Saturday, March 17, 2012


I couldn't be more proud of Dwight Howard than if he were my own son.  Loyalty does count.  He is, as my own mother would say, "a good boy."  Besides, it's not like he isn't going to be earning $19.5 million this coming season.

That was really the only good news over the past few weeks.  The world continues to go to hell in a minivan.  War, politics, massacres.  I sideswiped my own car in my own office garage. I made an appointment with my dentist because I cannot put if off any longer.  I realized that the pain in my left big toe is from podagra, also known as gout.  I oversalted my fried chicken (no one complained except me, but that's not the point.)  The price of gasoline continues on the upward path towards prohibitive.  March is almost over and nobody scheduled our office's monthly potluck.  All those lovely Irish-themed recipes I tested, for naught.  Well maybe not naught.  Cory and Rob had a grand time tasting them for me.

As always, when life becomes a little unpleasant, I start chopping onions.  I was determined to perfect a maque choux without tomatoes.  Why, you may ask?  Because tomatoes are over used.  I tried the maque choux last week, and found the flavor delightful until I added the tomatoes.  For some reason, the taste went flat after that.  Feh, flat.  Tried it again this week after tweeking a few ingredients, and I like the result, which is sort of a cross between maque choux and succotash.

To go with it, I prepared shrimp scampi - except instead of using olive oil with the butter, I used bacon fat.  Brined the shrimp first, and they stayed succulent and sweet.  I think I'm starting to get this cooking thing.

I got very little knitting done, darn it.

I spent a lot of time with my babies, and that was nice.

Cats and Dogs, living together ...

Earlier in the week, I took a little time for myself, and armed with a loaf of bread, headed down to the lake (Lake Tohopekaliga), and walked around a bit, feeding the ducks.  I discovered that Muscovy ducks can be quite aggressive when they realize that an unfeathered biped is carrying a bag of bread.  So can seagulls and other flying critters, and there was a moment there, I admit, when I felt like an extra in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  But the lake is beautiful, the weather was crisp and clear and sunny, and I came away feeling better than when I had arrived.

Recipes to follow ... not the duck!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Daydream Believer

Rest in peace, Davy Jones. 

Hey, has anyone else noticed that his passing did not garner the huge hoo-rah that Whitney Houston's did?  Is it because he wasn't a drug addict?  (Snarky of me, I admit, but still ...)

I'm still ranting a bit about getting our priorities straight.  The tornado victims in Indiana are important.  Rush Limbaugh is not.  We should have all resolved to ignore him a long time ago.  His numbers would have tanked, revenues would have dropped, his show would have been cancelled and he would not have been around to publicly humiliate a young women by calling her a slut and a prostitute.  The growing tension between Iran and Israel is important. (I know several young men in uniform and I would hate to see them deployed to the Middle East if that situation blows up.)  Lindsay Lohan on Saturday Night Live is not.  Why are we so fascinated with famous drug addicts?

The upcoming Presidential election is important.  What makes it hard to take seriously are some of the antics and bloopers put out there by the Republican candidates as they get closer to their primary.

Gas prices are back up in the stratosphere, with premium over the $4.00 mark.  Ah, Keystone, we hardly knew ye.

On a lighter note, I posted the recipe for my Mushroom Risotto with Sherry and Cream on the food blog, so here is the link.  I also have a few other recipes coming down the pike in the next few days.  I told you I kept cooking during my little hiatus from the blog.  Heck, I even wrote some of them down!

And because I don't always cook for the family, a shot of my devastatingly handsome son at Longhorn Steakhouse, eating a porterhouse the size of my head  ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I am as guilty as the next person

Well maybe not as guilty ... I did not obsess over the deaths of Whitney Houston nor Michael Jackson, and I never watch the Oscars ... but I am not immune from following the hype surrounding public figures.  I have been known to scream at the television while the Magic are playing ... or snoozing on the court, as happens far too often these days.  Stan, I love you, but it's time to go and take Otis with you.

See what I mean?  Still, I like to think that I spend much more time paying attention to the important stories out there, about noncelebrities who quietly make a difference, despite never getting a million dollar paycheck, and about true public servants who really are in it to help people.  (That leaves out all politicians, who make no sacrifices to serve the public, the very same public whose taxes are funding those extra special, exclusive lifetime benefits packages.)

Every day people continue to amaze me with their strength, their resolve, and their dignity in facing the worst that life can throw at them.  I think we all need to spend less time oogling (or is it googling) Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and more time honoring everyday heroes.

Which is why I have added this blog to my blog list found on the right hand side of this page.  It is maintained by my friend and former coworker, Erin Baxter, who is doing an extraordinary job caring for her two children, one of whom was born with partial Trisomy 9.  If you don't know about trisomies - and I knew very little - you should follow her story.  Incidentally, if any of my Orlando peeps were aware that February 7th-14th was proclaimed as Congenital Heart Defect Week by Mayor Buddy Dyer, it was the result of Erin's intervention.  Erin was a Child Protective Investigator for the Department of Children and Families for over four years, and to say she is an incredibly strong child advocate would be an understatement.  This is for you, Erin, and Kaleb, Nolan, and Dennis.  The Johnston family rocks!

Moving over to food ... I am testing some Irish-themed recipes this weekend, in preparation for a little catering event.  Here is how that happened - our office had decided a while back that rather than try to go out to a restaurant to celebrate our birthdays - twelve, to be exact - we would pick one date every month and do a potluck lunch.  Those have been extremely successful, to say the least.  I think it was last month I brought in my version of shepherd's pie, which was so well-liked than one of my co-workers suggested I "cater" the lunches, so that they would fund the ingredients and I would do the cooking.  I really was honored by the suggestion, and while I don't think I would want to do that every month, I told them I would like to try it for our upcoming luncheon.  One of our group had earlier suggested we work each lunch around a theme - a terrific idea in my opinion - so I ran with that, and picked the quintessential March holiday of St. Patrick's Day.  I'm going to throw a little Purim in there as well, but just a little.  Purim is all about hamentaschen, rather than the main dishes, and the hamentaschen recipe I posted last year on the food blog is the bomb.

So there is, as we speak, an Irish soda bread in the bread machine which contains some of my favorite ingredients in the world - raisins and caraway seeds - and I am hoping it is a success so I can bake another one for my office buddies later this month.  I will also be testing an Irish stew, and miniature shepherd's pies in a biscuit crust.  That's not the whole menu by a long shot, as some of my selections are tried-and-true and don't need any testing.  If it all works out, you know where to find the recipes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I think I've got a problem

This problem may require a visit to the doctor, so of course I am resisting.   I dislike being turned into a pincushion.  I resent having to give a well-meaning lab tech any amount of my blood, since I seem to have so little of it.  I don't like drugs of any kind, and while I have not been able to totally avoid them, my prescription medication intake is minimized to a manageable level - 2 little pills in the morning. I fear painkillers, and I am fortunate that neither my doctors nor my dentist are pill pushers.  My drug of choice for pain is ibuprofen, except for those rare post-surgical hours when my only choices are taking the damn Darvocet or screaming my head off.  As soon as possible, however, I switch to Advil.

