Saturday, March 5, 2016

Presidential Unmentionables

Today's coming attraction:

But first, to all the Portuguese and Brazilian visitors:

Ola' e bem-vindo ao meu blog. And thank you for edging out the Germans, Russians, and Poles. Although I cannot speak a word of it, Portuguese is one of my favorite languages, having heard it being spoken on a regular basis for 15 years by Rob's secretary Maria. It falls beautifully on the ear, like South American Spanish (Senora Lydia Stier, my first Spanish teacher at Lawrence Junior High School, was an Argentinian Jew. My Puerto Rican friends who helped tutor me in Spanish, were always impressed with my pronunciation). It is much prettier than French (although the French are still chasing me up the cyber superhighway, maybe because I briefly studied French in third grade). 

I love checking the Audience stats on the blog; it sparks my imagination. Seriously, was someone in Russia doing family research on the Osherowitz family? Are the French looking for anyone who ever publicly insulted Charles de Gaulle Airport? And my recent comments on Bernie "I'm just a little bit Jewish" Sanders - did I fluster a small group of Polish antisemites?

I've always loved geography, so finding my blog being looked at in Europe, South America, and the rare but thrilling hit in the Far East is exciting. Imagine little old disabled retired me, with my back propped up with pillows, swallowing handfuls of OTC painkillers to get through the day, and out there in places like Myanmar and Mongolia, someone is reading my blog.

Today, Friday, is most definitely a day on which putting up my feet (wrapped fetchingly in hand knit Noro socks) and resting on pillows is a fibromyalgic imperative. No guilt, in fact taking a full day of rest makes me feel smart. Not necessarily head-clearing, "I got my impressive vocabulary back" smart, but smart enough to know that this little old body's got just so many spoons, and I didn't have any spoons left for Friday. At least not without the risk of pushing myself to the point of tear-inducing pain, which is where I landed yesterday.

Did you cast on your Broadripple socks yet?

That, my friends, is a heel flap. Turning of the heel coming up soon.

My furry kids kept me company as I knit in comfort most of the day; even Darth Cat found his way upstairs, thrilled by unexpected access to the laundry room. Woody did what Woody does best, which is to steal my spot each and every time I get up from the bed. I think it must be a game to him. Look at that grin!

By treating myself with kindness and tender loving care today, I managed to gather a bunch of spoons for Saturday's Tai Chi and continued progress on Project Zero, and Sunday's appointment with the optometrist (my eyesight has deteriorated enormously yet again, and if I don't get a stronger prescription for my glasses real soon, I'm going to have to stop driving. That's not hyperbole, by the way. I would not now attempt to drive someplace unfamiliar), and maybe some gorgeous beef ribs in the oven. There is so much more we have to do but between tax season hours and fibromyalgia, we'll be lucky if we manage to replace the jar of pickled herring.

Oh dear God, not again. Presidential Unmentionables. Little kids learning about blow jobs during the Clinton years thanks to that prurient pig, Kenneth Starr, that was bad enough.

But just yesterday, the most recent Republican debate showed us all that without a doubt, presidential politics have hit a new low. Below-the-belt low, if you know what I mean (wink wink). Apparently to Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, size matters. And where better to announce that you are well-endowed with a panoply of worldly goods, greater than Mitt "On Your Knees" Romney or "Little" Marco Rubio (who like the middle school child he has turned into, started the whole thing with locker room taunts), than on the Fox News Network during the aforementioned debate?

What better way for The Donald to snag the nomination for Republican candidate for the Presidency, quelling the brewing rebellion led by Romney, than by assuring the nation that there is "no problem" with the size of his man bits?

Oy gevalt, I'm PLOTZING! What kind of serious contender for Preident actually talks about this kind of thing ON NATIONAL CABLE TELEVISION? As an American, I am so embarrassed I could scream.

You know what is missing from the whole Republican nominating process? RESPECT. Most importantly, respect for the office, but also personal self-respect, respect for the voters, respect for the member of Congress and the Justices of the Supreme Court, and respect for the foreign leaders he will be expected to interact with.

