Thursday, August 30, 2007

Musings of an Early Riser

4:20 a.m.
(alarm goes off)
Holy shit.

5:00 a.m.
(stopping at coffee shop)
It must be nice to be exempt from traffic laws. Thanks for parking your huge-ass truck on the yellow curb directly in front of the store, thereby blocking the store hours. Wah, I had to park my car and walk to the front door to see if they were open. Lucky for you, they were. Enjoy your latte, you law-breaker, you.

5:03 a.m.
(in line at coffee shop)
A line! I'm standing in a line at 5 a.m., and I am not at the airport. Wow. La-la-la. Soy cappuccino, please!

5:05 a.m.
(waiting for coffee)
I could never be famous.

5:06 a.m.
(still waiting)
If I were famous, every time I spoke I'd wonder if someone would quote me in Bartlett's . Could you imagine? Squeeee! And yet, the pressure.

5:07 a.m.
(walking to car with double cappuccino in hand)
What would I say?

5:08 a.m.
(pulling onto the road)
"Get off my tail, asshole! There is plenty of road for all of us!"

5:08 a.m.
Wait, not that.

5:10 a.m.
National Public Radio is so soothing. They're all, "Good morning, everyone. We've just heard that aliens have launched an attack on planet Earth. It's a beautiful day in our nation's capitol."

5:12 a.m.
Who knew there were so many people on the road at this hour? I mean, I was expecting some traffic, but not this much. What the feck is wrong with these eejits?

5:12 a.m.
(realize that I, too, am on my way to work at 5 a.m.)
Oh.

5:15 a.m.
I thought the chances of accidents would be less this early in the morning, with fewer people on the road. But you know what? All it means is that people can go faster while they’re being assholes. 5 a.m.: prime accident time. Ye have been warned.

5:18 a.m.
BBC World Update on NPR. Accents!

5:18 a.m. - 5:32 a.m.
"Oh, hallo! This is, um... Sophie!... your British anchor on BBC World Update! Bloody hell, Declan! It's almost half-five. What's the news?"

"Slainte, Sophie! I'm reporting live, from Ireland! I'm just about to have some kippers and soda bread for me breakfast! After which I will be heading to the local pub, dont'cha know. Blimey! I mean, whoops! I'm also part Minnesotan! And that's all the news in Ireland, Sophie. Back to you!"

5:33 a.m.
Realize I am holding my pen like a microhpone and gesticulating wildly while driving.

5:34 a.m.
Try to calm myself down.

5:35 a.m.
Put on my book-on-CD, which I remember too late has a British narrator.

5:36 a.m.
Am doomed.


And the rest of the day is a blur.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You guys asked for it

I was thoroughly prepared to do a 180 and transform my recently cranky writing into the Magic Blog of Positivity and Light, but then you told me that you like my acerbity!

(BabelBabe also said that she likes my stained shirt, so I smeared some mustard on my jammies before I started typing this.)

And anyhow, I don't go on vacation for another few days, so I can still blame my crabbiness on burn-out.

Work has been mind-blowingly busy for the past two weeks and by the time I get home (late) I'm too exhausted to do more than blow a sloppy kiss in the general direction of my husband and fall into bed.

Bring on the Guinness!

(By the way, I think Mike is terrified of going to Ireland with me, given my penchant for imitating mannerisms and accents. He is pretty much banking on dying of embarrassment on the first day of the trip.)

WHAT THE FECK, YOU EEJIT?

(I can't help it!)

I've recently finished a typically light chick lit read called Getting Rid of Matthew. The plot goes like this: Helen has affair with married, older boss (Matthew) for four years. Helen wants Matthew to leave his wife (Sophie. Why do these British novels always have a character named Sophie?) So one day, without warning, he does so, and moves himself into Helen's flat. And then what happens? She decides that she no longer wants him, and thus the book's title.

And this reminds me of something that I've never understood: Why, when someone discovers a partner's philandering ways, does so much of the resulting rage so often seem to be disproportionately directed at the lover-on-the-side?

