Monday, December 31, 2007

Digital Killed the Radio Star

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


A recent article in the Washington Post got me thinking about how I hear about new music. The article talked about how the Recording Industry Association of America is suing a man because he copied CDs (that he purchased!) onto his own computer. Yep, that's it. Not copying and sending to a friend. Not posting on a website where others can download it. Just doing what millions of iPod owners do every day. Scary.

Enough about how the RIAA is trying to kill music. It got me thinking about how I acquire new music - sometimes (oh please, government don't read this post) friends will send me inspirational CDs, or a copy of some songs from an artist they think I might like. Generally speaking it's music I wouldn't otherwise purchase - I hadn't heard it before and the artist isn't someone I would seek out. And I no longer listen to the radio.

I remember growing up we would always have the radio on in the car. Driving around with Dad it was WQXR (classical). Driving to school with my siblings it was WLIR (alternative - during the 80's). In college it was WHFS (alternative in Baltimore/Washington). Many of these stations sadly no longer exist or if they do the music is very different (all talk, Latin). And I no longer own a car. On the rare occasion when I am in a car I now have satellite radio which lets me choose exactly which genre I want - back to the 80's for the most part - or we set up the iTrip and choose from what we already own. Our stereo at home might have a radio - I have no idea. Our alarm clock plays NPR.

So how do I acquire music nowadays? Read my friends' blogs, go to a movie, and get mix CDs for special occasions. Uh oh, better hide.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Lull Between the Holidays


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The New Yorker

Here's my weekly plug for Day to Read. This week it's all about The New Yorker magazine. Oh how I love it.

I grew up "reading" this magazine - mostly the cartoons when I was younger. They have by far the greatest cartoon collection of any magazine. Perhaps the only one. Legendary. They were my funny pages (seeing as the NY Times didn't have comics). My Dad had a few of Peter Arno's cartoons on the wall in his office. When Dad retired he gave the cartoons to partners in his practice. It's the one item in his office I was truly sorry to see go.

In DC, the #42 bus is also known as the New Yorker bus. Every morning as it wound its way through Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle, you could see all sorts of people reading their latest issues - I always knew when mine had arrived late just by looking at the cover of other people's magazines.

One thing I remember very distinctly about first meeting my husband is that he had a subscription - as did I. When we married, we merged our accounts and now we have to share. Good thing he's better about sharing the New Yorker than he is about sharing the NY Times.

My favorite writers are David Sedaris for his acerbic wit and Seymour Hersh for his unrelenting criticism of this administration. On occasion there is also Atul Gawande with medical conundrums and Malcolm Gladwell on sociological phenomena.

The covers are equally legendary - sometimes a quaint comment on reading or weather and sometimes a strong criticism on our world leaders. Always a painting or drawing - never a photograph or list of contents. Truly, a work of art.

Many people look to the groundhog as the harbinger of spring. I look for Eustace Tilly on the cover of the New Yorker - the guy in the top hat with the monocle. Then I know, it's only six more weeks of winter.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Denver Debrief

Here's a quick recap of our holiday trip to Denver (Dad's new home):

  1. went to Tattered Covered Bookstore. If you love old bookstores with tables for reading and a yummy coffee, this is the place for you.

  2. went to Denver Art Museum - with new wing designed by Daniel Libeskind. Just an aside, while working in Zambia for 3 weeks last year I saw a documentary on this famed architect about 10 times. Great museum, great museum restaurant too.

  3. went to Red Rocks Ampitheatre - in whipping winds. Stunning. Would LOVE to see a concert there (during summer)

  4. went to Museum of Contemporary Art. interesting.

  5. spent holidays with family - played Wii with 7-year olds. Butt kicked thoroughly. will practice for rematch.

And of course we did other things - shopped, ate, survived snowstorm. Highly recommend the city. We'll be back in August.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pretty (Gory) Women

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


Seeing as it's Christmas Eve I thought I would share a holiday musical story.

Only I couldn't think of one. So instead you get blood and gore.

Today we went to see Sweeney Todd - the film version of the very popular and successful Broadway musical. My dad saw the Broadway show many many years ago but somehow failed to remember, or perhaps it was because the stage version was less bloody, that this wasn't a terribly "uplifting" film. I didn't expect that it would be a happy story, but a little less throat slitting would have been nice. That said, I highly recommend the film. Johnny Depp is amazing. Helena Bonham Carter (who was also fantastic in Harry Potter) shines again - as a grim character. And Alan Rickman, ever the evil character, lives up to his previous roles.