(I can't ignore an ear worm, you know that by now)

I have a nightmare involving some kind of Summit attended by a large number of world leaders including President (choke) Trump, in which the parties are unwilling to agree to the American proposal. The Donald becomes increasingly frustrated and angry, and in an attempt to resolve the matter, demands that they all participate in a Summit Circle Jerk. The men all glance furtively at each other, while Chanellor Angela Merkel walks over and slaps Trump good and hard across his face, and former Prime Minister Golda Meir turns over in her grave.

God bless America.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Thursday - Waking up with a hangover is never good, but especially when you haven't drunk a drop. That's another sweet thing fibromyalgia does - takes away your ability to enjoy even an occasional stiff drink, but gives you a hangover anyway. So many mornings I wake up feeling like I'd knocked back three Cosmopolitans the night before when the most exciting thing I'd been drinking was diet Canada Dry ginger ale. This is one of "those" mornings, and my plans for today have flown right out of my head.

This happened a lot when I was still working, and it was pretty damn scary. I never knew what shape I would be in once I landed in the courthouse. My eyesight was impaired and I was unable to lift the box of files to go through the security x-ray. Never mind I had four expert witnesses waiting for me or that I was going to have to explain to the judge once again why my judicial notice packet wasn't ready. The rules of evidence had flown out of my head. 

So it's just another day in paradise. My two pills and half of a quarter of a bagel are sitting aggressively in my esophagus, refusing to move one micron further, and damn, that hurts. I'm cranky. This problem has been dogging me for a week; let's hear it for Wawa's daily soups.

Project Zero is still at the top of my list, but it involves a lot of bending, stretching, and kneeling and besides I have to clean up after the pets. I think I have a few spoons for that.

I've had a whole unemployed year to think about it, and just lately I've decided to live with the fibromyalgia, or perhaps live around it would be a better way of expressing it. We are working on our rocky relationship. When I have that rare good day, I embrace it, without guilt or fear. When I have the all-too-frequent bad day, I embrace it as well. I own this disease; to a very large extent, it does define who I am at this stage of my life. And that's okay - if I have to take an afternoon nap, if I can't get up to wash my face, if I let my chores go for an extra day or two, to quote Walter Cronkite, "that's the way it is," without guilt or fear. (This all sounds great, practically noble, but really - how's that working for you? Bwah ha ha. Yeah, right, me too.)

But right now, I'm still a tad cranky. Time is passing and I'm still stuck in neutral. The good news is that I have Tai Chi tonight. I'm beginning to think of Tai Chi as a marriage counselor between me and the fibromyalgia. I know I've been chewing your ear off about it, but it really does help me learn to live with the fibromyalgia. Just today my teacher posted this link to an article about the documented benefits of Tai Chi for seniors. Read it, then walk (don't run, too much impact) to your nearest Tai Chi class and learn for yourself.

Friday - I pushed myself later in the day yesterday to the point where I must have used up next month's spoons, but it was worth it; things had to get done. And now it is Friday, I have nothing on the calendar except whatever more I can get done on Project Zero, whatever sock knitting I can manage, and a nap. No cooking, no cleaning, no wearing a bra, no shopping, and no feeling guilty about any of it. Relax, relax, and relax some more. Maybe I'll moisturizer my hands.

I know I make too many Doctor Who references, but I don't feel guilty about that either.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One Life, One Year - One Cringeworthy Performance

Today is an anniversary of sorts, not that I will be celebrating. Bittersweet this day is, March 2, 2015 being the day I walked out of the Osceola County Courthouse for the last time. When I blogged about it the next day, I wrote: "And in the end, fibromyalgia won." In reality, it wasn't just the fibromyalgia, whose brutal and progressive symptoms I had been battling for years, but rather the end result of judicial abuse perpetrated by ambitious and egotistical individuals, ill-suited for the office they coveted, along with my quarter-century commitment to a system that had gradually taken leave of its senses by jumping on board every new "system" to come down the social welfare pike, dragging its legal department down with it. Perhaps without the physical deterioration I would have been up to the tasks being heaped on my head  (and the heads of every attorney and paralegal in our office). I used to be flexible, open to change, and ready, willing and able to take on whatever (and whoever) my job threw at me. Now I consider myself fortunate if I can get out of bed in the morning and complete one task.

