Archive for November, 2011


almost a whole day. . .

Had taken a vow of electronic silence, but a couple things have come up today that I just can’t resist posting about.

First: Truth In Labeling










Good to know.

This made me curious, so I looked a little further:










Sheesh. Are we really this stupid?


In an “are we really this stupid”-related story, I ran across this article in last Sunday’s New York Times, about a woman and what she wore day by day as she went through her week. Apparently she’s quite wealthy, and philanthropic, and stylish, so, as my husband posits, we’re supposed to care.

Is this, really, “All the News That’s Fit to Print”? Or maybe, just a little more.


We decided that this was a good day to take Dexter for a walk. He does pretty well with his leash when we take him out to go “potty,” and we took him for a short walk yesterday, and after a little resistance he had trotted along quite happily. Not so today. By the time we realized that he really was quite overwhelmed and was not going to take a step of his own free will he had damaged the bottom of 3 of his 4 little paws, and is limping around all gingerly and pathetic. I feel absolutely terrible, but I’m also a little irritated, because his feet seem to feel fine enough when he wants to sniff the wheelbarrow, chew branches, and chase his purple monkey around the kitchen, but are apparently too sore for him to bear the leaves and stones when we take him out to pee. Does it say something about me that I’m always quite convinced that I’m being manipulated by a 10-week old puppy who looks like a cross between an Ewok and a baby polar bear? (Cynical, party of one.)

Anyway, the guilt is almost more than I can bear. I’m a terrible person.

But I still don’t care what Muffie wore, or to wear she wore it.






a day of silence?

Have spent a lovely day at home reading, knitting, watching the Red Wings barely beat the Bruins in a shoot-out, teaching Dexter to play fetch (he’s a natural), and meeting the neighbors.

Oh, and checking facebook repeatedly to see if anything’s “going on” and reading some of my favorite bloggers.

In a discussion on Roger Ebert’s blog regarding Twitter, a commenter quoted Montaigne:

I would like to suggest that our minds are swamped by too much studying of too much matter just as plants are swamped by too much water or lamps by too much oil; that our minds, held fast and encumbered by so many diverse preoccupations, may well lose the means of struggling free, remaining bowed and bent under the load; except that it is quite otherwise: the more our souls are filled, the more they expand; examples drawn from far-off times show, on the contrary, that great soldiers and statesmen were also great scholars.

I’ve thought, on occasion, of taking one day a week off of everything electronic — email, facebook, blogs (mine and the ones I read), etc.

I think I’ll try it tomorrow.

See you Sunday!




recipes, a day late

Husband says that the last thing people want to read the day after Thanksgiving is recipes, and I’m sure these would have been a lot more useful to people a week ago, but the problem is I make things up as I go along, so I never have them until after the fact. Maybe they will be of some use for Christmas. I did have two things turn out better than expected, and a result of a combination of two or three recipes, so here you are.

Sorry I don’t have pictures. Too many things to do all at the same time to stop and take snapshots. I must be the Worst. Blogger. Ever.

Yam and Pumpkin Soufflé

Cut 2 lbs of yams into 2-3″ pieces (don’t bother peeling) and cover with water in a medium-sized saucepot. Cover, bring to boil, and then simmer until they are are quite soft.

Remove the yams from the pan and let cool on a plate, then peel and mash in a large bowl. Add 2 c. of pumpkin — either baked or boiled pie pumpkin or canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling; just pumpkin), 1/2 c. coconut milk (Silk brand or its equivalent, the kind made to drink, not the really high fat stuff in cans), 1/4 c. brandy (or more, I always think it needs more), 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. galangal (or ginger, but I like the galangal better because it’s a little milder), 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 c. brown sugar. Stir until well mixed. In a separate bowl, beat two eggs until light and frothy. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Put the pumpkin mixture into a deep pie pan or soufflé dish.

Melt 1 T. of butter in a medium-sized skillet. Add 1/3-1/2 c. slivered almonds, and stir, cooking until the almonds just start to brown. Add 2 T. of brown sugar, and keep stirring until the sugar starts to get thickly syrupy (mine didn’t really caramelize, and the almonds were starting to look like they might burn, so I took it off the heat). Spread the sugared almonds over the top of the soufflé.

Bake at 350˚ for an hour, uncovered.

Really light, mildly sweet, even the “children” liked them.

Apple Pie with Drunk Brandied Raisins

The day before:

Put 1/3 c. of golden raisins into a small dish or canning jar. Pour brandy over just to top of raisins. Let sit overnight, shaking to mix and redistribute the raisins whenever you think of it.