My musical moment is this - over the years I have heard or read the lyrics to any number of Sondheim's musicals. Unfortunately, I never got to all the shows and thus only lived off of the songs - without the backstory. Who knew "Pretty Women" and "Not While I'm Around" were staged in such gruesome circumstances. No bother, I will be purchasing the soundtrack next week.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Almost Famous

Just a quick update on a previous SOS.

Lucy's sob story made the Washington Post.

Not only does our cat live, she is famous.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kudos to Me

Be warned, this post is about how great I am. I have proof. We had a party last weekend and I baked and fried myself silly. Just wanted to share two emails I received on Monday.

"you outdid yourself as usual. I ate at least 5 potatoes worth of latkes and as many donuts, which really turned out well. and a scone and and... MMMMmm. DOOH NUT. Still thinking about them."

"Thanks again for a great brunch and of course the best doughnuts ever! We both had a great time and can’t wait for the next time that we’ll get to have those little mouthfuls of deep-fried, jelly-filled goodness! (and to see you both of course)"

I couldn't be more pleased. Big grin.

and just to make this a Thankful Thursday - I'm thankful for my friends who are so appreciative of my efforts. And also thankful to them for the times they've had to eat some real duds.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm An Artiste!

I am thrilled to have finally made onto Looking Into!

I'm one of those people who tends not to take photos and even when I do it's more to document that I've been someplace - almost like a CSI photographer.

With lots of travel expected in the new year I can hopefully get some more artistic shots - and just let the passport stamps tell where I've been.

Go check out my artistic debut!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Sunday Ritual

Putting in another plug for Day to Read. Don't get all freaked out if you can't read a book for whatever reason - screaming kids, pounding hangover, spoiled Christmas egg nog - there are other things you can read with a shorter attention span. Like the newspaper.

With the internet, newspaper reading has become a lost art. There's something not quite the same about scrolling around, jumping from page to page, reading "what other people emailed". I read more of the paper when I'm reading a PAPER. I'll be focused on one article and out of the corner of my eye I'll spy a word or a headline or a photo which grabs my attention - "ooh, go there next!"

In our house we get both the Washington Post and The New York Times delivered daily. It makes for a lot of paper. During the week my husband and I sit in bed and read the Post - he gets the front section first and I start with Style. It's the ritual, I can't change it. When he leaves for work (I work from home) he picks up the NY Times outside our building (seems only the Post has keys to the place), and takes it to work with him. So Monday through Friday, I get only the Post.

But on the weekends, oh the lovely weekends, we share the NY Times. I love the Saturday crossword puzzle and often have to fight him for it - it's generally in the Arts section. And Sunday, heavenly Sunday, is hours of entertainment.

Here's my ritual:

First I hit the wedding pages in Sunday Styles - on more than one occasion I've come across people I know and it's fun to see what they're doing (and who they're doing I suppose). I also like to read about people I don't know and place odds on the union. Some combos are just too hard to believe. Some I imagine ending badly in some torrid affair. Some have nothing in their biography but their parents' professions. Yours truly had a better announcement - although the lead line "Ms. Rose, 38, is keeping her name." seemed to indicate I was destined to be a spinster. Grrrrrrr.

Next I like to go to the Ethicist in the magazine. Love the conundrums and while I love Randy Cohen's writing style, sometimes I bristle at his advice. It is possible to be both an ethical and a horrible human being at the same time.

If there's a medical mystery in the magazine that week I go to that next. "Yes, Addison's disease! That's what I suspected too!"

Finally I hit the Week in Review. With the writer's strike the late night jokes listed on page 2 aren't as good. But the collection of political cartoons (the only time you'll ever see cartoons in the Times) from around the country are wonderful! After that it's some Frank Rich to get me all pissed off at Bush (yet again).

Then I move on - maybe travel, maybe real estate, perhaps the business section.

Whatever tickles my reading fancy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.

Growing up with older siblings, my musical taste was heavily influenced by the records (LPs, big black disks) that my brother and sister would get for Christmas.

I very clearly remember a string of years with Donny & Marie (particularly the year of the purple rag look), Shaun Cassidy (red and white striped t-shirt, Da Do Ron Ron) and John Denver (Greatest Hits). These gifts were specifically given to my sister, but in a house where there was one turntable, everyone listened to these records.