So lucky me, I got out of bed this morning (too early), and mentally worked myself up for a trip to Walmart for storage ideas. If they pan out, I might work a bit on Project Zero, and if not, I'm going to knit. I made good progress on a sock while watching the Super Tuesday news reports last night, which came after my Tai Chi class. Tai Chi is cool and it flows naturally into all kinds of relaxation, including knitting. Seriously.     

Speaking of politics, I can't be the only person who saw that The Donald's son tried to shoo Chris Christie over to the right side of the stage rather than have him stand like a zombie at Trump's left  shoulder throughout the entirety of the speech and questions.  I have never seen a man look so uncomfortable on stage yet so determined to hang onto his tiny corner of the limelight.  And after it was over, I saw Donald push Christie ahead of him, so that he could be the focus of the cameras, as he should have been at that moment, without Christie's pathetic performance as an attention-sucking leech. I was embarrassed for Christie and really lost all respect for him.            
Walmart was fun, although it knocked me out. I found what I needed and also bought a ton of candy. I love Easter. I also love Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day. And Tuesday. Any day that incorporates candy into the celebration. Like a Friday. 

Good thing I had no Wednesday appointment. Crash and burn I did. Passed out before I could knit a single stitch. Napped long and hard and thankfully oblivious of the pain in my back, at least until I woke up. It's not a great life, but it's the one I've got.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I could have used a machete - French's Green Bean Casserole without Green Beans

Ear worm time, sparked by my little Chelsea as she digs frantically at the inside of the dog bed.

Who's been sleepin' in my bed
Gettin' what I get

When I don't get it

Who's been sleepin' in my bed
Yeah, that's what I said
I just don't get it
Who's been sleepin'
Who's been sleepin' in my bed

Chelsea usually sleeps on our bed while Indiana likes to sleep in one of the dog beds on the floor. Tonight though she really wanted to be placed on the floor, wherein she picked out her bed, and promptly went into a dog scratching frenzy, searching for the "right" scent, namely hers. All's well that ends well, and she is snoring peacefully while I've got Barry Manilow on the brain. Well, if I've got to have an ear worm, let it be Manilow.

Today is Super Tuesday, a politically crazy day when over a dozen states (and one territory - who knew American Samoa had 10 Democrat delegates?) hold their primaries. Big numbers are at stake here, and with big numbers come big changes. Neither Florida nor New York are part of this mass hysteria, although my home states will have their chance soon enough. This may not be your idea of fun, but I got hooked on politics when I was just 7 years old, and despite my bitching it never gets old.

I saw a poll this morning that predicted both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders could beat The Donald if the General Election was held today. I hope that gave Donald just a touch of heartburn. In fact, I hope it gave the whole Republican Party heartburn. 

As I hacked through my so-called garden today while wielding a heavy duty bread knife (great for cutting thick stems when one doesn't have a machete close at hand), I gained another ear worm of sorts:

Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Yeah, right. I guess I didn't think of it when I was a kid, but now that visual brings to mind a  print ad I once saw for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Who plants pretty maids in their garden? And who composes a children's rhyme with that sort of imagery? 

Here is the 2016 deeply personal version:

Beary, Beary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Like shit, thanks for asking.

I harvested as much as I could of broccoli and cauliflower and noting that both were past their prime, threw them in a big pot to boil, baby, boil. I see a cheese sauce in their future, but that could be wishful thinking.

I also grabbed every last cherry tomato and a few of the sweet little yellow pear tomatoes off of the overgrown bushes with thoughts of a little caprese salad. Or an oven-roasting session, or maybe just add them to Cory's Eternal Salad. Too many choices.

