Thursday, November 26, 2015

In the mood to have a cry

Thanksgiving was the Old Woman's favorite holiday.  Before they changed the date, it would sometimes fall on her birthday, which was a double bonus.  More than Christmas, not being the religious type, she wanted her family around for the feast and opportunity to spend time together.

She always made quite a feast.  I'm always amazed when I see other peoples' tables and there is MAYBE one green vegetable and 3-4 starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rice?).  The Old Woman's table was a study in the bounty of the garden.  We often had 5-6 vegetables plus a veggie tray.

Always, on her table would be two small, very old turkey candles.  Many years before, when her #3 son was just a tiny child, they were shopping for thanksgiving foods and he picked the two little candles up and asked if they could buy them.  They cost $0.15 for the pair, but being farmers, that was too much to spend on something they couldn't eat.  She had to explain to her little boy that they couldn't afford to buy them.  He fished around in his pockets, and came up with 15 cents that he'd saved from finding pennies and other dropped coins, and said that he could buy them for her.  The sweetness of his generosity and not understanding their poverty meant that the turkeys became a cherished part of the family celebrations.

Another way she made holidays festive was her special cut glass collection of drinking glasses.  They were acquired, one at a time, with green stamps and grocery store promotions.  No two were alike and the were all vibrant colors and featured various designs.  Most of us had a favorite we would claim, holiday after holiday.  Mine was a deep purple glass, which I recently "rescued" from the Old Folks' home after the Old Man moved west.

A few years ago, the Old Woman insisted that I stop coming home for thanksgiving because she feared that I would be utterly lost once she was gone if I never had the chance to make my own traditions first.

Now, my tradition is largely to stay at home, make a non-traditional meal, and cry over losing her.  I'm pretty sure she'd disapprove.

But, to not bring you down too, here's a picture of rosemary gougeres I made to nibble on.  This year, I'm doing a beef tenderloin roast with coffee chile rub, twice baked potatoes, spinach sauteed with shallots and garlic, parker house rolls, and a pumpkin pie.

Well, that is one bit of tradition from the Old Woman; getting up early and making a pie first thing.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Just a little bit pissed off right now

Disclaimer:  I've had three boozy rootbeers tonight . . . which seems to be enhancing my reactions.  I know, drunks always say booze makes them faster, stronger, better looking, great dancers . . . but for monkeys it is actually true.

Anyway, I was watching my facebook feed fill up with stories about the attacks in Paris with heart break.  Humans have such horrible ways of throwing tantrums.  I keep thinking y'all have hit the worst you could come up with and then you top it.

But, then I saw some of the tweets "conservatives" are putting out there.  Too many folks are trying to create some link between the black college students demanding to be safe in their homes with terrorist attacks half a world away.  

Funny.  Too often when white people say "I don't feel safe" they follow it with "So, goddamnit, I should be able to carry a gun with me any where I please and say any nasty horrible thing I can think up and by god it's my right."  But should a person of color or a woman say "I don't feel safe in my home or at my school or coming and going in my community" these same gun-toters say "shut the fuck up!" 

Some times I wish I believed in hell so I could be comforted in knowing that the sick bastards who would immediately twist the pain and agony of other people into some sick agenda only they understand were hell bound and I didn't need to worry my pretty little monkey head over them.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Holiday plannin'

There is a significant birthday coming up, and although I've now given up on birthdays for myself, I will happily celebrate this one.  I offered to take the celebrant to dinner, but a request was made for home cooked steaks instead.  Also, I don't make birthday cakes for The Phenom anymore, so there will be a big batch of molasses spice cookies.  (100 years ago, I spent two days making the cover recipe from a cooking magazine only to be told "the secretary made this espresso chocolate cake and I ate three quarters of it, I can't have any more chocolate cake"  Since then, I make cookies and The Phenom gets to eat as many as they can, warm from the oven.)