Cut 1/2 tsp. of salt into 2 1/2 c. of unbleached flour. Add 3/4 c. really cold butter, cut into tablespoons, and mix with the flat paddle of the mixer until fine crumbs. Sprinkle in 9 T. of ice-cold water, letting the mixer run. When the crumbs start to stick together into clumps, stop the mixer. Assemble the pie dough into a ball, wrap tightly in saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight. (I usually refrigerate for ~ 30 minutes, but this was by far the flakiest, most delicious pie crust I’ve ever made, and I think it was because I was trying to do stuff ahead, so made the dough and left it in the fridge over night. It was really a lot of work to roll out, my triceps still feel it, but it was definitely worth it.)

The day of:

Mix 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3 T. unbleached flour, 2 heaping tsp. of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Peel, core, and slice (1/4″ thick) 7 Granny Smith apples. Add the apples to the sugar mixture and stir until they are completely coated. Pour in the raisins AND the brandy, stir again.

Roll half of the pie dough out on a floured cloth. Fit into deep-dish 10″ pie plate. Add apple mixture to the pie dish, arranging carefully so the slices are really packed in together. Dot with 1-2 T. of butter cut into little pats. Top with the other crust, brush the crust with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake in a 425˚ oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375˚ and bake for another 30-40. Fantastic. (You will taste the brandy, so don’t do it this way thinking the brandy flavor will disappear. Unless you’re like me, and think the dish always needs more brandy.)(Twitter post, @Sheriji1: Husband and I, in a nutshell, on Thanksgiving: Him: I like to stay ahead of the dishes. Me: I think this dish needs more brandy.)


Dinner was fantastic. We made a 21.3 lb. turkey for 5 people because First Son and Step Daughter couldn’t make it back. We missed them, quite a bit, and not just because they are the oldest and therefore the best at making enjoyable conversation around the table and really good at doing dishes. I didn’t make a complete pig of myself, but did eat enough to make a vow that I wouldn’t eat today (Husband claims this is cliché, a vow made by all and sundry aprés Thanksgiving dinner). I did end up thoroughly enjoying a piece of the drunk apple pie for breakfast (I feel no ill effects, but thanks for asking).

Really looking forward to the leftovers. I especially love “my” stuffing, but I can’t take credit for it, because I got the recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook. The Best Stuffing Ever.

It’s a beautiful day outside. Took Dexter for his first walk. After the first 5 minutes of basically being dragged by the leash while he reluctantly kind of paddled his little paws he walked like a champ. No “potty” for the whole walk, though, which seemed a little weird. Husband says he was holding it in so he can go where he thinks he’s supposed to: on the kitchen floor.

Now, what? Read (Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel) or knit? Tough decisions.


One more recipe — really good with turkey leftovers.

Turkey Florentine

Make 3 c. of white sauce — let me know if you need a recipe for this, but I think it’s pretty basic.

Add 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg (or more, if you like it really nutmeggy)

Toast 1/2 c. of slivered almonds.

In a large deep-dish pie pan or 10″ casserole dish, layer:

1/4 of white sauce

a “level” of fresh spinach

a “level” of leftover turkey white meat

1/4 of white sauce



1/4 of white sauce



1/4 of white sauce

top the toasted almonds and a generous layer of grated parmesan cheese

Bake, 350˚, until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden.

Serve over fresh (Reames? is that the brand?) pasta.


this year’s gratitude

For finding my way through the darkness,
For flashes of insight and joy,
For sadness, and hope from unexpected places.
For strength and struggle, disappointment and pain,
For the reprieves of sunsets,
and beautiful meals and that perfect unoaked Chardonnay.
For the people who enrich my life,
for being heard, and being known.
For yesterday, and today, and,
as far as I know,
Thank you.


Yeah, that sounds like fun

Dear MoveOn member,

Americans are talking about the economy—a lot. They’re talking about Occupy Wall Street and the Super Committee, about an economy that only works for the 1% and about unemployment.

But thanks to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, lots of talk about the economy means lots of misinformation about the economy.

So if you’re spending this Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family, and want to be ready with the facts to gently correct any myths you hear (they are family and friends, after all), we put together a short guide with five common myths you might hear and easy-to-remember facts to respond to them.





Looking for the picture above, found this:

That’s funny.


Black Tuesday

This is getting ridiculous.