I'm still feeling the effects of leaving the house and doing stuff. Not the worst fibro symptoms I've ever dealt with, but there is pain and there is exhaustion and some low-grade itching,and I can't wait to head back upstairs. If I can fold the laundry, I'll consider the day a good one. Project Zero is on hold until I can make a trek to Walmart for certain organizing materials. 

Forget the cheese sauce. I'm taking a short trip in my own mental TARDIS to 1974, the year I discovered French's Green Bean Casserole. Here we go:

4 cups cooked broccoli and cauliflower
3/4 cup whole milk
1-10 1/2 oz. can Campbell's cream of asparagus soup
black pepper
granulated garlic
Italian seasoning
Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce
1 1/3 cup French's Crispy Fried Onions, divided

Place the broccoli and cauliflower in a deep casserole dish (that has been sprayed with some butter-flavored cooking spray)with 2/3 cup of the French's onions (I'm addicted to these things. Sorry.) In a 2-cup measuring cup combine the milk, soup, and seasonings to taste. Pour over the casserole, fold together with the vegetables, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top the casserole with the remaining French's onions. Lightly spray with the butter-flavored Pam and sprinkle on some black pepper. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes or until the onions are done to your liking.

In case you didn't know what  was referring to 

So I took absolutely fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and prepared them in a retro recipe which includes condensed soup and canned French-fried onions. Oh, the irony! Oh, so good!

Speaking of good, here are some pictures of the finished chicken dish I made yesterday, all sliced up nice. You could serve one whole breast per person, but at least in this house that's way too much solid protein-on-a-plate.

Pretty chicken

Pretty AND Healthy

Now that I am finally upstairs, and in pain, I am wondering why I did the one thing I said I wasn't going to do today - cooking - which wore me out so much I am having trouble doing the thing I said I was going to do - folding laundry - and why do I forget to take my meds first thing in the morning?

That's fibromyalgia.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cats, Carocats, and Customizable Chicken

I am so fracking angry I'm ready to scream, after I pull all my hair out. I had just finished a beautiful blog post full of gorgeous pictures and patter from the Ancient City Cat Show, plus a fully written recipe for chicken stuffed with spinach and feta. I was just at the point of putting in the photos of the food and the links for Carocats and the cat show, when I decided to head upstairs.

Ancient City Cat Club Inaugural Cat Show, St. Augustine.        

And then, I lost it. Not just the last few lines I'd typed, but the entire post, which had taken three days to write. Gone, leaving just the bit I had typed on Saturday. This makes no sense, as I save constantly as I write, and this has never happened before.

The thing that kills me is that it was a really good post with lots of photos and captions and explanations written in my best quirky style. The recipe was typed up as I finished each step, which means there is no other place it is written down. The report on the cat show was, in the word of the Ninth Doctor, "Fantastic!" I still have all the photos tucked safely in a web album, but I can't re-create the writing. Needless to say, I am totally bummed. And may I add, totally pissed off. I was THIS CLOSE to pressing the Publish button. I was ready for my nap! My back hurts beyond the helping limits of Baclofen, and I am frankly and crankily exhausted.

The damn recipe is gone, except for the general outline which I will type up if and when I ever calm done. I can post the photos - you've got to see the gorgeous Solo Bashert - but the rest of my cat stories and background are gone where the recipe flew, gone with the wind that swept through Georgia.

Cousin Michael Rothfeld introduces me to 
International Winner Supreme Grand Champion Carocats Solo Bashert

This American Shorthair Silver Classic Tabby is one of the two breeding males for Carocats which is owned by our cousins Carol and Michael Rothfeld. (Yes, Michael and Robert bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.)

I love that this mellow stud kitty is named "Bashert" which is a Yiddish word meaning one's soulmate, the life partner you are meant to be with (and wait for). I also love that one of the ladies at the show traveled from Australia, not only to attend the show but to bring home her second Carocats kitten.

