Monday, March 31, 2008

Food Photography 101: Never let Dirtman have the camera

Place this carrot at the base of a roast (which we didn't have tonight) or in a dark brown crock with several other carrots, dim the lighting a bit and imagine Martha Stewart saying with her Planet Zimwakian accent, "My Spiced Roasted Carrots are the perfect easy compliment to any meal" and you'd be all over this "recipe" (which is, basically, toss carrots with a tsp. olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper and nutmeg, shove in oven and roast).

However, present this to Dirtman on a Jadite plate (because you can't find the old china and haven't seen it since it was packed away) as a side to fish (which he hates no matter how it's cook because they told him it was healthy and Dirtman wants to eat only foods that cause his arteries to back up worse than the Beltway during a slushy rush hour) and he will go out of his way to prove to everyone that I am, in fact, trying to kill him by feeding him knobby shriveled elf arm.

For the record, the carrots were sweet and tender and the perfect compliment to my grilled salmon. So bite that, Martha.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What was I thinking?

Gray pants in March? Who in their right mind would work on gray pants in March?

I have had this fabric since the beginning of time. The fact that I got it at WalMart should tell you how old this is. It's a nice, light spring gray, but gray nonetheless and I have about as much ambition to work on it as I do to, say, clean the microwave.

I would shelve it, but I really do need some decent pants that don't look heavy and wintery and, while I could push a few buttons on the internet and have, in a few days, a pair of nice lined linens, it seems a waste when I have yards upon yards of gray linen, the likes of which actually match this

(the yarn, not the cat) and could, conceivably, match these, but don't necessarily have to.

It occurred to me recently that my wardrobe is sufficient and serviceable. So I decided that any additions would be handmade* (which, in my case, means made by my 35-year-old Singer or on the knitting needles). I don't know how long I can keep up this particular resolution. I'm quite a slow worker and have the attention span of a gnat. I'm sick of the fabric/yarn long before I'm done with the garment.

*Except for underwear, which is even more boring than gray pants to make, if you can even find the supplies to do it and when you do find the real supplies, you have to buy so much you need to start running a sweat shop on the side to make underwear for the entire county in order to justify the order, not to mention the problems with I.N.S. Of course you can indulge in the truly handmade, meaning no sewing machine, which bypasses the need for special ready-to-wear elastic and the sweat shop. Please note that I'm going on and on about the underwear just to drive Mamma K nuts, who couldn't believe I wrote an entire post about new underwear, when we all know how important comfortable underwear is to the future of society.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Abby's excellent adventure

Now, I don’t know what else we can do to get through to people not to use our side gate. Usually, dogs barking at them like maniacs makes it a no-brainer. But if the dogs are inside, there is the sign indicating dogs and the fact that the gate is locked and wedged shut. For the past few years, this has sufficed. Our electric meter is clearly visible from the dog-less side of the fence.

But this time, for some reason, that wasn’t enough. So the meter reader entered the yard and had he returned the gate to the state it was in when he opened it we would have had a calm dinner followed by a slice of intact cake. Instead, he left it open and dinner was consumed by the male members of the family followed by what was left of the cake after Topper (the official troublemaker in all this) availed himself of a third of it.

Of course it was Topper's idea to take advantage of the open gate. Topper is convinced the trees and leaves one the other side of the fence are somehow more interesting that the trees and leaves on his side of the fence. It doesn't matter that he has acres to run around in, he wants to run around the acres over there. He doesn't get out often, but when he does, he runs around for about 20 minutes and then comes home for a nap.

Only this time he took the puppies and they wanted to stay out and par-tay. Well, Topper was not going to let his niece and nephew think he wasn't a cool, hip, happenin' kind of Aussie, so he stayed out and showed them around.

After about an hour or so of driving around searching and yelling, we drove back to the house to see Topper waiting patiently by the front door and Hokie coming to greet us. I was all set to be relieved when I realized Abby wasn’t there.

More calling. Dirtman and I went into the woods where I swore I was hearing Abby’s high-pitched whine she uses when she can’t get her way. Dirtman tried following it, but suddenly stopped. At this point I’ll admit I’d lost it. I was quite sure she was caught in a bear trap and that the bear had come along.

I’d like to leave the whole canine drama thing to relate our ultimate method of coping with crisis. As I parked myself in the middle of the woods weeping copiously, Dirtman paced angrily on the edge of a ravine.


Me: I want Abby.


Me: I want Abby.

