Friday, February 27, 2015

Food Heaven

I'm in PDX.  I had a seat in first class for the flight out here (and on my return trip.)  I got a meal with my early morning flight.  First real meal I've not had to purchase in years on a flight.  I selected cereal and yogurt.  It came with fresh fruit, croissant, jelly.  Not bad, really.

For first dinner, we went to a pizza place that is very popular locally, Lovely's Fifty Fifty.  One of the pizzas had these amazing hot sweet peppers. I went online today and ordered an obscenely large order.  (The peppers are a local company and very popular in the area too.)

Today, for lunch we went to a sandwich shop.  I cannot remember the name, but they specialize in pastrami.  I had a reuben.  I always have the reuben.  It was very juicy, tender pastrami.

Tonight, we went to Bamboo Sushi.    I think sushi is one of those things I could just not stop eating.  It's the bite sized pieces.  This place gets all kinds of recognition for being sustainable and green.  The Green Machine is terrific.  So was the sake.

We're driving up to Seattle tomorrow for lunch.  Wonder if we'll stop by to check out the herbals?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chemist or bartender

My innate fascination with creating/mixing/tinkering made the Old Woman often comment that one day I might end up being a chemist or a bartender.  I'm pretty sure I've disappointed her because my tendencies run towards bartending.

My newest experiment is with home made vanillas.  I've made vanilla before with beans and vodka and/or whiskey.

This time, I've branched out.  I currently have pint bottles of vodka, whiskey, and rum with vanilla beans in them.  But I also have 1/2 pint jars of tequila and dark rum with vanilla beans.  The dark rum also has cinnamon, star anise, and cloves tossed in.  They are sitting, waiting, in the same closet I keep my stash of blackberry vodka.  In 4-6 months, I'll see what we have achieved with adventures in vanilla.

I'm thinking that the first recipe will be my standard lemon pound cake, only tweaked with lime and the tequila vodka.

Oh, and since it's Mardi Gras today . . . I had a nice shot of blackberry vodka to start my morning.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Pondering

A milestone date is coming up.  It is the birthday of the friend who died about a year and a half ago.  I was lucky to be able to spend his last birthday with him, but that also makes all subsequent birthdays more emotional for me.

This evening, I was contacted by one of his relatives.  She apologized because she only learned of his death several months after the fact and feels guilty that she wasn't able to "be there" for his family/loved ones.  She's asked for more information about his death.

This is a person I've known for many years, and most of them, I had most unpleasant opinions of her.  (She's not a terribly nice person, but she's had her own miseries in life.)  She's recently tried to be pleasant to me, which on one hand is nice but on the other tweaks my natural paranoia.  

So, do I fill her in on my friend's death?  Do I decide that she knows enough?  Do I dredge it all up, right when I'm already being mopey about it?  Do I take the opportunity to receive comfort when I need it?  

Sigh.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The very slow realization

Funny how friendships can end.  Sometimes, it's a big blow up with yelling and tears and lots of anger.  But, sometimes, it can be just one thing that makes you say "you know, I'm done."

I recently had a friendship end this way.  I'm sure we'll still be cordial to each other.  We'll be polite. Because that's what you do in a small town.

I'd made a comment that was intended to be funny.  I miss judged my audience and it wasn't funny.  The recipient's reaction wasn't completely unexpected, although one might say that perhaps a tad overblown.  But more than that, it made me realize that our friendship has been more about me walking on eggshells with them, and their response to my insensitive remark brought home that I'm tired of walking on eggshells for them.

Kinda a harsh realization, right?  Frankly, I'm thinking of it all more in terms of "you know, they've been pretty clear that they tolerate me because of proximity, but they'd never go out of their way for me . . . and I've gone out of my way for them plenty.  It's time to stop now."

More than anything, I'm a little embarrassed I was so slow on the up take.  Monkeys aren't real good at the nuances of human relationships, sometimes.  sigh.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bait and Switch

Ah the age old scam.  We fell for it.  We arrived to look at one model, were shown a smaller, sleeker model . . . but then some how ended up with something spastic.  I'm speaking, of course, of the Humane Society.