Black Friday is now Black Thursday evening, and my husband saw people camped out in tents, on concrete LAST night outside a Best Buy.


Maybe it’s some kind of a joke.

Apparently this started like 12 days ago.

Didn’t the whole “Black Friday” thing originate as something to do on a long holiday weekend when you just couldn’t force yourself to eat yet another turkey sandwich or have another raving argument conversation with your über-conservative brother-in-law? What about Thanksgiving? You know, friends, family, dry white meat, dressing that the kids will complain about (is that celery?), cooking a meal for 6 hours that takes everyone 10 minutes to eat, nobody wanting to do the dishes?

Brad Tuttle, writing for Time, suggests that perhaps Best Buy is paying them.

I guess that makes sense.

I think it all just makes us look that much more greedy and materialistic.

We refused on principle by buying our new TV yesterday.*  That’ll show ’em.

* (the 2nd Olevia died a couple months ago — anybody know how I can get a piece of some class action lawsuit against this terrible company?)

And for your enjoyment, in honor of this family-based holiday: Ze Frank on Scrabble


Stress and Aging

Obama 2006, and in 2011.

No one should age that much in 5 years.








And our friend Massimo, taken in May of this year:

and recently, after a torrent of mudslides destroyed his town of Vernazza:

We also discovered through this website that he and one of his main employees Jeff (we called him “The American” he was a California boy who fell in love with a Vernazza girl and tended bar at Massimo’s restaurant) hammered through the wall in that picture and pulled 40 customers through to safety during the deluge.

He looks at least 20 years older.

We also discovered that Massimo and Carmen had already lost a daughter, an 18-year old lovely girl, exactly 2 years before this tragedy; a victim of a car accident.

I can’t stop thinking about tragedy and loss and family and friends and what’s really important and how we all just keep getting through a day no matter what kind of pain we’ve lived through.

And it makes his joy, and friendliness and openness to the world that much more precious to me.

I suppose it’s selfish of me to think that going back, and giving him a hug, would help.

I guess it might help me.

But I am SO GLAD!!! to hear that he’s okay.


maybe I’m just not qualified

Those of you who visit here regularly probably know that I’ve recently acquired a dog.

Meet Dexter.

He is, as you can see, very cute, and very sweet.

He also seems to be pushing all of my you-suck-as-a-parent buttons, and I’m having a really hard time deciding I’m qualified to even potty train this dog much less be held accountable for my children. (For some reason “So far I’ve let them live” fails to qualify as a ringing endorsement, although there have been times that this alone was a heroic accomplishment.)

I actually spent several hours today wondering if this 10-week old puppy could actually be smart enough to be manipulating me by running around the kitchen sniffing so that I would take him outside to go potty play.

This isn’t possible, right? He’s a 10-week old puppy. Right? (I have my doubts, and I am definitely watching for other signs of coercive behavior. Just give me a minute until I’ve finished rubbing that soft spot on the back of his ears. . .)

So I spend my only 2 hours off between 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. snatching him up from where he’s running and taking him outside so he can sniff bits of bark, chase the leaves that are blowing around and chew on acorns and sticks. Over and over and over, to no avail. Well, to no avail to me; he got to sniff bits of bark, chase the leaves that were blowing around, and chew on acorns and sticks. He’s a puppy. What more could he want?

I then discover that he had actually already gone poo in his “bed,” and this is not the first time, and dogs aren’t supposed to like to do this, so I decide his “bed” must be too big, and put a giant soup pot in the back of the crate, with the lid on upside down so the crate will close but he can’t get into the pot. I finally manage to coax him into the crate with a toy and a “bully stick” (this is actually, to my surprise and chagrin, a smoked bull penis, but we do not speak of that, although I do like to imagine the boardroom meeting while they settle on the name .  . . bull dick, hmm, can’t call it that, bully dick, only slightly better, and it sounds like someone who would beat you up on the playground so he could steal your Hardy Boys book and pocket protector, [you know, that bully, Dick?] hey! I got it! bully stick! Ah, advertising.)

I digress.

Back to the puppy.

At first he settles in, but then he realizes that he’s been “had,” and starts to express his displeasure over this act of subterfuge and deception. He starts yipping, and just won’t stop, so I finally really start to lose it and put the crate in the garage so I don’t kill him*  can’t hear him anymore. About 20 minutes later Only Daughter gets home from school, so we have a peek to see if all is settled down, and we can’t see him anywhere. When I get closer, bending over and peering through the gate, I realize that he has managed to squeeze himself into the 2″ of space between the top of the pot and the top of the crate, and is now curled up in the inverted lid, sleeping.

