Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Haiku Achoo

I'm into Day Four of (for want of a better wording,) what they used to call "La Grippe." Some respiratory, flu, "I don't feel so good thing." I thought I was better this morning, and Lord God Jesus, "no."

I was bopping around your blogs in between bouts of "retreat to the bed," and I noticed my friend "M.A." over on her blog The Culture Wars was also not feeling well, but not "off" enough not to return to her past habit of "Haiku Tuesday":

An Old Standby: Haiku Tuesday!

Forgive me, for I am out of practice.

So, I cannot hear
sound is clogged in my right ear
time to see someone.
Before I was silenced
by acute laryngitis
I did not sound good.
What is going on?
A sign for me to slow down?
Yes! Of course it is.
Me. This is all me.
Argh. How much more can you take?
Vacation time, please!
Blah. blah, blah, blah blah.
This is what I sound like now.
Yes, this will change soon.

In empathy, I wrote her back:

I sit here with flu
Achoo instead of haiku
Yes, this will change soon
Cherry blossoms bloom
Construction next door goes boom
The world is all change

Nurture yourself now
Return stronger to the fray
Of life's constant needs

We will heal and write
We will return to the flow
Read my words and rest

I need to go make some tea, I think....

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Monday, March 30, 2009

What's In My Head: Chaiyya Chaiyya

If you go to India, it's trains all the way. Why aren't we doing this on the Metro? I guess we remember that old adage from George of the Jungle, "Watch out for that tree!"

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

'Tis Grand Being Green...Soup

I went overboard during St. Patrick's Week, making a lot of green food. I am just now posting this on the blog. It is a recipe for Roasted Potato and Leek Soup from Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) latest book Back to Basics. A friend and I were discussing cookbooks during the time I made this soup, and we both agreed that Ina Garten really seems to test, then test again, all of the recipes in her books, because they almost always taste good, and you rarely have to tweak them to get them to come out right. This is not the case with Martha Stewart recipes where my personal experience has been the recipe sounds great, but something is "off" in the final product.

Several blogs devoted to food writing have made this soup and written about it. Consistently they wrote about it's "depth" of flavor; achieved through the roasting of the vegetables. I would agree with their assessment. One writer said "less salt," and I see her point, but it's a minor quibble. The recipe actually doesn't give a measurement on salt, so I would caution to start slow, then build on it. My mother's old adage? "Potatoes take a lot of salt." But for this? I would warn to go easy and add as necessary.

When I am making a recipe for the first time, I usually follow it to the letter. The only time I deviate from this rule is when there is some glaring flaw that just tells you it a bad measurement. I also always do the prep work before I start cooking a recipe for the first time. It is only after I have really mastered a recipe that I grab and cook. I will say, during the various steps of making this soup, I did have adequate time to wash dishes and do cleanup as I went along, up until the final moments. I'll have notes at the end of what I did that wasn't stated, and where (if any) I would make changes..

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

(Recipe from Back to Basics by Ina Garten)

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks (4 leeks), white and light-green parts, cleaned of all sand
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces crème fraiche
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish (see note)

Crispy shallots, optional (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender.

Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted.
Remove the pan from the oven and place over two burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.

In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the purée into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to purée the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup.
Add the cream, crème fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasoning.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan cheese and crispy shallots, if using.


Makes about 1/2 cup

1 1/2 cups of olive oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Reduce heat to low, add shallots slowly to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Yield: 6 - 8 servings


