Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ciao!

Okay, guys, we are veeeeery close to boarding a plane to Italy. Unfortunately, a few little things have made this time a wee bit stressful for us:

  • My husband's grandfather passed away early this morning
  • My father-in-law escaped from New Orleans but his house is now underwater
  • My brother-in-law is unexpectedly shipping out to Baghdad in a few days

But. BUT! We are still going to Italy tomorrow, and we will still have a great time!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, I am proud to announce that the following things have been accomplished:

  • Alex's anal sac has been squeezed and emptied. Thank God. Also, thank God that I do not have anal sacs. That I know of.
  • Clothes are halfway packed.
  • Have poured shampoo and conditioner from economy-sized bottles into cute travel-sized bottles.
  • Have photocopied passports in case some evil asshole steals them.
  • Compiled list of phone numbers for everyone we know in case we have to contact ANYONE, for ANY REASON.
  • Showed neighbor's kids how to water our plants while we're gone.
  • Also, bribed neighbors with a basket of home-grown red peppers to get ride to airport.
  • Have rounded up the camera, two memory cards, and 10 bazillion titanium batteries.
  • 20 packs of gum are ready and waiting to be chewed.
  • We have euros AND travelers checks AND a credit card.
  • And maps and phrasebooks. So very many phrases. So very many opportunities to accidentally insult someone.

In the Sistine Chapel:
Me: Dove il quartiere a luci rosse?
Old nun: Gasps. Starts hitting me with a rolled up newspaper.
Me: Ouch! What? What did I say!
Husband: You just asked her where the red light district is.
Me: Crap!


There is also a bottle of Papio wine to drink tonight (God bless my husband) to help get ourselves in vacation mode, and because Papio wines have the cutest labels ever, AND they donate some of their profits to good causes that help animals!

So ciao, everyone. I'll try to post something from the road!

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Separation Anxiety

I have to post a few more Alex pictures, and it's not only because I have writer's block!

And that's the honest truth!*

We will soon be taking Alex to his kennel so that my husband and I may enjoy our vacation in Italy. And before you email me to tell me all the dangers of kennels and and the horrifying undercover investigation you saw on Dateline, rest assured that Alex's kennel is LOL. And people? I'm not saying its funny like Bernie Mac. I mean it's the Lap Of Luxury for dogs that love to play hard and get dirty. Honestly. He looooooves this place, and the owner loves him back and calls him her "special boy".

(should I worry that she thinks he is special as in "slow"? I only ask because today I when I showed Alex his toy and then put it under my shirt, it was apparent that he has no grasp of object permanence because he immediately looked for the toy in his toybox. I tried to explain, see Alex? Just because my shirt's covering it doesn't mean it's gone! It's right here! But then I hid it again and he whipped his head around and sniffed his tail, like WTF, tail? Why you be stealin' my toys and shit? Hmph.**)

So here are a few more pictures of Alex. I'm sure I will steal into every Internet cafe I see in Italy for a chance to look at the pictures. Because really... how could you leave this in another country for 2 weeks?



At the dog park. Lots of smells and dirt and Great Dane slobber. Awesome.



Also, look how big my tongue is. Truly amazing.
I should totally be Gene Simmons in a Kiss tribute band.



How could you leave me? Guilt. Guiillllllt.


*that is not the honest truth. I have writer's block so bad that I can't hear anything out of my right ear.

**again, this is less than honest. Really, it is exaggeration used for comedic effect. The truth is, Alex is very smart. I think the tail sniffing was actually due to an anal gland that needs squeezin'. This will be remedied by his vet tomorrow. I go to a veterinary professional because the one time I tried to do it myself? I was reminded of why I didn't become a veterinary professional. The whole time I was groping around back there Alex watched me with panicked eyes that said, "I know you must have a good reason for molesting me... I'm just trying to figure out what it is!"

Friday, August 26, 2005

Tagged!

My post for today was going to be something really lame, but we have been saved by Bearette, who tagged me for this meme:


Ten years ago, August 1995

I was in college; a social work major/Spanish minor and working at the main library's reference desk as a student assistant. I loved working there, yet librarianship did not occur to me as a career choice. I was probably taking classes like social statistics, social deviance, and abnormal psychology. I began using my new skills & knowledge to analyze myself and realized I had trouble with cyclical depression. I went to a counselor on campus, but he was a cold man who sat far away from me, and I didn't go back. I made a mental note never to do that to my future clients. I met my best friend, Lisa, who now lives about 30 minutes from me, and a whole host of other wonderful friends that I still see once or twice a year. I was dating my boyfriend (now my husband) long-distance. This was very hard but we managed to make it work. It was worth it.