What a goofball.

All of this is the day after an exchange with Second Son that went something like this.

Me: “I have kind of a busy day on Wednesday to come pick you up from school,” (it has already been determined that his college isn’t far enough away; IMHO there must be a 200 mile minimum to really encourage independence), “can I buy you a bus ticket?”

SS: “Seriously? You can’t pick up your child?”
Me: “Well, I can, but I have a lot to do, and that’s two hours out of my day, and it’s really not that long of a bus ride, and I’ll buy your ticket.”

SS: “I hate the bus. Can’t you pick me up?”
Me: “Well, I can. But I have a lot to do. Would you be willing and able to help with some Thanksgiving dinner preparation Wednesday night then? I was going to do some of that Wednesday afternoon.”

SS: “Is it really not possible for you to do something for me without me having to do something in return?”

Yeah, that went over like a lead balloon.

After I had shown Husband the email^ I wrote to Second Son, explaining how much I hate entitled children with selfish, narrow world views, and how offended I was that my contribution to his well-being that extended far beyond food, shelter, and clothing, but into tuition and vehicle provision and insurance and maintenance etc., etc. seemed to be not only unreimbursed, but also, more importantly, unappreciated, Husband huddled, shuddering, in the corner of the couch. “Don’t hurt me” he says.

As if.

First of all, he would never say anything so offensive, or ridiculous.

Second of all, well, what else is there?

So I raise selfish, ungrateful children, and my puppy won’t pee outside.


*He was not hurt. Except for maybe his feelings when I told him to shut up. He’s lying at my feet licking his paws, so I think he’s forgiven me.

^Second Son apologized on the phone last night for being ungrateful and selfish. It turns out that he hadn’t even read the email yet (apparently college students don’t check their email anymore, although they sure seem to send me a lot of them). I guess it’s not all as hopeless as it seemed.

And Dex pee’d AND poo’d this morning first thing, and his crate was clean. But the pot’s staying. For now.


the view from the 99

Maybe we’re all tiring of hearing about the 99, percent that is, but I hope not. I hope this is not one of those cases where our pathologically short attention spans do us in (what’s going on with the Fukushima Daiichi power plant? is there still oil in the gulf? who killed Jon Benet?).

P.J. O’Rourke was on NPR the other night, being his usual pithy and witty self, and, shockingly, I found myself agreeing with him; mainly, that life isn’t fair, and that our children need to learn this in order not to make themselves absolutely crazy. But one of my children asked me once, after I reminded them that life wasn’t fair, whether maybe we shouldn’t at least try to make it so, at least in our little corner of the world?

Good point.

And then there was O’Rourke’s basic premise: that wealth isn’t a pie, that there is always more money to be made if we just figure out what to make/do/sell and then convince everyone else they can’t do without (a Thneed comes to mind, but I think Dr. Seuss already covered that one). And that taking away some of the money that the 1% is making wouldn’t necessarily mean that the 99% would make more.

He seems, to me, to be missing the point. Now I haven’t had a math class since the early 80s, so there might be some kind of flaw in my thinking, but let me just run this theory by you all for your consideration:  If, as postulated by the AFL-CIO, the average CEO is being paid 343 times the salary of the average worker, and someone decided something radical, oh, I don’t know, maybe let’s just pay him 50 times the salary of the average worker, does it not compute that some of that surplus could be well, maybe, oh, I don’t know, paid to the average worker?

So here’s my attempt at math:

Average worker making $45,000/year.

At 343 times the salary, CEO making $15,435,000/year.

Let’s assume the company has 1,000 employees.

At 50 times the average salary, the CEO would make $2,250,000 — still seems like an awful lot of money.

We redistribute the remaining $13,185,000 dollars among the other 1000 employees, and we now have the “average” worker earning $58,185.

Would you look at that.

It IS a pie!!! More for you means less for me.

Is that really that hard to figure out?


In a related story, the faculty at my college are “forbidden” from taking a personal day on the day before or after a school holiday, so I am sitting right now in an empty classroom because no one has come except me.

But the president of the college left over the previous weekend to spend a week traveling hither and yon visiting family and friends; a fact we have been informed of through his “Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving with Friends and Family” email, where he reminds us of how important this time is and hopes that we enjoy and treasure it.  Just not too soon.