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I used less than four cups of leeks, and at $4.99 a pound at Whole Foods, three worked out fine. I thoroughly washed the leeks (which I had first cut up into about four inch pieces,) for sand, after cutting off a lot of the green tops, then I took them apart under cold running water. It's all going to be pureed at the end, so yes, thoroughly wash. I can't stress that enough. Leeks are just one of those foods that hold sand in their leaves, and we don't want gritty soup.
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I'll repeat my earlier warning. Start slow with the salt. I used an artesan Hawaiian pink salt, and I went easy on it, and I thought at the end it could have used less, but I am sensitive to salt since I rarely use it in my day-to-day cooking.
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I used a bag of organic arugula from Whole Foods, and I probably used half the bag. Arugula turns up a lot in Ina's cooking: on top of pizza, in soups, with fruit. I liked having this so much in two meals, it became my food fetish item for the week.
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Toward the end of my roasting the vegetables, I had to shift them to the left side of the cookie sheet, since my right oven side was running hot and browning things a bit too much. Even so, what did get brown never showed up brown in the soup, which surprised me. Also, for that putting the cookie sheet on two burners and adding the wine to scrap up browned bits? I did start things that way, but there was so little browned bits, I just scrapped the tray into the Dutch casserole and proceeded from there.
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I did make the crispy shallots as a topping. I would not call them optional. Friends who had the soup said the shallots totally "made it." So make them. I did not use a candy thermometer, but eyeballed the progress in cooking them. I let them go just a "bit" too long, which was fine, but since they continue cooking after you take them out, I would say, right when you are thinking, "They are almost there," that is when you should take them out and drain them.
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I'm sure if you attempt this soup, you know not to put hot soup into a blender or food processor and start blending. Lids will pop. Mess will ensue. So forewarned. Also, I made the mistake of blending the vegetables separate from the broth. Leave them together and scoop by the ladle. My way, I had to go back and use a hand held blending tool, and I had too many pots and such about to wash later.

I think this would be a very nice soup for an Irish-themed party. It does take time. If I were going to make it for a dinner or party? I would make it the day before. Day two tasted just as good, if not better.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Aht With Heart, People

The bullets are at the end of this piece...

Over at wowOwow, they were asking, "Who's Your Favorite Artist, Toots?"

Too many to choose from, but off the top of my head: Henry Ossawa Tanner, J.M.W. Turner and James Whistler, and all for the same reason. Each began his creative process thoroughly engrossed in depicting their world in finely tuned detail: Tanner and African-American culture (The Banjo Lesson):

Turner’s masts and waves:

Whistler’s ….Mother.

As each artist grew in skill and his search to see with new eyes, they became more and more abstract. (This is true also of Michaelangelo’s unfinished pieces where you can sense the figure in motion, trying to emerge beneath the chipped stone):

Later in their careers, Tanner’s "Annunciation," becomes an angel that is no more than a line of blinding gold:

Whistler’s "Nocturne: The Fallen Rocket: Black and Gold" leads art into Impressionism:

and Turner’s Abstracts from the Biblical Book of Revelation, "The Angel Standing in the Sun," that swirls with the blur between heaven and hell.

Drown in Eternity, Suckahs

Footnotes? We gotta have footnotes and musings, and I did promise you "bullets" and such:

* Bill Cosby owns a lot of Tanner paintings. This reminds us that Bill Cosby is a very rich man.

* Not "too" long ago, The National Gallery of Art had a Turner exhibit. I went on my birthday, taking on the Christmas crowds. I "did" the ships rooms, but I soon tired of the pressing crowds and loud critiques, "Look at that whitecap," and headed for those Bible paintings. That's where I spent the bulk of my time, letting myself fall right into them and hang out for a while."

*You want to see some Whistler? Go to the Freer Gallery of Art, but first go to the National Gallery of Art to pay a visit to "Symphony No. 1, The White Girl," a painting I went to see FIRST, every time my Mama took me to the gallery. Also, often told, but here it is again: the infamous story of being five years old, and my mother and I were going down the winding (and massive) back staircase of the Gallery, me holding Mama's hand and saying "I want to live here." She said,"Oh no, Little Cubie. Wouldn't you be afraid to live here all by yourself? Me: (shooting her a look) "No." Then go on over to the Freer Gallery and do "The Peacock Room." Ask the guard to show you the secret window. Charm him. Get him to say "Okay, but don't tell." Then hit Whistler's "Nocturnes." Old man Freer was loaded and bought a ton of them. Think about fog. Think about London. Think about why London doesn't have fog like that anymore.

*Michelangelo's stuff screams to be touched. We won't go into why David screams to be touched, and how you'd be screaming if you did. Walk tall and carry a big stick, indeed.