Five years ago, August 2000:

My husband and I were newlyweds, recently back from Mexico. We had both made it through grad school and were working as clinical social workers... he in foster care, me in a residential treatment center for abused children. Hard work. Sad work. Once I asked one of my kids, "If you could change your life in some way, how would you change it?" The 6-year old replied, "With a magic wand!" Hubby was working in parts of the city where the Guardian Angels patrolled the streets in their red berets. We had a little apartment that we loved. I was eating our leftover wedding cake at an alarming rate.


One year ago, August 2004

We went to Mexico again and had recently returned. My husband was still a social worker, but working in a different (better) job. I had jumped ship, gone back through grad school again at an alarming rate, and was now a librarian. A happy librarian. We had purchased our first house a year ago and were slowly filling it. Our dog Alex had been with us for about a year. We started planning a trip to Italy for Fall 2005.


Yesterday, August 25, 2005

At work I got my official offer for the job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago, so I will be starting there sometime in September. Hooray! You know you really want a job when you're willing to give up your gigantic private office with the awesome view. Around 9:30 p.m. my dog and I took one of our night walks. The air is mercifully cooler and more pleasant now. Alex chased a bird and sniffed a frog. At home I contemplated folding laundry but decided against it. It's already wrinkled; why worry about it now? Wished I had wedding cake that I could eat at an alarming rate. Had to settle for low-fat mint chocolate chip ice cream. Tried to think of anyone we know who might want to get married soon.


Tomorrow, Saturday, August 27, 2005:

Would usually go to my class at the gym in the morning, but I have to work. Weather is still supposed to be awesome, so maybe we will take the dog hiking after I get home. Will start packing for Italy (!). Hope to see March of the Penguins if there's time...


Five snacks I enjoy:

fruit salad
veggie burgers
tortilla chips & homemade white bean-avocado dip
baked frozen french fries
popcorn


I know most of the lyrics of these five bands/artists:

Beatles
Tom Petty
Indigo Girls
Aerosmith
Fleetwood Mac


Five things I'd do with a million dollars:

Donate to our local rescue league
Buy the old house I've always wanted (and fix it up)
Travel
Get electrolysis so I'd never have to shave again
Save

Five places I'd run away to:

Florida, which always felt like my true home
Shenandoah National Park
Yosemite National Park
Hawaii
An old farm somewhere out in the country


Five bad habits I have:

Cracking my knuckles
Speeding
Staying up too late when I know I'll be exhausted the next morning
Leaving clothes on the dresser or in the bathroom, rather than putting them away
When we have guests over, preparing meals that get me stuck in the kitchen, rather than out visiting with them


Five things I like doing:

Exercising
Cooking
Laughing hysterically
Playing with my dog
Hiking
Reading
(whoops, that's 6...)


Five things I wouldn't wear:

Pleated pants
Knee socks
Anything in a flourescent color
Uggs
Fur


Five TV shows I love:

I Love Lucy
The Amazing Race
E! True Hollywood Story (I admit it!)
Iron Chef
Property Ladder


Five movies I love:

Dead Poets Society
Love Actually
Life is Beautiful
While You Were Sleeping
When Harry Met Sally

Five famous people I'd like to meet:

I can honestly say that I can't think of anyone I'd really like to meet. I'd probably get excited if I spotted someone famous on the street, though.

Five favorite toys:

Digital camera
KitchenAid mixer
My dog
My car
My books


Person to tag:

Frema



Okay, and now for the lame entry I was originally going to post?

Check this out if you're looking for a new activity to try this weekend:
http://www.cheeseracing.org/

Thursday, August 25, 2005

As The Dog Park Turns...

Yesterday my dog Alex ran into his girlfriend on his afternoon walk. These two are as adorable as two dogs can be. Girlie is a Schnoodle, a schnauzer-poodle mix, so she's this terrific little ball of white fluff. When she sits next to Alex, who looks like this, they look like a bride and groom (and for those of you who are wondering if I would be lame enough to have a "wedding" for my dog? I totally would be).