I am not good about taking supplements, and I think that is the source of my current discomfort.  Since my little event up in Panama City Beach this past Labor Day, I have tried to be more diligent about taking my iron, B12, and calcium pills.  Unfortunately, one cannot take the wish for the deed when it comes to supplementing one's diet, and as I commit these thoughts to virtual paper, I realize what I have to do.

Taking a page from my diligent, organized, utterly devoted husband's book ... I have created my very own "pill box."  Yes, it is smaller, sleeker, and prettier than the one my husband faithfully drags out of the pantry every morning and evening.  And hopefully, I shall use it "in good health."  Now I just have to find room for it in the pantry.  Ha ha.

So I have not been up to cooking today, but I have several recipes (a very few with photos) taken during my recent hiatus, and will post them as time permits.  For now, I am going to creep back upstairs, crawl into bed and complain about how these darn vitamins are already upsetting my digestive system.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday, dear Blog

Caught up in a whirl of 23 simultaneous games of Words with Friends, I totally missed the Blog's birthday.  Unlike Mandy, the GPS I refer to as "that electronic bitch", I really do care for the Blog, and would not want to hurt it's silicon-based feelings.  Mea culpa, Blog.

As you may recall, I started Inspiration Nation one year ago, February 19, 2011, my son's 24th birthday.  Now he is 25, and we still haven't celebrated.  I'm starting to see a pattern here ...

There have been several cruises and several road trips, and I am embarrassed to admit I failed to take photos and I also failed to make blog posts.  For all you knew, I had fallen into a vat of chicken fat - delicious but fatal. 

I have been cooking - a lot - but I didn't take pictures of those finished dishes either, except for an exceptional lasagna. 

The Giants won Superbowl.  But you knew that. (You can take the girl out of New York, but she's still going to root for the home team.)

We adopted another Yorkie, named Romeo.  His first human mother was quite ill, and had to find a home for him and his sister.  He is just two years old, exactly one year older than Blog, with all the energy that comes with that age.

Four Dog Night - Indiana Jones, Athene Minerva, Woodrow Wilson Smith, and Romeo Lee

Sometimes it seems I spend all of my time catering to those doggies, as well as their five feline siblings.  For example, today is a big day - the NBA All-Stars Game (in Orlando! Gonna make lots of snacks and root for the Eastern Conference Team), the Oscars (which I don't watch), and best of all, we are going to shave our orange cat, Fuzzybutt Dejah Thoris, and maybe, if Rob and I live through that adventure, we will also shave our feral cat, Zebadiah.  I am not sure why those two are so terribly matted, but in Dejah's case, those matted areas are reaching critical mass.  I should have bought some catnip to get her high to calm her down.  Zebbie can still be brushed out, I think, but it involves chasing him into a closed room and confining one part of him to a pillowcase while the other part is being combed.

I am also doing quite a bit of knitting ... but that's another blog post. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Execution of Eddie Broom(e)

Yesterday was a hoot.  I embarrassed myself beyond all reasonable doubt, but instead of blushing and beating up on myself, I am laughing every time I think of it.

So ... I head into the office yesterday, and it was just me and my shadow.  I plugged myself into the iPod, armed with a blue ink pen and a stack of files, and started signing and singing.  I danced with the red file cart as I moved the files over to the copy machine.  Since no one was there, I removed the damn denture that is the bane of my existence, and felt totally comfortable and productive.

Until I turned to head down the hall and came face-to-face with a CBC employee, who had also come in to catch up on a project.  Big smiles, exchanged hellos, but when she started to introduce me to her husband, I found an excuse to duck back into my office to reseat that pesky denture.  Only then did I head out to shake hands.

Once she walked down to the conference room to set up, I went back to singing and signing - singing softly, signing with a flourish - but no more dancing with the red cart.  I still have a shred of dignity left, you know.

Or I did until I got home, having stopped at Publix on the way to pick up a few minor items.

Okay, let me stop here and take a sharp 180 degree turn to discuss one of my odd passions - old buildings.  Maybe I was an architect or an archeologist in another life.  All I know is that I am fascinated by anything that was built more than a century ago, like the New York City subway system, the French Quarter in New Orleans, and the Osceola County Courthouse.  I can sit for hours, staring at old photos (or even better, the real thing), admiring styles of architecture long out of vogue.  I am crazy for tunnels, especially if a train can run through it.  I love to try to figure out where the tunnels go.  Hallways are like tunnels, which is why I was probably the only person alive who was saddened when the first step in restoring the old courthouse was to pull down the annexes with their crazy quilt of secret passages, hidden offices,  and the world's strangest wheelchair lift.  The probate clerks had their office tucked in at the juncture of the old courthouse and the second annex (where the courtrooms and the world's worst restrooms were located) at sort of a half level, so you had to step up to step down to see them, and it was easier to stand at the door and hand them the paperwork.  The juvenile department was tucked under the front steps, and their ceiling sloped accordingly.  Being claustrophobic, I would have lasted about 20 minutes.  One of my regrets is that I never got any pictures of this collection of odd additions slapped onto the old courthouse over a period of 60 years.  Apparently, neither did anyone else, because while there is a decent collection of photos of the original courthouse, circa 1915, and the restored courthouse, circa 2001, there is little in between, darn it.  So much for urban exploration.

If you look very carefully at the left side of this photo, behind the oak trees, you can see bits of another building there.  That was the entrance into the second annex, and depending if you walked straight, turned right at the end of that hall, or made a sharp right when you first walked in, you could end up in one of three different buildings.

The "wart" on the historic Osceola County Courthouse is almost gone. For weeks, crews have been knocking, banging and tearing down the ugly one-story annex that was grafted onto the original three-story Romanesque Revival structure built in 1889. Earlier in the week, most of the east side of the annex was still standing. But in what seemed like a blink of an eye, everything was down Thursday. All that's left is a massive pile of rubble and a few pieces of the old brick walls that are still standing.
Apparently the Orlando Sentinel does not share my enthusiasm for historical oddities.  Just because it wasn't pretty - and it wasn't - doesn't mean it wasn't interesting fascinating.

Osceola County courthouse and city jail - Kissimmee, Florida

This one is a good shot of the first annex and the old jail, before the second annex was conceived and constructed by someone who had clearly done too much LSD in the sixties, after smoking too much marijuana with Robert Mitchum in the forties.  That second annex - the aforementioned "wart" - was built so as to wrap around and connect everything on that side of the street.  It was bizarre and beautiful.  I miss it, although I do not miss the crappy restrooms, or the old holding cells on the second floor.

Late at night, when my insomnia is in full swing, I spend a lot of time online at sites like Forgotten NY and this one, the Florida Memory Project. There are great photos from all over the state, starting from the late 1890's to the present day. This next photo, taken on January 19, 1912,  is disturbing, at several levels, and addresses sensitive issues of state executions and racism.  This is a photo of the last execution to ever take place at the Osceola County Courthouse, the execution of Eddie Broom (or Broome).