*Tanner's "The Annunciation." Lemme tell ya something. I became so obsessed with this painting, that when I was presenting a paper at Georgetown University (with slides people, but no snacks,) I was so gaga over it, I heard a loud "AHEM" from the back of the room, basically my professor saying, "Wind it up." Back then, you could not shut me up about Tanner.

Don't even ask me who my favorite artist is. Talking to a friend while I wrote you guys just now? We both went off on 1) Georg Groz; 2) David Stone Martin; 3) Friedensreich Hundertwasser; 4) Edward Keinholz; 4) Barnett Newman's Stations of the Cross; 5) The Belarusian School of Icon Painting and 6) the Desert Eagle large-bore, gas-operated, semi-automatic pistol.

"Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. " ~~ Arthur Koestler

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Please Tiptoe Around (Not Through) The Tulips

(Photograph taken by Janet Draper)

In this week’s "Home Section" of The Washington Post, Adrian Higgins writes an interesting article about the damage done to flowers and plants by crowds and festivities during the Inauguration (“For Smithsonian, a Sad Souvenir of the Inauguration.”) Higgins interviews Mary Draper, a horticulturist with the Smithsonian Institution, where they discuss the trampling the gardens took during this time of national celebration.

(Photograph of Mary Draper by Juana Arias of The Washington Post)

Friends tried to prepare Ms. Draper for the damage done, but “….when a shell-shocked Draper got there the next day, she found the mulch had been turned to dust, 3,000 pansies and other winter plants were gone, evergreen shrubs had been beaten in and several prized woody plants had disappeared.” Have you ever done anything on a par like plant 3,000 pansies? Every joint and muscle in your body will remind you about it for days.

As we enter this time of nature's renewal: garden cleanup, and reading our favorite plant catalogues: wondering what we can afford in this time of economic hardship (and plants ain’t cheap, folks,) you need to remember that plants will tolerate only so much. "Cal? Keep your soccer ball out of that flower bed!" Ask my amsonia.

(photograph by Juana Arias of The Washington Post)

What these images from The Post remind me of is something I read about a few years ago regarding Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. During the time of the kidnapping (and murder) of their son, their sorrow became a world-wide media event, with reporters and the curious trampling through their property, trying to keep on top of the "scoop." Anne Morrow Lindbergh later wrote in her journal of her further sorrow, when spring arrived, and all of the white tulips she had anticipatingly planted coming up mangled and destroyed, from the foot pounding of the earth above their resting place; and for her, a hauntingly symbolic reminder of what her family had been through and their loss.

If you’ve ever had to spent three days chopping deep into a weed’s root system to clear gardening space, or baby along something that could be irreplaceable (your grandmother’s narcissus,) it’s wise to remember that plants are genetically wired to take somewhat of a pounding from nature, but they can endure only so much. We are not, of course, discussing bamboo that backhoes so dearly love, or that trumpet vine I was warned about that refuses to fall on its sword and die. I have sliced it’s root stem open and poured straight Round-Up on it, and I swear I heard it say, “I laugh at you, you foolish woman.” Slice away. I will return.”

The Sarah Palin of Plants. Pretty, yes? Try getting rid of it.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's In My Head: The Harlem Shuffle

I've been dropping these protracted comments all over blogdom, including a woman's blog called wowOwow. A question was posed on "wow" about the value of the iPod, and I wrote,
"I have an iPod. I rarely use it. So many other ways to hear music including You Tube and iTunes on your computer. When I hear "iPod shuffle," it makes me think of the "The Harlem Shuffle" (the Bob and Earl version, not the Rolling Stones,) and whaddya know. It’s on You Tube.

Remember me warning you about ear worms, folks? REMEMBER???? Because apparently I don't. Would someone please thwack me with a rolled newspaper right now?

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Twitter Twatter: You're An Acter. Act.

"You will be a creative soldier, once you get all this "thinking" knocked out of you. "

Recently on wowOwow, the query was posed, "Is it fair for us to hold actors up as role models?" Well. Let's see. Just in this past week, Lindsay Lohan has begged to be taken seriously as an actor, and Madonna has lectured her daughter to be true to herself, while if what is true about Madonna lately is that she is running around with a man much younger than herself and has asked her assistant to go to Malawi to pick a new baby; an appropriate baby that would "fit in." Sorta a "I hope it matches the drapes kinda thing." Role model for what, I query.