Then comes thanksgiving.  The request was made for steak again . . . but to not have rapid fire repeats, I suggested I ask the butcher to prepare a trimmed 3-4 lb tenderloin roast.  I'll have to figure out what else I'm serving.  I wonder if Phenom would eat green bean casserole?  Phenom isn't much into green beans or casseroles . . . so putting the two together might be a "two negatives makes a possitive" or a look of "have you lost your mind?"  Maybe garlic sauteed spinach?  I use to make worchestershire roasted poatoes the Phenom liked . . . perhaps those?

After thanksgiving, we'll be heading north to attend a football game with friends.  One of the friends is a fantastic cook and the tailgate will be legen . . . wait for it . . . dary.  I'll ask what I can bring, but I'm already thinking the roasted pepper/whipped feta bruschetta and moonshine balls.  I made the moonshine balls last year for ESK's baby shower.  I used peppermint moonshine and then white chocolate dipped them and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy.  I wonder if I should get candy melts in the colors of the home team?  I have peppermint oil I can spike the candy dip with to be extra festive.

Moonshine balls are super simple.  I think I found this recipe in a Southern Living; it's written down on a bit of scrap paper I've guarded over several years.  You can sub out bourbon or rum to your liking.

1 box (12 oz) vanilla wafers . . . whirred up in the food processor
1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 TBLS cocoa powder
1/4 c booze
1/2 c golden raisins
6 TBLS corn syrup

Whir everything together until it becomes a paste

roll into cherry size pieces and roll in confectioner's sugar

Store in fridge for several weeks.  Although they are tasty freshly made, you do want them to "ripen" for a week or so.  I'll make the tailgate ones next weekend.

When I chocolate dipped them, I did it just before serving them (well a few hours before).  They will absorb the powdered sugar so you can roll them in a bit more sugar before you serve them to make them pretty but you don't have to.  They are better at room temp because then you can better taste the booze.

I'll make 2-3 batches between now and Christmas.

Of course, Liquor Loaf day is coming up in a few days, and this week I'll order a huge box of ingredients.

But, we'll go to NOLA for christmas so I only have to figure out where we'll be drinking for that holiday.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


My favorite 13 year old is on the cusp of becoming my favorite 14 year old.  Over the last year, it has been fun to see her start to adopt "teenagery" behaviors.  The way she flips her hair, the language, and the semi-permenant state of being non-plused.

Last night, she drew me into a conversation where clearly she wanted help, but didn't want to actually ask for it.  I always take that bait.  It turns out, she has a crush and has decided to do the "ask" for the date.  But, as with any venture of this sort, the thought that it could go very badly had caused her to hesitate.  We discussed the pros and cons.  I encouraged.  I made the rule "no naked selfies."

Tonight, she said she was going to do it.  She was going to make the ask.  Then, there was brief hesitation . . . and then plunging in.  I crossed all my monkey fingers and toes in hopes the object of the crush wouldn't crush her.  BUT! NO! SUCCESS! A DATE IS FORTHCOMING!!!

And, it was wonderful to see my favorite teenager so giddy and excited.  I felt bad that I was getting to share this with her and her parents were in another room. (We do this all online as we live several hundred miles apart.)

I asked what made this person so amazing?  Nearly 14 year old said it would take a whole paragraph to describe.  I asked for the top three.  She said "only three?"  Finally, her top three things that make her like this person are:  1) not afraid to stand up for themselves, 2) likes books and 3) believes in supernatural things.

Not bad for a first crush.  In fact, if I were to try to find someone for Nearly 14 year old to date, these might be characteristics I'd look for too.

I'm just so taken in with how very privileged I am that I got to share this moment with her.  I'm pretty sure this will be one of my all time favorite memories.  I got lucky tonight.

Friday, October 23, 2015

public notice

if you make a date to get cybe r drunk with someone and they don't show up, it's jsut geeting drunk

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It changes you

25 years ago, I made a new friend at work.  Her mother died shortly after we met.  She grieved for her mother for a very long time.  At the time her mother died, she had one young daughter and 2-3 older children (I can't remember exactly how many kids she has, as I've not met them all).  She told me, years later, that one of the reasons she "spoiled" her younger child was because she felt she'd emotionally cheated the child because of her grieving.  She said she felt like she spent about 10 years of her life being a zombie.  She was going through the motions, but was emotionally disconnected.