Execution of Eddie Broom outside Osceola County courthouse - Kissimmee, Florida

I'm not here to discuss capital punishment, which I have come to oppose, or the questionable treatment of this particular individual, an African-American accused and convicting of shooting a white man to death.  (It wasn't a lynching, but let's just say there was no time for a lengthy appeal.)  I want to discuss the location of the hanging, because it drove me crazy for several nights.  And because I get a cheap thrill from standing in close proximity to history.

Or sitting.  You can't imagine how many times I strained my neck trying to catch a glimpse of this abandoned station from the warm safety of an overcrowded A train as it rumbled its way towards Brooklyn.

But before any more historical blathering,  let's lighten the mood and finish the story of my dearth of dignity.

So I finish making my purchases at Publix and head home.  Mind you, I've been plugged into the iPod the whole time, grooving with the music.  Smiling and nodding at people I know, but not stopping to chat since I couldn't hear anything.  Happy as a clam.  Got home, greeted my husband, turned to put away my purchases in the kitchen, only to hear him say,

"Bear, did you know you have toilet paper hanging from the back of your pants?"

Oh yeah, apparently I did, and I can't tell you how long I'd been wearing that unintended accessory, except I am certain I had it on the entire time I was shopping at Publix.

Oy vay.  I've been shopping at the same Publix for close to 20 years, and all those people too polite to tap me on the shoulder.  I may have to start grocery shopping at Walmart.  It seems I'm already turning into a walmartian.  No no no, just kidding.  Besides, I always keep the denture in while I'm shopping in Walmart.  I'm bad, but I'm not hopeless.

Gotta laugh, right?  Because it is certainly funnier that the FIVE SEPARATE TIMES I had to frog back big chunks of the dishcloth I am knitting, from a pattern I designed named "Breaking Up is Hard to Do."  I may just have to rename it "Breaking Bad."

Comedy break is over, back to history.

Thursday I walked the entire perimeter of that darn courthouse, trying to see where the scaffold had been contructed.  (I think I frightened the guardian ad litem who happened to see me walking and staring and likely muttering to myself.)  Because clearly the unfortunate Mr. Broom had NOT been dispatched to his Great Reward from the end of a rope strung over the infamous Hanging Tree. 

KISSIMMEE — Legend has it that one of the old giant oak trees in front of the Osceola County Courthouse was used as a hanging tree. It is one of the tough-looking trees on the north side of the courthouse facing Vernon Avenue -- the one with the notches along some heavy branches.  The story goes that each notch stood for a person who was hanged.

Hanging trees? The facts are in dispute. Although official death sentences were carried out from temporary scaffolds erected alongside the courthouse, some longtime residents say no one has ever been strung from a tree on the grounds. Such talk, they say, is the product of embellished folklore.

Darn.  And here I thought it prophetic that the Hanging Tree survived the destruction wrought by the 2004 Hurricane Trifecta.  I know the roof of my office on Bryan Street didn't ...

It took me another day to figure it out.  I was so sure that the hanging took place at the front of courthouse, albeit not from the hanging tree, that I couldn't see the ... well, the forest for the trees.  And then I saw it, and I had to photograph it.  Which I did yesterday on my way to the office.

Scroll back up, and you'll see it too.  The only differences are that the drainage pipe has been moved to the end of the brick wall, and there are no spectators hanging out the windows. And the best part (for me, not Eddie) was that I was obviously standing on the top of the same stairway used by the 1912 photographer to capture the moment.

Northwest corner of the courthouse.  You can see clearly that the scaffold was constructed with it's floor at a level just above the first floor windows to provide sufficient height for ... well, I'll leave that as a lesson for the student.

Execution of Eddie Broom outside Osecola County courthouse - Kissimmee, Florida

If anybody is interested, I did prepare something I am calling chicken piccadillo.  Publix had boneless and skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99 a pound, and I was NOT passing that up regardless of the two-ton lasagna in my refrigerator.  It turned out quite tasty, and I will post the recipe real soon.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lost in time, and lost in space ... danger, Will Robinson!

The last son of Gallifrey has got nuthin' on me ... I can bend time just by stepping close to a clock or watch, while he needs a time and relative dimension in space device to move about ...


(But he does.)

Here's the story:  I am unable to wear watches.  Any kind of watch, from the cheapest to the most costly, is doomed from the moment I place it on my wrist or hang it around my neck.  My old jewelry box is littered with the corpses of dead time pieces.

Apparently this odd electrophysiological quirk now extends beyond personal timepieces.  If I spend any amount of time close to a clock, it is likely to experience some trauma as a result of being sucked into my own personal space-time continuum.  I can speed them up or slow them down, the end result being that no clock within my sphere of influence ever tells the right time.  Yesterday, for example, I went to fetch my iPhone and iPad from my night table drawer on my way to work.  I keep them both plugged in overnight so they are fully charged each morning.  Imagine my surprise consternation when I realized that they were now four minutes apart, and that my night table clock, as well as Robert's alarm clock, all had different times.  Once upon a time, not so long ago, they were all set for the same time. (Insert voice of Dan Ackroyd from "Ghostbusters" - "I did that, I did that, that's my fault!")

I have always known I was punctuality-challenged.  Hell, everyone knows that about me.  One judge even took judicial notice of that fact.  Ha.  But now it appears I am temporally-challenged.  My life is one long deja vu all over again as I slip back and forth in time, not by years or centuries, but by short-burst moments. A minute here, a minute there.  Creepy.  A totally useless trick, since I never get to see the dinosaurs or the end of the earth in the year 5 billion.  I depend on wall clocks that belong to other people, especially if they are placed where I can't get close to them.  So I have been steadily and inadvertantly speeding up the clock on my car dashboard, and despite knowing this about myself, continue to be surprised when I get into the courthouse to find I am on time.

Florida has two (or three, depending on what judge I am in front of) time zones.  Me, I'm in my own time dimension, in which I experience jet lag from driving into Central Standard Time.  And no, I have never used mind-altering substances, not even during the Sixties.

"And crawling, on the planet's face, some insects, called the human race. Lost in time, and lost in space... and meaning."

I have to head into the office for a little while.  Yes, I know it is Saturday, but there has been an explosion of new cases these past few months, and we are all drowning in a sea of sorrows.  There is a lot of anger and hopelessness out there, and some people are taking it out on their spouses and kids.  There is also a lot of gag-reflex-inducing sexual perversion ... WTF is THAT all about?  Gentlemen, it is a generally accepted societal rule that you DON'T do your daughters, or stepdaughters or nieces. I remember being taught that there were two deeply ingrained taboos, against incest and cannabalism.  For a growing number of very sick people, the first taboo is gone with the wind.  Can the second taboo be far behind?  God, I hope so.  Or else we'll all be someone's soylent green.

And on that cheerful note - enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kwitcher Bitchin and Carpe Diem

I am in an oddly cheerful mood.  Maybe because I slept late, maybe because I had such a lovely time last evening.  Maybe because I haven't taken the damn iron pill yet.  Perhaps it was that awesome strawberry margarita I imbibed while enjoying the view at Downtown Disney.  Whatever the reason, I am embracing it on this Sunday before Hell Week.  Oh yeah, I have seen my court schedule for next week and it simply defies description.  But for today, and only for today, I am feeling quite chipper.  Carpe diem!

