Maybe it's the ice storms we've been having. Maybe it's the new year. Maybe it's the break between semesters at school. All I know is that I have been doing more this month than I have in a long time. I've been cooking like crazy, catching up on my reading, cleaning out the house and generally thinking a lot.

What I've cooked this week: Chocolate chip cookies, homemade broccoli cheddar soup, Italian chicken with wild rice, a creme cheese coffee cake, my incredible Reuben sandwiches, spinach quiche, pumpkin cookies and a huge Mexican feast including fajitas.

Books I've read so far this year (with opinions) : Good Body, by Eve Ensler ( not as good a Vagina Monologues), Horse Play, by someone whose name I can't remember (An amusing quick mindless fiction read.) How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan, both by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer (Cool gals who are really really into the vegan way of life. I didn't read every single recipe, but I did read all of the commentary.) The Gordon Ramsay Biography, by Neil Simpson (Loved it! I have such a crush on Gordon!) Several books by Thich Nhat Hanh, whom I admire greatly! (Little Dog has even been embracing Buddhism and letting Hahn's books guide him.) Women Who Eat, an anthology of essays about food, written by women (Okay book.) Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining (A great book written for the lay person. I didn't think I had much to learn on the subject, but this book taught me a lot.) I've also read all the current issues of my favourite magazines, plus some popular mags while waiting in the doc's office.

Things that have provoked me to opine: The media frenzy and public judgement/speculation about Shawn Hornbeck. (Nobody has the right to judge him.) The announcement of Hillary's candidacy & Republican presidents vs. Democrat ones. (Duh.) People who can't seem to grasp the fact that being parent means modifying your lifestyle. (I won't mention any names.) People who pretend to be something they are not in order to impress someone else. (What work! I am what I am and I don't need anyone else's validation.) The importance of pool safety. (WS? I'm talking to you! Have a damned fence put in by Spring!) How we define conflict and how little of it I have in my life now.

Things I want to do this year: Take Little Dog to the west coast for his first view of the ocean. Finish my degree. Learn more. Eat healthier. Put the crown molding in the kitchen and perhaps lay wood floors in the living room. Pay off the car. Visit Muller in Detroit and drive up to Canada. Volunteer more with Little Dog. Perhaps spend some time in New York over the holidays so I can skate with my kiddo in Rockefeller Center.

That's enough lists for now. Happy New year!

Furry Meets the Firemen

Furry Furry, with the big blue eyes - Oh how I adore that child!

He turned two this month and decided to put the T in Terrible, by locking his dad out of the house and seizing the opportunity to wreak havoc.

We have been having terrible ice storms here, and as such, WS (Furry's dad) has been having more trouble than most with the walking-on-the-ice skill. Maybe it's because, having grown up in England, he doesn't have a lot of experience with the kind of ice we deal with every winter here in the Midwest U.S.

Anyway, he was being particularly careful the other night when he took Furry home to wait for Bojo. He carefully carried him into the house and set him by inside the door before returning to he car for the bags. He had not made it down a single step when he heard, "Bye Bye daddy" and the distinct click of the lock.

Now, I have been the first to condemn WS for some of his past actions, but for this one, he has my complete sympathy.

I know I would certainly not want to have to call Bojo to tell her that her precious babe was currently "home alone." Heh heh.

But WS did make the call, and also the call to the fire department to break into the fortress Bojo calls home.

Meanwhile, ever the attentive and resourceful dad, he realised he could poke his fingers through the mail slot on the front door to hold it open, and therefore keep an eye on Furry.

Furry, however, was having no part of the fun new talk-to-daddy-through-the-mail-slot game. Instead he headed straight to his most sought after forbidden fascination: the c
hina cabinet.

"Wow," he must have been thinking, "Now I can touch all those pretty dishes mummy never lets me touch!"

And touch he did! WS got to watch as Furry touched all the china. And by touch, I do mean picked up, dropped, and shattered.

Put yourself in WS's place for a moment now. You are kneeling on your ex-wife's front porch in sub-freezing weather with your hand wedged into a mail slot watching your toddler son systematically break nearly every piece of your family's generations-old-shipped-from-England family china.

On top of that, you know your ex-wife, who has the temper of a rabid dog, is on her way home to (presumably) kill you.

Meanwhile, your beloved blue eyed boy has only one word for you, "Uh-oh," uttered in your general direction after each shattering crash.

