August 17, 2005
In the coming days, my fade back into obscurity will be complete.
The firstname.lastname@example.org address will be deleted, as will this weblog.
If there are recipes you want, I would suggest you copy them now.
All the best,
August 08, 2005
It's been fun...
but, I think the time has come to say "Good-Bye."
What I have tried to create here is a place with the comforts of home to welcome all friends, old and new, to sit down, take a load off, visit, and relax.
It's been a happy place for me to share the exploits of my children and my childhood, as well as observations of this crazy world in which we live.
It has been a welcome distraction from much pain and sorrow.
However, reality beckons and I must turn my attentions elsewhere.
To each and all, I wish you the best.
UPDATE - August 12, 2005:
Stunned, humbled, and amazed do not begin to express my reaction to the words of each and every one of you.
From my heart, I thank each of you.
God bless and keep you and the ones you love safe.
Hiding, in plain sight
ah, sweet denial...allowing the obese to enjoy chocolate cake...allowing the working stiffs to drink and blog till dawn...allowing capitalism to rocket on without a glimpse of reason...sweet sweet denial..keeping families on speaking terms for generations...
...allowing yours truly to actually believe one can actually choose between alternate realities.
August 07, 2005
I So Rock!
Forgive the lack of humility, it just does not happen that often.
The girls returned this afternoon from a week with first my mom, then a couple days with their paternal grandmother. They are spoiled, well fed, and very happy. Bless them.
Both of their grandmothers are great cooks and indulge them with their favorite foods: chicken and dumplings, "roast, rice, and gravy", pizza, and fried chicken.
In anticipation of a little burnout from mostly "down home" cooking, yesterday I picked up some fresh shrimp to make something a little different to welcome them home.
With Wee One helping to clean the shrimp, I had Sweet One boiling the fettucine.
Here's a quick recipe for Shrimp Fettucine:
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 - 5 cloves, freshly minced garlic
3 Tablespoons butter
8 ounces half and half cream
salt to taste
black pepper, freshly ground to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (garnish)
1 lb. cooked fettucine
In one medium size sauce pan melt butter over medium heat.
Add cream and stir constantly. Stir in salt, black and red pepper, nutmeg, grated Parmesan cheese, and grated Romano cheese.
Continue to stir constantly until melted, then mix in egg yolk.
Simmer over medium low heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
In a second sauce pan, add olive oil over medium - high heat. Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes, then add shrimp and keep them moving in the pan.
When they are cooked (just a few minutes), add the sauce from the other pan, stir thoroughly and pour over cooked fettucine. Serve immediately.
We added a tossed green salad with cherry tomatoes and an Italian dressing, as well as warm brownies and ice cream and we had a meal!
At the moment, I'm feeling pretty fat and happy.
"Mommy, can I have a napkin?" said the Wee One.
"I made a little tiny mess."
Immediate inspection revealed grape jelly on the counter top, down the cabinet, and on the tile floor.
Oh, yes, that would be a "little tiny mess."
Notwithstanding, I'm so happy my babies are home!
Good News, Bad News
Well, the good news is: I got nailed last night.
Bad news: It was by a scorpion.
Scorpion stings are actually suppose to be good for arthritis. Unfortunately, I don't think I have any.
While I could have done without the entire experience, it ended up being far better for me than him.
He has since become one with the garbage disposal.
That'll teach him.
August 06, 2005
As most are aware by now, my mother's first language was not English.
While she was visiting a couple of weeks ago, I told her I tried to fix-up one of my girl friends with this really nice guy. Yesterday, my mother asked me about it.
This is what she said: "Did they knock it off?"
Even after all these years, she still manages to stun me to silence as my mind scrambles to translate.
I think she meant: "Did they hit it off?"
Kate's 25 Word Challenge
It's off to a very interesting start:
Bianca was jolted awake when she heard the almost deafening noise. Jumping out of bed, she ran to look out her back window and saw...
When you are over there, be sure to let her know her "hayseed" friend say "Hi!"
August 05, 2005
Just eaten up with the dumbass.
When I was growing up, three or four times a year the family would head to Houston's version of China Town, not far from the George R. Brown Convention Center (the building that looks like the plumbing is exposed on the outside) and where Minute Maid (formerly Enron) Park now stands, for my mother to purchase the foodstuffs and products necessary for her to prepare the authentic cuisine of her homeland for us.
In recent years, the newer Vietnamese and Chinese import grocers have relocated just outside Houston to Bellaire, Texas. This is where my mother now shops as it is not far from where my sister and her family reside.