Two Questions

1.  Is this decoration stupid or whimsical? Inquiring minds want to know.

2.  Have you ever seen an uglier outfit?

Seems like, if they want you to knit it, it ought not to make the model look like a block of wood.

Just sayin’.


“the” non-surgical approach to weight loss

There’s an ad much like this along the highway between my work and home (except it’s a really skinny girl with large breasts in a blue and white striped bikini, but I can’t find it online and I’m not inclined to take a picture with my cell phone while hurtling down the road at 70mph).

And I can never help but wonder about the OTHER non-invasive way to lose unwanted bulges — you know, eating healthfully and getting regular exercise?

Too much like work I guess.

Here are some of the before and after pictures:

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t really see all that much difference, and certainly not enough to spend thousands of dollars on something I could accomplish by having one glass of wine with dinner instead of two and taking a 30 minute walk 5 days a week.

I certainly don’t see the miracle results implied by the billboard. I guess they don’t show a “before” so they’re not actually lying to us.

In my travels, I ran across this image, presumably of a woman before and after the coolsculpting (or some other plastic surgery) procedure.

Yeah, I’m totally convinced.


they need our help!

I just found out late last night that my absolutely most-favorite place in Italy, Vernazza, was devastated by mudslides after 20″ of rain fell in one day on October 25.

I don’t know how I missed this, except it seems to have been completely overlooked by national media.

Vernazza is, well, it was, an absolutely beautiful little town perched at the base of a V of cliffs on the Ligurian Sea. Here are some pictures from our visit, and walk, there last May.

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Here is a link to what has happened to the town as a result of the mudslides.

One of the pictures shows the awning of the Blue Marlin Bar, the establishment owned by our good friend Massimo (from the pictures — he’s a budding pianist — I played Granados for him and he roared around the restaurant “Shussh”ing everyone and then wouldn’t let us pay for our dinner; I coached him on the Mozart D Minor Fantasy and then he mimed hari-kari to my husband; he was one of the sweetest, most genuine, most “people-person” people I’ve ever met), at the level with the mud.

I can’t stop thinking about this. I’ve looked at pictures and video clips all day (in between my seven hours of teaching, anyway). I can’t get the images out of my mind. The streets my husband and I strolled through, the gelato stands and tabbachi we shopped in, the breakwater where we perched and dangled our legs in the salt water to soothe our aching muscles after our 14-kilometer hike (for which we “blame” Massimo), the chair with the bowl of lemons on it (in a crush with a bicycle and a tree trunk and twisted pieces of pipe), the grocery (Salame and something) where we bought salame and olives and sourdough rolls and cherries to take on our hike, and the dinghies parked along the piazza, and the chiming clock. I fell in love with Italy there — well, I fell in love with Italy in Perugia and Florence, too, but this was by far my favorite place — all buried in or surrounded by mud and rocks. Second floor balconies are at street level. The train tunnels were filled with mud.

I’ve also observed something interesting. In my research, I run across pictures of similar devastation in Monterosso, and I say, “Pah,” and look for more information about Vernazza. I feel such a personal connection there. So much for benevolence and a sense of universality.

Meanwhile, they’re trying to dig themselves out; they are not being given any insurance money (“Act of God”), the Italian economy is in a shambles, I can’t imagine how these people are going to dig themselves out economically, even if they manage to extricate themselves from the mud.

I think the most difficult thing is I could completely see myself living there. When we got home I shopped real estate and priced inns and cafes and tried to figure out how many piano students I would have to take to supplement our cafe and croissant sales. I’m. Not. Kidding. I feel, very much, like this could have been me. And the stories of people rushing to stairs or cutting through air conditioning vents to crawl through to second stories to escape the encroaching water and mud make my heart race as if it were me.

Anyway, you can donate money through the link above, or to the Italian Red Cross.

Click here. Donations can be made to help the Ligurian towns and people of Vernazza and Monterosso through the Italian Red Cross. Make sure to list these 2 towns in the ‘notes’ field to guarantee your donation will go directly to these two places, rather than help fund other issues throughout Italy.

We can’t let this town become a ghost town. It’s not only one of the most beautiful places in Italy, it’s home to some of the kindest, friendliest, most open people I’ve ever met. Let’s help keep their town alive.


what he said

Some things that made me laugh, or nod my head, or laugh and nod my head, from Stephen Marche’s “Wouldn’t it be Cool if Shakespeare Wasn’t Shakespeare?” riff from the NYTimes.