(this really doesn't happen so much in the book. Without giving too much away, Sophie is angry with Helen for sure, but she also recognizes her husband's role. The book just reminded me of this recurring thought.)

You and your partner are the ones who share vows or commitments. The lover-on-the-side does not. Right?

Aren't I great at taking a very complex emotional situation and breaking it down into a two-sentence resolution?

Feckin' eejit.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Well, then!

I just got home from work and noticed a large, crusty brown stain on the bottom of my sweater. It looked like I had been rolling around on a dirty diaper. What the hell? Why didn't you guys TELL me?

In other news, I found this awful blog this morning, the author of which was complaining, complaining endlessly, about traffic and rude drivers and junk mail and poor customer service and a big stain on her shirt.

What a boring, sniveling bitch! Let's just pretend that we don't know her.

I'm curious about something-- and really, this isn't a complaint, it is an area of concern. Part of my outer thigh on my left leg consistently feels numb-ish and tingly. At night it likes to go pins and needles, making sleep very uncomfortable. Just that one area, roughly the size of my open hand.

I don't recall sustaining any injuries to that side of my body, although I do frequently make sudden and violent contact with furniture and walls, so it's not entirely out of the question.

Do I need to break down and make a doctor's appointment?

I'm thinking that it might be related to spending hours a day parked on my ass in front of a computer at work. I know that's what causes the pain in my right arm (I've gotten quite good at mousing with my left hand!), but leg issues? Issues in just one leg?

Our trip to Ireland is coming up in one week, so I'm thinking that two weeks of Guinness and wandering freely in the green hills might do the trick.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Today's program has been cancelled due to temporary bad mood

As I explained to Bearette yesterday, Wednesday found me trapped in a soul-sucking vortex of telephone hell.

This seems to happen to me a lot, have you noticed?

I offer this as a public service:





1) When the phone rings, pick it up as promptly as possible. Try not to drop the receiver multiple times, or hold it against your chest as you giggle and finish telling your co-worker about the drunken sex you had last night.


2) SUPER BONUS TIP: During business hours, do not let unanswered calls go to a message that says, “Please call back during business hours.”


3) When you answer the phone, please identify yourself and the office or department you’re representing. The person on the other end of the line may have been transferred and have no idea who she is talking to (see #4b).


4) After the caller states her need, please use some form of verbal communication to indicate that you understand the issue. A few acceptable examples are, Okay, I understand, or I would be happy to help you with that. When you're on the phone, saying nothing after someone has asked you a question is the equivalent of giving her a blank stare. Of course, if you and the caller share the gift of telepathy, it’s okay not to speak.


4a) If you discover that you cannot answer the caller’s question, it is not good customer service to say, “I have no idea.” or “That’s not my department.” Trust me, no customer is interested in what you CAN’T do. Please scrape together your remaining brain cells and think, think hard, about who would be able to help your caller.

4b)
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do not simply grunt, “Justaminute” and then dump the call on someone else. Explain to the caller that you cannot help her, but you will transfer her to someone who can. Tell her the name of the person, and give her the telephone number in case she gets disconnected. If you want to achieve Customer Service Superstardom, explain the question/problem to your co-worker before you transfer the caller. Who knows? You could be saving the caller from explaining her problem to TEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE. She will love you if you save her from that. Trust me.

4c)
Also? Speaking with your co-worker before transferring the call also prevents your caller from ending up in voice mail hell, where a cheery voice announces that Suzanne is on maternity leave for the next four months and will not be checking her messages. Beep.



That’s it. That’s how to provide good customer service on the phone. Of course, some of you will find your phones ringing today and discover that your mind has gone blank. In case of such emergency, all you have to remember is

5) The Golden Rule.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Annoyances, continued

Dear obnoxious people who have nothing better to do than stuff my inbox with useless spam:

I realize this is all my fault. Yes, I'm a moron and I openly admit it. I visited one of those free samples sites and was sucked in by a promise of gratis shampoo in exchange for filling out a "brief" survey.

By the time I got to page 512 of the "brief" survey, my eyes were bleary and there was still no end in sight. How many times can I say that no, I am not interested in obtaining my diploma online? Or that my income is none of your damn business?