Fortunately, the sale of Asian grocery products is no longer limited to specialty import stores hundreds of miles from where I happen to be. In fact, just last week I discovered the SuperTarget near my office now offers Asian rice cracker assortments right alongside the Trail Mix stuff.
Oh, happy day!
There was even a variety of rice cracker mixes from which to choose. Most of them included dried peas coated in wasabi. Now, I like the dried peas and I like wasabi on some sushi (along with pickled ginger), but I am not a fan of wasabi peas. They are just too hot. Mind you, this coming from a woman who can hang with the best of 'em in the old jalapeno eating contests.
A few minutes ago, I decided to treat myself to my newly found discovery and opened a bag of these Asian rice crackers. I recognized my favorite little hot chili ones, the ones wrapped in nori, the ones with nori flakes, and the ones that are plain with the great crunch to them. However, there was one type in there I did not recognize. It was twisted in shape and light green instead of the white, tan or chili color of the other ones.
My first thought as I popped several in my mouth was: "Cool. They are making them in different colors now!"
My second thought: "@!$#!!"
I then coughed, sputtered, and gasped for air as my eyes burned and the lining of my nose peeled off and slid down my throat.
I should have known the green ones were wasabi green.
August 6, 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Likewise, August 9, 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
When I was in high school I participated in organized debate for one of my classes. In a twist on the debate theme, the teacher set up a mock trial with the chosen topic of whether Robert Oppenheimer committed crimes against humanity for his contribution to the creation and development of Little Boy (the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima) and Fat Man (the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki). As soon as the topic was revealed I was quite vocal and vehement regarding my rejection of such an absurd notion. My outspokenness, in an ironic turn of events, got me elected to the role of prosecutor in this mock trial of Oppenheimer before the entire of the student body of my high school.
Jack of Random Fate has drafted a particularly well written post regarding connections on Using Newtonian Physics in an Einsteinian Universe.
I encourage both posts and ensuing comments to each be read in their entirety.
Intelligent and reasonable minds will differ on most every issue. I like and respect both Jack and Donnie and read them daily, several times a day, in fact. Jack is a good friend who is one of the primary inspirations for me beginning this blog, as well as my continuing to write here. It is no secret I have great fondness and affection for him.
While I have no graduate or post-graduate background in physics, I am able to grasp the concepts which Jack has eloquently and patiently put forth in the first twenty paragraphs of his post; however, beginning with his application of history and current events to the model he has constructed:
Yet, most thinking on both the left and right in America is still linear, us-versus-them, whether “them” consists of the political opposition or “the terrorists”, whatever that nebulous term really means.
and continuing with:
Both Germany and Japan were defeated by the United States and allies using tactics that today would be called “terrorist” by the bombing of cities in nominal aims of disrupting production of vital war material in campaigns that by even the standards of the day were indiscriminate. The fires of Dresden and Tokyo stand in accusation of the terrorist aspect of the assaults.
I must admit, I part ways with Jack on the characterization of our war-time actions as “terrorism,” if, in fact, that is what he has asserted, in large part due to the reasons succinctly set forth is this article by Victor David Hanson of National Review (H/T Will), as well as my belief that “acts of war” are “acts of war” and civilians are unfortunate casualties to those acts.
Just as Hanson said:
The truth, as we are reminded so often in this present conflict, is that usually in war there are no good alternatives, and leaders must select between a very bad and even worse choice. Hiroshima was the most awful option imaginable, but the other scenarios would have probably turned out even worse.
It is my opinion, with an eye toward Oppenheimer, scientists are faced with a dilemma possibly unique to them: The question of a scientist’s responsibility toward humanity when developing (directly or indirectly) weapons or technology that could possibly be used in weaponry to destroy all of mankind.
Jack, among many other things, is a scientist and an honorable man. As such, I believe he offers a unique perspective to the political arena. While I often do not reach the same conclusions as he, there is a great deal to be said for the mental exercise he provokes in me and others to reach those conclusions.
UPDATE: Apparently, my trackback is not functioning properly. Jack has posted a follow-up to clarify some points entitled "Forest and trees".
Loosely translated into Looziana speak, when referring to an individual, a mess usually means someone is funny, possibly high-spirited, and definitely a handful.
When referring to food items, a mess takes on different, loosely associated connotations: a mess of snap beans is probably a bushel, a mess of oysters (depending on where one is) at a restaurant is a dozen on the half-shell, but at a market or at the docks is a sack of unshucked oysters, and a mess of fish is however many required to feed the people at home.
The odd thing about the expression is most people in the area instinctively know exactly how much a mess of anything is despite the lack of specific unit of measure in ounces, pounds, volume or number.