The article is written in response to the movie “Anonymous,” which claims that Shakespeare’s works were actually written by one Edward de Vere. Of course this is bunk, and I won’t get into that now. But he (Marche) put a couple of things particularly succinctly, and amusingly, which I wanted to share.


You don’t have to be a truther or a birther to enjoy a conspiracy theory. We all, at one point or another, indulge fantasies that make the world seem more dangerous, more glamorous and, simultaneously, much more simple than it actually is. But then most of us grow up. Or put down the bong.

and this:

The original Oxfordian, the aptly named J. Thomas Looney, who proposed the theory in 1920, believed that Shakespeare’s true identity remained a secret because, he said, “it has been left mainly in the hands of literary men.” In his rejection of expertise, at least, Looney was far ahead of his time. This same antielitism is haunting every large intellectual question today. We hear politicians opine on their theories about climate change and evolution as a way of displaying how little they know. When Rick Perry compared climate-change skepticslike himself to Galileo in a Republican debate, I dearly wished that the next question had been “Can you explain Galileo’s theory of falling bodies?” Of all the candidates with their various rejections of the scientific establishment, how many could name the fundamental laws of thermodynamics that students learn in high school? Healthy skepticism about elites has devolved into an absence of basic literacy.

and this:

The Shakespeare controversy, which emerged in the 19th century (at that time, theorists proposed that Francis Bacon was Shakespeare), was one of the origins of the willful ignorance and insidious false balance that is now rotting away our capacity to have meaningful discussions. The wider public, which has no reason to be familiar with questions of either Renaissance chronology or climate science, assumes that if there are arguments, there must be reasons for those arguments. Along with a right-wing antielitism, an unthinking left-wing open-mindedness and relativism have also given lunatic ideas soil to grow in. Our politeness has actually led us to believe that everybody deserves a say.

The problem is that not everybody does deserve a say. Just because an opinion exists does not mean that the opinion is worthy of respect. Some people deserve to be marginalized and excluded. There are many questions in this world over which rational people can have sensible confrontations: whether lower taxes stimulate or stagnate growth; whether abortion is immoral; whether the ’60s were an achievement or a disaster; whether the universe is motivated by a force for benevolence; whether the Fonz jumping on water skis over a shark was cool or lame. Whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is not one of these questions.



skin diseases and other myriad health problems, and Rick Perry

Sitting on the couch with husband, watching hockey, feeling like a lump.

Say to husband: “I feel like a canker on a boil on the goiter of the neck of life.”

Husband: “What’s a goiter anyway? From the way it sounds, it can’t be good.

Then made the mistake of looking up pictures of each of the above.

Will probably have vividly horrible dreams tonight, and I have only myself to blame.

Speaking of goiters on the neck of life, (and I mean no disrespect for people who actually suffer from such terrible conditions. Yet another reason for me to be grateful), watch this:

(thanks, guardo)

Oops is right. On so many levels: 0n him (idiot), on his staff who woefully underprepared him, and on anyone who thought for even 5 seconds that this man was qualified to be a candidate for President.



finally, a moment of truth in American politics

(sorry about the title; it’s from YouTube, and I can’t seem to change it)

This reveals, as I always suspected, that Michelle Bachman is, truly, an idiot.


Herman Cain; really?

Two tidbits from the NPR report regarding the alleged sexual harassment charges against the Republic party’s newest “golden boy.” (I tried to write that without irony; what is the typing-on-a-laptop equivalent of snorting coffee out your nose?)

1. He claims not to remember the woman who has come forward with allegations regarding him groping her in a car as she was talking with him about getting a job. But then he claims that she is a disturbed person, and one who is apparently in some kind of financial difficulties. Interesting how much he knows about someone he doesn’t “know.”

2. He also claims that the Democratic “machine” is at work trying to undermine his legitimacy. There is no Democratic machine. That’s probably the biggest single thing that prevents them from competing with Republicans in political machination-type activities. Sheesh. He might want to make the argument that a Presidential candidate for one of the world’s most powerful and influential countries doesn’t need to know the name of Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan, but he should at least know that.

Maybe he’s just not paying attention.






feminist financing

I bought my house in July of 2007. Came back from my summer camp job for one night (stayed at a friend’s), signed the papers the next day, collected my keys, and drove back to camp without even going to the house (I didn’t have time). When I did come “home,” 3 weeks later, it appeared that a tree had fallen across the road and some mysterious fallen-tree-removing elves had come and cleaned it up. I waited for months for the bill.