Many years ago, long before social media existed, we read a tale of woe in our local paper about a dog at the humane society shelter.  We had already spoken of getting a dog, since we'd moved into a home with a fenced in back yard.  We went to inquire, and were told that the dog we were interested was no longer available but were shown a cute puppy who fetched the ball and gave kisses and was adorable.  Paper work was completed, we went home to see if we passed their background check, and two days later, we picked up Chester.  We got him home and released him into the yard, only to watch him go completely nuts.  He ran like his tail was on fire and was generally hyper.  After watching this for a couple of minutes, the Phenom and I both said, at the same time, "you know, I thought he was smaller."  To this day, although it turns out that Chester was the perfect pick of a dog for us, we still aren't entirely sure we weren't baited, baited, and switched.

Well, it's happened again.  This time to a friend.  

A friend reposted pictures of a super pretty, fluffy kitty at the humane society.  One picture in particular was so breathtaking that she decided to give the kitty a home.  She went to inquire and was told that this particular kitty had a sibling that was very shy and needed to be adopted with the one they'd posted.  She was caught in a moment of weakness and agreed.  She took both kitties.  They are both beautiful, but the second one is needing much more care to acclimate to her home.

Then, this morning, the humane society posted that the pretty kitty had gone to his new "furever" home with his NEW brother.  NEW  . .  as in not actually siblings.  HA!  Suckers!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Humbug

I'm not religious.  In that I don't like religions.  If you want to debate the existence of a "god" or whatever, I'll bite (when in the right mood . . . or drunk . . . or high).  But, just as I see patriotism as dangerous, I see religious fervor as dangerous.  Yes, dangerous.  Way too many people have died with religious justifications in the minds of their killers.  Way too many people have been harmed, "othered", scorned, made to feel less human, due to another's religious wackiness.

The Phenom and I do not really celebrate Christmas. . . other than to use it as an excuse to go on a drinking walk-about in NOLA.  We don't put up a tree.  We don't decorate our home.  We don't exchange gifts amongst ourselves (save for airline tickets and buying the next round).

And yet, I have a pretty elaborate holiday ritual of making fruitcakes.  This year, I made 40 and at least 34 were claimed before the first raisin hit rum.

And, I secretly tear up over christmas music.

And, when I get a chance to watch a video alone, I always have to watch A Christmas Memory.



The Old Woman and I always watched this movie.  Now that she's gone, I cry over it.  Frankly, as I get older, christmas is more about being sad than rejoicing.

Humbug.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Misery

Take a truly miserable human and relieve them of their job and then make them work off a two week notice . . . and you have the most miserable person on the planet.  She has taken to showing up late, refusing any interaction with co-workers, and stomping around to communicate her misery.  Sadly, it has nearly reached comical levels and rather than feeling bad, the co-workers find themselves rolling their eyes and exchanging meaningful looks.

I'm torn.  I am looking forward to having this person out of our office.  Before this "two week notice" she was toxic to the office.  She was incapable of basic levels of polite interaction, she was incompetent and I'm pretty sure she's lied to me.  But, she is out of a job right before the holiday season.  I hate that for anyone.

I know in a month, we'll hardly remember her . . . save for stories of her massive toilet paper habit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Never Poke a Sleeping Bear

I had a professor write this on the board, prior to the final, once.  Apparently, at 3am while grading term papers, he got poked.  A student wrote a rant about how much he hated the class, how it was a pain in his ass that he had a term paper due right before finals, and other critiques of the professor's fitness to continue breathing.  I'm sure the paper would have provoked at any time of the day, it was just the student's bad luck that it was 3am.

I've moaned about my abandonment by ESK.  Then, we hired her replacement.  We will soon be rehiring her replacement.

The Replacement's downfall has been an interesting example of how people can be their own worst enemy.  Also, how once a pattern of behavior is created, how difficult it is to break it.

To be fair, I hired The Replacement knowing that she had the reputation of being "difficult."  Silly me . . . I thought I could over come her prickliness with my charm and monkey fun.  Nope.