I was not there to purchase a kitty, being reasonably sure that my pet-adopting days are over, but that doesn't mean I went home empty-handed:

I purchased this from the charming Aussie lady, who explained that the sale was part of a fund raiser so that the Australian cat club could afford to bring over judges for their own cat shows. Cat business is serious business, which I suppose I've always known. I had such a good time, meeting kitties and watching the judging and asking questions.

A first show for this Carocats female, "Kissy" (Kissie?)

In the kitten ring, the judge explains what she is looking for


Devon Rex

Burmese (I think)

Cornish Rex

Rob and I walked up and down all of the aisles to see the different cats - longhairs and shorthairs in all different colors and patterns, and a veritable treasure trove of breeds like Himalayan, Tonkinese. Havana Brown, Ragdolls, Munchkin, Savannah, Persian and too many to remember.  I had a great time.

Here's what's left of the original post:
I'm ready to do a little cooking, good looking. Something straightforward, like chicken, but a trifle sneaky, stuffed with spinach. Feta cheese from Trader Joe's and lotsa garlic. Sun dried tomatoes. What could be bad? But before that, I am going to get my haircut. This is a Very Big Deal, as I have been cutting my own hair for years. As the fibromyalgia flares up more frequently, it makes it difficult for me to spend the time and energy. Since I wear it short now - another concession to the fibromyalgia (and let's face it, grey hair looks better styled short) I figure it was time to let a professional do the hard part.

Not bad. A little shorter than I initially envisioned, but a good short. I can best be described as a superannuated pixie, at least in my mind, and I'm comfortable with the look.

Cory and I took the Tai Chi class early this morning, and oh lordie, it was cold. Really cold, just 45 degrees which is an utterly ridiculous temperature for Kissimmee. I swayed like a bear, moved hands through clouds, and energetically cast off excess chi, and I still never warmed up. Maybe if I turn on the stove ...

Okay, this is another one of those recipes you should keep in your back pocket. Chicken is the world's easiest protein to cook. This is an uncomplicated, virtually instinctive arrangement of food.

5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chicken tender intact
1 - 16 oz. bottle Ken's Northern Italian with Basil & Romano Dressing & Marinade

With a sharp, thin boning knife, cut a pocket into the top of the thickest part of the chicken breast.   Divide the chicken into 2 1-gallon ziploc bags.

Now let me try to finish the recipe:

Essentially, you are going to use any kind of stuffing - a combination of vegetables, a starch, maybe some cheese - to fill the pocket you made in the chicken. I used a 15 oz. package of steam-in-bag frozen spinach, cooked; a 6 oz. tub of crumbled feta cheese with Mediterranean herbs from Trader Joe's; 2 oz. cream cheese; 3 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped and softened by cooking briefly in 1 tablespoon of EVOO; a tablespoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes' salt, pepper, granulated garlic; 1/3 cup white quinoa cooked in 2/3 cup water according to package directions.

Combine the stuffing ingredients and fill the pockets; arrange the chicken in 2 aluminum baking pans and pour on the remaining marinade. Sprinkle some seasoned panko over the tops and sides, and spray lightly with butter-flavor Pam. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 60-75 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the panko is toasty brown. If the panko browns too quickly, cover with a small piece of foil.

That's it, I am publishing this thing before it also disappears into the cyber mist.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hey, Blondie!

Thursday - Visitors today from Brazil, Australia, and Poland. I "get" Australia (Mark's birthday wishes were probably picked up by a few of his Aussie friends) and I might be able to explain Poland in light of my annoyance with Bernie Sanders. Here's the deal - I Facebook-linked to a New York Times article regarding Bernie Sanders' not-so-subtle description of his father as "Polish" rather than "Polish Jewish." Bernie, knowing full well and good that anti-semitism runs rampant in the good old USA, has been downplaying that part of his heritage, which I find so offensive I could smack him silly. And emphasizing his Polish roots is even worse, as there were few groups as rabidly anti-semitic as the Poles. So maybe a few Polish nationals found their way to my blog. Perhaps they were offended. I certainly hope so. My Canadian friend is taking the day off, but she'll be back. I love playing with the stats.