Anyway. This was a big deal for me. I had separated from Former Husband about 8 months earlier, a man I married while in graduate school, and this was probably the first actual adult thing I had done by myself.

Of course this was right before the mortgage crisis really hit. If the bank had looked past my stellar credit rating (I was told it was in the top .1 of the top 99 percentile) at my laughably meager income they wouldn’t have loaned me quarters for the parking meter. But they did. And here I, and Husband, live happily with Only Daughter, Sophie the cat, Bear the snake, and (someone should really name the fish) the goldfish (I don’t name them because I usually kill them. Accidentally of course. This one, interestingly, has lived for a year and a half, and is still nameless). Oh, and maybe-to-be-named-Dexter the puppy who comes home a week from today. (So much for the rule of never having more pets than you have children.)

When I bought the house, I was granted the wonderful interest rate of 6.5% Seemed like a good deal at the time.

Now it’s 3.5%, so we’re refinancing.

And putting Husband’s name on the mortgage too.

These are both good things.

But I feel kind of strange about it.

I “found” the bank guy, but my schedule’s crazy plus I have to keep all this time free to write on my blog, so Husband is doing the follow-up.

He’s been asked for pay stubs and W2s, but it isn’t clear if mine are needed, too, so right now he’s sending his.

I know that this doesn’t really mean anything. He makes enough money to qualify for the tiny little mortgage on this tiny little house, and we will make sure that both of our names are on the mortgage, but a part of me feels irrelevant, marginalized. Not because of anything anyone is doing or saying, mind you, just because.

For the past three years I’ve been trying to convince Husband that this is His House Too, even if his name wasn’t on the mortgage, but I don’t think he ever really felt that way. And now I kind of understand. Because there’s this tiny little voice that’s saying to me, “But it’s your house.” And I can’t figure out where that voice is coming from.

Maybe because it is, really, the only thing of value that I own. My retirement fund is laughable. I do own a Baldwin grand piano that’s 111 years old. And a Prius. But that’s it.

Maybe that’s all it is.

I joke that Husband actually married me for my money, and this is all just of his diabolical scheme to get his grubby paws on my dough.


But I think it’s more “feminist” than that. He makes more money than I do, he has a lot more saved for retirement than I do; maybe subconsciously my ownership of the house helps level the inequality a little. I guess I could ask to have my name put on his retirement account (guess I just did), but I don’t think that can be done, and that’s not something I’m worrying about anyway.

Is this a reaction to something that is purely symbolic? Or does it represent something more significant, more important?

In a related story he, laughingly (I found out later; I thought he was serious) suggested we roll in enough to put a hot tub on the deck. I’m angling for a heated driveway so I can get my little Toyota up the hill and into the garage all winter. Shall I open it up for discussion?


Today’s Quiz: November 7, 2011

Which of the below are we expected to give a flying f@#$ about?

Michael Jackson’s doctor found guilty
Tintin movie to make North American debut in Quebec
Vanessa Redgrave to have Academy tribute
Bieber to take paternity test
Paul Haggis to chair Canadian Film Centre programs
Lady Gaga tops MTV Europe awards
China artist Ai Weiwei receives $800K in donations*
Canadian pays $31K for John Lennon tooth
Lohan checks in and out of LA jail

What a surreal world we live in, don’t you think?

(My various influences were stifled here:

What a surreal world we live in, don’t’ya’know?

What a surreal world we live in, eh?

What a surreal world we live in, what?

Bonus points if you can assign appropriate locations for each of the above.)

Wow, it’s been a long week and it’s only Monday.

Not a good sign.

*Not to influence anyone, but I vote for Weiwei. Anybody know where I can send a fiver?


so what’s up with that?

I spent much of Saturday with a group of young singers (freshman and sophomore college students, although some in their 20s), and found myself involved in many “female” type conversations. Principally: body, self-image, weight, appearance, etc. Guess this is a normal part of hanging out with singers, the more narcissistic of the instrumental sub-species, and especially since most of them were women.

Anyway — one of the young women was talking about how she had really worked out like a maniac for a while, and at one point had gotten down to a size 4 (four!!!) and still felt like that wasn’t thin enough, and then that kind of scared her so she chilled out a little.

I thought that was pretty self-aware of her, and congratulated her for that.

Then she said that she really felt like she couldn’t consider herself “thin” until her stomach was completely flat, but no matter how much she exercised or how little she ate, her stomach always “stuck out” a little.

And I said, (in a sage-like voice), well, you’re a woman, your stomach is supposed to stick out.

