Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From a random weekend...

Just so you know, we here in Linguiniland do get together and do other things than eat stuff.

Sometimes we go bowling.

And then go eat stuff.

Bowling is one of those activities that has somehow fallen into the “uncool” category of activities, I suppose because it has been crowned with that death-ensuring moniker of “family entertainment.” I also notice that any hobby that requires traveling away from a screen gets labeled “geeky” by the media who rely on those screens to sell you their crap.

The bowling alley in Moorefield, W.Va., is conveniently located halfway between Dark Garden’s house and ours, so it’s always our favorite choice of venue.

Well that and the fact that they let you post whatever name you choose on the publicly-displayed score sheet, which is more than half the reason we like to go bowling anyway. No one has yet finished a game with the name they started with.

Oddly, we seem to be the only family who relishes this pastime and no one seems to notice. I do have this fear that somewhere in a back office these names are being monitored and saved for posterity, only to surface in a decade or so when Heir 2 or the Twin Progenies decide to run for Congress.

My sister-in-law Beth and I try to make sure nothing hideously offensive get’s posted, seeing as we are the maintainers of the line and all, but sometimes it takes us awhile to catch on, even though we tell ourselves we’re hip and all.

Anyway, this weekend Dark Garden was trying for his first 200 game – and scored 199. Oh yeah. He choked.

Progeny L after a strike.

Progeny T after a spare.

Heir 2 after nuthin’.

Incidentally, I myself do not bowl – rather, I can’t bowl since my hand surgery a long, long time ago. At the time, the doctor asked me what I liked to do, because sometimes damage is so bad, he can only pick and choose what nerves and muscles to focus on. I listed typing, of course, along with all I did around the house and grooming the dogs and knitting and sewing, etc. There were two things that never entered my mind at the time to mention and one of them* was bowling. The ball literally falls off my hand. Of course I didn’t find out about this until about seven years after the actual surgery, which was the first time I’d gone bowling in over 15 years (explaining why it wasn’t on my short list of things I like to do).

So I sit in the background and offer helpful advice and encouragement – the sort of helpful advice and encouragement people have come to expect me, which is to say I tell Dirtman to pull up his pants.

And could someone please explain why you need bowling shoes for karaoke?

* The other was using chopsticks gracefully. I have found a way to use them, but whenever I do, at least one person will offer me a tutorial during which they perch the sticks in my hand and they promptly fall on the ground.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Go buy a commemorative mattress or something...

My mother celebrated every single holiday that popped up on the calendar, which accounts for the fact that I never really noticed such a thing as “the winter blues” until I was grown. February, March and April in those days was chock full of minor holidays, from Groundhog Day on and every one of them received some sort of celebration, usually involving food (you knew that was coming).

My mother was the diva of food coloring come February, conjuring pink cakes and green cakes (you had to use your imagination for the green cake, which was actually gray and unappetizing, but we were, if nothing, supportive). There were hot cross buns on Ash Wednesday and St. Joseph’s cake (the lone store-bought cake of the genre) on St. Joseph’s feast day. There was even a tradition that, when you went job hunting and you got a job, you had to bring home a cheesecake to signal that you were now employed. I suspect my mother made that one up…

There were small observances at school on these little holidays, usually a craft or something because we actually had an art teacher in our elementary school. The cafeteria would serve some weird dessert, vaguely connected to the day (the one I remember was brownies on Lincoln’s birthday – I guess because the brownie was brown and square like a log cabin?).

The reason I’m dragging you all down memory lane is that holidays around here usually do elicit feats of domestic derring-do. But since I’m not my mother, the minor ones have fallen by the wayside – perfectly in keeping with how they are treated throughout the rest of the country.

Honestly, I was never a fan of George Washington’s Birthday as holidays go – for a very specific reason. Usually the craft for the holiday was to make silhouettes of each other. No big deal? Yeah? It was for me. My silhouette looked exactly like that of the day’s honoree, a fact that never ever went unnoticed.

So you will have to forgive me if I didn’t jump out of bed this morning and immediately bake a cherry pie, to commemorate something that never happened, but a strong-surviving myth nevertheless. Honestly, not many around here like cherries all that much.

Except Dirtman (you knew that was coming too).