Wee One is a mess and it has nothing to do with her hygiene or appearance or how many of her there really are.
I called my mother's house yesterday morning. Wee One answered the phone. Upon hearing her angelic (right!) voice, I said: "Hi, honey, how are you this morning?"
She responded: "Hi, Mommy! I knew that was you calling."
"How did you know?"
"You always call first thing in the morning."
"Is grandma around?"
"Yes, ma'am, she's in the shower. Sissy is still sleeping. I was the first one up this morning."
We chit-chatted for a few more minutes until my mother exited the shower. Wee One handed her the phone, but before she spoke to me I heard my mother tell her: "Go wake your sister up."
In the background, I then heard Wee One: "Grandma, I'm very tired."
"Go. Wake. Sissy. Up."
"Grandma, I'm tired of telling you how tired I am."
Bottom line: My mother did not enforce her mandate. She merely laughed when she got on the phone with me to tell me what "a mess" Wee One is.
For the record, Wee One's response is sooooo NOT acceptable for me.
Prediction: Boot camp will begin anew when the chirren return on Sunday. Sgt. Chrissy is loaded for bear.
August 04, 2005
Who Says I Can't Turn a Man On?
At least on to a New Orleans Muffaletta...
To my knowledge, New Orleans is the only place one can enjoy an original muffaletta sandwich. In a nutshell, in the 1880's Italians began settling in the Crescent City. According to one tale:
the muffuletta sandwich was invented by Signor Lupo Salvadore, who opened the now-famous little Italian market called Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906 and created the muffuletta sandwich, named for a favored customer (although I had also heard that the sandwich was named for the baker of the round Italian bread on which the sandwich is served).
However, I must admit, Central Grocery was terribly crowded on the Saturday we were there, so I took Zonker two doors down and we enjoyed our muffaletta at Frank's Restaurant.
As with most things, there's more than one way to skin a cat or make a muffaletta. Here's a basic recipe for this fantastic sandwich, including the marinated olive dressing or olive salad that makes it special.
1 loaf muffuletta bread (Italian bread, focaccia or po' boy roll can be substituted in a pinch)
4 ounces salami, thinly sliced (Genoa)
4 ounces Italian ham, thinly sliced (Cappicola)
3 ounces Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
3 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup *Olive Salad Dressing (recipe below or buy already prepared)
Cut bread in half length-wise. Spread the olive salad on inside of the top and bottom of both halves of bread. Fold and layer each of the meats and cheeses. Close sandwich and cut into fourths.
Serve and enjoy!
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 cup pitted and chopped "black-ripe" olives or Calamatas
1 small jar cocktail onions, drained
1/2 cup roasted sweet red peppers cut into chunks
1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly coarse ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and store in a jar in refrigerator. Be sure to make at least one day before. Will store indefinitely.
August 03, 2005
When Sweet One was one and a half, not quite two-years-old we lived in Central Louisiana. Our next door neighbors at the time were a lovely black couple with whom we became the very best of friends. Philip was a production manager to a local television station and his wife Shirley had a masters degree in speech pathology and worked for one of the school districts in the area.
When he was almost forty, Philip received the calling and began classes at a local seminary at night. After a couple of years, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. After he was scheduled to preach his very first sermon, he and his wife came over for dinner and invited us to join them for a revival.
We loved this couple. In fact, I was blessed to be asked to join them in the delivery room to welcome their first child, a child who was born ten years into their marriage after much longing and waiting.
The night of the revival we drove down back roads to a small shotgun-style clapboard church in Grant Parish named Rock of Ages Baptist Church. The sanctuary was basically a vestibule (with a very small closet-sized restroom) which opened into a large room approximately twenty feet wide and seventy-five feet long with an aisle flanked by wooden pews. At the end of this narrow room were three rows of folding chairs for the choir and a wooden podium for the preacher. It was back woods homey with a welcoming and sincere feel.
However, it was hot. There was electrical lighting, but no air conditioning or fans to speak of. We were all dressed in our Sunday best, as was everyone else. And there were a lot of everyones there with latecomers denied pew seats and relegated to standing in the back.
Now, I was from the South and brought up in a Baptist church. I had been to a revival before. I knew there was going to be a lot of music, more than one invocation, and quite a bit of hellfire and damnation. I was prepared.
At least, I thought I was.
What I did not know was Rock of Ages was a charismatic Baptist Church.
For those unfamiliar with that term, think tongues and reception of the Holy Ghost in body. Neither the eighteen-month-old Sweet One nor the then thirty-five-year-old husband was ready to see people falling out in the aisles, running around the sanctuary or speaking in tongues.
