Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fruit! I must have fruit!...and other movie quotes

This week’s grocery store special was a BOGO blueberries and strawberries.

Yes, yes, fruit is very good for you and, yeah, we eat fresh fruit. But I also think of around January and February, when nothing is fresh and you have to resort to flavor-bereft forced fruit or the disturbing visual perfection/tastelessness of the imported stuff.

It’s sure nice to have captured in-season fruit at its peak realizing,
of course, that my personal drug mood-lifter of choice is food. If you require other more potent methods, I can’t help you there.

Taking into consideration the over-all glum mood usually wafting around in late winter, I freeze the fruit in a form most likely to get eaten, which is why I’m not just freezing a bunch of blueberries. Instead, I cook the blueberries it into a pie
filling that need only be plopped into a crust and baked, since that’s about as much energy I have when that stupid groundhog insists on sleeping late.

The strawberries I do just freeze whole since we like these in stone ground oatmeal, which is the cereal of choice in February because by that time we’ve embarked on our annual Lose That Sorry Fat Ass Get Healthy routine, which usually lasts until Rita’s opens again for the season.

I know most everyone is canning right now and I would be too, had I my canning stuff back. But it was among the few losses in the Event That Shall Not Be Named, since we could only grab so much out of two houses in three days. Fear not, though. At least we were able to salvage this:

Editor’s note: Don’t you all just picture me in my bathrobe, shuffling down the street dragging a kitchen chair, mumbling, “I don’t need one thing. Just this chair. This chair is all I need. And this. This head. This chair and this head is all I need…”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gnewton would like to thank the Academy for this honor...


Gnewton has decided to enter the exciting field of Gnome Ventriloquism.

Free at last!

The canine Linguinis are rejoicing! The fence is as done as it's going to get until a terrier figures a way around it, which gives us approximately a week during which we can let them outside without preparing to chase them around the neighborhood.

So they've been taking full advantage of being free...

...uh...full advantage of being free, GASPODE...

or not.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And it's way better than Stouffers

Six meals for 4 people, $14.

I’ve found that usually when stores put anything on special, it’s probably because they’ve got too much of it and need to get rid of it fast. A lot of times the only way to get the “deal” is to buy more of the product than you really need at one time.

Of course if it’s meat, canned good or non-perishables, this is no problem. Meat can be frozen and the other stuff stored, even if it does mean the Heirs are sleeping on beds made of canned kidney beans and bulk toilet paper.

But what to do with dairy products that can’t be frozen…

This calls for bulk cooking, which is easy when you have room to neatly line up dishes for filling and form assembly lines. If you don’t, you have to cook in stages.

So, when I saw my local supermarket had ricotta cheese on special, but you had to buy two 2-lb. containers of it, I immediately began making batches of simple marinara sauce. One “batch” requires three large cans of crushed tomatoes and two batches were required to complete four meals worth of stuffed shells (plus two meals’ worth of plain old marinara over pasta the day I cooked the sauce).

By Saturday I had all the sauce ready to go. Of course, anyone else could shorten this process and purchase sauce from a jar…Now, you know I’m never going to do that.

Anyway, Saturday was assembly day. Since I was suffering the martyrdom of being chained to the kitchen on a Saturday, I guilted Dirtman into scrubbing the bathroom floor while I put the pasta pot on to boil, then mixed the cheese with three eggs, about 2 tsp. salt and ¼ c. parsley. Having worked so hard at this, I swooned into a chair and said to Dirtman, who was now eyeing his easy chair, “Won’t you please grate the romano cheese for me.”

So he grated the 1½ cups of cheese I needed to stir into the cheese and I boiled two pounds of macaroni shells.

This is the only time I use the familiar red and yellow spray can named after my sister-in-law. It prevents the shells from getting torn when you go to pull them apart to stuff them.

After I oiled each casserole, I spread the bottom with some sauce.

The lovely Dirtman will now demonstrate stuffing the cheese into the shell.

The lovely Dirtman will now demonstrate his idea for speeding up the process of stuffing cheese into shells, which ended up being more trouble than it was worth.

I’m now losing Dirtman’s attention because this is, after all, repetitive work and not at all the thrills and spills of Food Network.

So we slap some aluminum foil on what we’re having for tonight’s dinner. The dishes to be frozen first get a film of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.