I'm over Donny & Marie - not sure that I ever really was under them. And my Shaun Cassidy crush probably lasted all of a month. To this day, I am still in love with John Denver. Sadly, he was killed in a plane crash - ironic given that one of his most famous songs was about leaving on a (jet) plane.

Take Me Home Country Roads - who could love West Virginia so much?
Leaving on a Jet Plane - the saddest song about leaving a loved one.
Sunshine on My Shoulders - I vaguely remember this being sung on The Muppet Show
Rocky Mountain High - I'm in love with Colorado, a place I only ever briefly visited

and finally, Annie's Song. One of the most beautiful love songs ever. Sadly, he and Annie split, but it's still magical. "You fill up my senses." Sigh.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breakin' Up Is Hard to Do

Nope, this isn't a post about romantic relationships gone bad - it's about breaking bones.

We had a party today and absent was a dear friend of mine - she broke her arm a couple of weeks ago. I told her story to many friends who wondered where she was - I owe her for making my cocktail chatter more interesting. But boy, am I glad I'm not her right now.

A couple of weeks ago she was at a party and slipped on some water, put her hand down and broke her wrist. I've seen her fall before - and she has fallen hard. She once fell off of a trail while snowboarding - over the ledge and into the ditch. A bit sore but that's it. I once watched her fall in a bar - no bodily bruises, just a crushed ego.

So she puts her hand down to catch her fall and hurts her wrist. She's in pain for a week and half but figures it's just a sprain and keeps popping ibuprofen. Her husband finally convinces her to see a doctor. A few hours and a few x-rays later the doctor announces that not only has she broken her wrist - she broke the smallest, most difficult-to-heal bone. She will need surgery.

Friday morning she went in for surgery - they put her under, tube down her throat, the whole nine yards. The gave her something called the "painbuster" - numbed her entire arm so much so that she felt nothing and had to be careful not to accidentally hurt herself, for lack of feeling.

She'll be in this puffy cast for a week, then a plaster cast for a month, and after that a splint for another month. Oh yeah, and she's got a titanium pin in her arm. For the time being she's doped up on Vicodin which makes everything seem not so bad.

I'm sorry that she missed the party - I really would have loved to have had her here. But she did give me a cool story and a great opening line "Jen has a broken arm and they had to do surgery!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tante Ily's Hazelnut Cake

Today is my sister's birthday - I won't say her age but I will say she looks a lot younger than that number. Where she is right now is December 14th - if I wait to post this I'll miss the birthday, so bear with me on the advance posting.

In honor of my birthday this year she posted some photos she knew I would like. As my talents don't lie in photography, I won't be doing the same. However, I would like to share with her (and everyone else in the blogosphere) a cake recipe. This recipe (along with many others) was given to me by Tante Caroline as a wedding gift. The original recipe comes from Tante Ily (Caroline's aunt) - the best baker I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Happy Birthday Jenn - hope to share this cake with you in person soon!
(keep in mind that Caroline speaks in colorful terms - not very precise but pretty!)

Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate or Mocha Cream Frosting
(The Mocha cream frosting is the preferred, but I have not a foolproof recipe for you - I, too experiment each time. So, use the chocolate; it is the same as for Sacher. Or be courageous and try Julia Child's reicpe.....)

(for two large cake tins, buttered and floured)

1lb. Hazelnuts (almonds are good too), some oven roasted*, ground
1T. finely roasted coffee
2 1/2 c. veryfine sugar ("verifine" = is between granular and powdered)
12 eggs (separated)
apricot or red currant jelly, sugar, schnapps

  • Oven set at 350 degrees F

  • Beat 1/2 the sugar into yolks till bubbly (use some vanilla sugar if possible***)

  • Beat whites with 1/4 cream of tartar (to stabilize the whites) - or use pinch of salt. Add in the rest of sugar and beat till smooth and glossy.

  • Probably using a large salad bowl, combine gently folding the yolk mixture with the whites and the ground nuts

  • Spread into cake tins and bake for 25-30 min.? May need a bit much longer? Test again with wooden cake tester till comes out moist, not wet. (just did this one recently and as this is an increased recipe, the timing is no longer valid)

  • Dump onto rack, slice with floss, glaze (as in Sacher recipe) topsides. Assemble. Allow to cool well and frost.

  • The chocolate = as in Sacher recipe. Or, look into Julia Child for the Mocha. This, too, keeps long in the icebox, without mouse intervention.