So I wearily clicked the HELL TO THE NO button and aborted the mission, figuring I could probably manage to scrape together enough money for a bottle of shampoo.

But you very cleverly secured my email address on the very first page, didn't you? When I opened my inbox the next morning, I had a giddy feeling that I would very soon be crowned Ms. Popularity. Look at all my emails! See how many people love me! Behold...

...the never-ending virtual stack of junk mail.

Thank you, really. I appreciate that you are trying to alert me to VERY IMPORTANT and possibly LIFE-CHANGING products and services.

But please be aware:

- I don't need to "lessen my burden of debt." Unless you are offering to pay my mortgage, in which case I will say a heartfelt THANK YOU, grab my snorkel gear, and fly to Australia.

- Thanks for telling me about the beach bum who made millions of dollars while working from home in his Speedo. If I ever become a Speedo-wearing beach bum, you'll be first on my notification list.

- You are so clever, you little spammer, putting my first name in the subject line like that! You totally got me! I thought for sure it was my best friend writing to tell me about the PerfectReplicaz Rolex "wach".

- I do not need a stiffy in a jiffy.

- I'm not interested in a mail-order Russian bride.

- I already have a f*ck buddy. But I'm flattered that you asked.

- Do I look like the kind of person who wishes to purchase "phat gangsta grillz"?

- I'm sorry your husband is being held captive by political adversaries, but if I had $10,000 to blow, I would not give it to you. See #1.

- A new laptop for nothing? Rarin'. Send it to me and I'll let my pet unicorn use it.



I'll close by saying thank you for giving me exactly what I asked for.

Sincerely,
Liz

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Look at my StoveTop!

You can stand another traffic story, right? In fact, I'm sure you've been just dying for one.

I shan't disappoint you.

Today I was driving home after a busy and productive day at work. It wasn't a good hair day, but you can't win 'em all, you know?

Anyhow, I'm approaching an intersection with a green light when suddenly a car coming from the opposite direction tries to make a left-hand turn across three lanes, nearly causing the Lexus in front of me to broadside him. Lexus slams on his brakes and honks, I slam on my brakes, and the offending driver (let's just call him Idiot) slams on his brakes.

Here's a graphic, in case you're having trouble picturing it:



Lexus proceeds. I proceed. As soon as Lexus goes by, Idiot tries to make his surprise left turn again and I nearly broadside him.

I simultaneously slam on my brakes and honk. Idiot slams on his brakes.

I proceed.

Then he turns in front of me again. And yes, you guessed it, I almost hit him. Again.

The cherry on this traffic sundae was when he flipped me the bird.

I laughed. I had to laugh, you know? But this kind of shit really wears you down after a while. I always feel like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes. I'm thinking of the scene at the grocery store where the punky teenage boy bumps into her and Bates politely says, "Oh! Excuse me!" and the kid snarls, "Screw you!" and Kathy runs after him into the parking lot and cries, "Why are you being so mean to me? I don't understand!" and then her wet paper grocery bag breaks and the StoveTop Stuffing box falls into a puddle and she can do is sob, "Look at my StoveTop!"

Then I fantasized about moving to Florida.

In other news, here's what I cooked this weekend: vegetarian lasagna, stuffed bell peppers, and Mediterranean Succotash. Yes, all for one meal, and no, we weren't having company for dinner. It's an illness, folks. I CAN'T STOP. Please come rescue us before we are eligible to float down the street in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Non-vegetarians who eat this lasagna are usually surprised by how good a meatless lasagna can be and frequently ask for the recipe. Unfortunately, it's all in my head, and the recipe is a little different each time. This version featured zucchini, spinach, portobello mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrots, soy crumbles, and fat-free cottage cheese in place of ricotta.

By the time our paltry little family of two makes it through this huge pan of lasagna, I doubt we'll be craving it again any time soon. But if anyone is interested, I'll try to note the method and ingredients (and perhaps take some pictures) next time around. Not like it's that hard... I mean, lasagna is almost impossible to mess up. But if you want it, I'm willing.