And I believed it.

Sort of.

And then. . .

A woman, a complete stranger, struck up a long and rambling conversation with me today at Only Daughter’s First Gymnastics Meet Ever (FGME), and I couldn’t help but notice that she was rather can-shaped and still had her sweater tucked into her jeans.

And my thoughts alternated between “why won’t she stop talking to me” and “I wish I could just introduce myself and ask her her name and maybe know one other person in this building besides my daughter and my former husband” and “it’s so great that she’s so comfortable with herself even though she looks like a can” and “how can I be such a b#!% about what shape she is it’s not like we’re in high school anymore couldweallpleasestopjudgingeachotherthankyouverymuch” and “I really wish I was one of those women who felt sexy and strong and powerful just because I’m a woman and sexy and strong and powerful.”

So now, at the end of a long day, a day during which I ate only good and healthful foods, I am arguing with myself mentally over whether I should open that bag of Cape Cod reduced fat jalapeno potato chips®, or not. Well, that’s not actually true, I know that I very much should NOT. But I really want to.

I think I just spend too much of my life like this:



random thoughts

Has anyone else ever noticed that they don’t put the brand names on crappy pens? I think this is so that when you go to buy more pens to replace the crappy pens you got fed up with and threw in the trash you can’t remember what kind of pens they were and might accidentally buy the same crappy pens again.


After I de-skinned and de-ribbed the chicken breasts for last night’s dinner I sanitized the sink and utensils. And then I wondered: Is it a good idea to eat something that requires that you sanitize every surface that said something might have come into contact with? I didn’t think so. (I coated them in a mixture of cornmeal, cayenne, parsley, and sweet paprika, and then “oven fried” them in a pan heated in the oven with olive oil and butter. They were delicious. But still.)


I have the best husband in the world. He was away most of the week, so I was kind of sad and lonely most of the time, while slogging through the craziest week of my semester, and then today he drove me 150 miles to stay in a Sleep Inn so we could spend some time together rather than having to spend another night apart before I accompanied a bunch of singers at a competition. And he brought wine. And a corkscrew. Did I mention he drove? And he drives 60 miles to work and 60 miles back almost every day? We checked into the hotel and both settled down to get some work done. Guess the honeymoon is, in fact over. Sorry if that’s TMI.


I bought a dog this morning. I had decided that maybe I should go with a more 21st century breeder than the one that I had talked to, but we already had an appointment and I didn’t want to be rude, so Only Daughter and I drove 45 minutes to her house and she was waiting at the door with this dog in her arms

and that, as they say, was that.

He’s very calm, and sweet, and I think maybe one of the cutest dogs I’ve ever seen.

As if we’re not busy enough already. But now that Second Son is off to college, I’ll need some new material, and what’s better for funny stories than puppy stories?

I do think I’ll need to get into better habits re: things like putting away my shoes. But that can only be a good thing. Right?


well, that’s unfortunate

I’m in the middle of what is probably going to be my busiest week of the semester, so I don’t have time to write much.

I did run across something mildly amusing in an article published by NPR on the difficulties of losing weight. The article is titled: “Losing Weight: A Battle Against Fat and Biology.” Being a woman in her, ahem, mid 40s, one who finds that she can keep eating less than she used to and still weigh the same or more, and who has given up the “ghost” sotospeak in terms of losing that 15 lbs because she’d rather have 2 glasses of wine with dinner and eat ice cream once a week, I clicked on the link.

It wasn’t really all that great of an article. It didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know — mainly that your body wants to weigh a particular weight (given balanced, healthful eating, of course), and if you try to weigh less through dieting your brain will just basically flip a switch that tells your body to consume fewer calories so as to keep weighing the same. As they put it, a person who weighs 230 lbs and diets to lose 30 lbs will be able to eat less to maintain that weight than a person who has always weighed 200 lbs. (BTW, I don’t weigh anywhere NEAR 230 lbs. Sheesh.)


ANYWAY, the article included this paragraph:

“It’s a popular misconception, she says, that losing weight is “strictly a matter of willpower.” It’s a gigantic task, she says, because not only do we move through an incredible buffet of food spread before us every day, but we also face a battle with our own biological responses.”

The woman who was quoted is an obesity specialist. I can’t imagine she chose those words in order to try to be funny. (But, still, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!)(Okay, I won’t do that again.)(Well, maybe not for a while.)

I wonder if the “advocacy group for (ugly and) fat women” has filed an official complaint.


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