Downtown Disney and the Lego Dragon.  Yep, all Legos.

Eric, his really neat kids, and his lovely wife Amanda

Eric's brother Brian, and Brian's lovely wife Christine

  ... and a couple of grown-ups.  Kathy, Rob, and Alan.

We also got to meet Amanda's mom Sue, and I just had the best time with all of them.

While I am carping my diem, I am throwing caution to the wind and expanding my friends list on Facebook.  Six degrees of separation and I'm having fun.  See ya in cyberspace  ;-)

Now a bit of news from the culinary department - regardless of what anyone tells you, there is no recipe for lasagna.  I've got the perfect proof sitting in my fridge.  Talk about a creative use for leftovers ... we'll see how this one works out after I bake it off tomorrow.  I have never made a lasagna the same way twice.  I know I've never made this one before ... collard greens?  Yeah, stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do not go gentle into that good night


That's what I feel like, crap.  Gradually, insidiously, I have been feeling more craptastic every day, a direct result of the length of my days on this earth.  My mortal coil is unwinding like an over-wound clock.  I have not bounced back from my adventure in the emergency room over Labor Day weekend, despite being pretty diligent about taking iron, calcium, and B12 supplements.  Every time I swallow an iron tablet, I experience an immediate assault on my tender digestive system.  But swallow them I do, and I haven't passed out again, although I have had a few passing moments of lightheadedness and a very brief weakness in my left leg.  Crap and crap again.  As Mick Jagger sang, what a drag it is getting old ...

In my pre-2003 days, when I looked in the mirror I only saw myself from the chin up, because to look anywhere else would have been too difficult.  I was a Very Big Girl in those days, and not happy about it.  Fast forward nine years, and I have simply stopped looking in the mirror.  Encroaching old age just ain't pretty, at least in my case.  I love road maps, but not all over my face, if you get my drift.

The worst part is not cosmetic, but it is physical.  I am almost always tired; sometimes I feel positively frail.  I have always kept my distance from anything geriatric and now I know why.

I am still cooking, kids, and I will be posting the recipe for my Chicken with Artichokes later today.  I may not be able to turn out a buffet for 40 hungry friends and relatives, but I can still feed my family, and I'm a whiz at potluck lunches.  Which reminds me, I brought in a Better than Sex cake to the office last week (by special request of mi amiga Cristina) and a good time was had by all.  I will post the link, along with the chicken recipe, over on the recipe blog.  Make these two dishes for the same meal, and your family will nominate you for sainthood.  Really.

Guess who is not heading into the office today?  Absolutely correct, the same little old lady who is going on a cruise over Thanksgiving and another cruise in December.  Being able to drive to Port Canaveral in just an hour is proving to be one of the best things about living in Florida.

I haven't changed my mind about tattoos (I may eat pork, but I would never let someone put a needle and ink to my skin), but if I ever did catch the bug, this is one I might consider.  Saw it on the Yarn Harlot's blog.  No, the Harlot hasn't been getting tattoos, but some of her fans have.

We are heading to Rainforest Cafe this evening to meet up with our friends and their family, including grandkids who I have only been able to admire from photos.  We are very much looking forward to this and have been for over a year, which is when Kathy and Al started to plan it.  Kathy was my freshman college roommate and a darn terrific cook in her own right.  Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good Guy

So I'm knitting with cotton and it is making me sneeze.  The fabric of my life.  The color is lovely, it is called 'camomile' and I love it, but it comes imbued with a floral scent which is making me sneeze.  Since I am knitting a tiny kimono, this is a bit concerning as the future recipient may end up sneezing.  The label says the scent fades with washing, so this may end up as a prewashed garment.  Very trendy.

I prevailed at a certain trial today, and I am sad.  And that's all I can say about that.

We are, for the first time in months, fully staffed, and I am positively giddy with delight.  And I am looking forward to some friendly visitors in the next two weeks.  Life ain't perfect, but it's pretty good.  This week, anyway.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's not all dysphoria

So that was a rather unpleasant post ... here is something a lot more positive:

That's an adoption, kids.   In Florida.  Two dads and one very happy son.  Oh, and Judge Waller.  She's happy, too.  That courtroom was filled with friends, family, and a whole bunch of lawyers and social workers who were thrilled to see it happen.

Sometimes I love my job.  This was one of them.


So busy ... no cooking ... not nearly enough knitting.

I hate to sound like a whiny old lady, but this anemia is kicking my arse.  I cannot begin to describe to you how much I truly loathe the iron pills.  I don't think they are helping me. 

Besides being tired, I am angry.  A low-grade anger that bubbles to the surface each time Certain Topics or Certain Persons are mentioned.  It's all about Family and at this stage of my life, I was looking forward to peace, tranquility, and many happy Thanksgiving dinners.  Instead, I've got anger, regret, annoyance, and more anger.  Thanksgiving is going to be me, Rob, Cory, and three Cornish hens.  Any other combination is only going to result in heartburn.

If I had the financial wherewithal, I would head to St. Croix.  Or Alaska. 

Heck, if I had the financial wherewithal, I would retire at the end of the year, walk away from this white elephant of a house, pack up my family and pets and head for Cleveland.  Lot of good restaurants in Cleveland.  From there ... anywhere the road and my Ford Expedition takes us.

Now that's a plan.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back in the saddle again

My blogging mojo has bad juju ... or something like that.  I'm going to blame it on the anemia, and the cure is certainly worse than the disease because taking that iron pill every day is doing not-so-wonderful things to what is left of my digestive system.  Enough said about that.

My spontaneity, however, remains firmly in place.  Sure, sure, the cruise is all ready and set up for December, but I did myself one better and planned a mini-vacation to Savannah in about three minutes.  Seriously.  Spent last weekend in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States with my best boy.  The weather was beyond perfect, and then there were all these dachshunds ...  I had no idea that Savannah hosted an Oktoberfest celebration every year, but I won't be forgetting it.  It made an already lovely day walking along River Street even better, and I didn't think that was possible.

And then there is the food.  I am beginning to think of Savannah as a mini-New Orleans, sans chicory coffee and beignets, because it is hard to get a bad meal there.  Of course there was the Original Pancake House.  Then we checked out 700 Drayton, which is in this really cool building on (what else?) Drayton Street.  Definitely have to go back and work our way through that menu.  And to end a great trip, brunch at B.Matthew's Eatery on Bay Street.  Rob told me yesterday that since we ate our way through Savannah, he wanted to take off a few extra pounds so we could eat our way through the cruise in December.  I love that man.

Rob and the amazing apple pancake at the Original Pancake House.