She refuses to be a good colleague.  When I pointed out that she needed to work harder to "fit in" with the staff, she took that to mean that she must stomp up the hall and bark "good morning" to each of us and flee before we can even return the greeting.  She seems to have created rules for our office and insists on abiding by them.  (I have told staff that they schedule their time off, just let me know your plans and if there is some task you'll need another employee to assist with in your absence.  She insists on sending me painfully formal emails requesting permission to take an hour here, and hour and a half there, of vacation leave.  Always adding in that if I will not grant her permission, please name the time and date on which I wish her to come work that tiny increment of time.)  A friend would call it being "maliciously obedient."

Today, I  had planned on treating my staff to a "fire drill" which would give them a bonus hour off just before the holiday.  Today was selected because it is one of the few days she planned to work the same schedule as the rest of us, and I felt it wasn't fair to all the staff when she was working such a very different schedule.  But, then she came in 15 minutes "early" but stayed in the work room, playing on her phone, until the "official start of her work day (8-4).  It annoyed me to the point I seriously considered cancelling the fire drill.  Lucky for everyone else, I decided to go ahead with it anyway.  Miracles of miracles, she suddenly dropped the snotty tone from her voice.  I know it is temporary.  But, we're basking in it for the moment.

I'm pretty sure this is karmic payback for being smug about how "girl games" don't infect my office like I hear about in other places of business.  I'm firing her next week.  Soon, calm will be restored.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

You just never know

when you will influence someone.

I contacted Frances of the previous story to share the story with her.  Her response was "who the heck was Deb?"  She had no memory of the conversation, but appreciated my sharing.

Reminds me of another story.  Shortly after the Old Folks decided I could pass in public school, I had a teacher who required daily journal entries.  Often, she would offer a writing prompt.  One time, the prompt was something we wanted to learn to do, and what was preventing us from doing it.

I wrote that I really wanted to learn to cook, but I didn't want to be defined by my domestic skills.  I had the buddings of being a feminist and already understood that society was all too happy to pin a single role onto the females.

My teacher wrote on my page that cooking was a wonderful creative outlet, and I shouldn't let what others say prevent me from expressing myself.

Even now, when I make something particularly good, I always think of this teacher.   Several years ago, I managed to find her and write to her about the lasting influence her words had on my life.  She had no recollection of it at all.

Take care with your words and actions because you never know when they will be deeply influential to another.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And they say monkeys can't cry

(it's a fact, we don't make tears.)

But, I'm definitely tearing up today.

25 years ago, I was a senior in college and doing an internship.  One morning, I sat in on a meeting with my on-campus supervisor and my internship site supervisor (Deb and Frances, respectively).  During the course of the meeting, Deb and Frances realized that they knew each others partners, but had never had the opportunity to meet each other, until that moment.

Witnessing this conversations has been one of the most influential moments in my life.  At the time, I was head over monkey-tail in love with the Phenom and didn't stop talking about him, our fun, our plans for the future, etc.  While Deb and Frances talked, I realized that they were using very vague and gender neutral terms to refer to their partners.  I felt horrible.  I realized that, as lesbians, they had to be on guard when talking about the loves of their lives.  Where I could chatter on like a silly little, brainless thing . . . they had to worry that they might accidentally reveal too much about themselves to the wrong audience and there was a very real threat in such a slip.

I have often thought of this moment.  I have referenced this moment, along with other examples, when making the case for why we need to confront homophobia, hate crimes against LGBTQ persons, and why marriage should be available to all people.

Today, Frances got married.  The right for her to marry has only recently been available to her.  And I couldn't be happier.  I might even produce the first ever monkey tears of joy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Secret Ingredient is Love

I almost said that to someone yesterday . . . but was able to stop myself.  Whew!

A friend we call Uncle Jeffy called for the Phenom yesterday. I truly enjoy it when he calls because he is easy to joke with, he gets my sense of humor, and he thinks I'm clever.  Also, he's easy to "bust" on.