Not long ago, one of my co-workers experienced what could only be described as a "freak out."  During her "freak out" she said LOTS of things (rapid fire, bouncing from subject to subject, sort of random) some of which wasn't true, some was exaggeration, some total nonsense, but some probably grounded somewhere in the truth.  The theme seemed to be that I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad "person."

Even though I could easily dismiss all of what she spouted as the product of a perfect storm of several very bad days, a couple of major screw ups, and personal issues, one can't completely forget such an attack.

Which has me thinking . . . I've found myself without friends lately.  Not the real friends .  .  . they still seem to think I'm worth knowing . . . but the more social/superficial friends seem to have decided to spend their energies else where.  And, frankly, I've not really been in the mood to go out of my way to be extra nice to anyone.

And then I started to wonder . . . has my grieving over the last three years (and the multiple hits of emotional firebombs) turned me into something of an emotionally distant zombie?  I suspect the answer is yes.  I'm not sure I actually want to do anything about it.  Although it was nice to have a lunch crowd, it was expensive. The feeling of belonging was cozy, but obviously temporary and fleeting.

Grieving changes you. I think I'm less willing to put up with BS and I have a shorter temper.  And, I should probably not take things so personally.  But, I think I'll concentrate on being grateful for the real, deep friends I still have.  At the end of your life, they are the ones that matter any way.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


The other evening, while attempting to be social, a friend who has recently gone through a personal crisis said to me "Phenom told me to tell you when I'd need some meals .  .  . I'll need some next week."

Okay.  Phenom had not bothered to mention this offer had been made before, but it is the sort of thing I do.

Today, I made a double batch of Cinncinati style chili and roasted a chicken.  I gathered all the toppings for the Cinncinati chili (cheese, onion, oyster crackers, kidney beans).  At some point, the Phenom asked why I was making so much food, and when are we going to eat that chicken?

I told him I'd been informed that an offer of meals had been made.  Phenom says no . . . that the offer of "anything we can do to help" was made.

On one monkey shaped hand, I am a tad startled by the forwardness of the request. But, mostly I'm thinking there is a lesson in this for me.  Last year when I was so sick and in and out of the hospital, many people offered assistance to us and each and every time, we turned it down.  Most of the time, it was vague "let us know" type offers, but there were some very specific offers . . . like a friend who saw the Phenom picking up our take out dinner and offered/really wanted to pay for it.

Looking back, we turned those offers down because we were a tad embarassed.  We never quite wrapped our brains around needing help.  And, I realize now, it was a mistake.  We should let people help us  Someday, they might not offer.  We're always tremendously helpful to others, and we need to learn to allow others to return the favor.  That being said, do leave it to the afflicted to figure out what they need you to do.  Figure out something, creatively, and do it.

Like the gift certificate to a local restaurant I tucked into the door of a friend whose mother passed away this week.  My friend has spent the last week sitting at her bedside, administering hourly pain meds . . . a good, hot meal she could just pick up and even have left overs the next day, was needed.  (She lives alone, and much like us has a really annoying independent streak. )  I find that if nothing else, a pizza gift certificate can always be used.  And cookies.  Even if the afflicted doesn't eat them, the people around will.

Friday, October 02, 2015


There are losses you never actually stop grieving. I understand, deeply, when women express the difficulty of mourning their mothers.  I have a friend who has been at her dying mother's side this week.  We've not heard from her in a couple of days, so we suspect her mother has passed on.  She's pretty intensely private, so one has to read the signs with her.