I have fallen into garter stitch knitting and I can't get up.  It wasn't even a graceful segue, but instead one of those catch your foot on the curb and go sprawling into your neighbor's lawn sort of deal.  There I was, knitting happily away on lace patterns, and my brain started screaming baby surprise jacket ... finished it, started another ...  whipped up a garter stitch baby hat that matches the baby surprise jacket ... finished that, started a tomten jacket and a baby kimono, all in garter stitch.  Ordered two books from Amazon, all about garter stitch. As the kids like to text, WTF???  I wonder if I will ever get my sock obsession back.  I could use a few more pairs.  Seriously.

I have discovered the wonders of iTune extend beyond downloading my favorite music.  TV episodes, my friends.  Whether it's the season finale of Doctor Who, which I missed because I was in Savannah, or the first Man from U.N.C.L.E., vintage 1964 black-and-white, for a small fee I can download, own, and watch each episode as the mood hits me.  On my iPad, through earphones, while I knit.  It doesn't get much better than that.

The Jewish holidays slipped by quietly for us.  We have not attended services in some years now, but I'm okay with that.  My feelings about God and Judaism are the same as always;  my methods of practice have shifted and morphed over the past 50 years, and somehow I am back where I started.  Which is to say I won't be joining the local Chabad in the near future.  If I plan ahead, I can probably Skype next year's High Holy Day services.  Yeah, I'm bad.  No regrets.

This is how we break the fast ... if we had fasted ...

Today's recipe is brought to you by Traditions-R-Us ... Jewish stuffed peppers in a sweet and sour tomato sauce.  I had chopped meat on the brain (and that is not a variation on Mad Cow Disease) and gave Rob the choice of stuffed peppers or Swedish meatballs.  Even though there is a jar of lingonberries winking at us everytime we open the pantry door, he went with the peppers, which suited me just fine.  One of my very favorite dishes of all time, and one of the first things I learned to cook.

And it is definitely a good day to stay home and cook, because the weather has been worse than awful.  It feels like monsoon season in Korea.  Twelve days of rain in one of the most fantastic countries on earth.  It was worth it.

Nice to be back. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Peace, Love, and ...

UPDATE:  Yep, I should have posted this almost two weeks ago when I wrote it, but my blogging mojo seems to be as anemic as I am, so everything is delayed.  Many mea culpas and I will try to be more diligent.

Used properly, Facebook is fun.  While it has become popular to blame all of society's ills on social networking, I blame people.  People who are going to screw up are going to do so regardless of the available technology.  There were people screwing up with smoke signals back in the day, and that just progressed through written notes, telephones, telegraphs, faxes, email, and Twitter, and MySpace.  No matter how people communicate, some of them are going to screw up.  So I don't blame Facebook.

I like Facebook because I am a congenital loner.  I don't do well in crowds, and while I really do need the company of humans, cats, and dogs, I also require a considerable amount of time to myself.  Facebook lets me keep in touch with people I like and care for, in short, manageable bursts.  It also lets me keep in touch with people I would otherwise have lost to time and fading memory, and that is where the fun comes in. 

This was posted by one of my friends from high school, who now lives in Ithaca.  That's a human peace sign, and I am crazy about it. 

I will be cooking today (Sunday) after a two week hiatus.  Although I had ground beef in mind, once I walked into Publix I saw Nice Pork Chops on sale, and with the help of my iPad and an app called "What's For Dinner" I gathered the ingredients for Rachael Ray's Spanish Pork Chops with Linguica Corn Stuffing and Cherry Rioja Gravy.  I have made this recipe before and it is quite delicious.

Monday I got to work on peeling and deveining two pounds of very fresh shrimp.  Took me an hour, but it was so worth it.  I made my shrimp scampi as usual, except first I brined the shrimp (for all of twenty minutes) and stirred a couple of tablespoons each of regular basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto (both from Classico) into the butter-olive oil-garlic sauce.  According to Rob, it is the best scampi he has ever eaten.  Whoa.  Talk about rich ... it's a good thing neither of us has a gall bladder any longer, or that scampi would have done us in (but we would have been smiling all the way to the emergency room.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Beginnings and Happy Endings

It has been that sort of week, fraught with drama, emergencies, and deadlines.  We are down to four attorneys this week (in a six attorney office), and still missing one paralegal (it has been months).  So nobody is filing their nails or indulging in long lunches.  Despite the never-ending work, the dead and dying elevators, and my head cold, I am happy.  Singing-in-the-car happy (apparently Lady Gaga and I sing in the same key.)

I was going to comment on the Dr. Phil interviews of Cindy and George Anthony, but I decided that none of them, including Dr. Phil, deserve any of my time.  Idiots.

I'm seeing a couple of books I want to read on Kindle.  Patricia Cornwell's Port Mortuary has reached a price I consider fair (I will not pay $14.99 for a Kindle book, even if I can read it on all of my electronic devices).  I also accidentally discovered a book by actor Michael Tucker, Family Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent, that I think I want to read, as it addresses senile dementia.  I have been avoiding reading from my not-inconsiderable stash of hardcore murder mysteries lately, simply because I am not seeing the entertainment value in serial killer insanity or detailed descriptions of unspeakable torture.  I love those types of books, but sometimes I need the kinder, gentler murders described in the Golden Age Mysteries by Ellery Queen and Rex Stout.  Kindle versions of my beloved Ellery Queen remain few and far between, and I have read most of the Rex Stout novels currently available.  Still waiting for Ngaio Marsh and my favorite Heinleins to show up in Kindle format.  Hello, Amazon? 

I also have not been reading much these last few weeks because I am knitting.  Lots of knitting.  Knitting with a view, when I can steal a few minutes to gaze out the window of my office during a truncated lunch break.  Still working on the circular baby blanket and the baby surprise jacket.  They don't match and are not intended for the same recipient, but they are delightful to work on.

Good grief, Charlie Brown, it has been over a week since I drafted that incomplete lead off to a blog post that never occurred.  The baby blanket is completed, and so is the baby:  My Number One Niece gave birth to her daughter, Bailey Rose, on September 21, 2011.   Time for me to pull in the ends, sew in the zipper, wash and block and prepare for shipping.

We have been beyond busy in our office, and all of us are walking around looking like the walking wounded.  Our numbers are up, which is a sad commentary on human beings in general and parents in particular.  I was finally reduced to tears, but because they were happy tears, I want to share that story with you.

Yesterday I was privileged to attend an adoption.  The child is turning 18 on Sunday, but it was vitally important to him that this adoption take place while he was still legally a child.  The new father, who is a friend, a colleague, and a coworker, happens to be gay.  The child spent 5 years in our foster care system, and until a little less than a year ago, my friend would not have been able to adopt the child because of a retarded - and I use that word correctly - provision of Chapter 63, Florida Statutes. 

I am so proud and happy at so many different levels that I am having difficulty expressing it.  I am unable to go into the details of the work and worry that consumed a few of us as the eleventh hour approached, so I will thank all of you, and if you happen to read this, you know who you are.

I have not cooked anything worth blogging about in quite a while.  On the other hand, I did finish knitting the crumpled bath mat  manta ray  baby surprise jacket, and it is quite adorable and amazing.  I will put it away for the future, so that if I hit a knitting slump, I will still have something handmade to present.  Someone is always having babies, so it seems.