Dirtman (banging sticks against tree trunks and running blindly in circles screaming Abby's name): YOU SEE? I’M LOOKING? CAN’T YOU SEE I’M LOOKING?

Me: Abby. (at this point I’d lost all sense of pronouns and verbs).

While all this is going on, Heir 2 is and his extremely patient girlfriend were trudging through the roughest terrain, probably rolling their eyes at will and swearing they'll never act like the couple of old twits on top of the cliff.

As night fell, we took to the phones and Dirtman sent out an e-mail to the entire subdivision. Hokie and Topper took a nap.

By midnight I was cried out and exhausted. We were doing regular watches and calls, but decided that we’d get up with the first light and start again. I let Topper, Hokie and the terriers out back to go to the bathroom and, as usual, Zsa Zsa out front (long story that has to do with her stomach problem).

Zsa Zsa barked to come in and when I opened the door, there she sat proudly with Abby next to her.

Really, Dah-ling. You need to keep things in perspective. Sometimes a girl’s just got to have a night out!”

We think someone took her in, maybe even had her on their back porch while we were out screaming for her (which is why I heard her barking). When Dirtman sent a general e-mail out to everyone in the subdivision, they must have realized this wasn't just any stray. At least, that's what I want to think. I would hate to think they heard us out there calling her and purposely dragged her out of earshot...

Abby seemed none the worse for wear, though she smelled of heavy woodsmoke, which I guess is better than stale beer and cheap perfume.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm reduced to a puddle...

This, surprisingly from my brother Dark Garden.

And, since I've been away from home so much, I guess Gnorm thought he'd hitch a ride outa here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

While I'm in media rant mode...

...did anyone notice the latest cover of Atlantic Monthly?

I would have loved to be at the meeting where everyone at Atlantic* was asked to brainstorm for a method of increasing circulation that wouldn't totally sell them out; or "How do we get a mangy Britney photo on the cover and still be able to maintain we're an intelligent, thought-provoking publication?"

*No shoes on The Atlantic site. I think I'm safe for now.

You missed a spot along the driveway, Agent Smith

Now, I'm not usually known for being very liberal but, frankly, if FBI agents have so much time on their hands that they've got nothing better to do than build up a prostitution charges against New York governor Eliot Spitzer, then I've got some serious lawn work that needs to be done around here.

Okay, okay. Were everything else running smoothly I'd say, have at it; get on that high horse and spew about prostitutes as victims. And while some of them are, at thousands of dollars a night, I suspect the ex-Girls-Gone-Wild hooker in this case was a "victim" as much as I'm a "victim" of food -- there are circumstances in my past environment that are at the root of my overeating, but ultimately I've had ample opportunity to choose otherwise.

We're not talking about a teenager ripped from her family in some third world country and trafficked in a distant city where she is treated like a slave. We're talking Washington, D.C., where the hookers "legal sexual and erotic service" providers are just paying their way through an advanced degree.*

Yes, it's very sad that women are exploited for sexual purposes. Where do you suppose our society gets that idea? The nerve of using women for the sole purpose of sexual satisfaction. Such practices should, ultimately, be banished from our culture.

But until we get serious about it -- weed the front flower bed.

*Guess what showed up in an ad when I researched this site? This. I'm telling you -- They know.
Oh, and...

Gnorm was a little chilly this morning.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Covert footwear

See this shoe?
I want this shoe. I want this shoe even though it goes with absolutely nothing I own. I want this shoe, it goes with nothing I own and I never freakin' go anywhere requiring this type of warbrobe.

I don't know why I want this shoe. I'm not one to obsess over clothes. Oh, if I didn't have clothes I'd be obsessive about covering myself up. But, other than that, I buy the kind of clothes that "go with everything," requiring as little thought as possible in the morning. And, of course, I have the obligatory outfit for an unexpected funeral and this shoe won't match it.

Perhaps, though I want the shoe, I fear the shoe. Yes, that's right. Because possession of the shoe means the outfit will have to be bought, otherwise owning the shoe makes no sense. Then there are the accessories, not to mention finding somewhere to go to wear it all.

Then -- I can't go alone, so there is Dirtman to clothe. Dirtman does have the clothing to wear to places we don't go. He used to have dress shoes also but, since he wear them everyday without socks -- even while doing soil studies -- they look and smell like the hide of a dead horse.

So this shoe is nothing but trouble. I need to get this shoe out of my head, but I think there is a cookie on my computer that tells every site I visit on the internet to remind me that this shoe exists. It follows me everywhere. I'm researching the European Union and combating the atrocities in Africa and a happy little ad shows up on the site showing me this shoe -- not a pop-up window, but an actual ad. Like it knows.