Sometimes Alex and Girlie lie on their stomachs and lick each other (yes, my dog is making out and he's only 2 1/2... and I am a terrible mother because not only do I NOT try to stop them, but I also take pictures). And once, when I took Alex over to Girlie's house, her owner and I found them upstairs on a bed together. And they looked pretty guilty if you ask me. Fortunately, both have had all the essential "wires" disconnected, so we won't be welcoming any wee black & white pups.

As we all chatted and played, played and chatted, Alex suffered a blow when he found out-- gasp! -- that Girlie had gone on vacation with another man! Enter Teddie the Beagle, another dog from our 'hood. Alex was quite distraught when he heard the news, and showed his anger to Girlie by ignoring her and rolling on a dead worm on the sidewalk. Boys are so very gross.


Girlie: Alex, oh Alex! Why do you rebuff me?

Alex: Quiet, bizzitch. I'm busy.


But as Alex thought more about the situation, he realized that he had nothing to worry about. Because it is apparent to most of us that Teddie?

Likes to run on the other side of the dog park.
Is fetching for the other team.
Drinks out of a different water bowl.


Geddit?

No?

Okay. We think Teddie the Beagle must be gay.

Now, I don't know if dogs can technically be gay. I admit I haven't done any reading on this. But whenever Teddie and Alex meet during walks, Teddie goes straight for Alex's "disconnected wires" area. And has no interest in anything else. And? I have never seen him do this to girl dogs, although he has had ample opportunity.

So if Girlie thought she was going to have a hot week in paradise with Teddie? She obviously didn't realize that Teddie prefers his own brand of rawhide.

So, it's still Alex + Girlie = luv 4 eva.

At least until next summer, when she might sneak off to Barbados with Chuck the Rottie.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Parla italiano?

Please help.

Needed: Travel tips, restaurant recommendations, and general advice for upcoming trip to Italy.

We are leaving in about a week, staying 2 weeks, haven't been before, can't wait. Flying into Venice and also going to Florence, Rome, and Naples via train. Just the two of us-- no tour group.

I'd love to hear from those who have been before. I know I got some restaurant raves from Bearette and others, but it wasn't on my blog and I can't remember where the info is anymore.

So, where should we go, what should we do? What should we wear? What should we watch out for? Am especially paranoid about theft. I've become obsessed with pick-pocketing stories and am so riled up that you should pity the fool who tries to steal my camera, because I will probably go apeshit.

Things that are out: anything that involves renting a car. We just don't want to do it. Aside from a trip to the Tuscan countryside while we're in Florence, we're not planning to stray very far from the cities on the list.

Things that are in: places, events, and experiences that can give us a taste of what it's really like to live there. We'll hit some of the tourist "musts", but we also hope to avoid a lot of the traps. Anything that involves good food and wine.

So any tips or advice welcome... and did I mention that I seriously cannot wait?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Of sweat and manipulation...

This weekend was truly physically demanding for my husband and I. We sweated, grunted, gasped, and heaved, and no, unfortunately I'm not talking about anything that could merit an X rating. It wasn't racy, but we sure did burn lots of calories.

On Saturday we helped my best friend and her roommate move into their new place. Everyone there had a good sense of humor, so we were trading jokes back and forth as we carried chairs and dressers and unruly mattress toppers. At one point my husband was carrying a rather heavy box that was labeled "Lisa's Photo Albums", and he shouted, "Hey Lisa, did you have to take so many pictures?" And as I struggled out the door with a second box I yelled, "Yeah! Thanks for the memories!"

Hee.

Hee?

Okay, well everyone in the vicinity laughed (and guess who laughed loudest? Check number 95. And yeah, now that I've typed it, I realize that it doesn't really seem that side-splitting. But in the moment! In the moment, it was!).

So we spent Saturday morning and afternoon working up a sweat, then we dashed home to take Alex to the groomers for his last summer cut. It was there that I discovered that my dog is a total manipulator. That cheeky monkey.

Perhaps because of his unknown past, Alex is usually terrified of the groomers (and other assorted things). He is wary around strangers anyhow (especially men), but the grooming experience usually resulted in projectile diarrhea, so great was his anxiety. And this resulted in us giving the groomers a very big tip each time, so as to make them rethink cussing us out and slashing our tires in the parking lot.