I just finished a biography about Marlon Brando, Somebody: the Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stefan Kanfer. Brando would have done better focusing on his craft, rather than belittling his talent (being an actor is like being a butcher,) while demanding justice for (fill in the blank.) The Native-American? He sent one up to make his acceptance speech for his Oscar win in The Godfather. Full buckskin regalia, too. Only it turned out she wasn't really what she said she was. Same with Wife Number One: Anna Kashfi, given to wearing sari's and nose rings (even at their wedding,) only it turned out she was really Joan O'Callaghan. Didn't he check under the carpet? Weren't the freckles a give away? "Freckle? I thought that was a bindi spot."

"Washington is no place for a good actor. The competition from bad actors is too great." ~~ Fred Allen

I have to relay one moment from the book. In the film The Young Lions, where Brando plays an overly blonde Nazi, he fought with the director (Edward Dmytyrk,) and at one point in the script he wanted to have his character, Christian Diestl, make a speech about racial inequality in America and the Scottsboro boys. When he also suggested that Christian (in his death scene) wind up twisted in barbed wire and arms extended like a wounded Christ, co-star Montgomery Clift said, "If Marlon's allowed to do that, I'll walk off the picture." Brando didn’t. Instead he died in a muddy pool of water, and lay there so long, technicians came running up to make sure he wasn't truly dead. Now that's acting. Playing a Nazi with a British accent? Uh.....not so good.

"Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke."

Not that we can't learn life lessons from the movies. To quote from the most quotable movie of all time; George Sanders as Addison DeWitt in All About Eve (speaking of the Marilyn Monroe character as an "actress,") "Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art."

That pretty well sums it up. Learn your lines. Learn your fellow actor's lines, while you're at it. Show up on time. Do your work. Go home. I think Robert Mitchum said that.

"I kept the same suit for six years and the same dialogue. They just changed the title of the picture and the leading lady. "

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Twitter Twatter: Chuck Jackson

Over the weekend I was in (what Elvis would call) the ghetto grocery; a store where they play soul oldies from the '50's through the '70's. Peepaw demographics. Often I hear customers singing along to the muzak. I do it myself since I know my Ruby and the Romantics. Often enough these songs repeat.

I was three-fourth's down one aisle when I passed an elderly man refilling a greetings card display, and he started singing along with the sweetest voice. I had hit the end of the aisle, but I turned around and called back to him, "You're singing Chuck Jackson!" He smiled this huge toothless grin and said, "That right!" then he went right back to his singing. Mister? You made my day.

And as a Cube aside, the song "Any Day Now," (1962) was written by Burt Bacharach and that's Burt doing the flutter keyboard work on the organ. Elvis, Luther Vandross and Ronnie Milsap also did notable versions.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hostest With The Less-test

This afternoon, I was thinking about this woman I worked with a few years back and what a train wreck she was.

Today I went out for a manicure, and my manicurist and I were talking about our respective week, past and incoming. I told her about my green food week and she laughed. From there I stopped at the library to pick up some books on hold: a new one on Lincoln's correspondence, a book about socialite Brooke Astor's final years, and I grabbed Food TV's Dave Lieberman's Young and Hungry; just a portion of a huge toppling stack now next to my bed.

While I was doing some work at the computer this afternoon, a friend of mine in San Francisco sent me an instant message to tell me about her week of Junior League fashion shows and her "ex" boyfriend (who had been married to a prostitute, but didn't know it until much later.) That's an ongoing story because the woman has since become politicial and is always popping up in the news out there, shooting her mouth off about women's rights, when in truth, she uses a political agenda to justify her whoring years to her daughters, I expect. So from that to plastic surgery and posting on You Tube and honoring dead parents and beautiful homes and bouncing around from one subject to another with the ease of old friends who are in sync.

I went to lie down a few moments because I knew I had to be working on a house I am restoring tonight with my nose pressed to a baseboard to get the paint "just right," and thinking of being in an underheated house and all of the prep work and exactitude involved in good painting and what cd's to haul over and if I should stop at a Home Depot to buy new door knobs tonight or later.