I suppose They (and you know They are out there) want me to interpret this as a sign from God that I should buy these shoes, but instead it just creeps me out. What else do They know?

Friday, March 14, 2008


This is Gnorm.

Dirtman found Gnorm at Borders and led him home so he could be among is own -- other gnomes...and me.

Gnorm is in charge of making sure there is always a pen next to the message pad in the kitchen. So that's where Gnorm is supposed to be.

But lately Gnorm has shown a distinct aversion to this task and instead wanders about the house. I keep bringing him back to his place, yet he disappears, only to show up in strange places.
What is he searching for? Though he's had ample opportunity to leave, he just wanders around. Perhaps he's searching for cash. Probably not though, because he would have figured out it doesn't exist around here and would be collapsed in despair like the rest of us.

This morning Gnorm showed up here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm not dead yet...

Yeah, I'm afraid it's been another few days of bed rest for Sisiggy, an endeavor that is both frustrating, yet comfortable. I lie there and think of all the things I could be doing, forgetting that if I were up and around I'd being doing stupid day to day stuff instead of the important stuff I think of doing while laid up.

So while it was gloriously relaxing to work out of my bed on the laptop, spend the rest of the time reading, being waited on by Dirtman and worried over by Zsa Zsa (I think that she thinks that, like sheep, if she doesn't get me on my feet, I will die. Every time I get ready to get out of bed, she nudges my legs, which she continues to do as I make my way to the bathroom. Then she looks thoroughly disgusted with me when I climb back into bed.), I'd make a miserable, depressed invalid.

So now I'm back on my feet, wobbly, but vertical, and all I can see is that the floor needs to be vacuumed and the shutters need dusting and then there is dinner to plan. Yes, of course I could delegate all of this and Dirtman and Heir 2 would spring into action -- okay, Heir 2 would spring, Dirtman would lumber into action. But this is really my job and while abed I was itching to get outside and work the dogs or get busy at the sewing machine, what I really should be doing are the more mundane household tasks, though I truly don't have the strength to drag a vacuum yet. Besides, the sound would cause Dirtman to come a-running (no...really...) and a scolding would follow, ending with a very Scarlett O'Hara-esque comment from Dirtman: "You want to get so run down you'll never be of any use?"

Well, there's wisdom in that, I suppose.

And so, as I always do when nothing exciting is happening around here: Puppy pictures.

Hokie and The Face

Monday, March 03, 2008

Ear Worm

I just got the theme song to this out of my head after last night's broadcast. Now Heir 2 is watching it again on the DVR and guess what...AHHHHH!

Squid Pro Quo

People either hate calamari or love calamari; never in between. People who love it swear it is worth the cost and the trouble to prepare. The people who hate it hate it to the point of having that thick feeling in the back of their throats that usually comes just before vomiting.

To be fair, though I love calamari, you've really got to wonder what the first guy to eat it was thinking. What kind of long, drawn-out famine was going on in the world that would inspire someone to cook this up, put it in their mouth and chew.

If you hate calamari, you may as well click onto your next blog.

If you love calamari, then you may as well get into your car, drive to Virginia, hit I-81, get off at the Edinburg exit, make a left off the ramp and take this to Main Street. Make a left on Main Street and right there you will see Sal's Italian Bistro. I guarantee it will be the best calamari you've ever eaten. Ever.

The reason I send you to Sal's instead of encouraging you to follow my "recipe," is that my recipe sucked big time.

All the elements were there except for:

  • Sal gets his seafood fresh by driving to the docks every morning, I could only find frozen at Martin's;
  • Sal managed to find a fresh chili pepper while I could only find shriveled red "moderately hot" pepper at Martin's;
  • Sal may (I stress may) use the Nigella method of dredging the calamari in corn starch rather than flour. On the slim chance I try this again, I'll try it with corn starch.
  • Sal. Just like I knew not to order the calamari on Sundays because Sal isn't doing the cooking on Sunday. Sal -- or a successful Sal-in-training -- is crucial.
Anyway, unless I can find a fresh source for calamari, I won't be trying this again. And I hate the deep fried breaded things you find everywhere else.

Not that it was horrible -- it just wasn't worth the effort and expense.

Guess I'll just have to keep going to Sal's -- a rather happy outcome for a failed experiment!

Added later: I had nothing to do with this.