To help keep Alex calm, we would stand next to the groomer's table, or at least within view. Because, you know, we just have that AURA of amazing comfort. He'd still shake and shiver, try to pull his head out of the collar, and practically kill us with the huge, terrified brown eyes.

But this time the groomer suggested that we leave the store while they worked. She suggested that perhaps Alex was too "dependent" on us, and that he was "acting up" to evoke a "reassuring response". Ha!

But being agreeable people, we left the store and window-shopped in the sweltering heat. We kept looking over our shoulders, expecting the groomer to come running after us crying, "Wait! Wait! I was so wrong about EVERYTHING! This dog NEEDS YOU! And OH GOD, THE DIARRHEA!"

But strangely, we didn't hear a peep the entire time. When we returned an hour later, Alex ran to us all wiggly and excited and looking like a little shorn lamb.

"How was he?" we asked gravely. I surreptitiously checked for signs of ill-timed dog poo.

The groomer was ecstatic.

"AMAZING! He was like a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DOG when he didn't have an AUDIENCE! I would suggest that you guys NEVER SIT IN HERE AGAIN while he's getting groomed."

Ouch.

But I don't know. I looked into my dog's eyes while hubby paid the bill, and he seemed to be telling me that he kinda likes it when I'm around to protect him. You know, from the evil nail clippers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dear Big Book-Ordering Company,

I am not very happy with you right now.

Yesterday, when I was extremely busy and barely had time to EAT LUNCH, I spent 45 precious minutes trying to reach someone at your Customer "Support" Center. 45 minutes that I? DID NOT HAVE.

Here are the facts of my experience. I can only hope you will put this in a PowerPoint presentation and use it at customer service trainings, which I can only assume DO NOT HAPPEN VERY OFTEN.



  • Number of choices on your automated Customer "Support" hotline: 11
  • Number of times I called and listened to those 11 menu choices: 12
  • Number of times I selected the correct menu item but was launched into the galaxy of misfit callers, where one waits -- neither on hold nor disconnected -- for NOTHING to happen: 3
  • Number of minutes I waited like a sucker the first time this happened: 7
  • Number of times I deliberately selected the WRONG menu item in desperate hope of reaching a real live human being: 3
  • Number of times this plan was foiled: 3
  • Number of times I slammed the phone down: 12
  • Number of times I said "Customer support, my ass!": 5
  • Number of other expletives muttered: still calculating


At last, Big Book Ordering Company, I reached a Customer "Support" "Specialist". I don't know how I managed this, but somehow, despite your best efforts, I did. So great was my relief, I almost freakin' proposed to her. I explained the problem I was having with their website, and she replied, "No problem!"

A tear trickled slowly down my cheek as I thanked any higher power that was listening.

Alas, my joy was short-lived:

Customer "Support" Specialist: Are you registered?

Me: Well, I was able to log in to the program, so does that mean I'm registered?

Customer "Support" Specialist: (actually snorts) Just because you logged in doesn't mean you're registered.

Me: Are you talking about an online registration? Or something I would have filled out on paper?

Customer "Support" Specialist: Look, you are obviously not understanding this. I need to know IF YOU ARE REGISTERED.

Me: (getting upset)

Customer "Support" Specialist: So ARE YOU?

Me: (getting homicidal) I think I am registered.

Customer "Support" Specialist: (voice can barely fit through the phone wires as it is positively THICK with condescending attitude) Okay. I guess I'm going to have to go into your account and see for myself, because you obviously can't understand what I'm asking you.



Number of times I hung up on her: Once, with gusto

Number of times I felt bad about it: Zero



Sincerely,

Liz

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Just Curious

Why do I suddenly want to eat large quantities of sugar today?

And why is there no sugar to be found?

Why do I keep singing Total Eclipse of the Heart?

How am I able to suppress the powerful urge to also do an accompanying interpretive dance?

Why do you always find fuzzy pennies in the bottom of your junk drawer?

When you stop at a stop sign, why do you always see long strands of tape from audiocassettes littering the median?

When the dog has to throw up, why does he jump up on the couch and angle his mouth in such a way that the yuck goes on the cushion, drips down the front of the couch, and lands on the area rug underneath?