I started going through the stack of books, putting aside the ones I wanted to be reading later tonight, and I picked up the Dave Lierberman book. In under five minutes I knew there wasn't one thing of interest in the book for me, I speed read the recipes, and I won't be making any of them. I couldn't even figure out who would be making these recipes. They were about three steps up from dorm cooking for the college crowd, and that crowd wouldn't bother. On the flip side, if you were interested in cooking, you wouldn't want to take the time to make and eat this stuff. A quick "back to the library" book. In his defense, the blue shirt he's wearing on the cover brings out the blue of his eyes.

For some reason, this triggered memories of a woman I used to work with, and to protect her privacy let's call her "Ellen." Ellen was married to a famous local politician of his day, and they had five children. She came from this tidy little Irish couple that always looked as neat as they could be, yet Ellen, her husband and her litter of piglets were just filthy, fat, and had the most disgusting ways about them.

Her father had been a candymaker, and in discussing Christmas candy, Ellen told me of how her father knew how to make candy canes. I asked him if he would ever make me some. He did, and they were works of art. Intensely red and white, with the finest, most delicate and delineated lines through them. I wrapped them and save them for years until they gave up the ghost, but they were things that spoke of skill and beauty. The next time you buy a box of candy canes, look at how blurred out the lines are and how washed out the colors and you'll see what I mean.

One day Ellen walked into my office and while relaying some information to me, she let rip a huge extended fart. Without a break (minus the wind) she said, "This is what happens when you've had too many children," and continued on. Sometimes, she would bring the youngest child into the office for the day, and the little girl had her mother's little puffed eye slits and mousy, greasy stringy hair and this skin that reflected no light. Just this flat, dun gray dead looking stuff that seemed so abnormal on a child. The skin looked filthy. Ellen's open toed dress sandals always showed nude hose with the toe in (or torn out) and black with filth and holes in the hose. Why go on. She was a mess.

When the office closed, she said she wanted us to all come to her house for a picnic, and a few months later, the invitation came. Then just before the picnic she called us and asked each to bring a potluck dish. I don't have a problem with potluck, but I do when it comes up a day before the event and it's not an agreed up plan. When I arrived, Ellen had cooked and put out a large, sliced ham. Within minutes of the party's start, I had to go into her kitchen to get something, and she had already carved off a few slices of ham and left them at the picnic table, and there she was wrapping the bulk of the food back up, explaining to me "I have a family to feed."

The office had closed, and I don't want to say more since it was a newsworthy event of the time, but when that happened, she asked me to hold off looking for work for two months so that I could go work for her husband. He, in turn, was waiting for his top aide to take off. It was a guaranteed hire at good pay, so I agreed. The problem being, when I got there, Ellen's husband asked the aide to start teaching me, then immediately left town on business. At some point during this two week stretch, she decided she wasn't going anywhere, refused to teach me anything, and here I had wasted two month in preparation for this new job to come my way. I was socially isolated in the office. No one seemed to ever speak to anyone else. They never seemed to lunch together. It was hard to even find food sources nearby. I remember just before I quit, (and this was the first of two jobs I ever quit,) I remember standing in a Metro car with tears just streaming down my face, realizing I was serious screwed and was going to have to quit. People actually moved away from me. I don't blame them. It wasn't the quitting. I knew it had to be. But now what?

Ellen had found work on Capitol Hill working for a New York State Congressman, and I remember going to her office to turn in her husband's office key, so upset I couldn't even get into it with her as to "why." God love him, he paid me a month's wages and begged me to come back, but I knew I couldn't. I knew the woman I was replacing wasn't budging. And that left me Mr. "X."

Mr. "X" was an underling of Ellen's husband, and he had asked to meet me the day I went in for my formal interview. It made no sense. I would never be working with this man in any capacity, yet I agreed. I'm sure Ellen's husband wondered about it, himself. The man was a horror. He sat in his office, blue with smoke, ashtray overflowing, puffing away, in between bites of a huge submarine sandwich smothered in onions. I wanted to wretch it smelled so bad in there. He sat back in his chair telling me how I would never succeed in the office, how I didn't know what needed to be done--basically playing "the big man," but given the fact I was working with his boss on projects one on one, his behavior was bizzare. Equally bizzare? Ellen's husband told me just after this meeting that Mr. "X" didn't want me hired. Which is how I acquired this information. But why tell me this?

