, but he’s honestly never messed with the presents before. Oh, sure, sometimes there’d be gnaw-marks along the edges, or toothy impressions crimping the ribbons, but never outright destruction. Besides, Zoe is the one with the obsession for chewing on crinkly paper. I figured I’d have to defend the presents from her, really.

Obviously, you can tell how upset I am, since the fraction of a second AFTER I finished yelling bloody blue murder, I thought “Blog post!” and grabbed my camera. Heh.

I was tagged, dadnabbit.

1. Just who the hell do you think you are? No really.

These days? No idea. Not as much “me” as I’d like to be, that’s for sure.

2. Who is your favorite person you have met via blogging/internet (besides me, obviously).

Well, there’s Marie who had BETTER be available for drinkage during our next Indy trip is all I’m sayin’. TB and Dys are the most recent friends that I met in person, that were friends on-line before I met them in real life. I hope to meet Temerity Jane some time in the near future, seeing as she lives in the same state as me and all. Aw, hell, I hope to meet ALL of my on-line friends in person sooner or later!

3. Do you remember that one episode of Twilight Zone where that girl is driving and she has a flat tire and that guy stops to help her, but then there’s this weird hitchhiker and he keeps showing up and then it turns out she’s dead? That was awesome. Okay, but seriously. I liked AR’s fictional characters question, so I’ll put that one to you guys as well.

Do you remember when David Duchovny, aka “Jake Winters”, used to host Red Shoe Diaries on Skinemax? Le pant, le gasp, le sigh, le drool.

4. I need an idea for a Christmas dinner side item to go with ham. Thoughts?

Get ye hence. May I recommend the Connoisseurs Vegetable Casserole?

5. What are you proud of?

My sanity. My basically optimistic nature. My fudge.

6. What’s your poison?

IPA’s and whiskey.

7. What question do you WISH I had asked you?

Who was the last person you drunk-dialed, and what were the circumstances?

And now I thrust this task upon my usual suspects (the ones I figure will do this, anyway):

Mr. Bad Pants
Heather
Sherry
Jen
Oregon Sunshine
Kee-yim
Crisitunity

Please for to be answering the following RIVETING requests for information, and then impose upon seven of your friends with questions of your own:

1. Favorite holiday TV special, Christmas or not.

2. Favorite pre-1960 movie.

3. Most embarrassing moment of the year 2010.

4. Do you love football in the snow as much as I do?

5. Do you think people that sweeten their coffee with honey are totally weird? Or are you ONE OF THEM?

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?

7. Would you video tape yourself dancing to cheesy 80’s music? Please? No, seriously, please? Name the song!

BONUS QUESTION: Who was the last person you drunk-dialed, and what were the circumstances?

I’m off work this week (AcronymCo, that is), which of course means I have a honey-do list (self-imposed, that is) a mile long. The very first order of business, though, is to venture forth and purchase a new coffee pot. I broke the carafe last night while getting the coffee ready for the morning, and as anyone who has ever done the same thing knows, it’s just easier to buy a whole new coffee pot than try to track down a replacement carafe.

I recall promising Bill that I’d get up with him and run out to the nearby Dunkin Donuts to procure some coffee for him to have with his morning paper (he’s as routine-oriented about his morning cup as I am), but what I DON’T recall is the alarm going off this morning. I woke up when he kissed me goodbye. Ah, well. Hell. Road. Good intentions. Whatnot.

I got up at 6:45, brewed a cup of tea and toasted some rye, and spent the next hour-ish balancing the checkbook and doing a spot of financial planning for the new year. I always approach such tasks with dread, and then feel a sense of relief and accomplishment when it’s over. Stupendously enough, we’re still in the black and didn’t put ANY of our Christmas on credit cards. Go us! That’s a first, I’m pretty sure.

On deck: doodie duty. And major, epic grocery shopping. And wrapping Bill’s presents – I got the kids’ out of the way yesterday. And folding laundry before it gets too far ahead of me. Clearly, I know how to LIVE IT UP when I’m on vacation.

As an aside, how many of you have seen the original True Grit, the one with John Wayne? When I expressed interest in seeing the remake in theaters, Bill waxed enthusiastic and said we’d have to watch the original first. Make a day of it – watch the original at home (I bought it from Amazon, should be here any day now), go have lunch, watch the new one at the nearby AMC. Sounds like fun to me.

As an additional aside, we watched “The A Team” this weekend – twice. I was a HU-YOOGE fan of the TV show when I was little. I don’t know why, but I was completely and thoroughly entertained by this movie. I mean, utterly. Especially by the cameo appearances by the original “Face” and the original “Murdock” at the very end. The VERY end, after the credits – the brief clips that only the die-hard theater-goers (or at-home fast-forwarders) get to see. I’ve taken to fast forwarding past all the credits in every movie we watch, now, just in case there’s an extra tidbit at the end.

Do you guys do that, too?

Here’s the one from 2009, and here’s the one from 2008. And I just realized that for BOTH years I spelled it “pictoral” instead of “pictorial”. WHATEVER. I’m whimsical, okay?

This, by far, is NOT a full and all-inclusive list of everything that went down in this busy, BUSY year. It’s just a few selections that had photographs to accompany the memories.

January:

There was a leak and we realized we needed a new roof:

I had several photography gigs:

February:

I FINALLY made Boeuf Bourguignon:

March:

Bill and I went to Oro Valley, hiked in Catalina State Park, and SAW A BOBCAT!

An awesome day, that included a visit to the zoo, made me cry:

April:

We went to Flagstaff, stayed in a haunted hotel, and saw the live raptor program at the Arboretum:

Aaaaand Billy bought some… stuff… for the zombie apocolypse:

May:

We observed body painting in progress:

Zoe flirted with me:

June:

I started my second sabbatical:

Bill and I went to Payson:

July:

We went to Maine and it was the best vacation back home yet:

We also fell in love with this stuff:

August:

I went back to work:

Bill and I attended MotoGP in Indianapolis with TB and Dys:

September:

I got a new camera:

October:

Another month, another gig:

We lost Grandpa Ed:

November:

I wrote some entries about some of the things I love:

There was Thanksgiving and a puppy:

December:

I met some new boozes:

And some new treats:

And now we’re heading onwards and upwards into 2011. My hopes for the coming year are to pay off as much debt as I can, get a Jeep (yes, I’m aware that’s counter-intuitive to the first point), get my ass to Maine, get my ass to Indy, and get my ass fit.

What are your hopes and plans for the coming year?

Do you think that happiness is a choice?

Ponder, comment, discuss.

Saving the dreams

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Memory Lane, Waking Mind
Tags:

I’m terminating my Waking Mind site, so I’m just transferring the handful of entries to this post for posterity.

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For Our Future Reference

Posted: December 14, 2010 in TV
Tags: ,