We have a lot of leftover Chinese food in the fridge - hey, we gotta eat, even when I don't cook - but I will have to spend some time in the kitchen tomorrow.  Maybe lasagna, maybe fish, maybe beef stew.  Inspiration, anyone?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Resistance is, after all, futile

Thank you for the Baby Borg - now knit me a sweater!  I did cast on for the BSJ (baby surprise jacket) Sunday night, but apparently I have trouble counting up to 160 and had to frog it (rip it, rip it) after one row.  I mean, dude!  I was off by 19 stitches, what is that about?  When I got ready to re-cast, I realized that I was using one needle size 5, the other size 6.  What else could have gone wrong?  It was a total do-ever.  Apparently both love and knitting is better the second time around.  I made lavish use of stitch markers to help me keep count, and I think this time I've got it.  However, if you have ever knit anything created from the mind of the late, great Elizabeth Zimmermann, you know how loosey-goosey her instructions can be.  I have been knitting long enough, I think - coming up on half a century - to figure it out.  But if not, just remember that those anguished shrieks you are hearing coming from Orlando may NOT be people riding on Space Mountain for the first time.

I have never been accused of being a spontaneous person.  Never.  But I am here to tell you that I did something utterly spontaneous, without much forethought.  Or maybe there was forethought but it was all subliminal.  Or subcutaneous.  Or subconscious.  Yeah, that's the right word, subconscious.  Most of the time the subconscious is an evil little parasite, but on Sunday night it made me happy.

I booked a cruise, just like that.  Found it, liked it, ran it by Rob, and booked it online, all within the space of a half hour.  Usually, I agonize for months, but this was absolutely serendipitous, meaning the dates, the price, the port, and the cruise line were all exactly what I would have wanted, had I gone on a long determined search for the perfect cruise.  I know I've told you that I live from vacation to vacation, and this is going to be a goody.  I would do the Happy Dance, but my knees are hurting and besides, I can't dance worth a damn.

Off and running now.  I haven't forgotten the rest of the food tour of Panama City Beach.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, A Zen Day

Maybe the iron pills are starting to work.  Because now that it is later in the day I am feeling better - not dancing-in-the-street better, but a bit more normal, as odd as it seems to apply that word to myself.  That low grade, free floating depression seems to have drifted off, and my ch'i is vaguely cheerful.  Imagine that.

Before I left work on Friday, I took some pictures of my office, which is for all intents and purposes, done.  I still have to hang a few things, but that can happen in good time.  Although the office is just a tad bigger than my walk-in closet at home, it is a comfortable place to work in, so I guess my feng shui state of mind was successful. 

We have successfully relocated to Downtown Kissimmee

Unfortunately, all of the work followed us there

The CPIs and case managers seem to like the staffing accommodations

Apparently the curtains are a big hit.  Gotta love Wal-Mart.

I have been enjoying my cooking today, having chosen a batch of recipes that are pleasantly mindless to prepare.  Nothing as trauma-inducing as the Family Chicken Tamales, which my son has apparently coveted for his own consumption.  Sausage and Pepper Cacciatore, Sweet and Sassy Platanos Maduros, Chicken Livers and Caramelized Onions is a Sage Cream Sauce, Macaroni, Ham and Cheese Casserole, and Creamed Spinach.  Believe it or not, it was easier to prepare these five dishes than that one batch of tamales. You can check out the recipes at the It's All About the Food blog.

UPDATE:  Cory still hates liver.  Sigh.

Didn't I tell you I had gotten a lot of knitting done?

Pay no attention to the handmade sock-clad feet sticking out at the top.  I realize this looks more like a baby sack than a baby blanket, but trust me, it's a circular blanket.  I am at the point of completing the last set of rows for the Old Shale edging, and then I can cast off and get it ready for it's journey north.  And can pick up my mohair pi shawl and give it a whirl.  Literally, as it is circular as well.  And then, I think I have to segue back to socks.  Need more socks.  But!  I find myself inexplicably drawn to quick-knit one of these cute and utterly adorable baby surprise jackets.  I was feeling that way even before the Harlot put up her post, and now it's just gotten worse.  For me, not her.

So the bottom line here is that it was a peaceful, enjoyable Sunday, in a zen sort of way.  I am sitting here sipping my 2010 Schmitt Sohne Riesling, relaxing with my home boys, Ira and Anakin.  I've managed to trick Romeo into swallowing his Clavamox.  Twice.  My family is well-fed, and I'm about to retrieve my copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop to check out the pattern for her Baby Surprise Jacket.  The surprise will be whether I can resist casting on the stitches to get it started.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts from my dark side

On September 11 ...
I highly recommend my friend Mark Fendrick's blog, Thoughts from the Dark Side, for a series of really beautiful and thoughtful posts about the events of September 11, and how it affected our lives, our country, and the world.

Some of you may know that I worked for Alexander & Alexander, a very large insurance broker, back in the seventies and eighties.  After I left, through a series of mergers, A&A was absorbed by Aon Corporation, one of the companies suffering a high number of terrible losses on September 11, 2001.  On this day, my thoughts always turn to two people.  Rest in peace, Mike.  And Denise, you keep kicking my butt on Words with Friends.

I haven't done any cooking in over a week, but I have done some fine eating, and I would like to share those meals with you.

Last week, Rob and I headed up to Panama City Beach for a long Labor Day weekend and Grand Master Soon Ho Lee's legendary "Battle on the Beach."  Actually the battle takes place in the Edgewater Conference Center, but the rest of the weekend is All Beach, All the Time.  Except in the case of hurricanes, like this weekend.

Bad weather did not stop us from enjoying some old and new restaurants, and since I've already posted ad nauseum about my day in the ER, I am going to focus on the food, best symbol of what was still an enjoyable vacation.

Thursday was our travel day, and we arrived early enough to have dinner at a normal hour.  On the way up, I played with my Trip Advisor app looking for new places to add to our list of PCB favorites.  Thursday night turned out to be barbecue night, but the kind of barbecue we had never had before.  It was so good, Rob is planning on emailing Guy Fieri to try to get this place a guest shot on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  Because it is a dive, as are most good barbecue places.

Sweet Racks, 2920 Thomas Drive, PCB
(850) 230-1777

Let me tell you about the ribs ... they were smoked within an inch of their life, but not oversmoked.  Tender and toothsome.  The sauce is called "tocino" and it is apparently a Filipino thing.  Lucky Filipinos!  So the sauce is closer to Asian but not quite teriyaki, and it compliments the smoked meat in a way I could not have imagined.  The tocino chicken was just as wonderful, as were the side dishes we ordered.  Rob had the baked beans and I had the cucumber salad.  Next time I'm ordering the fried plantains as well.  I did not share my leftovers with Cory.  It was that good.  Apparently, I was so busy shkoffing ribs I did the unthinkable and forgot to take a picture. 

Friday was a free day for us - no competition, no traveling, nor other obligations.  We had already planned our breakfast stop, and it was all about the beignets.