    *To roast hazelnuts: place on oven cookie sheet in a hot oven and allow to bake till the skins start to split. Keep roasting till nut meats gain a nice "suntan". Remove from oven and put out to cool (winter window is best as the skins virtually pop off). Then roll them around between your hands to help some more of the skins off. Outdoors, then blow away the loose skins., the nut meats remain. Not all skins are gone but a lot. Do this with a generous handful of the total and you will achieve a wonderful aroma. Then grind all nuts, preferably in old hand mill, you know the type you clamp-screw to the table. These are the finest (your nuts are acting in place of flour) results - the bought ground nuts are rougher and haven't got the roasted quality. As we are dealing with a true T. Ily might have fun training your store-bought-cake friends (do young slim career people still eat cake?) to experience what really good ingredients can amount up to (No baking powder! No flavor enhancers! No emulsifiers, no coloring, no preservatives - hey, what have we got here?)

    **Vanilla sugar can be purchased, is, however, usually not quite the real thing - and WE don't accept "Vanillin" (Dr. horrible Oetker's substitute for real Bourbon Vanilla), do we! So, buy yourself a couple of vanilla beans - expensive, but cheap in the long run. Slit them open lengthwise. Scratch the black soft center out and use it for a nice vanilla pudding or vanilla sauce for over fruit, etc. Then take a tin or jar with lid and fill with the "verifine" sugar and the scratched-out bean hulls. After just a week, but for months to come, the entire sugar will serve as vanilla sugar - but the real thing.
    [I made this cake using the mocha frosting from Julia Child - yummy! The Sacher recipe for the glaze is just spreading the jelly on the cake while it is hot so it's absorbed by the cake. And I think that's 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar for the egg whites. You also might want to line the tins with parchment paper. Good luck!]

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Thankful Thursday

    I was going to post a photo for Wordless Wednesday and then I realized it's Thursday. Yep, it's one of those weeks.

    So now I'm coming up with a new idea - if only for this week. Thankful Thursday.

    This week I am thankful for my housekeeper:

    • I am thankful that she is coming today to clean up before our party on Sunday.
    • I am thankful that she can come on short notice.
    • I am thankful that she makes my house smell so nice.
    • I am thankful that she brought us flowers on our wedding anniversary.
    • I am thankful that she loves my cat and has taught her Spanish.
    • I am thankful that her fee is less than marriage counseling - because you know that one of the number one reasons couples fight is over household chores.

    I am thankful for Consuelo.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Happy Hanukkah!

    Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah - the festival of lights (instead of one day of presents we have eight crazy nights)

    In our house we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas - we basically will celebrate a holiday provided it doesn't involve fasting.

    This year Hanukkah fell pretty early in December which is good I guess if you're eager to get one holiday out of the way. Challenging if you thought you had more shopping days.

    Each night we light the candles on the menorah and say a prayer (for peace, our cat, our loved ones). Then we eat a candy from our Neuhaus chocolate advent calendar - what can I say, we like food.

    As in past years, we'll be having a holiday party - we generally build the theme around Beethoven's birthday which is December 16th (think apfel streudel). I make lots of tasty food - the tastiest being latkes. Oil, potatoes, salt - what's not to love?!

    Putting together the soundtrack for the party is a bit more challenging. Beethoven works but this year I thought I'd try some other holiday music. Plenty of jazz and rock Christmas music. Not so much interesting Hanukkah music. Basically it's Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song (which I love, but you can't play that 10 times during a party without it getting a little old). The Barenaked Ladies have a few good songs. And then I stumbled upon The LeeVees - these guys are awesome. So sit back, and enjoy "The Latke Clan".

    Happy Hanukkah everyone!

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Dog Dreams

    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).


    This post is dedicated to memory of Wilma, a dog who lived the dream.

    One of my favorite songs on The Story's album, Grace in Gravity is "Dog Dreams". It is exactly that - what a dog is dreaming about. I once had this dog bed for Wilma that had little clouds with fire hydrants and dog bones all over it. Wilma dreamed a lot. She would also talk in her sleep. On many an occasion I would wake up in the middle of the night to hear Wilma "talking". It was not yelping or barking or snoring (though she did plenty of the latter). She was having a conversation - her voice would come out in spurts with inflections - so human.

    Of course this song always makes think of her. Today would have been her 18th birthday. We miss you Wilma.