Two years ago, when my dear friend died, it put me in a daze that lasted several weeks. More or less, I have no recollection of anything that happened between his death in August and the first of October.  Why the first of October?  Because today is the two year anniversary of the death of a good friend's mother.  Her mother had been very ill, the night before my friend had to sign papers for her mother to have surgery.  The situation was dire . . . she would die in a matter of hours without the surgery and might not live with the surgery.  Her mother lived through the night, and my friend awoke, on her birthday, to believe her mother would recover.  Only, a few hours later, her mother died.

Realizing my friend needed support jogged me out of my fog.  And, today, on that anniversary, when others are leaving sweet and joyous notes on her social media, I'm the one asking if she's got a plan to make it through the day . . . because I understand what it's like to be robbed of ever seeing one's birthday as a holiday and pure celebration.

Being grown up really does suck sometimes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


This weekend, I received a designer handbag as a gift.  It is very pretty, has plenty of pockets, and is a bright color monkeys find fetching.  It was a lovely and thoughtful gift.  (Truth be told, I carry a lot of candy with me. And lip goos . . . lots and lots of lip goo.)

But, I'm not actually a designer handbag sort of monkey.  Most of my handbags, I bought from Ebay. (Disclaimer, I do have a knock off Prada handbag I purchased on the streets of DC but the point was more to bargain the guy down to the price I wanted to pay.  I actually don't recall what he was asking because I told him what I wanted to pay, stuck to it, and was willing to walk away in order to get him to relent.  The Phenom was both horrified and impressed.)

I carried my new designer bag to work with me today, and propped it up on a shelf behind my desk.  And, no one noticed it.  No one commented.  I thought the whole point to a designer bag was to elicit comment from other humans.   Otherwise, wouldn't one of my ebay purchases be as good?

The Phenom asked what others thought of the new bag.  I think he was disappointed, too, that this new acquisition didn't immediately create some level of status for me.  Sigh.  Oh well, I have a very important meeting with very important people later this week . . . one I normally break out the knock off Prada for . . . so perhaps I'll find myself hoisted up the social ladder all due to this gift.  We can hope, right?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Common enemy

A co worker was telling me about a conversation she over heard (as in it was in a public place and the conversation took place two tables over from where she was eating lunch) the other day that involved prime examples of misogyny and rape culture.  And, the braggart was wearing a Nickelback tee-shirt.

I chimed in with a story from a trip to NOLA a few years ago.  A family seated themselves at a table next to ours at a patio bar.  It was parents and grown children and/or spouses.  The mother was already someone with a "fill up the room" personality.  She was loud and screeched and needed to be the center of attention . . . and then they bought her booze.

At some point in the evening, she joined together several straws, and then used the straws to reach across her table/our table and start drinking from my glass.  I SHIT YOU NOT! A total stranger created an extended straw to bogart my drink.  Her children were horrified (and bought me a new drink) and she and her family were invited to leave.

And, they were all wearing Nickelback tee-shirts.

Nickelback sucks.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Secret of a Good Relationship

is knowing just how to manipulate each other.

You need to know exactly what buttons to push, how to tip their hand, and what they will never refuse.

Because we are totally boring, the highlight of the holiday weekend was deciding if we were going to go have burgers and fries at the local drive-in tonight or get up tomorrow and hit up a local joint for a classic southern breakfast.  WOOO HOOO

While weighing the pros and cons of going out for dinner tonight vs. getting up for breakfast . . . (The dinner at home option was bean and cheese burritos, a favorite of the Phenom's.  I make my own refried beans and they are damn tasty.)  the Phenom threw in a totally new suggestion . . . that tomorrow we head up the high way to a BBQ joint we like for lunch.  I immediately agreed that this was the best possible option, and there was dancing about.

And, then the Phenom said "this way you can have some good BBQ and we can sleep a little later." That's how I knew I'd been manipulated . . . in the best way . . . but manipulated.  He knew the offer I wouldn't turn down and he gets to sleep later in the morning.

I can always make grits or pancakes on Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hadn't thought of it that way before

Retail chain, Target, has gone to a genderless toy section.  And, as one might expect in this world devoid of calm and rational response to ANYTHING, some people have absolutely lost what was left of their pea-brains.  They seem to think that without a giant, overhead sign, they won't know if the toy they are about to buy for their sister's 3 year old is for a boy 3 year old or a girl 3 year old.