He also is generous with the food related applause.  He loves my espresso brownies.  And, my double chocolate spice cookies.  And the liquor loaves. Pretty much anything I cook, he offers enthusiastic applause . . . which is the secret to getting more from me.  The Phenom is right, I do it for the applause.  Nothing wrong with being a whore.

Yesterday, he accused me of having secret ingredients or not sharing the whole recipe because when I've shared the recipe with his wife and she attempted to make them, it was a failure.

I've had another person tell me that their attempt to make the espresso brownies was a huge failure too.

I tried to explain to him the whole deal about flour and how different brands use winter or summer wheat and how this means a cup of one brand of flour is going to be more dense than a cup of another brand.  He said it made his head hurt.  And, I was going to say, that the secret ingredient was love . . . but I managed to just promise him a liquor loaf instead.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Prickly Patient

Remember the episode of Seinfeld when Elaine gets a note in her medical record that she's difficult and eventually no doctor will see her?  The Old Woman use to predict that such would happen to me, eventually.  And, I admit, my patience level is pretty low when dealing with medical personnel.

And, I promise, today, I really was working to restrain myself.  Really.

I had to see a new doctor at a new clinic today.  Never a pleasant prospect in my mind.  They started off annoying me and progressed to me muttering unpleasantries under my breath.

First, as you walk in, there is window and a staff person.  So, naturally, as a new patient, that's where I went.  This was wrong.  If I'd bothered to wander to the OTHER SIDE of the reception area, go around a corner, and look up, I would have seen signage instructing me to go to that window, not the one at the door.   Second, they had sent me all the usual forms to fill out and bring with me.  Cool, this should save time, right?

Third, they insisted on taking my picture for their records.  I've never had this done before, and you know I've seen more than my share of medical types this year.  They insisted it was a) routine and b) done by ALL THE DOCTORS.  humpf.

Then, the nurse proceeded to ask me all the questions on the forms they asked me to fill out prior to my coming in.  One of the things that will trigger me to annoyance really fast is wasting my time.  Don't ask me for the same information more than once.  Don't ask me questions when the written answers are in front of you.

They lost even more credibility when a rather round nurse lectured me on my bmi.  I did restrain myself from explaining to her that bmi has pretty much been dismissed as an indicator of over all health.

The thing that sent me from heavily sighed restraint to muttering unpleasantries was the fact their lab tech could not draw my blood.  I warned her that I was a difficult draw and indicated a spot that has been successful in the past.  She ignored me and went for a traditional spot, even though she had a very difficult finding the vein.  Then, she did that back and forth motion with the needle trying to find the vein that didn't want to be found . . . I hate that.  I'd rather be stuck again than have you play with a needle, tearing up my arm.  She decided to try to hit a tiny vein between my fourth finger and pinky finger knuckles.  I'll tell you this . . . if a lab tech ever tries this move on you, decline it.  It doesn't work and hurts.

She gave up after the knuckle failure and sent me over to the hospital.  They hunted, used a warmer, and finally was able to spear a vein.

As I tried to pay my co-pay, I found that the person working the check out window never has worked the check out window, didn't know how to accept a payment, and ended up calling another office and verbally giving them my card number for them to run the payment.

Frankly, I don't think I'm unjustified in my annoyance.  I may be the only sane one in the building.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

My Mission

I love having a mission when I go to NOLA.  I mean, beyond drinking and eating lots and lots.

Today, I was chatting with a dear friend who lives on the left coast.  She is in the R&D phase of opening her own eating establishment.  She has worked, for years, in professional kitchens and is a fantastic home cook as well.  And, although she is from the snowy part of the country, she married herself a Cajun boy.  Her eatery will be NOLA foods.

She has asked me to find some specific art pieces for her new eatery, as well as take pictures she can use as decorations.  She's already culled through several collections of pictures I've taken in the past and found several she likes, and has given me some ideas for specific shots she wants.

And, she is going to repay me in food.  And, did I mention she lives in a state with legal recreational pot?

YIPEE!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hating Change

So, ESK left me.  Something about having a baby that isn't half monkey.  Fine.  Be that way.