    "Dog Dreams"

    Me and Rex took the car,
    ha, ha, stay home...stay.
    We're gonna run over
    all the neighborhood cats,
    'cause they tease us from
    the other side of the fence.
    We're gonna go in the swamp
    and you can't hose us off.

    Dog Dreams, Dog Dreams
    Please don't wake us up!

    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No fetch game, No, No, No,
    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No sit, lie down, roll over, SHAME.

    Me and Rex took the car,
    ha, ha, stay home...stay.
    We're gonna go through
    everyone's garbage,
    have the dinners we deserve.
    We're gonna find some great-smelling bitches,
    and see if they meant what they said
    from the end of the leash.

    Dog Dreams, Dog Dreams
    Please don't hose us off!

    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No fetch game, No, No, No,
    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No sit, lie down, roll over, SHAME.

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    How Can I Say "I Hit You"?

    This SOS came to mind about 20 minutes ago when I revealed to my husband that I had once hit a Rav4 (car). This story isn't so soapy, so much as an exercise in how to avoid stating the obvious.

    Years ago I was driving up to Providence, Rhode Island to visit friends. It was part of a longer journey I'd been taking up the east coast sometime after my grandfather had died. That last sentence is mostly irrelevant - but perhaps I'm looking for some more excuses. Anyway, I'd been driving for a long time that day - something over 6 or 8 hours - with my dog in the backseat and we had just pulled into downtown Providence. Just pulled off the highway. I was meeting my friends somewhere downtown and while stopped at a light I looked down at the directions in my lap, looked up again at the light, looked at the car in front of me, and took my foot off the brake. And I hit the car in front of me. I think at the time my car was having some trouble (as evidenced by me hitting the other car) so that when I took my foot off the brake the car didn't just inch forward, it lurched.

    I hit the Rav4 - a sort of mini-SUV - not too hard - but its back window just shattered! Weeks later there was a story on the news about a design defect on the back window of this car - so I hadn't even hit it that hard - but the window shattered and it made a big splashy noise. And I crunched the hood of my car (a lower to the ground old Volvo). Right downtown. In front of lots of people.

    I phoned my friends and said I would be delayed - they offered to walk over (seriously, I was blocks from meeting them) and take my dog. I phoned the police and got out of the car to talk to the other drivers. They were very nice - they were on a date. A first date. Perhaps I had given them a bonding experience!

    I remember very distinctly hearing from my insurance company that I should never admit guilt. It was kind of tough in this situation. I hit their car. I was behind them at a red light. Not much else to say.

    All I could utter was things like "I'm sorry this happened. So you're on a date? Where were you going for dinner?". Ugh.

    The cops came and took down all the info. They asked me what happened - "Uh, I was at the light. The car went forward. It hit the other car." I had to write a statement saying what happened. "I was at a light. I looked up. My car hit their car." As if the car and I were somehow not at all related. I could just see my English teacher rolling her eyes.

    I'm sitting at an accident, which I caused, and all I can think about is how angry my high school English teacher, whom I hadn't spoken to in over 10 years, would be if she read my statement.

    I'm such a geek.

    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    Holiday Donuts

    Did you know that one of the traditional foods of Hanukkah is donuts? Yep, who'd have guessed?! Turns out that it's all about the oil.

    I am trying to perfect my donut technique - got a thermometer last year in order to properly measure the oil temperature (375 degrees). Have a pastry tube in order to fill the donuts with raspberry jam. And now I've even got fancy bags in order to make lovely gifts. Almost looks too lovely to eat! Almost...

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    What Do You Do?

    When your bush pilot in Africa is reading...

    Heart of Darkness?

    "Not to worry" I told my husband, "he's only on page 23."


    Read this short classic or another one on:

    Thursday, December 06, 2007


    After a year of being semi-employed and a few expensive trips to the vet (what vet trip isn't expensive?) you'd think our Christmas/Hanukkah list would be long. It's not. We want for nothing.

    Yes, a flat panel TV would be nice. But we have a perfectly functioning 27" Sony TV that gets great reception. And we don't really watch it anyway - except Jon Stewart and I'm not so sure seeing him in hi-def is really worth $1000. Seeing him in person, now that's worth something!

    New work clothes would be nice. As I'll be starting a new job and being in an office for the first time in 3 years, a little update might be in order. And my husband could use some new suits - he just gave away 6 old ones to our housekeeper's husband (who is now a pretty dapper electrician). But work clothes for Christmas almost seems like a cruel joke. Remember when you were a kid and would run downstairs on Christmas morning and delight in the hope that Santa brought you that XT Racer set? And it was .... corduroys.