Finally, a note to my future self because I know I won’t remember a thing about what I loaded into this casserole, let alone how I wrapped it. I resisted the temptation to end the notations with a comma and “you idiot.”

I hauled the casserole to the basement freezer.

“There,” I said. “Two more batches to go!”

So, here I am, alone in the kitchen. Sigh.


I think the catfood bowl is empty.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There we were, just sittin' on the bench...

A few years ago Heir 1 got a speeding ticket during the first year he was driving. In this county that meant he was required to appear in juvenile and domestic court.

Not to give any excuses, but while everyone I talked to related horror stories about their kids doing 95 mph on the interstate or 65 mph down a gravel road, we were there for him doing 40 in a 35 zone. I’ve done 40 in a 35. Daily.

At any rate, there we sat in our Sunday best, just like the instructions told us, in a waiting room full of the lowest life forms the county could scrape out of the sewer – and their offspring. At the time I turned to Heir 1 and said, “If you ever make me sit here again, I will kill you in your sleep.”

Three years later, Heir 2 gets into a minor fender bender and there we were, back on the bench (resisting…the…urge…to…break…into…Alice’s…Restaurant…).

Now I have to admit up front that our length of time spent in the waiting room is completely my fault. We were actually called in right away and Heir 2 went before the judge neatly dressed and with an aura of humility. The officer was not there and the judge proceeded to dismiss the case. We were on our way out when the prosecutor pointed out that the officer had been told to report at 2 p.m. and it was now only 1:40 p.m. Upon hearing that, I paused outside the door in case the judge wanted to call us back; even though the deputy had told us to go on; even though the judge looked like he was going to let it go.

So the deputy calls us back and the judge sends us back to the waiting room until the officer shows up and the docket opens up. On our way back to the waiting room one of the defending attorneys whispered to me, “Next time, keep walking.”

So back we went, only now the room was full. Ya know how three years ago it looked like the court attendees were scraped out of a sewer? Well, take those scrapings, heat ‘em up a bit and let them stew in a dank, dark, nicotine encrusted hotel room for three years and that will give you a rough idea of what was inhabiting the waiting room.

So there we are, sitting on the bench, me in a dress (the dress – I own one) and Heir 2 in dress pants and shirt and a tie, just like we were told, sitting next to women in cutoffs so short their butt cheeks were spilling out, boys with pants down around their crotch, and men who hadn’t bothered to shave or bathe for several days.

“We just may be too naive to get out of this unscathed,” I mumbled to Heir 2.

But he was in shock. He couldn’t speak.

No, not because we had to wait a long time to know his fate; but because sitting across from us was a woman a large as me, but with considerably less and tighter clothing and a tattoo on her ankle. But all that wasn’t particularly remarkable.

It was the mole that horrified us – the biggest, hairiest mole we’d ever seen. Try as we might, you could not not look. It was a mole with its own zip code.

Then there was the teenager dressed like a hooker – a really used up hooker – making eyes at Heir 2 and an old lady with one of those flat-looking tanning bed tans and talon nails who turned out to be the teenager’s mother, all looking like they had a family business of sorts they were petitioning the court to allow them to maintain, what with gas prices being so high and all.

But we sat on, looking like two deer caught in the headlights, trying to discuss happy topics like eventually being able to leave. And I think the bailiff took pity on us and finally called us in. The officer told the judge Heir 2 had a good attitude and was a responsible driver all-in-all (he was one of Heir 2’s Little League coaches back in the day), so the case was dismissed and we hightailed it back to the car before we caught something.

“Mom…that lady,” Heir 2 stuttered on the way home. “I couldn’t…stop…looking…at…the…mole.”

“Yeah, there were some pretty rough characters there,” I admitted.

“But the mole…”

“Yeah, it was pretty memorable,” I agreed.

“And her tattoo said, ‘I (heart) AXOR,” he said.

“Who is AXOR?” I pondered. “Maybe her boyfriend?”

“Uh-uh,” Heir 2 said. “It’s the name of the mole!”

And then there were none

Before I got married I was unique.

LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

But not any more.

LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One year later...UPDATED

Zsa Zsa is still proud of her little brood.