Why does said dog not choose to go instead to any one of the numerous, hard-surfaced and easy-to-clean places in the house?

Why does gas suddenly cost $3 a gallon?

Is God punishing me for buying a larger car last summer after driving a sardine tin for 12 years?

How is it that I can look for my car keys in the key dish FIVE TIMES and not spy them until the SIXTH?

Why do I continuously stab myself on a pair of misplaced super-sharp tweezers whenever I reach into my bag, but never remove said tweezers to prevent future stabbing?

Why do I inevitably turn the channel to Animal Cops just as they are showing some poor dog that has been nearly starved to death?

Why do I cry so much over things I see on TV?

Why does my dog’s leg kick when I scratch him in that one spot on his belly?

Why does it feel so good to know that I vacuumed under the couches, even though no one can see under them?

How come I don’t have my own personal pastry chef?

And why isn’t he/she serving me a lemon meringue pie right now?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Pride cometh before the water inhalation...

The interview went well on Friday. Very, very well, and in fact I think it may be the best interview I've ever had. At one point I was answering a question, and I had the sensation of floating above the table, observing myself and marveling over how awesome I was doing. Then, two seconds later, I almost choked to death on a sip of water. Awesome, indeed.

It's a lazy Sunday here... I have a stack of books to read. Right now I'm reading The Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman. Also on my stack, fresh from the library, are Until I Find You (John Irving) and Before You Know Kindness (Chris Bohjalian). I am a huge Irving fan, but unfortunately I just read on Bearette's blog that this newest work is not the greatest. I'll still give it a shot, but I'm not one to suffer through anything I'm not enjoying. Bohjalian also wrote Midwives, which I loved, so I am anxious to get started on his new one.

I just emailed a very simple recipe for Parmesan cheese crisps to a friend of mine. Yeah, so she asked for it on the FOURTH OF JULY and I just now sent it to her. Does that make me a bad person?

Anyway, these are neat to serve at parties because they look fancy but are really easy. And there is only ONE ingredient, so no need to be intimidated! And by the way, I can't seem to type "crisps" to save my life. I keep leaving off the first s. Rest assured, if you see "Crips" I am not talking about the notorious LA gang, but rather a tasty cheese treat. Here is the recipe:

Parmesan Crisps:

Ingredient: 4 cups Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily grease a cookie sheet.
Sprinkle the parmesan cheese in circles, each about 5 inches in diameter (you may need to do this in batches). Use enough to cover the area thinly, but don't use too much. Place sheet in oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown (keep checking on them, as I've sometimes had them cook much faster than this, esp. when using a dark sheet).

Remove the cheese circles from the sheet and immediately drape them over a rolling pin so that they get a curved shape as they cool and harden. Be very careful when you handle the cooled crisps as they will be brittle.

These are great not only as little appetizers, but also for fancy plating. You can set them on the dinner plates, or stick them in mashed potatoes, etc., for a fancy effect. Your friends will be AMAZED. Plus, it is great fun to eat all the broken pieces after the company leaves.

And now? I'm going to post a couple of pictures of Alex the Cute, and then go be lazy for the rest of the day.



"Sigh...nothing to do but sit here and look adorable."



These brown eyes follow my every move, every day.



"You love me, right? Please say you love me..."

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Things that are making my head hurt

1. I have two presentations next week that I am not prepared for.
2. Time for preparing? Does not really exist right now.
3. I have a job interview on Friday.
4. It is a panel interview.
5. The interview also involves giving a presentation, so make that three presentations.
6. I just found out about said interview yesterday.
7. I somehow hurt my back (spine?) and haven't been able to go to the gym all week.
8. Oh yeah, my back hurts too.
9. We talked to our financial planner last night and I didn't understand 75% of what he said.
10. Therefore, we might be financially doomed.

Would anyone like to write my presentations, interview on my behalf, offer chiropractic services, or review my investment portfolio?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Non-solitary Confinement

We are in the midst of another rain storm here. Alex has been sleeping on my feet, in the dark cave under the desk, curled up as tightly as possible. I got up a minute ago to use the bathroom and he followed close on my heels, sitting in front of the toilet and staring with his huge brown eyes.

It was a little disconcerting. Is this what it's like when you have kids? No bathroom privacy?