    Books would be nice. We can always use books. And there are books that we want. But what we really need right now is a bookshelf. Built-ins to be specific. I guess what we're asking for is a carpenter. Jesus, you free in the new year?

    So to all you family and friends who might be reading this, we'll take gifts. We're not ones to say no! But don't stress about it. We're just happy we have a healthy cat, a warm home to read and watch TV in, and jobs to pay for tasty dinners and fun travel. Come visit, we'll find a spot on the couch for you.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    She Lives!

    Lucy is on the mend! She is eating and eating lots which just fills my heart with joy. I don't know if it's the liquid medicine I shoot into her mouth twice a day or the threat of such dosings that has her chowing down - and I don't care. I doubt it's the tiny appetite stimulant pill since I have yet to actually get that into her mouth. Lucy is quite the fighter - just to give you an idea how much fun it is to pill a cat I give you this story (alas I cannot claim it as my own):

    How To Pill a Cat

    1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on each side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

    2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat gently in left arm and repeat process.

    3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, pick up and throw soggy pill away.

    4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for count of ten.

    5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse in from garden.

    6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat's mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

    7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill out of foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep up shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set on one side for gluing later.

    8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with a pencil and blow into drinking straw.

    9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

    10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door just enough so that head is showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with plastic band.

    11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw t-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

    12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

    13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by a large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

    14. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearms and removes pill from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home and order new dining table.

    15. Arrange for ASPCA to collect cat and contact local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

    How To Pill a Dog
    Wrap it in bacon.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Would You Trust This Man?

    I just got a new job (yay!) - sort of. As with any number of jobs in DC, you first have to go through a security clearance. I've been through this before as has my husband so it's no big deal - I'll pass. Unfortunately, I can't even enter the building until the temporary clearance comes through - it will be several weeks. Ugh.

    Here's the thing - they want info on my family - particularly my stepfather (the dashing guy above) and his children. My stepmother is of little interest, if any. What makes the man in the kilt so fascinating is that he's a foreign national. British citizen. Allegiance to the Queen and all.

    They're probably checking this blog so be careful what you say. I tend to think if I send them a photo of the kilt they'll speed up my clearance. I bet Gunfighter would back me up on this.

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Mixin' It Up

    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).


    It's funny how a song can take you to a moment so clearly. I was never really one for music - I listened to the radio, sometimes bought tapes, but nothing like my friends who would camp out for concert tickets or blow their allowance at the record store (remember those places?). And yet, music still has the ability to bring me back to a time and place.

    I received and made a fair number of mix tapes in my life. I remember two boyfriends who gave me mix tapes and if I could find them today I would play them (the tapes, not the boys) - on what, I don't know. They were given to me when I went away - first for the summer, and then later to college. I can't recall every song on them but when I hear something from either playlist I immediately remember those tapes - and where I was when I first heard them.

    I don't recall any CD mixes copied onto tapes. I tend to think that's because there wasn't a boyfriend to make them for me and I didn't have a car. It's funny how a whole period of your life can be forgotten because you weren't driving around listening to your car stereo.

    As I got older the technology has improved to where mixes are easy to make - no synching of different machines so you avoid that gap or maximize the number of songs you get on one cassette. Just burn some CDs while you're drinking coffee. Rearrange the music to suit your tastes.

    For my sister's birthday a few years ago, we all chipped in and got her the latest iPod. We each added our own playlist - my husband did arias, her friend did jazz and blues, I did 80's music, my brother did Charlie Brown Christmas, and my other brother did Tom Jones. It was our extra gift to her - from each of us, to her.

    My friends have also given me mixes - to encourage me to run, to commemorate a birthday, to provide background music to a brunch. And I love every CD. (Still not sure about that Hilary Duff song, Aparna).

    It is with this feeling that I especially applaud SMID's birthday CD project. The technology may change and the CDs might get lost - but just maybe, hopefully, those kids will come upon that CD someday and say "I remember being 7!"

    Sunday, December 02, 2007


    I was going to post this story just as a regular post and then realized it was a soap opera. Complete with screaming, a trip to the emergency room, and lots of sobbing.

    Want to know what newlyweds do on a Saturday night? Oy.

