Saturday, May 24, 2008

I am hungry!!

Just thought I mentioned that. I skipped lunch today, although I ate a heart-attack inducing breakfast of a gianormouse bacon, green pepper, and onion omlette shared with Hun. Anywho, it's almost dinnertime now and I would seriously gnaw the corner of one of the bookcases in the library I'm sitting in just now--if I only had access to some salt and pepper.

Hun is perusing the internet after we enjoyed a rousing bit of frisbie action in a nearby park. I spent my valuable internet time looking up the phrase "I am hungry" and browsing dessert recipies on

I also watched youtube videos on people making cakes in the shapes of dogs . . . my oh my . . .

Did I mention I was hugry?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Condiment of the Week: Peanut Butter

Aussies have their Vegemite. The French have their Dijon mustard. Nothing is more iconic to the American diet than Peanut Butter. Occupying the selves of over 75 percent of American pantries, it's a part of our cultural heritage. Almost half of the peanut crops in the United States wind up in a jar of peanut butter.

Like many kids growing up, I ate my share of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunches (or as an alternative to salmon patties). Each parent has his/her own way of making PB&J--to be branded in childhood memory. On those lazy summer days in the old neighborhood, my friend and I took advantage of out parents' techniques to add variety to our lunchtime PB&J and popsicle.

Whenever we were in the mood for peanut butter and grape jelly on white bread with a dash of butter, we would hit my friend's house and run through the sprinkler in her backyard to beat the noontime heat.

We would eat my mother's peanut butter and peach preserves on whole wheat on other days. After, we would play on my backyard swing set--occasionally being summoned to help her nudge out a neighborhood English sheepdog from the living room. He fell violently in love with the cool hardwood floors and box fan one hot afternoon in July when he escaped the confines of his backyard two houses down. (No one in our neighborhood had air conditioning. Everyone left the front and back doors open--along with every window--to increase air circulation in the desert heat.) My mother would pull his paws from the front and we would push from behind as the pooch skidded across the floor, yowling his protests. One time, we failed to push him out the door and he rested like a big bear rug until his owner called out "Chewbacca" a few minutes later.

My family patriotically consumes peanut butter in other forms. My father makes a mean batch of peanut-butter fudge. (He also makes peanut brittle and peanut patties, thank you very much.) Some of my friends introduced me to peanut curry--with a dash of peanut butter. I also love Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. My mother makes a mean batch of peanut-butter cookies as well.

When I was a Girl Scout, I was the local supplier of peanut-butter Tagalong cookies in the spring. (Years after I left Girl Scouts for tap lessons, family friends would still call asking if oh, please dear God, you could join for a couple of months to sell us some Tagalogs, do you have any little friends still in Scouts who can sell us twenty or so cases?

My father introduced me to further peanut-butter experimentations, such as peanut butter and mustard sandwiches, and even--don't gag--peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. Indeed, my dad passed along his wisdom gained in collegiate dorm life to his impressionable daughter regarding the multifaceted uses of the popular protein supplement.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fallout (or "Betty, where aaare you?")

Yes, folks. I am still in the land of the living--barely. My life has been filled with more than incidental events as of late--but I've still managed to find escapist time to play Fallout, a PC game involving saving my little community residing in a fallout shelter during post-apocalyptic tomorrow. During my tours in Never-Never Land, I came to two conclusions (1) there is no way to successfully complete an adventure without incidental carnage, (2) there is no way to save the world without loyal friends (a radioactive mutt in my case), and (3) the best-laid plans go radioactive when faced with Deathclaws . Strangely enough, life imitates avatar (minus the grizzly bits).

I can only thank the amazing resiliency of the human condition and blind fate that I am here writing to all ten of my readers today.

I returned to work after spending a week in Colorado. My 94-year-old grandmother's health was declining, and I went home to spend time with her and my father. I might call myself a cowgirl, but she was the real deal. She spent most of her life in the Texas Panhandle, and lived through the Great Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and WWII. She saw the Soviet Empire rise and fall and heard Orison Welles's War of the Worlds. She was courted by a cad, only to find out he visited that "widow who lived by the train depot," whenever his manly urges required professional attention. She declined to marry my grandfather because he hadn't enough money to support them--until he said he would join up and fight the Nazis if they didn't get hitched. She vainly tried to control my adolescent father's occasional fits of dancing. She also went to the beauty shop to get her hair set every week for 70 years.

We visited for an hour for the first couple of days I was at the nursing home. (My grandmother's hip broke in March, and moved from her assisted-living home to a nursing home after her recovery. We initially hoped she would bounce back--as it was hard to imagine the old cowgirl would ever die.) The following days, when we walked the two blocks from my family home to the nursing home, grandma could barely stay awake. I would comb her hair, we would hold her hands and make some chit chat. Mostly, we exchanged smiles as my grandmother fought to keep her eyes open. She enjoyed company, getting her hair set, and having her hair brushed. But eating--even chocolate ice cream--held little pleasure. The ritual of "supper" was no longer a joy but a painful chore.

On the day before I flew back, I told my grandmother I was returning to Albany. Grandma frowned and sighed, and said she was glad she could see me and I said I was glad to visit with her too. She told me to come back to visit soon--I smiled and lied to her. I said I would see her as soon as I could. I knew it would be the last time. My grandmother died the next day as I was waiting for my connecting flight in Detroit. My parents were there as she passed. Her heart finally gave out.

I wish I could see her again. But life held no more enjoyment for her anymore. It wasn't worth the bother.

I returned to work today, only to be sent home by my boss. While I was gone, she arranged everything so I wouldn't need to return for the rest of the week. She asked me why I came in. I told her the jackhammers across the street of my apartment made cold comfort, and I wanted to get back to work. One of my coworkers suggested I go see a movie by myself, a cheesy chick flick or a ribald comedy. It sounded nice to me at the time. I made my check-ins with my foster parents, and all was as it was before--filled with the usual back and forth pull of heartstrings and mania. I headed out at noon and drove home . . .

. . . only to get into an accident with a car that cut in front of me to make a left turn. I'm fine, and my trusty mare Norma Jean will need some plastic surgery, but didn't seem to suffer any internal damage. The couple riding in the car were startled, sheepishly embarrassed, and no worse for ware.

When I got out of the car, I was shocked to see the driver and the passenger who cut me off. They reminded me of my grandparents. The wife looked like she had her hair set every week. The husband (and driver) had ears that hung to his shoulders. All my anger disappeared--still flustered--I asked "are you OK?"

I had to repeat it a couple of times--the driver wore a hearing aid the size of a lime. The passenger said "We are fine dear. Are you? My husband and I were returning from the V.A. in Albany. They were running some of the usual bloodtests, and he said he was tired and just wanted to go home."

Folks came by and asked if all was well and if we needed any further assistance. We repeatedly assured we were free of bodily injuries. The local police came by, information was exchanged, and a report was filed. The fallout, as I've discovered was that no adventure can take place with incidental heartache, loyal friends and family, and crumbling of best-laid plans. That's what makes life so wonderful and so painful at the same time.

So, that's how my day went. It's been the theme for the past couple of months. How's everything with you?

P.S. Fracas, 70s, TnB, DP, and all the other cowfolk out there--all is well. I really will have a Condiment of the Week by the end of the weekend! I really promise, and this time I mean it!!