Ellen's husband had left town. Mr. "X" pulled me from the work I was supposed to be receiving instruction on, threw his weight around with the boss gone, hauled me into his office and told me I would be working for him. He pushed this mess of jumbled paper across his desk and "explained" things (quotes meaning "his" version.) A national study was to be conducted requiring the gathering of data from every state. I asked him how much data had been gathered. None. Now whether that data was even available for the gathering was unknown. Statistics would be used. Charts would be made up. A report would be written. Are you ready? Sit down. I have to laugh.

Mr. "X" had been given two years to do this. The day he threw it across at me, it's due date was one week. Yes. ONE week. I looked him dead in the eye and said, "There is no way you are dumping your failure at me and asking me to fall on the sword and take responsibility for what you have obviously not done." (This, by the way, I think explains what he didn't want me hired. Him judging my capability of this "bail," for him.) In truth I did have statistics under my belt, despite my youth, but I also wasn't the lamb he thought I was. And this is why I quit. I could see the woman I was to replace had flipped and was not going anywhere. Ellen's husband was on the road a great deal of the time and not around to protect me from this nonsense, and I knew I would be stuck with this reeking, miserable man, and thought, "Better unemployment than this."

It's odd to think that a bad cookbook triggered all of this, but let's get back to how Dave Lieberman made me think of Ellen. At our annual Christmas party, the staff would bring a variety of festive foods. This particular year, Ellen's contribution was two tiny cans of Vienna sausage. She popped the tops, so kuddos to her for that hostessing gesture. There "may" have been toothpicks provided, but moot point since no one wanted to eat them. They just sat there in their cans. We had Secret Santa, and that was always a treat. My employer gave gorgeous gifts: jade bracelets, Waterford vases. She gift wrapped everything herself in imaginative ways, (a tiny skater on a silver foil pond!), but she loved doing it. I still have everthing she gave me: a carriage clock, a velvet lined silver box from England, a translucent white jade carved dragon pendant from China she had bought for herself when she was one of the first to go into China. (I still wear it on a thin silk ribbon in the summer and remember the geneorsity of such a rare gift.) Just the prettiest things.

One of my co-workers one year gave me a box for my pierced earrings (when I did not yet have pierced ears.) I was so naive I actually had to ask "What is this for?" Ellen beamed when she got my name one year. She had been in Baltimore and seen this coffee mug with a decal of roses and my name printed on it in heavy black Gothic font. Since my name isn't usually on those things that have names that are more common, it made her even more proud that this was, indeed, something that shared my name. I found a visual on eBay that is darn close to the original. I'd been taught to accept gifts graciously and write my bread and butter thank you's promptly, and this was definitely a "get a smile on your face fast" moment. For a few years, it sat in the back of my cupboard, and when friends would see it, they would tease me about not using it.

I don't know why, but one time I was studying it and thinking how it had been bought with affection and pride in the find, so I decided, "You know, you poor ugly duckling. Out you come from hiding." I took to drinking my coffee in it every morning. I remember a few years after I had been using it, and it came up in group conversation again, one friend said, "My God you still have that thing?" I said, "Yes, and oddly enough I've grown quite fond of it's ugliness." Fast forward to about three years ago, a friend came into the room where I was with this crestfallen face and said, "I have something terrible to tell you. I broke the (fill in my name here) cup," (because that's what we had taken to calling it. The (fill in my name here) cup.) I said, "You didn't," and they said "I did, and I feel just terrible about it."

Don't laugh, dear readers. Do you know what we did? We held a burial for it's shards in my back yard, and there it remains. R.I.P. little mug.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Is This Thing You Call "Money"?
Twitter Twatter

My text signal just went off on my iPhone. The message is, "Man Man. TT said did pops give u some money this morning."

I am so tempted to answer him. "Gots da cheddah and carvin'."