In the end, the fire department was able to break through a window and gain access to the house. When they opened the door, Bojo and WS rushed in to find Furry standing amidst shards of glass looking a bit confused as to why there were a firemen in his living room.

After bandaging some minor cuts on his hands the firemen posed for pictures with Harry, who kept repeating, "Firetruck? Uh-Oh!"

Uh-Oh is right my adorable little imp of a nephew! I now have an even bigger soft spot in my heart for the little shite. This is the stuff family history is made of! It is what childhood is about - the breaking of glass and the colouring on walls; the flooding of the bath tubs and the pudding spilled on the rug.

Each scar, every stain and all the chaos is evidence that he is a normal, healthy, inquisitive little brat!

But he is our little brat, and even though he is sticky and messy and constantly in possession of at least one bandage and "boo boo" I still would not have him any other way.

She did it!

Hillary did it! She formally and officially announced!

I should be elated. I have long been a huge fan of the Clintons. I think Hillary is brilliant. As feminist, the idea of a woman as President rocks!

However, I am surprisingly unmoved by her announcement.

I think timing is everything and I just do not think we, as a country, are ready for Hil'.

I have always believed Hillary to be an ambitious woman, so in that respect it does not surprise me.

I also know she is a powerful woman, with the friends and the finances to make this happen.

But I have also always believed her to put the well being of the party first and foremost and frankly, I just do not think this is good for our party.

I have already stated my reasons in other posts, but to sum up: I don't think she can win.

I may eat my words. Hell, I may even completely change my opinion and pledge my sole support to her campaign.

Right now though, I just am not sure.


Are we ready?

Below is my response to a young friend's excited e-mail about Obama's seemingly impending announcement as Presidential Candidate:

He would make an excellent running-mate for Edwards.

But I think he, like Hillary, would be quite a long-shot for President.

He needs to start lower and work his way up. His press is good, but he truly does not have the experience to run the country. He also has no military background, which in this election, is going to be almost crucial.

Do not get me wrong. I like Obama, the man. I just do not feel he (yet) has the qualifications to run our country. The Democrats are pretty much poised to take the presidency in 2008. The public is disgusted by the Iraq situation and ready for change. Even many Republicans are ready to swing their votes over to the blue side. Even though all looks good for our party peeps, do not be lulled into a false sense of security. The position is still very fragile. Throw in a Clinton (any Clinton - Bill or Hillary) and they have such a polarizing effect on people it would push a lot of those swing votes right back to the republican side.

Hatred for the Clintons ran very deep.

Then there is the whole woman/black man as President thing. Is our country really ready to elect either?

Remember, this is the country that elected the Bushes three times, despite their sordid past. This is also the country that stood for the vote count scandal of2000 when a freakin' Bush was counting the votes! We still have a large Klan population and hate groups have been on the upswing since the 80s. Will America really elect a black man to the highest office in the land?

And frankly, though we laugh at the political pundits' jokes, the name is still a big problem. Not everyone who votes is a one of the sharpest pencils in the cup.

Though he is a black man, Obama is a very "white" black man, with very positive press, no known scandals, and a helluva lot of charisma. I think that could surely get him a great running-mate slot, which would then give him experience and the opportunity to prove his worth, character and abilities to the moderate public.

I am all about an Edwards/Obama or Clinton (or even Henry, which would be an awesome addition that could quite possibly turn our red state blue in 2008.)

But Henry has expressed no aspirations of such, and the Big B and Capital H both aspire higher.

So, for now, we just wait and see how this all plays out...


What have I not been doing?

It has been a couple of months since I last posted, so I feel an explanation is in order.

Since October I have been incredibly busy not doing school work. It has consumed almost my every waking thought. I haven not read a book, gone out to dinner, entertained guests or even taken a really long bath because... I have papers to write.

But have I written them?

Sadly, no.

I thought, when I decided to return to school, that the bad habits of my youth would be gone now. Rather than procrastinate about my papers I figured I would now manage my time so wisely that I would be turning papers in early.


The only thing I can say in my own defense is that when I decided to go back to school I did not know that the firm would decide to expand; therefore I could not have foreseen the increase in my workload.

I also did not know that I would end up having to have minor surgery, nor did I know that said surgery would turn out to be not-so-minor and take weeks to recover from.