Becca (she was Penny)


Breeze, who excels in obedience (which I could have predicted -- she's a sweet girl)



Sadie (CASD Jgd. CH Gnome Hills Sexy Sadie)

Abby "The Mouth"

Breeze, Nanouk, Ringo and Sadie are all being shown with great success over in Germany and the UK. Becca, I know, hit the canine lottery, which does my heart good (if you only knew how I agonized over whether or not to let her go somewhere else -- you all know how I am about those redheads!). We hope to hear from Sarge -- especially Heir 2, who had a rough time seeing him adopted out. And, of course, Hokie and Abby are Linguini regulars -- though we are looking for good pet homes for them --which I'm trying not to think about or anticipate, but recognize is necessary and -- as a breeder -- the mature thing to do (I tell you this by way of advance notice if things on the ol' blog take another dark turn. I, perhaps, should choose another venue to express my love of all things canine; but that's a whole other post...).

Editor's Note: Had to post this without updated photos from Sarge. But I hold out hope of those coming in soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I promise to keep my earphones on

John Boy started it all. Or maybe it was my nephew Stabile.

I was washing dishes, minding my own business when John Boy comes over and starts telling Heir 2 about this online radio station, blah, blah, blah...make your own station...blah, blah, blah.

"Did you hear what I was telling Heir 2 about?" he asks me.

"Vaguely." I've experienced "online radio stations" before, the joy of a good song ruined by "buffering," and then, halfway through the second song a plea for the "nominal fee" to be charged to my credit card, one of those fees that never quite disappears because your e-mails go unanswered and suddenly you can't find a phone number on the website.

So Heir 2 gets on board and he's all "make your own station...blah, blah, blah...Uncle John Boy's stations...blah, blah, blah..."

Then Dark Garden comes over and he's all "make your own station...blah, blah, blah...John Boy's stations...blah, blah, blah..."

All right, already.

So here ya go: Make your own "station" starting with your favorite artist and the station will give you that artist and similar artists. Fine tune it by approving ("thumbs up") or disapproving ("thumbs down") of the feature until it's only playing the type of stuff you want to hear. Make as many "stations" as you like. Adopt other people's stations and tweak it to make it your own. It's a good way to get out of a musical rut, where you're listening to only what's on your iPod and never hearing other stuff that's available.

My stations are here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Men at Work

Here is the usual formula: Dirtman can work alone. Heir 1 can work alone. Heir 2 can work alone. Dirtman can work side by side with Heir 1 or Heir 2. Heir 1 and 2, when properly motivated, can work side by side with each other.

But never – in 19 years – have all three of them worked together.
I cannot tell you how amazed I am that, first of all, all three of them are at home at the same time and, secondly, they aren’t too busy weighing each item they are carting to the fence to make sure no one is carrying more than the other or for a longer time.

And it took the terriers to do it: a simple fence is all that is required to contain four Australian Shepherds, but the Parson Russell Terriers require more obstacles than a maximum security prison. Just when you think they are safely fenced, all of a sudden you realize they are barking their version of “nanny, nanny, boo, boo” on the other side.

And we all know about the particular temptations that ‘Pode can’t seem to resist: meaning, chasing anything that moves.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dynamic Duo

An interesting dynamic has developed between Zsa Zsa and Topper since we’ve moved here.

Zsa Zsa has decided she’s the boss of Topper.

Formerly there was a subtle collusion between the two in that Zsa Zsa would make Topper do her dirty work for her, usually involving knocking food off the counter.

Lately, though, Zsa Zsa has taken it upon herself to soundly trounce Topper every time she perceives he is breaking a rule. So, when Topper barks at the fence, Zsa Zsa pounces on him and scolds. If Topper chases the puppies, Zsa Zsa pounces
on him and scolds. If Topper gets too excitable when company comes Zsa Zsa pounces on him, scolds and then moves in to be greeted instead as “The Good Family Dog.”

She thinks she’s being helpful and actually is. But it comes across to the casual observer as a chaotic scene of dogs jumping everywhere, when, in fact, it is Topper being enthusiastic and Zsa Zsa jumping on him and Topper jumping away from her.

Then there is her bark, which in and of itself is not so bad since somewhere along the line she had been de-barked, but the half-hearted little “oof” sets everyone else to barking (canine) resulting in some of the humans yelling, which they insist is the Cesar Milan version of “speaking in a calm, assertive manner LOUDLY.” (Just as an aside: dog people who insist that they never yell at their dog are usually the ones who yell the most and don’t even realize it. Just an observation. I will admit that when I see Salt sitting on my keyboard drinking my coffee, I YELL.)