Someone pointed out a handy, easy to use guide these people can keep in mind . . . or write on an index card and tuck behind their phones in that over-sized case . . . 

if the toy is designed to teach nurturing or development of life . . . it's for a girl


if the toy is designed to leave the child with a god-like control over life and death or cause destruction . . . it's for a boy.

Which is so messed up, you should probably go have a bit of a lie-down.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Never say I don't give second chances

Remember when my head exploded over someone's misguided food choices and the Phenom pointed out that the real problem was my food snobbery?

That person is in NOLA right now.  And, I might passively rant in my own home when he eats frozen-from-the-other-side-of-the-planet crab legs during soft-shell season on the NC/SC coast, I can not let him eff up eating in NOLA.  I sent him several options for fine food and drinks ranging across the cost spectrum.

The Phenom has been taunting me all evening with "I bet he's at the IHOP on Canal Street."  Just might be the meanest thing you could say to me.

Denial kicking in

I don't know if I should be angry, confused, horrified, or making plans to move to a Scandinavian country.  The American humans seem to be enthralled by The Donald as a presidential candidate.  Originally, I think most folks thought this was some fringe effort on his part, and soon another candidate would emerge and he'd be forgotten.  But, the media seems to be fanning the flames and the other candidates seem to not know exactly how to respond to this wack job's antics.

So much of his rhetoric makes me wonder if he's not pulling the greatest troll job ever.  A few weeks ago, the Phenom and I had this semi-serious conversation based on the scenario that The Donald manages to be elected President and then when he realizes the financial hit and responsibilities/restrictions the position imposes, refuses to take the oath of office and what sort of constitutional crisis would that create?

Last night, a friend and I played a game of "what could The Donald have to do to get the majority of the American public to turn against him?"

She suggested burning a flag and a bible inside a church.  My suggestion was him being caught on a hot mike scheming to sell this "effin' country" to the Chinese and make billions and billions of dollars on these rubes"  . . . and of course we had several sexual and violent suggestions.  But, in the end, we were dismayed to admit that in all of our imagination, we could not come up with a scene in which he would lose ALL support . . . some asshat out there would still be a fan boy/girl.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

A nice distraction

So, the anniversary of the deaths of my friend and the Old Woman are coming up.  Well, the anniversary of my friend's death is today, roughly.  Since he committed suicide, we aren't entirely sure of the exact timing.

But, since they died within the same 12 month period and the anniversaries are roughly a month apart, I have this nice, prolonged, funk I get into starting mid-August.  Fun times for everyone around me.

Earlier this month, I received a family heirloom I'd been promised over 20 years ago by the Old Woman: her chiming mantle clock.  Last weekend, I cleared my mantle and set it up.  I love it and find peace when it chimes each quarter hour.  (I give props to the Phenom because I suspect it drives him crazy but he knows enough to say he likes it.)

Last month, I came up with a fairly far-fetched idea and passed it by my friend's father.  He thought there was some merit to it, and has been helping me with some details on his end.  Well, today . . . on the anniversary of my friend's death . . . I have learned that the project is probably going to happen.  In other words, I've been given a packet of very official papers to complete.  I need to double check the dates I was given, but there may be a book in the near future.

This isn't about money . . . I suspect we won't see a dime.  But, this is about keeping his legacy and memory alive.  This is about making sure people don't forget him.  It's about appreciating his talent.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Three times a loser

Poor Phenom is having a bad week. First, he's having to go back to a work schedule that requires him to be up before 10am and cuts off his 4X a day naps.  Poor baby.

Then, we've had this ongoing discussion about my desire to plant a couple of peach pits (my local peach farmer got only a handful of peaches this year and I was able to get four of them.  I saved two pits to plant.)  Phenom doesn't want me to plant them because he said it will be years before I get peaches and he doesn't want to mow around them.  Well, he lost that battle . . . but he might have won too because we think a squirrel might have claimed my pits.  sigh.