I was guilty of bathroom infiltration when I was a kid. It seemed like whenever I needed my mom, she was in the bathroom. So as not to mortify my mother, her bodily functions were all very normal and she didn't use the bathroom more frequently than anyone else. But whenever she went in and shut that bathroom door, PANIC SET IN and my brother and sister and I would hyperventilate and hang from the doorknob and gasp and wiggle our fingers under the door because HOW COULD WE LIVE WITHOUT HER FOR TWO MINUTES.

MOMMY? MOMMY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE? WHY? WHY CAN'T WE HAVE COOKIES BEFORE DINNER? WHY WAS THERE A DWARF NAMED DOPEY? 'CAUSE THE OTHER ONES DIDN'T LIKE HIM? WHY? CAN YOU SEE MY EYEBALL UNDER THE DOOR? I CAN SEE YOUR TOES. MOOOOMMY... KIM IS LICKING THE WALL! CAN THAT KILL HER? WHY NOT?

When we were older and more subtle, slipping a note and a small pencil under the door was a classic move.


MOM.

CAN I GO TO BECKYS HOUSE. ?

YES NO
[PLEES CURCLE ONE]



God bless all the people in the world who just want to use the bathroom without being studied, questioned, guilted, or surveyed. At least my dog can't talk or write.

Sorry, mom.

100 Things (finally)

This list only took me about 3 months to complete.


1) I am a librarian
2) But I don’t like to shush people
3) And I’m not old and I don’t wear my hair in a bun
4) I think food and drinks should be allowed in the library
5) I have an office with a door (for which I am thankful)
6) And a really fast computer (for which I am also thankful)
7) I really love my profession and my job
8) I used to be a social worker
9) When I was a kid I wanted to be a chef
10) I love to cook
11) I’m told I’m pretty good at it
12) I have an incredible recipe for molten chocolate cake & am willing to share
13) The first thing I made when I was a kid was banana bread
14) I am a “vegetarian”, but not really since I sometimes eat seafood
15) I don’t believe in diets like Atkins and South Beach
16) I like to read about and talk about food
17) I keep a diary of all the restaurants I visit
18) Last night I had a vivid dream that I went to the best restaurant in DC
19) I have a beautiful cobalt blue Kitchen Aid mixer
20) Am lusting after the matching food processor
21) I named my mixer Artie
22) I really like to name things
23) Also have a red sauté pan named Ruby
24) And a dozen named plants, the best of which is Picky-Picky
25) Every spring I count the days until I can plant my flowers and vegetables
26) I love animals, especially dogs
27) I have one dog and love him madly
28) His name is Alex
29) Alex thinks he’s a real live boy, and I encourage that delusion
30) I currently have 11 varieties of treats and rawhide in my cabinet
31) I also have one husband and love him madly
32) I am married to someone I admire
33) We have been together for 11 years
34) I would love to have a several acres of land one day
35) Because I would like to have a couple of Pygmy goats and perhaps a pig
36) And I hope my husband loves me madly enough to agree to it eventually
37) I was born in Oklahoma
38) My father was a pilot in the Air Force, so we moved a lot
39) I enjoyed moving and seeing new places
40) But as a result, I don’t form attachments as easily as some people do
41) This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage for me
42) My parents live in Florida and my siblings live in Brooklyn
43) One of the best times of my life was when my childhood dog had puppies
44) One of the worst times of my life was putting one of my dogs to sleep
45) I love the beach
46) I hate the cold
47) I love hiking, especially in the fall
48) I hate shopping malls, especially around the holidays
49) I love drinking wine with friends
50) I hate sitting in traffic
51) I adore my mom’s eggrolls and apple pie
52) I can’t stomach olives or celery
53) I once shot the bird at a cop in an unmarked police car
54) Thankfully, he did not arrest me for aggressive driving
55) In fact, I have never been arrested
56) I tend to fall asleep on the couch at night
57) I need 7 hours minimum at night to feel good
58) I find that anticipation is often the best part of doing anything fun
59) I have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at least 15 times
60) I took piano lessons for 10 years
61) I always did my music theory homework at the last minute, so I am better at playing by ear than sight-reading
62) I am a habitual car dancer
63) One day I hope to be brave enough to take an improv class
64) I don’t enjoy reading science fiction or mysteries
65) I really don’t resemble any celebrities
66) I have long blonde hair and eyes that seem to change colors
67) I like to wear high heels
68) The thing I can’t live without is Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
69) I’m very ticklish and the one and only pedicure I ever had was torture
70) I love to dance
71) I wish I had taken dance lessons growing up so I’d be better at it
72) I have had trouble with depression in the past
73) But it hasn’t recurred in quite a while, so I’m glad
74) I have kept a journal since elementary school
75) I do step aerobics three times a week
76) I also love badminton, for some odd reason
77) I always vow to increase my physical flexibility, but I don’t
78) If I see a receipt on the ground I pick it up to see what the person bought
79) I don’t like debt and pay off my credit card bill every month
80) I tend to worry about money, even though we have enough
81) If I had $2,000 and I had to spend it selfishly in one day, I’d probably get electrolysis so I’d never have to shave again.
82) I prefer small gatherings to big parties
83) I am an introvert, but I’ve become less so over the years
84) My worst habit is cracking my knuckles
85) My pet peeves are gossip, unreturned phone calls, and having an empty water glass in a restaurant
86) I love old houses
87) I hope to own one someday
88) I kind of enjoy doing manual labor
89) I’m proud when I can do something on my own, rather than hiring someone
90) Right now I would really like to learn how to lay a tile floor
91) My favorite junk foods are french fries and movie theater popcorn
92) Lots of people have asked me why I don’t have children
93) It’s none of their business, but I hope to have one someday
94) I would also like very much to be a foster parent
95) When I tell jokes I’m usually the one who laughs the hardest
96) My friends and family think this is funny
97) I admire people who speak several languages
98) I respect those who care for aging parents
99) One day I hope people remember me as a person with a generous heart
100) I try to live my life in a way that leaves few regrets