As you may have guessed, my brain is all over the place today. My daily plans involved phone calls and emails and online research and scheduling and filling out forms and jotting down notes - all stuff that used to come easy to me but not so much anymore. Still, I pushed through, spending several hours on my feet (an intensely bad idea) and I bathed Chelsea, and I feel accomplished, but profoundly battered. There's still laundry and Project Zero upstairs, but not today, oh no. I'm in pain and I have Tai Chi class tonight. Only 5 1/2 hours to recover. Time for Advil, Baclofen, knitting, and hopefully a nap.

Friday - legs are all wibbly-wobbly today and my back hurts. I need a nap desperately but I have an appointment to have a  nail fill and a pedicure, and the light massage that goes with the pedicure will, does, and has helped tame my leg muscles. Doing a few house chores over the last few days has knocked the crap out of me. Imagine if I also had to work full time. No really, imagine. I'd be catching naps in the middle of a trial. Maybe I would just lie down in my car during lunch break and forget to come back. (Yes, that has happened.) Maybe the Court would send a deputy out to get me (And that has happened too.)

I think I can do a little more laundry - maybe hang up a few blouses. Then I'll take a nap.

Well, I think it is time to address those Gen X and Millennial women who think they don't have to vote for Hillary because they got this feminism thing in the bag, so to speak. Who think it is okay to vote for Bernie Sanders, a 73 year old socialist who has promised them the sun, the moon, and a free college education. You don't feel a connection with Hillary, but you do with an old white guy who is going to raise your taxes like Scandanavia and Australia, but is too chicken to present himself as who he really is - a Jewish kid from Brooklyn - you know, like Mel Brooks.

You think this "woman for President" thing is a done deal, if not this election cycle, then the next, because the fight was fought and won. Well, you foolish little girls - Put on your big girl panties and grow the hell up - women like Hillary have been fighting the fight for almost 50 years and are still getting stuck at that damn glass ceiling.

Why is it that you would fight endlessly for the right to abort a viable fetus, but ignore the most important opportunity we will ever have to see a woman become President of the United States? Think about that and then go to today's Orlando Sentinel and read this article, published today, about how workplace gender bias still exists among Florida' young female attorneys.

And then, stop thinking about your personal needs, and look at the bigger picture - we female baby boomers fought for ourselves, certainly, but we also fought for you, the next generations of women to take their rightful places at the top of commerce and industry and every kind of business and government, specifically the highest office in the United States, and you are willing to throw it away. Hillary doesn't "deserve" the office "just" because she's a woman, you prattle.

Hillary Clinton is a symbol for all the women who fought (or are still fighting) gender bias in the workplace, and so yes, she does deserve that office. Only then will we finish the job we set out to accomplish 50 years ago. If you fail Hillary, you fail the generation of your mothers and grandmothers. You fail me. And you will fail your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. The moment is now, yet you are willing to let it pass.

A vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, or (Heaven help us) in the General Election is a vote for Donald Trump. There is a tiny, born-in-NewYork part of me that thinks that would be utterly delightful, but my responsibility as an American woman is to help Hillary Clinton become the first female President.

And that is my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

You Must Remember This

Spain and Mexico have crept back into my audience stats, trying to kick France and the Ukraine to the curb. Hola, mis amigos! Como estan ustedes? Las familias, estan bien? I love the Spanish language. I've only been studying it since 1964, with the sincere hope that one day I will achieve something approaching fluency. The bad part about retiring is that I lost my daily opportunity to practice my Spanish language skills. Damn. Wait, let me peek out la ventana - uh oh, el cielo esta nublado, muy nublado. Damn again. I hope it doesn't rain, it's Wednesday which is Prince spaghetti day and also my midweek run to the therapist. (I wonder if Wednesday is still the day that spaghetti with meat sauce and English muffin pizzas are served on all the public school lunch menus in New York's Nassau County? I hope so - consistency is critical to what remains of my mental health, not that I expect to be purchasing lunch inside the sadly rundown halls of Lawrence High School anytime in the near future.)