So, in honor of George Washington, a cherry Pop Tart will be consumed by Dirtman at lunchtime today.

Me? I’m spending the day trying to not cast a shadow.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

They're just babies

Remember this tiny little puppy?

Remember how we so wanted to teach her not to jump on anyone's lap but somehow lacked resolve because she was just so darn cute?

We'll be getting right on that...


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are we supposed to think she's cute?

I don't know who this "celebrity" is or what her function is on American Idol (since I've never seen the show) but this is why I HATE TELEVISION.

Whether her stupidity is an act or not is irrelevant. She got paid to be an idiot, but we're supposed to accept it because, as the New York Times article where I found this says, she's an "adorable platinum blonde." Not that the New York Times would perpetuate a stereotype...

So, children, forget studying. Focus on your appearance and a cute giggle. And you will be adored.

Later: When Dirtman and I finished watching a movie tonight, guess who was on some show? Yes, aforementioned vacuous airhead, whose name I forget again (but it's in The Times article if you're really curious. Probably everyone knows her but me...). It seems she sings -- I hope really, really, really well. And I'm hoping she's not planning to contribute to the gene pool.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My name is Jeanne and...

I love dessert.

There. I said it. I love dessert.

Yeah, I can hear you out there: “Big DUH. . . a middle-aged fat woman who loves dessert. Big surprise.”

In that case you probably:

  1. Are so young the effects of overeating haven’t shown up on your body – yet.
  2. Have been denying yourself of dessert for so long that you’ve actually convinced yourself that you “don’t like sweets very much. Oh, they’re much too rich for my delicate system.”
  3. Actually believe you’ll get into heaven quicker through denial
  4. Are a man -- because men could care less when they see pie.

If you are any of the above you probably don’t appreciate how huge it is that a woman can come out and admit for all to hear that she likes dessert. In fact, I will bet most of you, upon connecting my love of dessert to my figure, thought, “Well, sweetie, that’s probably where your weight problem comes from.” And you may even say that condescendingly to me, as though I’m at some AA meeting and have just confessed my addiction.

I have no plans to stop eating dessert. I did not get fat eating dessert. And I hate to break this to …well, just about everyone, one of the secrets to finding the right weight for you is to eat the damn dessert.

Naturally the problem becomes when you eat too much of the dessert, in which case it is not the dessert that is the problem, it’s why you are eating when you are full and your taste buds by now have been satiated. No amount of calorie counting, point totaling, trans-fat awareness or hour on the treadmill will address that issue.

Anyway, I feel the need to explain this because making dessert is truly an act of domestic derring-do for which I get a lot of flack. You can buy pretty good desserts, even if it’s just ice cream slapped in a bowl. As with anything, though, you do sacrifice quality for convenience and it’s something we’ve forgotten in this ready-to-eat world.

It think this is because marketers try to determine what quality in a food we love the most and try to put as much of that aspect in as possible. But a dessert is a balance of flavors and textures and that balance is lost when you crank up one thing – especially using chemicals. And then there is the whole issue of the use of corn syrup (which, incidentally, used to be sold as an appetite stimulator, which explains why a single serving of a homemade dessert suffices, but an entire bag of Oreos is required.).

I’m not talking elaborate concoctions here. In fact, I find the simpler, the more satisfying. And, at risk of speaking treason, try backing up on the chocolate. While I love chocolate, I find its flavor can be more fully enjoyed when it is not overwhelming.

This weekend’s featured dessert was bread pudding, a particularly efficient dessert that also make me feel justified in that it uses bits and pieces of breads that would otherwise be relegated to the compost.

In my freezer is my bread pudding bag and it’s where I throw all the ends of all the sweet breads I make like the cinnamon swirl and the oatmeal bread. (Our every day whole wheat becomes bread crumbs). A little milk, sugar and eggs, a splash of vanilla baked in a hot water bath…oh, and sultanas, which aren’t a necessity but are my personal indulgence and so much more tender than regular raisins…and there you are. Dessert.

Dirtman likes this with whipped cream (made with my hand beater, Mama K…). I like it with warmed heavy cream and no guilt.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Diva's back!

Yes, Dah-lings! We're traveling in the car! The first time since my illness!

Well...let's go.

Oh, by the way, Dah-ling...