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Once we were so poor...

...that we went to Dunkin' Donuts and this happened:

My husband (then my fiancé) and I enter the shop. Ding! rings the bell. A young man comes to the counter.

Him: Can I help you?

Us: We’d like two chocolate Munchkins, please.

Him: Uh...two boxes?

Us: No, just two Munchkins.

Him: Boxes though, right?

(He waves one in the air, as though we don’t know what the word “box” means)

Us: Uh, no.

I put our 28 cents down on the counter, spreading the coins out. One dime, five nickels, and three pennies. See, Mr. Donut Man? Not enough for two boxes.

Us: We want two individual chocolate Munchkins. One, two. Just two.

He stares at us.

We stare back at him.

He stares some more, as if trying to determine the depth of our peculiarity.

With my eyes I try to communicate, that’s right, this is all we have right now. ALL WE HAVE. 28 cents. Would we rather be dining at Al Tiramisu? Yeah. We would even rather be at Burger King. But here we are, with our 28 cents, because we want to be young and have fun and GO OUT TO EAT for godssakes, because we’re tired of staying home and eating noodle surprise, because it’s never ONCE been surprising, and this is the best we can do because we’re poor and PATHETIC. We hope to not be so pathetic one day, but for now, WE JUST ARE. Now can you please just sell us our damn donut holes?

The donut-fetcher mutters, shakes his head, but nonetheless obeys. He wraps our donut holes in waxed paper and places them on the counter, where they look small and afraid, yanked from the incubator and denied the chance to grow into real donuts.

I push the coins toward him, already missing the jingling in my pocket.

Him: Anything else with that?

I so want to kill you.

I open my mouth to reply but my future hubby squeezes my hand. He says, "That'll be it, thanks.

Me: Keep the change.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cooking Meme

Here is my cooking meme, thanks to J Bo.


What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

Okay, I there are a few that deserve recognition in this category...

When I was around 4 or 5 years old I made banana bread. At the time, I thought I had invented my own recipe and was destined to be the next Julia Child. I found out years later that my mother had measured out all the ingredients and put them in bowls for me; I just did all the mixing and mess-making.

One Mother’s Day morning my brother and sister and I wanted to take my mom breakfast in bed. Knowing that she liked coffee but having no clue how it was made, our kid brains went into action:

Okay... think, think, think! Mom uses the dirt-looking stuff in that Tupperware container. Also, water is somehow involved. Hey, waitaminute... we totally know how to make coffee!