After three hours of song and no less than three invocations, I began to smell something terrible, vile in fact. I sniffed and cast a glance this way and that, then sniffed some more. It was strong and appeared to be coming from where the husband sat with Sweet One on his lap. As I was about to discreetly ask whether the husband smelled it too, I saw him look down and exclaim: “EEEWWWW!”
Then I saw it.
Sweet One had diarrhea and it had oozed out of her diaper and onto his pants leg. He immediately jumped up and carried her down the aisle to the small restroom in the front. With every third step he took there was a distinctive plop of offensive matter marking their trail.
Armed only with church bulletins, I dutifully followed and scooped what I could as I went.
By the time I had finished “cleaning up” the aisle, the husband and child were ensconced in the tiny, tiny bathroom. I beat a hasty exit to the truck to retrieve the diaper bag while the husband set about assessing the damage to diaper and clothes.
Let me emphasize, the smell was horrendous, it was hot, and the bathroom, vestibule, and church interior were all to be considered “very close quarters.”
This was one instance in which that “planning” gene definitely came in handy. I had ample baby wipes, two sets of clothes for Sweet One, and, most importantly, gallon-sized Ziploc bags to stash the offending diaper, soiled clothes, and “garbage” we had generated.
As I took over the clean up of the child, the husband doffed his britches in an attempt to clean the pants leg off in the sink. At most, that bathroom was five feet by eight feet and all three of us were in there. Have I mentioned the smell?
Unfortunately, I did not have another set of clothes for the husband or air freshener.
When we were cleaned up as well as we were going to be cleaned up, we extracted ourselves and our paraphernalia from said restroom. At which point, the husband began making his way out the front door.
“Just where are YOU going?” I asked.
“We’re going home, aren’t we?
“Like hell,” I muttered, “Philip hasn’t given his sermon yet.”
With an expression of sheer exasperation and terror, he responded: “Well, we surely can’t go back in there.
“Oh, yes. We can and we WILL!”
With that, I led them both back into the church proper. While it was still standing room only, it was no surprise no one had taken our seats.
Two hours later, Philip finally gave his sermon and we were much relieved to escape the site of our collective humiliation.
Once home I fretted over the impact of this incident on our friendship with the neighbors; however, I need not have worried. After they returned home, they came over to thank us for sharing in Philip’s special moment. In all the revival excitement, both Philip and Shirley had failed to notice our antics. When we revealed all, they laughed and insisted “stuff like that happened all the time.”
God, I love good friends.
Have you ever made a major life decision then began having a series of dreams revolving around what life would have been had another decision been made?
Are the dreams an indication of faulty choice or an error in judgment?
August 02, 2005
The girls are in Louisiana this week enjoying a very brief part of the summer with my mother. I have no doubt they are doing some of the things I loved to do when I was a child.
I imagine first thing in the morning, Wee One and my mother will rise and let the dogs out. Sweet One will sleep in, the night owl she is. Before breakfast, they will put shoes on and my mother will hand Wee One a basket. Then they will walk over to the chicken pen, feed the ducks and chickens, and collect what fresh eggs there are.
After breakfast, if my mother has not already purchased crickets, a great hunt will ensue. With little trowels in hand she and Wee One will dig up small parts of the garden looking for worms and grubs. While Wee One loves all manner of things girly, pink, and frilly, she also likes to get her hands in the dirt. She has no problem snagging those wiggly worms and plump little grubs.
Once all the bait has been secured, they will go in and collect Sweet One before heading to the pond, some 200 yards from my mother’s present home.
The acre pond where I spent endless hours fishing for bream, white perch, bass, and an occasional catfish will host the freshman efforts of Wee One and the slightly more sophomoric efforts of Sweet One. They will catch fingerlings, as well as good pan-sized fish, and laugh and scream in delight. My mother will stand at the ready to bait or remove fish, as required, smiling with love and pride at their every action.
Sweet One will be armed with the obligatory pellet rifle propped against a pine tree behind her, ready to fire on a cotton mouth or bait stealing snappin’ turtle. Her Cairn Terrier Riley will be by her side ready to attack anything that dare threaten her as he watches her line for a little “bobber” action.
After their bucket for fish is full, my mother will break out a knife and a spoon and set to cleaning the keeper fish. She will then dispose of the remains right back in the pond. They will collect their rods and fillets and walk back to the house. It should almost be lunchtime.
The girls will be asked to wash up and my mother will put the fish in the refrigerator for a meal later in the day. She will probably serve the girls chicken and dumplings or roast, rice, and gravy for lunch.