And, there is the clock.  I finally have the family heirloom clock.  It chimes every quarter hour and Phenom claims to hear it when I can't.  Phenom expects it will keep him up at night.   Although, it didn't bother him or keep him from sleeping when we'd visit the Old People.

I'm afraid I'll have to work more on acting sympathetic.  Monkeys are more into pointing and laughing than being sympathetic.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'm going to call it a win

I fixed a hair doo-dad and got super glue on only three, maybe four, of my fingers.


And, here is a cat picture, to make up for the brevity of this post:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

RIP Cookie

I've written about my being shunned from the SMLF.  Then, the ringleader of the shunning did the modern day version of the 7th grade girl freeze-out; she "unfriended" me on social media (and then unfriended me and my office from her office's social media . . . damned unprofessional.)

I will admit, monkeys harbor ill feelings a long time before we're finally able to move on.  And, although my brain tells me that I was a better friend to the ringleader than she EVER was to me and that her deciding we can't even be civil to each other isn't actually a loss . . . I am annoyed that not a single other member of the SMLF has said a single word to me.  It's weird.  Freeze out has been complete.

Being that I like to gaze upon my own navel for hours upon hours, I want to think that they are all just so busy and wrapped up in their lives that they haven't noticed.  Which actually doesn't say much about our friendships in the first place, eh?  I am willing to entertain the notion that they are as perplexed by the turn of events as I am and don't quite know if they've done something to offend me.  But, I reject that theory because ESK, surely, would have either set them straight or said something to me if they'd inquired to her.

Nope, the sad resignation is that I was rejected, shunned, burned, frozen-out, given the boot.

And, this week I realize how complete that boot giving is because the camp that I have been camp cook for over the last several years is happening this week, and I was not invited back to be 'Cookie."
It was volunteer work I truly enjoyed, and am sad to be forced to give up.  And, a bit angry.  You really don't want to make a monkey angry.  As much self control as I frequently exhibit, monkeys are pretty unpredictable and likely to allow nasty quips and sarcasm to take over.  And, there is that who harboring hurts thing.  You think elephants never forget . . . they got nuthin' on monkeys.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Selfish, again.

Mourning is a long, drawn-out, never-ending process.  Well, for me.

This weekend, I had the rare chance to spend a few hours with the father of my friend who died two years ago this month.  He and I are working on a couple of projects, truth be told, are all about making sure my friend doesn't just disappear.

And, as luck would have it, I happened to also have a conversation with a publisher who is expressing what could just be polite interest, but interest none the less.

Which does leave me feeling just a little like my friend would slap me with a herring if he knew what we were up to.

Where is the line between keeping a legacy alive and violating everything someone stood for?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In which I learn that I am, actually, a prude.

We are in NOLA.  We have had many drinks and lots of excellent food.  We tried three new bars and tiki seemed to be the theme of the trip.

BUT! Today, a convention has rolled into our hotel.  Swingers.  OLD SWINGERS.  I saw a woman, a good 15 years older than me and likely someone's grandmother, leave our hotel in a see-through nightie and panties. And, my gut reaction was not one of "meh."

I like to think that for the most part, I pretty much don't care about what other folks do in the privacy of their rooms.  Frankly, I don't really want to ever have to think about what other folks do in private.  I do, however, have all kinds of judgement for those who patronize "sex" businesses; largely because I know that the great majority of such establishments not only exploit their "workers" but also condone and encourage their customers to push boundaries of consent and decency.  I know that the women, young men, transpeople who work in such businesses are not safe.

I also have all kinds of judgement for people who force others to deal with their sex acts.  This is different from their sexuality . . . but if you're wacking it in public, or humping up on other people/critters/furniture where others can see you . . . or leading your partner around on a leash at the mall then you have violated the rights of others.

Frankly, this shouldn't make me a prude, but I guess it does.   You do you and I'll do me but don't make me see you doing IT.