David's New Orleans Style Sno-Balls
13913 Panama City Beach Parkway, PCB
(850) 236-1998

When Rob and I were in New Orleans this past January, we made a point to stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets, and for me, chicory coffee.  Incredible experience, except for the fact it was almost too cold to enjoy it.  We seem to alway get to NOLA when it is too hot or too cold.  Which is also the reason we weren't able to hang around to snag a muffuletta at Central Grocery.  I make a pretty mean muffuletta, including my own olive salad, but I would have loved to taste The Original.  As it turns out, David's is a little piece of New Orleans right there in the Florida panhandle.  Still a shlep, but a lot closer than New Orleans.  We had the beignets and I had the chicory coffee, and there was peace in my soul.  Just as good as Cafe Du Monde and that, my friends, is saying something.  If not for my side trip to Bay Medical ER, we had plans to head back there to try their sno-balls and perhaps other NOLA treats, including po boys and muffulettas.  We will definitely be back.

We hit up Publix for supplies - juice, bread, dishwashing liquid and stuff like that - and then decided to try the Panama City Beach Winery.  No idea what to expect, and we were surprised to find this little treasure in a strip mall.

Wine tasting.  All of the wines are fruit based (excluding grape) and are anything but the sweet, syrupy stuff you might expect if you grew up on Manischewitz.  Crisp, clean, lovely wine.  The tastings were a well-designed throroughly enjoyable experience.

8730 Thomas Drive, Suite 1103B, PCB

The tasting is done up at the counter, as you can see by the "row of butts", as my friend Annie so very succinctly described it.  Fortunately, we had gotten there a bit early, and had the counter and the attentions of that delightful lady with dark hair, barely visible behind the counter, third from the left in this photo.  This is a really fun way to spend part of an afternoon.  Of course we bought some wine.  It was so good I wish I could have bought more.  Damn the economy and all that.

I still have some fine PCB dining experiences to share, but I'll hold them for another blog post.  Since it is now Sunday, I do have some cooking on the horizon, and since I am making a conscious effort to avoid all 9/11-related television, I will be concentrating on turning out some mindless, tasty recipes.  Sauteed chicken livers with onion, bacon, and sage; Italian sausage and peppers; maduros (sweet plantains); creamed spinach; and macaroni, ham, and cheese.  Fortunately I adore chicken livers and spinach, because my hemoglobin count is still in the basement, based on the way I feel.

Yesterday we had to take our baby Romeo back to the vet.  It seems he had a bad reaction to the microchip, so our vet drained some fluid and he is now on antibiotics.

It's hard to see but that's Romeo sleeping on my lap, with Indiana and Woody in the foreground.  Not a great picture, but totally representative of how I have been feeling lately.

Now to the kitchen.  Check the recipe blog later today, especially if you are a tad iron deficient.  Tasty and good for you too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Prayers for the Dead, and for the Living

You know you've seen it on Facebook:

Due to "lack of room", NYC Police & Port Authority Police Officers & FDNY Firefighters are not "invited" to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Ground Zero. Funny - they weren't invited on that day in 2001, either - they just "showed up" and became heroes. Please re-post if you think they belong there MORE than the politicians who ARE invited.

According to Snopes, the self-appointed arbiters of Truth on the Internet, this is true, along with the report that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned all clergy from the memorial ceremony.  A Bloomberg spokesperson has stated that this tenth anniversary ceremony is for the victim's family members.

What I would like to know is how does the Mayor's office define victims?

Now, as to the clergy issue ... heck, we all know what that's about.  No Muslim Imams to draw the undiluted fury of the American people.  I've got a better idea.  Let a representative of all groups appear, including atheists and agnostics, Wiccans and Scientologists.  Let New Age stand next to the fire-and-brimstone Christian fundamentalists.  Let an Orthodox rabbi stand next to a Reform rabbi.  Ha ha.  Seriously, I think an appearance by clergy is important, because on that terrible day, we all turned to some Greater Power.  Let them all stand there and be silent.

And the politicians?  Get rid of all of them except for the current mayor.  I'd get rid of him too, but someone has to wave the baton.

To conclude this rather depressing mini-post, there is one particular ritual that is observed in Israel on Yom HaShoah that I would like to see made part of any memorial ceremony on September 11:

At 10:00 am on Yom HaShoah, sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, people cease from action and stand at attention; cars stop, even on the highways; and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.

I do not know how much of the televised ceremonies I will be able to tolerate, but tomorrow morning at 8:46, I will silently recite the Mourner's Kaddish for the dead and a Misheberach for the survivors, including the first responders who gave their hearts and health, because contrary to the warped thinking of political hacks, they are all victims of the September 11 attacks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Whoa, really dude?

I've been a lawyer for 20 years this November 22 (yes, the anniversary of JFK's assassination) and during most of that time, at least until I embraced my "fly beneath the radar" philosophy, I was asked when I was going to run for judge.  The answer has always been "never."  Although I served as a Teen Court judge for several years, I never liked to wear the black robe.  It wasn't me.  I would sit up on a real judge's bench, and play with the paper clips between cases.  I used to neaten up Judge Legendre's bench, and I would leave notes for Judge Draper. Although I enjoyed working with the Teen Court program, I never took the judge thing too seriously.  As a judge, I had to adopt a certain personna for the benefit of the kids, and I didn't like the person I had to become for those few hours.

I have been before enough judges in my career to constitute a statistical universe.  I would like to think that each one represented a positive experience, but that would be a crazy fantasy.  Some of them have been terrific, some average, and others have been one long headache.  And no, I'm not naming names, and don't even try to guess because I've practiced in at least 5 Florida counties including circuit, county, and appellate courts.  And I am admitted to a couple of Federal courts as well, including The Big One.  Let's just say that my undergraduate background in psychology makes me supremely qualified to observe judicial behavior and misbehavior.

It seems that judicial behavior is not all that removed from political behavior, and I have, more than once, mentioned my unscientific belief that most politicians are low-grade antisocial personality disorders.  While I think the percentage of nutsy judges is far less than nutsy politicians, there is still a significant number who take the joy out of the practice of law.  Me, I'm still pretty happy.  I've been lucky - mostly - with the judges before whom I have regularly appeared.  Which is why I really feel for my colleagues who have to practice on a daily basis in front of judges who are not quite so - how shall I put this? - balanced.

What brought this to mind, and therefore to blog, are a couple of articles in the local online newspaper.  First, from one of today's headlines:

Beleaguered Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge James Turner went to the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, trying to save his job. Instead, justices hammered his lawyer with questions and accused Turner of being a stalker, a judge who engaged in "bizarre" behavior and one who had made a "mockery" of the court system.  Here is the link for the rest of the article.

Whoa, really dude?  You're still asking for your job back?

The number of judges who have had to be reprimanded or even removed from the bench seems to have risen alarmingly in the last few years.  Or maybe it just seems that way here in the Ninth Circuit.  Because that article redirected me to a link from a June 2011 article:

Time and again Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Tim Shea publicly insulted and yelled at prosecutors in his courtroom, once asking one woman to get coffee for everyone in the room, according to a formal complaint that accuses him of judicial misconduct...