I live to serve. Just don't flip me the bird unless I deserve it, okay?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

What a Classic Combination

I cooked several things this weekend: fish tacos, cabbage salad with an anchovy-garlic-white wine vinegar dressing, and homemade Oreo cookies.

I wasn't thrilled with my fish tacos, so I won't be posting a recipe (though Mike ate three of them in rapid succession, so they couldn't have been too bad). I also didn't care for the cabbage salad, which was really annoying considering the amount of time I spent mashing the garlic with the anchovies and then emulsifying the olive oil and vinegar and shredding red and green cabbage (and a bit of my knuckles). But I'm pleased to report that the salad was tastier tonight, after it had 24 hours to chill in the refrigerator and think about what it had done.

The real winner of the weekend was the homemade Oreos. Mike loved them, two housefuls of neighbors loved them, and my co-workers demolished the plate that I brought in today. It's true-- everyone loves O-R-E-O.

Here's the recipe from Wayne Brachman's Retro Desserts, along with my own pictures. It was a bit time consuming, especially since I made a double batch, but fun.

Ingredients:


Chocolate Wafers:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
Filling:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.

In a food processor (or bowl of an electric mixer), thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing (or on low speed), add the butter, then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.




Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough (I used a flat-bottomed measuring cup).






Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking.

Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.




To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.



To assemble the cookies, fit pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill with cream. (if you don't have a pastry bag, you can also use a plastic sandwich bag. Just fill the bag and the cut one of the bottom corners to size).




Pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. (Okay, clearly I like a bit more cream than that in my cookies...)



Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, working the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.


It's the perfect garnish for a glass of ice-cold milk, if you ask me.


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Friday, August 10, 2007

Foot Fetish Friday

Today I went to see my dermatologist for my yearly appointment. You know those pamphlets and websites that identify the risk factors for developing skin cancer? Put all of those together and that's basically what I look like.

See? See how pale I am?

Our Happy Family:
Alex, Liz, and Mike


I really like my dermatologist. He actually listens, and explains stuff! My former doctor, upon examining some spots of concern on my forehead and concluding that yes, they were pre-cancerous, just came at my face with his liquid nitrogen weapon with nary a word of warning or explanation.

"Eeeeeek!" I shrieked, scrambling across the exam table. "Can we, um, TALK about this first?"

And he looked at me, perplexed and slightly annoyed, like why on Earth would we want to do that?

But this doctor is great. Remember my first appointment with him, when I had the embarrassingly stinky feet? I hope he's forgotten about that, but I'm not sure. I showered this morning and paid extra attention to my feet. Then I sniffed my flip flops before I put them on, just in case they were trying to sabotage me. And then, once I was in the exam room and sitting on the table in my robe, I grabbed my foot and pulled it to my face for one final check.

And that's when the good doctor walked in. Without knocking.

Ah, well. At least it's Friday. Happy Friday, everyone.


p.s. I added a picture of the Sloppy Joes.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Raggedy Alex

"Stay, Alex. Staaaaaaaaaaay."

But dogs will be dogs.









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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'd like to thank Flummery, Sloppy Joe, and the Academy.

This morning I slept in a bit, which was heavenly. I've been so darn tired lately. Mike's band had a show on Friday night, which meant that I didn't get home until after midnight, which meant that I then waited up until 2 a.m. for him to get home with our traditional wee-hours-of-the-morning, post-gig fried zucchini sticks.

I don't remember how that tradition got started, but it's endured for many years now.

So this morning I had the treat of opening my eyes only when they were ready, of my dog crawling up beside me and nuzzling my face. I love that, the soft, warm whoosh of air from his wet nose, the tickle of his whiskers. I love it when he gently sniffs my eyelids to see if I'm really sleeping, and the way he pats my face with his paw to wake me up.


The world would be so much better if people were more like dogs.


I'd planned to go to the gym this morning for a step class, to be followed by a tai chi/yoga/pilates class, but I had the time wrong. The class is half over by now, so whoops! I guess I'll just have to stay home and drink coffee and make strawberry-rhubarb flummery for tonight's dessert. The magazine touted it as a traditional Irish dessert. Dinner will be Italian, but it's okay to mix cuisines, don't you think?