    Last night we spent our evening at the animal hospital. My sweet adorable cat Lucy had not been eating for days, and anyone who owns a pet knows, this is not good. Very not good. She continued to scream for food but would not eat it. We tried everything - pureeing food (that was soooooo unappetizing), switching flavors, hand feeding her kibbles. Nothing worked.

    At about 5:30pm we arrived at the vet hospital. Lucy was weighed and checked out by a tech and then we waited for a doctor. My poor Lucy was so quiet which is unusual for a cat trapped in a bag at the vet. At about 6:30 we got into see the doctor and it's at the same time that my husband had to return the car - so he left and said he would come back later to pick us up or I would get a cab (yes, cabs take pets - I've driven in one with my dog Wilma which is a pretty funny sight).

    Anyway, the vet takes Lucy to get her blood drawn and then comes back to talk to me. She says that it's one of a few things - her teeth are old and hurt, she has liver failure, or she has kidney failure (keep in mind my cat is 19 years old). The latter two things don't sit well with me - I've been there for two animals for those reasons and it ended sadly. I immediately start bawling. The poor vet is so upset that she has upset me - "no, no, it's me" I say "I just have a bad experience with this". I stop bawling enough for her to tell me that the bloodwork will be back in 2 hours and it might indicate Lucy has to stay overnight. So we agree that I will go get some dinner and she'll call me. I phone my husband. The bawling continues. He gets in the car to come meet me.

    In the meantime, I go across the street to a Whole Foods and start wandering around looking for food. Crying. People stared. Finally managing to get some food I go to the dining area and wait for my husband. I calm down. I breathe. He arrives. I bawl.

    The vet calls and announces it is good news! Lucy's bloodwork is fine. Not perfect, but for 19 years old we are happy. They can't clean her teeth due to her age but they do send me home with medicine and appetite stimulant to make her feel better and get her eating. Oh yeah, and a big fat bill.

    So much for that TV we were getting for Christmas. Instead we get a cat with a million dollar smile. And we are ever so much happier for it.

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    A Pessimist Turns Silver

    The following post is from Vicky - as part of the Blog Exchange this month - "Silver and Gold"


    When I think of silver these are just a few of the items that come to mind.

    Sterling first then, robin’s egg blue boxes tied up with white satin bows. Glitter encrusted tips of angel wings that float on top of Christmas trees. Shining twinkling ornaments that dangle precariously off tree branches. Silver is a perfect gift. Gleaming bright it shines beautifully as a candlestick or a charm on a delicate bracelet. It is the bright lining in an otherwise cloudy day. Born with a silver spoon in your mouth and you have the world at your feet or so they say.

    Lastly I think of this-

    Always look for the silver lining (didn’t you just hear a bell chime? I did)

    When I was young and I heard people say, “Look for the silver lining”, I would cringe. Immediately I wanted to not look for the silver lining. I wanted to look at the less than sterling aspects of my day, my current situation or my life. I guess you could count me as a pessimist of sorts. The silver lining was something I only saw on the edge of my cereal bowl when I had to use skim milk. I wasn’t a fan of skim milk back then either.

    Older now and married to a glass half full sort of guy I’ve come to view life in a new way. Having dealt with some serious issues and situations as my life progressed I realize that I have much to be thankful for. Looking at the silver lining isn’t such a bad thing after all. In fact, it is exactly what I want to teach my daughter as she grows. I want her to be an optimist. The world has enough pessimists and dooms dayers. I want her to see not just the dark edges of life but to come to appreciate those beautiful silver moments where one can see what that sterling lining can highlight. That the ability to see the good in a bad moment can be a lifesaver and sometimes it is all you have to cling to in that single desperate time.

    I choose to see that gleaming silver as a light in the dark. That out of every dark passage there is indeed a reason for it and a blessing in it. It is this ability that my strength has grown from and shaped me into the strong woman that I am often (amazingly enough) described as today. I no longer snort with disgust when I hear the phrase, “Look for the silver lining”. Instead I smile and I do look. It is always right where you least expected it.

    Hear ‘Silver Lining’, by the incredibly awesome group Rilo Kiley here.

    Vicky can be found at The Mummy Chronicles, doing what else but chronicling the daily life of a work at home mother to one tiny dictator, a crazy dog, and a slowly burgeoning freelance writing career. She just loves it when people pay her to write by the way. She can also be found posting numerous reviews at her site, Mummy’s Product Reviews .

    Looking for Flower Child? She's over at Vicky's place this week going on about Gold.