I get too many calls from phriggin' phreaks.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I've spent the past few St. Patrick's Days in Annapolis where I would meet friends for dinner at the Killarney House, a restaurant done up like an inn with a large fire going at the end of the room in a stone fireplace. We always order the Corned Beef and Cabbage and warm pots of steaming tea. They cook the beef for ten hours, so it tastes incredibly tender. All very civilized.
The polar opposite of where I spent my lunchtime last year in Davis' Pub, (look at their photo gallery. You walk out the door and hit the brink in just about any direction) a waterman's pub a block from the water, sailboat masts clanging in the sea wind, and everyone eating fried "you name it, but it sticks to yer ribs out on the cold wind and water" and exceedingly drunk by 11 a.m. Everyone wearing yellow rubber boat clothing, too, so if you fall overboard, "I think I see Harvey over there dog paddling by the buoy." You'd think it's a no-brainer. You walk through the bar to the back where the long tables are for serving food, and coming back out, you get hugged a great deal and make a lot of new friends; at least for that moment.
We've been planning this year's event for weeks, weighing where else we might go this year. There are several Irish pubs in Annapolis, but it became obvious in the past week, with conflicting schedules, this year was going to be a bump and no go.

Corned Beef and CabbageGet a shamrock for your site

I was raised in a family that honored holidays. One year my mother and I made sugar cookies cut out like yellow chicks and shamrocks, and I took those to work in a towel wrapped wicker basket. One year, at the insistence of my co-workers, I brought in my mother's shamrock templates and we spent a few hours cutting out shamrocks to put around the office. My mother would invariably be given a shamrock, (or buy one,) and it would go inside her kitchen window sill, so that became tradition, too: having a shamrock plant.

I still have the pendant part of my babyhood shamrock necklace (the bracelet went missing,) and I still have silly shamrock earrings I paid a dollar for at a party store two years ago. I inherited the shamrock paper templates. I inherited the Waterford. I inherited the shamrock cookie cutters. What I can't have or replace is my mother calling me saying, "Can you stop and buy some beef so we can make an Irish dinner for your father?"

My parents had large gardens, and Mom would call when certain things were blooming to either cut (flowers) or pull for dinner. She always loved the new potatoes and baby peas coming in, and for some reason, I always associate that dish with this season as well, because now is when that crop is ready, and the coloration of cream with bright green.

Oh the little white road climbs over the hill,
My feet they must follow, they cannot be still,
Must follow and follow though far it may roam.
Oh little white road you will never come home.

Oh, the hills they are patient and steadfast and wise,
They look over the valleys and up to the skies,
But the little white road scrambles up them and over.
Oh, little white road you are ever the rover.

I fain would go with you right down to the sea
Where a ship with white sails would be waiting for me,
Go sailing and sailing to strange lands afar
Where deserts and forests and lost cities are.

But when I grew weary of my gypsying ways
I'd sail home again for to end all my days
In the little grey cottage, beside the grey hill.
But you, little road, would be wandering still

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Get a shamrock for your site A small piece of corned beef I bought at Whole Foods and shredded with boiled cabbage and a cubed orange on my mother's antique Majorca plate and her antique silver (Williams Rogers "Berkshire") fork from 1847.

Postscript: My ancestry is British-Scottish. Go figure.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Twitter Twatter

I have had no interest in signing onto Twitter. I swear I've seen some shared "thoughts" listed on other's Twitter sites like, "My baby just had a poop going up to his neck."** Or. "Kawfee. I need kawfee." Fascinating. I will never be joining the Twitter Twatters.

Here is my Twittering for the day. I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room and the aide came out and called, "Miz Merman?" A zaftig, middle-aged woman with teased hair in a flip stood up, and I swear I expected her to burst out with~"THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS."~

I wish she had.

** ...and as aside, if I were going to write about baby poop? I would be quoting from Tolstoy's War and Peace when Natasha, (the now domesticated country wife,) runs ecstatically, holding forth a sick baby's diaper gone from green to healthy yellow. I would talk about drop seat Chinese baby outfits where babies are unbuttoned and held over trenches, or Hanoi Jane Fonda being chastized in Vietnam for her own child not being potty trained...and the Vietnamese showing her how.

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