Speaking of ancient history, it happens to be February 24th as I am writing this, and so I would like to wish a happy 62nd birthday to Dr. Elliot Morris, New York pediatrician and my baby brother. If you know me, then you already know my sibling sad tale of woe, and if you don't know me personally, it's just a lot of drama drama drama. The reasonable, I've-got-a-bachelors-degree-in-psychology part of me has been trying to make things right for a very long time. But even I can't fix everything although I will probably die trying.

Happy birthday, kiddo. I hope you enjoyed your day. Heck, I hope you've enjoyed your life.

Outside of my weekly visit to the Cafe Americain, my plans for today involved more black coffee and more laundry, and more knitting. My bathroom vanity has been declared Project Zero of the Long-Term-Not-Going-To-Freak-Out-About-It-Projects. Life has a purpose. Tomorrow will be about Trivago and phone calls and Pacific Standard Time, but I'm getting ahead of myself so let's stop right here.  Coffee. Laundry. Knitting. Oh yeah, clean up after pets. Clean up after humans in kitchen. Happy Wednesday. Happy Birthday.

I haven't had to cook these last few days, although I did put together a salad for Cory and heated up some frozen Michelangelo's eggplant Parmesan. I love eggplant Parmesan, I just don't love to cook it from scratch. I do feel a little bit guilty, but just a little.

Since this will be posted on the 25th, I want to wish a very happy birthday to my friend Mark. Old friends are the best friends. Enjoy your day!

1970 was a very good year for making friends at SUNY New Paltz. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Purrrrrrrrrrple! Paging Petronella Osgood - Broadripple Socks (Link)

When Cory was just a baby I undertook to teach him his colors and letters and other important stuff, just like parents have done from the beginning of time. As it turned out, I had a talent for sound  effects, and my specialty turned out to be the word "purple." 

Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - pullllll! Repeat that a few hundred times, and by gosh, he got it.  Purple is still a favorite color, and we still do sound effects (Exxxxxxx - it! Gotta love those Sesame Street tapes.) So I guess it is no surprise that I have an inordinate number of purple socks and balls of yarn waiting to be made into purple socks. The socks I just finished are screamingly purple, which suits me just fine.

What doesn't suit me is that it has been such a long time since I finished a pair of socks that my fine finishing skills got a bit sloppy and I am unhappy with the toe I laboriously grafted close last night. 

The one on the left was grafted quite a while ago - perfect. The one on the right, last night's effort - not so much.

Never mind that I ungrafted and regrafted, and did some secret repair work from inside - it wasn't as perfect as I know I am capable of, and that annoys me to no end. Not so much that I won't wear them - tonight, to Tai Chi class - but just enough to step on a nerve. They are a little gappy in the ankle, but I never let that bother me. I have these dinky little ankles that have never been adequate to my weight, which is why I fell down so much back in my Big Girl days. As long as the socks stay up - and they do - I'm sock-happy.

Colors have such a direct effect on mood, and knitting is part of that. As relaxing as knitting is, there are colors I veer away from, such as red, orange, and certain greens, because they seem to poke me in the eyes and skew my knitting chi. In 2005, I left angry bunches of ripped out fuzzy red yarn stuffed into garbage pails all over the Republic of South Korea, switching instead to - you guessed it, purple - which I actually finished as a sleeveless sweater and wore on my last night there.

(Sadly, no one in South Korea is currently following my blog; Germany and Ireland are fighting for the number two spot like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and my single loyal Canadian is bringing up the rear).

I have plans for today, which involve lots of fresh black coffee, laundry, and my next knitting project, which has already had the Big Reveal.

These are Broadripple socks, an original pattern by Rob Matyska, well-known in sock-knitting circles as a classic. The pattern is free at the Knitty link. I am using 2 skeins of Paton's Kroc Socks Stripes, color way Sultana Stripes, on size 2 DPNs.

One other thing that has been poking at my knitting conscience is a rather massive finishing project on a scarf.