I haven't posted a recipe in a while, so I thought I'd share one of my favorites. It's very quick and easy to make, plus it's a good way to use up some of the bell peppers that are popping out faster than I can pick them.

Spicy Sloppy Joes
(serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. canola oil

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 large green pepper (I use more)

  • 1 1/2 lb soy crumbles (like these)

  • 3 T. chili powder

  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced (I use less. I prefer mild spice.)

  • 1 1/4 cup pale or brown ale, room temperature

  • 3/4 cup low-sodium bottled chili sauce
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions

  • Hamburger buns (I like those potato rolls... nice and soft)

  • Herb salad greens
  • sliced avocado

Warm oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic and green pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, about 1-2 minutes.

Stir in soy crumbles and chili powder. Cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add jalapeños, ale, chili sauce, and soy sauce; mix well. You might want to drink that other bottle of ale that you saved as back-up... no sense in letting it go to waste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, about 15 minutes (until thickened).

Remove from heat. Mix in scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm on top of open buns. Top with herb salad greens and avocado slices.


Sometimes I like to throw in other ingredients. When I made it last night I added some fresh corn kernels and some ground flax seed to the sauce.

Now, pay attention: the herb salad greens and avocado are crucial finishes. Personally, I wouldn't want the sloppy joes at all if I couldn't have those toppings. The herb salad greens give it such a delicious, fresh flavor. Sometimes I add extra cilantro to mine, because I could probably eat a bucketful of cilantro without much prodding. The way the creamy avocado mixes with it the warm, spicy sauce... oh.

Thanks a lot. Now I'm going to be eating sloppy joes for breakfast.

But before I dig in, I just wanted to say thanks to a few people who have been kind enough to present me with prestigious blogging awards. Thank you, really. I'm glad that someone besides me gets some enjoyment from this silly little hobby of mine.





Thanks, Janet!

Thanks, Uncle P!




And for the Not Another Button (NAB) Award, thanks to Emma.



Oh my god, my mom is going to be so proud.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

It either feels like living in Hard Rock Cafe or a vacuum cleaner bag, depending.

I was taking random pictures of my house tonight, intending to show you some of its details that are interesting, but totally impractical when it comes to cleaning.
Such as:




Except for behind the washing machine, apparently. Of course, it would be a lot easier if my dog weren't hiding back there 80 percent of the time:





This is a random shelf in our master bedroom, situated under the highest point of the slanted ceiling. It's two feet above my head and it's been four years since we displayed that lovely grass.
(Translation: who knows what the hell is up there?).


But as I combed the house for more hard-to-clean places (and consequently, more filth), I noticed how many music-related items there are. This is probably because my husband is a social worker by day, would-be rocker by night.

Here's a small sampling:

Sun-catcher. Best photographed
when the sun is actually shining.


Old albums. Also good for collecting dust.


More guitars.

Meet Ace Frehley. He scares the shit
out of me every time I go in our closet.


That penny was defaced at the Torpedo Factory.
It has been adopted into the tribe as an honorary pick.

I feel Paul's guilt-inducing stare as I watch TV, sprawled on
the couch. His Linda wouldn't have been so lazy... she'd have
gone out and built an organic mud hut or something.



Miniature guitar. You could probably
play it if you were a guinea pig.



A mandolin banjo that was owned by Mike's
great-grandfather. I think the harmonica was his, too.


The actual record of payment for the mandolin
banjo. It cost $15.00 plus $1.50 for the case. He paid four
dollars every month until it was paid off.


Just a hunch:
God would disapprove of Mary's placement on this shelf.




Hey, look! It's Disturbing Mouse Boy.
I found him in the grass one day while I was
walking the dog. He really freaks Mike out,
so I like to hide him in surprising places.



Shhh...


And this is what you really came here for, isn't it?
Happy Phallic Friday.
(doesn't look very satisfying, if you ask me)

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

ROTFLMAO


http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/

(I know; I'm the last one to discover this, right?)

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