Once he screamed so loudly in court that deputes in the hallway outside could hear, according to the complaint.

Another time he came off the bench, red faced and yelling, and physically intimidated a male assistant state attorney, according to the complaint.

But most of the incidents involved female prosecutors, who complained that he yelled, insulted them or made vaguely sexist insults.

What is it with these guys?  Not that this is a new phenomenon.

An Orange Circuit Court judge who is the focus of a judicial investigation acknowledged that he accepted an attorney's fee to represent a woman while he was a county judge, but in a court filing said he never urged her, or two others, to flee the country to avoid charges.

Judge Jim Henson, who served as a county judge from 1997 to 2001, on Monday answered the formal charges filed against him by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. The charges alleged, in part, that he accepted private legal work while sitting as a county judge and encouraged clients to flee to avoid prosecution. The commission said the charges could be in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct applicable to county judges and lawyers' rules of professional conduct.

Ya think?  Okay, this isn't just a Ninth Circuit thing, it only feels that way sometime.  And it's not just the guys who are acting badly.  Don't ask me how I know.  I'm just glad I've worked for DCF for so many years, as developing a thick skin and broad shoulders has been extraordinarily useful.

This one totally floored me:

Judge James Hauser is under investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Committee in Tallahassee because a law student claimed he performed inappropriate sex acts in front of her.

Coming right on the heels of this story about the same judge:

A judge who was trusted to protect the most vulnerable families had a restraining order taken out against him and has been accused of making violent threats and more.  In court records, Judge Hauser's estranged wife said she's had to call Maitland police twice for help, but never spoke up about abuse because of the judge's position in the community.

I was only in Judge Hauser's court one time, and I came away with a very favorable impression.  He presented as a very thoughtful and intelligent judge. I wonder if these troubled judges become that way on the bench, or use the bench as a bully pulpit for their already antisocial personalities.  Maybe they're all taking crazy pills.  I have no intention of finding out through personal experience, however.  Running for office is number four on my list of things I plan never to do before I die.  Jumping out of an airplane is number one.  Bungee jumping is number two.  Ziplining is number three.  Maybe running for office should come before ziplining. 

Enough Sturm und Drang.  I'm going back to my happy place, and I'm going to take you there with me. 

Oops, wrong happy place.

Anyway, for the past seven years we have been spending Labor Day weekend at the Edgewater Beach Resort in Panama City Beach.  For an extremely reasonable rate, we have rented a two bedroom golf condo within easy walking distance of the most beautiful beach in the world, and the Edgewater Conference Center.  The beach is for me, and the conference center is for Rob and all the other ATA competitors.  We always have a fine time.  Rob always manages to kick butt and bring home a few medals, and I get to sleep late, check up on Hobby Lobby, knit until the cows come home, and hang out on the beach a bit.  We spend some time with our friends from home, Betty and Frank and Elaine, always capping off the long weekend at Another Broken Egg for a great breakfast before setting off for the long trip home.

Thanks to the wonders of smartphones and Facebook, I can show you last year's photo ... because there is no this year's photo.  We made it to PCB and staged a send-off breakfast, but our friends could not make it this year and they were sorely missed.  Also, Cory is usually with us, but this year his school obligations made it impossible for him to get away. 

This year, Rob's brother and sister in law came up and shared our condo, so that Charles could compete (he is following their family tradition by becoming a black belt) and Diane could enjoy the beach.  Boy, did we show them a good time!  Got to spend the day with us at the ER.  Who wouldn't drive seven hours for that little bit of excitement?

Both of the Rothfeld men brought home the glory, although the medals are "in the mail", like my latest check from the JAC.  And we got to share some really fine meals, which I will cheerfully detail in tomorrow's post.  Last day of the Summit, and I'm heading out.  Third day of iron pills, and I am feeling nothing but tired.  No stomach upset, but no energy boost either.  I learned a lot about pill mills and prescription drug addiction yesterday, and I need some time to absorb the knowledge and put it to good use in my cases.

What a drag it is getting old ...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hurricane Syncope

Honey, I'm home!

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to blog, and a lot has happened. Right now I am at the JW Marriott in Orlando for the 2011 Dependency Summit, which appears to have been renamed "Pathways to Independence Summit" in my absence. Since this is a BIG event for people in my highly specific field, I must have missed the memo. The Summit is an annual statewide gathering of professionals in the field of child welfare, and I've attended most of them over the past eleven years. Last year I stayed home and wrote petitions, but this year my presence has been respectfully requested. I still have to write petitions, but it looks like that is going to become tonight's homework assignment. I am officially tied up.

The content of these sessions is vitally important to what we do, and the only downside is having the system focussed on one subject for an entire year or more. That generally results in repetitive trainings, like the 12 almost identical classes we were required to attend on the subject of domestic violence. When it comes to the Summit I have learned to arrive after the opening plenary, armed for bear. Which translates to a venti black coffee from Starbucks clutched in one hand, which I will sip continuously, letting the blessed caffeine keep me from committing the cardinal sin of falling into a stupor in full view of the State Director of Children's Legal Services.

This year is all about helping our kids who age out of foster care to become independent while maintaining a permanent connection with an adult who will be there for them. Ideally, that should be with an adoptive parent. We're working on it. No one should have to be alone on their birthday, or Christmas.

I'm hoping I can skip the reception tonight. I'm way past the point of needing to network, and pursuant to my personal goal of flying under the radar, the more people who do not know my name, the better. And speaking of falling into stupors, I had QUITE a weekend in Panama City Beach. Oy Oy Oy.

So I got a note on Facebook from our friend, neighbor, and ATA taekwando pal, Elaine, who asked, "how was Another Broken Egg without us?" Well, Elaine, not so good. In fact, I missed you all so much, you and Betty and Frank, that I passed out. Twice. Once in the restaurant while waiting for a table, and once in the parking lot on the way back to the car to lie down. Boom. Spent the rest of the day in the emergency room at Bay Medical Center, trying to return to the world of the living, instead of hanging out on the world's best beach with my sister in law.

Despite that consummate disappointment, there was a lot that was good about the long weekend (but that's another blog post.  We hit a lot of new food places, and they deserve their own post). I needed that mini vacay desperately, as our office move turned out to be ridiculously stressful for me. Now that we are all settled, I am loving it, but getting there took too long with too many glitches.

Why yes, those are beignets!

Incidentally, it turns out I'm anemic.  I knew that, but somehow failed to connect it with my chronic fatigue and lingering low grade depression.  The ER doc was very kind and helpful, and explained that if my red cell count was any lower, he would have had to transfuse me.  Ick.  The anemia and my lack of protein that morning probably contributed to the faint, but I am certain that the blame lies squarely at the feet of Hurricane Lee.  "Hurricane Syncope", the ER nurse called it, although I'm not sure he was joking or not.  But I've been passing out from hurricanes since Gloria hit New York in 1985, so it's no joke to me.  Hurricane Syncope.  I like the way that sounds.  I just don't like the way it feels.

Got a lot of knitting done.  Very happy about that.