I've hired someone in her job.  This newbie is in no way, shape, or form anywhere close to replacing ESK.

a) I've lost count of the number of times she's rearranged her office.
b) her first assignment, she turned in less than half completed.
c) she copped attitude when I explained that she should schedule personal business on personal time. d) her normal mode of functioning seems to be passive aggressive.

BUT! the biggest oddity of the newbie is the tremendous volume of toilet paper she uses.  It's not like we see her bolting to the bathroom every 10 minutes . . . but she used a 6 pack of charmin double rolls in a week.  6 ROLLS IN A WEEK!!!

I know there was about a third of a roll in "my" bathroom when I left work last night but this morning, there is a new roll in its place.  I bought super mega rolls that a) the cheapest stuff you've ever seen in TP and b) each roll is about 9 regular rolls of TP.  She's used nearly a whole roll in one bathroom, and then the last of my roll of good stuff in my bathroom.  You'd think our toilets would be backing up with that volume.

But, fear not.  I have a 6 pack of the good stuff in my office cabinet.  It will probably last me to the end of the year . . . if not longer.

It's bad when an employee has you stashing the good TP in your office.  Well, it was bad that she put me in the position of even noticing the TP usage.  I'd rather not have an awareness of how much TP anyone uses.

(From now on, this person will be known as TP)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Well, that sucked



This is the Pirate Jean Lafitte.  Well, his full title is "The Pirate Jean Lafitte, Buccaneer, Privateer, Cutthroat, Mercenary of the Seven Seas, Scourge of the Caribbean, and Bandit of the Bayou."

He is a tremendously active little kitten.  We thought he was the only survivor of a litter of 5 his mother had this summer.  His mother, 'Possum, is a pretty terrible mother cat.  She will simply stop tending to her kittens when they are a couple weeks old.  They pretty much have to pursue her if they are going to survive.  Generally, she has them completely weaned by 5 weeks old.  In a moment of weakness, I scooped this one up and brought him in.  He has not made himself popular with the other cats.  And, frankly, with the human/monkey, there are times it's a good thing he's damn cute.

Last night, we were settled into bed.  He was curled up on my shoulder, and we were just about asleep when we heard something we couldn't quite identify.  He popped his head up . . . I opened my eyes.  It sounded like a struggle outside.  I flipped on the light in time to hear a dog bark.  I went flying outside to find two dogs attacking Possum.  She was dead.  I chased the dogs off.  And, at 2am this morning, I was dealing with a body.

I think the Pirate knew.  He seemed freaked out the rest of the night.  The other cats have been weird today too.

Thing is.  Once we brought the Pirate in the house, a small, all-black kitten showed up.  I think he's from the same litter of the Pirate's . . . only the momma cat stashed him somewhere else.  The little black cat is much more standoffish than the Pirate ever was.  But, he likes tormenting Chester and lately has taken to sitting in our kitchen window and hanging out with the other cats.  (We find it curious that a stranger kitty is more welcome than the Pirate.)  I suspect The Phenom is tempted to bring the little black kitten in. . . but that would just be chaos .  .   . right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Math Problem

3 people in an office
4 days
4 rolls of toilet paper
during the 4 days, every day at least one person was out for the day

HOW?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shade and Boozy Cake

At some point, every kid brings home the trophy.  For some kids, it comes easy and for others it takes a little longer to find their niche.

I kinda stayed away from sports as a young monkey.  Well, there were brief stints on the track team and rowing team.  The rowing team might have worked out, you know with my long, muscular arms and all, but we moved away before it became an obsession.  Then, I discovered working and making money and running disappeared.

And, I was pretty smart, but never the smartest.

But, now, finally! I have brought home the big trophy.  I won a blue ribbon in the county fair for my "liquor loaf."

When I told Phenom, he said he was surprised.  Then he explained that he thought it would be disqualified for the booze content.

When I told the grad student, he asked if there it were the only entry.