Who, exactly, is that pet screen in the back for?


Monday, February 04, 2008

Can't figure out where this back ache comes from...

"Okay, when we move into the new house, no more animals on the bed."

This was me talking, the Dog Lady. I was tired of spending the night in some sort of evil yoga position, curled around a terrier who is suddenly twice its size once on a mattress. Dogs have no respect for clean sheets and are not above digging a burrow in a made-up bed. So I'd made up my mind. No more dogs on the furniture.

That was the agreement. No dogs on the bed, no dogs on the couch or the chairs. There is a body of canine discipline that insists this also prevents behavioral problems in that the dog understands that you are the alpha dog because you occupy this higher place of honor.

I suspect though it's a clever ploy on the part of the dogs making you think they think you are the alph
a dog when, in fact, they've trained you to open the door to let them in and out at will and feed them a specific times of day. The irony doesn't escape me, about the only advantage my so-called advanced brain seems to afford me.

Anyway, I've been pretty diligent about enforcing the ban on canine furniture occupation...

...until Topper got depressed.

Topper tends to be a bundle of neuroses anyway but it turned out that in addition to all his other phobias like water, clams, thunderstorms, bird calls, large beetles and moths, the sound of distant gunshots caused him to melt down; and this subdivision borders a gun club.

e result of this is now all his other minor triggers (pardon the pun) became major triggers and one night, during a particularly spectacular thunder and lightening storm, he practically went into shock. So Dirtman brought him onto the bed with us, where he promptly snuggled onto my side and went to sleep.

Apparently that set some sort of precedent, because since then there has been no end to the addenda to the
original regulation. There is the "invitation clause," wherein a dog may occupy the furniture if permission is obtained. There is the "lap law," stating that a dog in the lap is not a dog on the furniture. There is the "existential loop hole" stating that a dog cannot be considered as having laid on the furniture if you do not observe the actual occupation and merely observe a collection of loose fur at the site.

There is the Special Salt Dispensation Act that states Salt, and only Salt, may sit on a dining room chair when no one is in the dining room because he's just going to jump back up anyway the second you leave the room and you can keep going back and ordering him off, but he can outlast you because he's a terrier and a pain in the butt.

Gaspode has a special hardship clause that states he can jump on the bed when the puppies gang up on him because he is so much smaller than they and, if he decides to really lay into them, he could rip their fuzzy little hearts out.

Zsa Zsa has a note from her doctor dismissing all regulation les
t it upset her delicate digestive system and she starts throwing up blood again.

So this morning I wake up in my king size bed, hugging the absolute edge of the bed. Behind me is Topper on his back, paws askew. Next to my pillow, on Dirtman's extra pillow, is Gaspode curled up and snoring. In the middle of this is Whiskers, the cat, grooming Topper's toenails.

I think renegotiation may be necessary if I'm ever to walk upright again.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I hear something is going on this weekend...

I have been informed that tomorrow is the Super Bowl. Each year this weekend appears as a blip on my radar only if the Redskins are involved and the locals enter into a period of temporary insanity, saying things like "I hope we will win" as though they'll be rolling around on the field getting pummeled into the turf. In those years, the Super Bowl become a minor annoyance, rather like a coming snow "storm" of anything over 2 inches.

Since the Redskins are not in the playoffs, Super Bowl Sunday doesn't affect me. If we don't have anything going on, Dirtman will probably descend into the Man-Cave and watch the game in the little box in the corner of the screen while he surfs the other channels for some enigmatic program that has yet to be filmed. Or an old Gunsmoke episode.

Sometimes John Boy comes over for the Super Bowl, in which case Dirtman will use the full screen -- maybe -- and John Boy will recite a litany of interesting (to him) statistics. Dark Garden hates football, so never shows up for these events.

Me -- I steer clear of the television for the entire weekend because I can't stand all the ads selling me crap "for the big game," not to mention the programs about the ads during the Big Game and the "news" stories about the ads during the Big Game. Then there are the pre-game shows speculating about what may or may not happen during the Big Game, as if it makes a bit of difference.

So I'll spend the weekend drafting a pants pattern (yet again), knitting on Evening Breeze, considering making this my next sewing project and this my next knitting project and listening to Diana Krall.

Sorry -- no beans this weekend either.