During the hottest part of the day, the girls will relax, play on the computer, or watch a little television as my mother busies herself with the duties of a household.
Around four in the afternoon, my mother will ask the girls to help her in the garden. They will do a little weeding, some watering, and a lot of picking of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and snap beans. If they are lucky, a watermelon will be ripe and ready to harvest.
She will ask whether the girls would like blueberry or blackberry cobbler for dessert.
Blueberry season is just about over and the girls will probably have had their fill of that for the moment. I anticipate one or both will insist on blackberries. Because of chiggers and the possibility of snakes, my mother will insist the girls change into long pants and boots before they walk back to the woods and briars just past the pond. They will spend an hour or so picking enough blackberries for not one, but two cobblers, one for them and the other for the neighbors because that is what one does.
Upon their return from the berry pickin’ expedition, my mother will insist everyone have a bath. As the sun fades to darkness, she will fry the fish, slice some cucumbers and tomatoes for a creamy cucumber salad, and put the cobbler in the oven to bake as they enjoy their meal.
I hope my girls one day appreciate what wonderful memories they are making with their grandmother.
Each of us has a private reality made up of parts of ourselves we seldom reveal to others.
How willing are you to share?
At the end of the day, does not the benefit outweigh the harm?
August 01, 2005
It's time for a small confession.
Are you ready?
I find really intelligent men, particularly scientists, sexy.
My favorite scientist, Jack of Random Fate, was tagged by the lovely Boudicca with a Bedside Table Meme. Now I have no doubt Jack has all those books and other things on his nightstand; however, I note there was no question as to what is in the nightstand or bedside table.
In any event, with my children away I have a bit more free time this evening to allow my mind to traipse uninterrupted to dark places around the blogosphere as I wonder what others might have on their nightstands.
First stop, the rather neat-as-a-pin bedroom of this lady. Hmmm, she has black satin sheets on the bed. On the nightstand are a few pictures, a couple of books: "How not to be a Bridezilla" and "Kama Sutra for the Yoga Enthusiast." Instead of water, a can of Red Bull stands at the ready.
Another neat and orderly bedroom is inhabited by this guy. A silver and well-worn cigarette case rests next to a volume of poetry by Robert Frost. There is also a slim book entitled: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. On top of the books is a seven-inch blade...
"The Art of War" also graces the bedside table of this erudite gentleman; however, this one is written by Niccolo Machiavelli, along with several books by Faulkner. The books are barely apparent because they are covered by a number of rather graphic magazines. Sticking out of the nightstand drawer are bits of leather... Ahem. Moving on, a sentimental man, closest to his pillow is a picture of him flanked by his beautiful and loving daughters.
This charming lady has a bedside table overflowing with blueprints, color swatches, and pictures of family. There is a half-empty can of Diet Coke and a bowl of left-over popcorn, the latter abandoned by a couple of young girls who were up late watching movies with mom and dad.
Last stop finds us at this swinging bachelor pad. Over the bed is nothing other than a silver dancing ball where a ceiling fan once hung. The posts of the bed frame sport not one, but two different mullet wigs, one brownish and the other black with purple streaks. In one corner stands the life-size cardboard version of Dennis Rodman dressed for his very special day. From the giant of Rodman the eyes are drawn to the other corner of the room where many of the munchkins cast in the Wizard of Oz have been depicted in rather compromising works of "art." A dog-eared periodical with the title: "Midgets of your Dreams" is half tucked under one of the pillows. There is no nightstand in the room.
Perhaps, that was a little more than I really wanted to know.
I feel the need to shower...
From Chaos to Quiet
For the last week or so my house has been inhabited by my mother and her merry maids ("Maids" being those gaily singing and dancing souls, not the ones who actually clean). The latter representing the entities my children morph into when she is around.
Very early this morning as they were preparing to hit the road back to mother's place, I ran out and picked up carne guisadas for the masses. Carne guisadas are smoothered spicy beef chucks and peppers in corn or flour tortillas.
When it comes to breakfast, Wee One is a plain and simple girl. She prefers dry bits of bacon in her soft flour tortilla.
After I returned with the tacos, she opened hers and eyed it suspiciously. The very thick, dark twisted slabs of meat did not much look like bacon to her.
I bade her: "Try it."
She gingerly picked a minute piece and eased it into her mouth. Then a smile slowly spread across her cherubic face. Without another word she began to devour the whole thing.
Only after every morsel was gone and her milk glass was empty did she speak: "Mommy, now THAT was bacon!"
Now they are all gone and the house is empty and quiet.
It's going to be a very long week.