A Very Big Scarf, perhaps the biggest hand knit scarf in the Known Whoniverse. (Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. So I'm a geek, shun me, kill me, laugh at me - my neck won't be freezing come next winter!)

Everything's got to end sometime. (Put another way, every end has to be ended.) Otherwise nothing would ever get started. Time to weave in those ends. Oy gevalt!

In making today's plans, I conveniently ignored the very real possibility that my fibromyalgia was going to sneak up and kick me in the back. Well, so it did. To which I replied "screw you", swallowed the appropriate doses of Advil and muscle relaxer and kept on truckin'. 

Fibromyalgics of the world, unite! And keep on trucking. Or take a nap. Either way, be kind to yourself. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stuff 'em if ya got 'em bell peppers

So now we pick up where we left off, with a toe in need of grafting.

It's called a Kitchener stitch, and when it is done, the toe of the sock will be closed without a hint of a seam. Think of it as weaving. I can never remember how to do it without first looking for the instructions online, and once I finish Kitchenering or whatever the proper verb is, I spend at least 15 minutes just admiring this little fiber-based miracle.

After that, I get to pick out one from my "many" ziplock bags of unfinished socks. You may wonder why I would start work on multiple socks at the same time, only to stop and start a new shawl or scarf, but all I can tell you is that it's a knitting thing. I suspect other crafts like quilting (and I know from personal experience needlepoint and crochet) attract the same sort of people. The joy of starting a new project outweighs any other point in the process. Some people, like my mother-in-law, have the strength of character to finish each and every project before casting on a new one, but when it comes to strength of character, I am sorely lacking.

Yesterday was Bethe's yahrzeit, marking 3 years since we lost her. I was so focused on Cory's birthday dinner that I did not feel the date as I usually do. And yet, she came to me at a low point during the afternoon. And I miss her. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Our dinner at Morimoto's Asia was such fun. We finally got to try the Peking duck and their pork bao and a calamari salad that was unexpectedly fantastic. The boys tasted a "flight" of 4 different sakes (sake is most definitely not my drink) and we talked and admired the beautiful rooms.

Today is a day well-suited to making stuffed peppers as requested by my husband. Jewish stuffed peppers, not southern (given a choice he always chooses the Jewish version) which also happens to be one of the very first "real" recipes I learned to cook while back in college (and that, my little chickadees, is a very long time ago). The sausage and peppers I threw into the crockpot a few days ago is a big bleh, because the sausage itself was annoyingly bland. I won't be buying that again, and I know I won't be eating it (I'm kind of weird that way). I was going to make meatballs with the ground beef, but I couldn't get excited about them, and it turns out Rob already thought I was going to make stuffed peppers when he saw me buy the bag of bell peppers and the ground beef. Listen, I'm no rocket scientist, but I can work stuff like this out, and I will eat a stuffed pepper or two along the way.

I made these with 2 pounds of ground beef and however many peppers I happened to have in the produce drawer. You can see some of the peppers are rather small. Interspersed with a bunch of normals, so prepare to be flexible when it comes to number.

This is the kind of recipe you commit to memory, like eggplant parmigiana or beef brisket, something that's been in your family for so long it is as familiar as Flatbush. Meatloaf. Basically, there is 1/2 cup of rice cooked in 1 cup of boiling water for about 8 minutes, then drained and set aside.

In a couple of tablespoons of olive oil I sautéed a sliced leek, a shredded carrot, and 2 chopped garlic cloves. If you wanted to grate a small onion and leave it raw (instead of the leek) fine. Leave out the carrot. Add some fresh thyme leaves. You get the idea. 

Combine the ground beef with the cooled leek-and-carrots, the cooked rice, 2 eggs, some ketchup or chili sauce (Heinz, not Asian style) and season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, whatever. Stuff the peppers with the filling and set aside while you make the sauce. You can leave the peppers whole or cut them in half before stuffing, the only thing that might change is how long you cook them. The sauce is 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons lemon juice. Break up the tomatoes and heat it up or not. Pour it over and around the stuffed peppers, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes.  

Enjoy. You will, I know.