Damn . . . I finally have a moment in the spot light.  I'm finally at the top of the awards dais, and ya'll throw shade.  See how many fruitcakes you get this year.  BFF said she knew it would win all along . . . she just might get one fruit cake every month next year.  HA!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How syndromes get started

I was pretty fragile for about 6 months.  I had people hovering over me.  I had trained medical folks coming into my home to care for me.  I had multiple surgeries.  It was scary.  And, at the same time, it was easy to give up my care to nurses and the Phenom.  After my first surgery, I didn't want to get out of bed, ever.  I hurt.  I had tubes and wires attached to me.  I had devices taking care of my in takes and my outflows.  Even when they made me get up, I couldn't wait to get back into bed.  When they finally released me, I didn't really feel ready to go home.  In fact, the next morning, I could only cry because it was too overwhelming.

With subsequent hospitalizations, surgeries, it was equally easy to give up care to the nurses.  Truth be told, I liked being taken care of, even by strangers.  The Phenom did an equally good job of making sure I wanted for nothing.  It was so easy.

When it came time to return to work, I was happy to not have the inconvenient items of the illness but I also didn't know if I were quite ready to jump right in.  (And, given the last hospitalization when I split open one of my scars, clearly I should have gone slower.)

Right now, I have a bit of an infection.  Nothing bad.  Nothing that keeps me from normal functioning (except the gym . . . I don't want sick people using the gym equipment I use, and so I show the same respect to them.)  But, at the same time, a little voice in the back of my head tells me that perhaps I should feign being sicker than I am so I can be taken care of again.

I'm pretty sure this is how Munchausen's Syndrome starts.  Although, to reference Bill Murray in What About Bob? . . . if you can fake it, you don't have it.  Darn.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Baked.

I have a super week of cooking on the agenda.  I have a meeting tomorrow and made a classic, old fashioned pound cake to bring.  I have some blackberries in the freezer.  Before I leave the house, I'll toss them with a bit of sugar and a squeeze of lemon.  By lunch time, they should be semi thawed and perfect to top the sweet cake.

Tonight, I tried a recipe that was in the current Southern Living. Something called an Apple Dutch Baby.  The batter was bland, as there was no sugar or salt in the batter.  I think, next time, I'll add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of dark brown sugar to the batter and see if that makes a better dessert.  The recipe called for sweetened sour cream to top it .  .  . once I fix the recipe, I think some lightly sweet, cinnamon whipped cream will be nice.

Because I had two baking goals tonight, I threw together a super easy dinner for the Phenom and "Other Husband."  I made a baked pasta.  I pulled a quart of meat sauce (tomatoes, sausage, beef, etc) from the freezer.  Then sauteed zucchini and mushrooms with some olive oil and garlic and a small can of fire roasted tomatoes.  I tossed it all together with some fresh motz.  Then, topped it with grated motz, parm, and cheddar cheeses (about a 5:1 of motz to the other cheeses.)  Because I am incapable of making small amounts of food, I had enough to fill my largest casserole dish PLUS a smaller dish.  I have a friend whose husband died this summer.  I will send the smaller pasta to her for a couple of nights of eating with out having to think too much.

Later this week, I'm preparing 3 dozen espresso brownies and 3 dozen blondies to give to a fundraiser I'll be attending Saturday.  And, then, Saturday night I'll have the Phenom go fetch me supper because I suspect I'll be crumpled up on the couch for the evening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How I know You Love Me

I had two moments of being reminded that I'm loved yesterday.

First, I was chatting with a friend who I consider family (and she considers me family as well).  You know we're both "grown up" because we spend way too much time talking about our various ailments and doctor appointments.  I mentioned that my doctor was troubled by recent tests and is sending me to see a specialist.  (joy.)  Her immediate reaction was to offer up one of her internal organs for transplant.  Or bone marrow, if that's needed.  She didn't think so, but just in case.

Second, while watching our Tuesday night appointment television, a commercial came on for the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day movie.  I looked at the Phenom and said "THEY RUINED IT!!"  The Phenom said he'd known about the movie for a couple of months now and had tried to shield me from learning about it.  He knew I wouldn't be happy.  I love that book.  Almost as much as I love The Monster at the End of This Book.

I'm feeling the love . . . even if I'd rather not take your organs or will boycott a movie on principal.

Youtube of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.