So we stirred coffee grounds into a mug of cold water. To my mom’s credit, she took several sips and managed a convincing “Mmmm...”

In later years we would do “Parents’ Night Out”, where we would turn the dining room into a restaurant complete with cloth napkins, handmade menus, and candles. The earliest versions of this involved delicacies like beans n’ franks and fruit cocktail topped with whipped cream, but we improved over the years. Pop always left us a tip.



Who had the most influence on your cooking?

My mom. She made everything from scratch, and now I just can’t bring myself to buy mixes and frozen meals. It is a sickness, truly.


Do you have an old photo as evidence of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?


The seventies, so very yellow and orange.



Mageiricophobia: do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

I haven’t eaten meat in 15 years, so the thought of attempting a roast or something makes me nervous.

And this is pretty silly, but I have a fear of opening those cans of biscuits and pizza dough. You know, because they make that pop! sound? I really hate that.



What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?

I love kitchen gadgets of all sorts, so it is very difficult for me to narrow this down. But if I am forced to choose one, it has to be my KitchenAid mixer. His name is Artie and he is cobalt blue. Yes, I like to name inanimate objects. I also adore my garlic press. The garlic press has yet to be named.

Biggest letdown:
Probably the slicing attachment I bought for my mixer. I used it once. I really do prefer doing the slicing with a knife and getting messy.


Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like and probably no one else!

Peanut butter & banana sandwiches are my comfort food. I ate them before interviews of all sorts, big exams, and my wedding.

Also, my brother and I used to love dipping french fries into Wendy’s Frosties. This admission typically prompts either a delighted “Oh, me too!” or a look of disgust.


What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?

1) I love mushrooms of all sorts, cooked almost any way.
2) In the summer: huge, juicy fruit salads with berries, nectarines, pineapple, and grapes.
3) My mom’s homemade apple pie

And can I list a fourth? I adore whipped cream.


Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!

What was your worst kitchen mishap?

I was making a rice dish that called for toasted coconut. I put the coconut on a tray in the toaster oven and left the kitchen for a few seconds. Upon returning, I saw that the coconut had already burned black.

As I opened the door to remove the tray, the oven burst into flames. Like a total cooking idiot I threw water (water!) on this electrical device that was STILL PLUGGED IN, which made the fire even worse. I then tried to smother the fire by stuffing dish towels into the oven, which also caught on fire because the oven was STILL PLUGGED IN.

Finally, after breaking several breakables and burning my hands, and feverishly praying that the cabinets would not catch fire, and wondering if I should run next door and warn the neighbors, I remembered that I had a fire extinguisher under the sink. I blasted that oven until the extinguisher was empty and the flames were gone.

Then I burst into tears and vowed to never, ever touch coconut again.

Three quickies:
Your favorite ice-cream: I’m not a big ice cream fan, but the best I ever had was the chocolate cone at Kline’s Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

You will probably never eat: meat

Your own signature dish: probably decorated cakes, and maybe my vegetable soup.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Alex *Hearts* Bearette24

For Bearette24, Alex's adopted NYC mom:




"Hi NYC mom! This picture was taken right after I was rescued from the shelter by a local rescue organization. I was pretty scared and sick with kennel cough, but my new owners took me to the vet. And bought me treats! And 32,000 squeak toys! All of which I tore to pieces. I pretty much kick ass when it comes to squeak toys."




"Here I am with my summer cut. I posed on the red couch because I look so studly up here. If I were a human I'd probably be Bon Jovi."




"And here I am after I went swimming in a lake. I had just chased a big gaggle of fat, sassy geese. Don't I look adorable with this big smile on my face?"





"I just had a bath. As soon as that door behind me is open I will tear up and down the hallways and stairs like I am CRAZY. Why? That's just what we dogs like to do when we're wet. It's genetic."

Little House on the Prairie

It was a very Little House kind of weekend for us. Besides milking our cows and building a sod house with our bare hands, we did the following:


Admired the prairie flowers:








Tended to our crops:








Harvested just enough to sustain us through the threshing of the wheat:





And hunted wild game:



The pineapple, it is a wiley species. This one put up a good fight but was eventually wrestled from his hiding place and put down quickly and humanely with an extra-sharp Henckels knife.




The pineapple was grilled with red peppers and thick slices of onion and eaten ravenously by candlelight.

It was delicious.