I did know that Christmas would occur, but I did not foresee that it would sneak up on me like a parent outside a teen's bedroom. I mean, I was all relaxed and sleepy; groovin' on my own high and then BOOM! Christmas cards were arriving and the whole back-to-school section at Target had been replaced with lights and ornaments.


So, I auto piloted through Thanksgiving; experienced Christmas as though in a vortex; typed my way through the entire New Year's weekend and here I am.

It's January 15th and I am 3 papers away from finishing last semester's 15 hours.

Tomorrow I start 15 more.

Uh... Maybe I should go ahead and cancel Christmas 2007....

Food stuffs

I did not know how to cook until I was 28 and pregnant with Little Dog. Prior to that I had no interest in cooking at all. Kitchens were merely places for storing my smokes and caffeine. Restaurants were invented for people like me.

I learned to cook one reason: I was pregnant and I was hungry! I ate like an elephant, but thankfully never looked like one. I consistently lost weight and ended up weighing 2 pounds less when I delivered than I had when I conceived. I had tiny little bird legs and a big huge belly full of baby. 

During the pregnancy I craved my mom’s old fashioned cooking. She made me meatloaf, roast with potatoes, macaroni and cheese and even Jell-O with Cool Whip mixed in. She would tell me dinner was ready and then warn everyone else to watch out for my flailing limbs as I frantically shoveled huge helpings onto my plate.

So, while my mom cooked me dinners, that still left breakfast and lunch unmanned. At the time my entire experience with “cooking” consisted of making nachos in the microwave, heating a can of Campbell’s and memorizing the pizza delivery number.

Nine months later I had become quite an accomplished chef! By the time RB and I were married I was putting a full meat-and-potatoes meal on the table every night. I was dazzling friends with my new found culinary skills. Of course since I no longer had a baby inside me who sucked away all the calories for his own nourishment, I also got fat. I considered it a small price pay for chicken cordon bleu with wild rice and steamed asparagus … for lunch!

I was also adamant that Little Dog would never eat processed baby foods. Nothing against the Gerber baby, but to me, if you are going to feed your baby that processed and preservative laden crap you may as well just go ahead and feed him or her little bits of plastic directly. Bojo tried to tell me that now they have “all natural” baby food with no preservatives. That, my friends is bullshit. You cannot steam some fresh green beans, puree them, slap them in a sealed container, ship them across the country and then let them sit unrefrigerated on a shelf until purchased and expect them not to be absolutely rancid unless you add a bunch of preservatives. It just cannot be done.

So, I simply pureed some of whatever we were eating for dinner to feed to Little Dog and it worked out great!

Little Dog was a vegan until he was about 1½ years old, and then he was a vegetarian until he was 7. Around then he discovered that he loved ground beef tacos and fajita chicken. Now that he is 14 he is once again thinking about choosing vegetarianism. He has always been a big advocate for animal rights and now he is questioning whether or not he feels okay about eating meat. I told him I would back him up whatever he decides. I am not a big meat eater myself, so no biggie to me.

What is a big deal, however, is the fact that despite my best intentions with regards to his diet, Little Dog grew into the pickiest eater in the entire world. He eats what I like to call the “beige” diet. If it is not beige, he most likely will not eat it. Chicken, cheese, breads, tortillas, potatoes…even hominy, are all on his approved list. Tomatoes (including ketchup) green vegetables and most fruits are most definitely NOT on his list.

When he was young I did the following things:

Asked his pediatrician if he could get scurvy. (She said no.)

Refused to let him have anything “special” for dinner. It was either our meal or no meal. (He went without eating on those nights)

Forced him to try “just a bite” of, say, carrots or spaghetti. (He gagged. It wasn’t pretty.)

Finally gave up and accepted the beige diet. I packed his lunch box with a bagel and Golden Delicious apple slices; bought him plain cheerios and corn flakes for breakfast; learned to cook chicken about 87 different ways.

So, when he suggested he might go vegetarian it did take a certain measure of control not to laugh. But in the end I am supportive. I have bought him books on the subject and stocked the larder with options. We will just take it day-by day and see how it goes.

It does not, however, bode well that so far he has rejected three different homemade soups, refused tofu outright, and thinks veggie burgers taste like "pieces of paper mixed with chewy stuff."

I do believe he thinks being vegetarian means eating cheese pizza every night.

I have news for him: I forgot the pizza delivery number back in 1992.