Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Haven't Seen A One Of 'Em

Brokeback Mountain
Goodnight, and Good Luck

Yep, Oscar nominations are out, and I haven't seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture. I did want to see and will see Goodnight, and Good Luck and Capote. But I'm just not intersted in the others. And can I go out on a line and say that I don't think Brokeback Mountain will win? I know that makes me some horrible homophobic person who just doesn't "get it," but I don't think the voters buy into hype or being told what to do. And that's been the attitude with this film--there's something wrong with you if you don't see the wonder/beauty/significance of this film. Or maybe I'm projecting my own feelings here. How the hell am I supposed to know how "the academy" will vote.

And you know what, I don't care. I used to love watching the Oscars and would get so excited about it. But as I get older I have less tolerance for celebrity and Hollywood patting itself on the back. I'm more interested in who wrote the films and who directed. Acting is hard to do well, I'll give them that. But any more, we are so innundated with information about these stars, that I don't get lost in a movie and it's story any more. I'm too busy thinking, "that's the actor who has been dating so and so and they met doing this other film" and any other insignificant little factoid that gets more air and print time than the point of the movie. And I don't watch interviews any more because sometimes I become so disillusioned with the star that I'm not interested in seeing them in the movie, no matter how good it's supposed to be. Russell Crowe is a perfect example. I think Russell Crowe is a genius, but I have a hard time watching him. Only A Beautiful Mind shook off the celebrity Crowe and sucked me into what was going on in the movie.

Tom Cruise? Cruised on outta here. Brad and Angelina? Double the number of movies I won't be watching. No, triple that--I'm not interested in seeing anything with Jennifer Aniston either. Collin Ferrill? Erin go bye-bye. And so many more.

It's just not worth my time any more. I don't even care what the women are wearing, but that's because I can't stand listening to all these people tell the stars how great they look, then go on morning shows and slam those same stars for their bad taste. It's so sad that nastiness is considered entertaining.

Heidi Sheds a Tear

We're all concerned, intelligent, good women. It's just that I feel stranded. And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn't feel stranded. I thought the point was that we were all in this together. The Heidi Chronicles

Wendy Wasserstein passed away yesterday, and I'm very sad. She was an extraordinary writer who wrote about so much more than "women's issues." She brilliantly found the point--the one under a surface that so many people can't get beyond.

The Heidi Chronicles was the first play of hers that I read, and even though technically I am not of the generation it is aimed at, I got it. I not only got it, I empathized with it. She made me understand how the events in Heidi's life had created who she was, and how important the feminist movement was and how it had failed some of its most ardent supporters. It's not that we aren't still feminists, or that we don't still want respect and support for who we are and what we do, not because of the what sex we are, but what happened to the support? Why can't women work together and be supportive of each other? Why must it come down to "that's the choice you made so now you have to live with it." How easy it is to distance ourselves from having to care for someone else by making a judgement on their life choices.

Heidi chooses a career and to remain single. In the end of the play, she has a baby. I loved the ending of this play. Was Wasserstein saying that after all the feminist rhetoric, the only true happiness for a woman is to have a child? I don't think so, but some will argue that. I think she was showing that there are many aspects to happiness. It's not a black and white world where you either choose a single/childless/working life or a married/children/homemaker life.

Her other plays are just as complicated and wonderful. The Sisters Rosensweig, An American Daughter, Third are just a few of her plays. Even though it wasn't one of her most popular plays, I loved And American Daughter. About a woman who is about to receive an appointment by the president when something relatively insignificant is dug up by the opposing party and will be used to stop it, the play is poignant and applicable in our current political atmosphere.

I'm behind in my Wasserstein reading. I think it's time I caught up. She's published a book of essays, and a novel is coming out soon. She also wrote The Object of My Affection, which explains why it is the only Jennifer Aniston movie I am even remotely interested in seeing.

Her deft hand, her piercing eyes, her honest words. She'll be missed. Broadway dimmed their lights tonight for her. And I think I'll do the same.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Alton Brown Rules!

Just surfed over to Alton Brown's website. I stop by to check on the changes he's making every now and then. He said he's going to be doing a podcast! Yeah! Can't wait for that.

He's my hero. So smart, so talented, and so funny. I admit that I'm more of a Paula Dean kind-of cook, but I aspire to be an Alton Brown.

Plus, my husband likes him, too. Not so much for his culinary skills, but for his taste in motorcycles (BMW 1150GS and 1150RT--I think that's right). OK, he likes his recipes, too. We drank his hot chocolate mix all winter, when we were actually having winter here.

I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~Jason Love

I felt the need to bake today. I love to bake. I get completely abosorbed in the whole experience. Time slows down and I move in sync with the ingredients and the mixer.

I wanted to make a pie but decided that I didn't have time. Silly really. There's always time to make pie! But I wanted a little more immediate satisfaction, so I made cookies.

I love getting everything together to bake. I love my kitchen. Everything is arranged logically, for my logic anyway. All the baking ingredients and tools are in their own cabinet, so I move smoothly and methodically through the kitchen. I get the butter out early and give it time to come to room temperature. I get all my ingredients together in their own little bowls so that I'm ready with everything. Baking is precise, and I take my time measuring everything out. I feel like such a chef! As I empty each little (or big) bowl into the Kitchen Aid mixer, I pile up the bowls to wash later. Every movement smooth in my baking world. The rest of the world has gone away, and I really do escape into the act of making these cookies.

Butter. No margarine, no yogurt-based butter-like spread. Real Land-o-Lakes unsalted butter. 2 sticks. You can't bake without real butter. You may have to practice moderation, but you must use real butter. It's the key and the heart of cookies. Well, chocolate chip cookies any way. Sure, you could use shortening. They'll be a little chewier and fluffier, but you won't get that smell of butter melting throughout your cookies as they bake. You won't get the beautiful brown color on your cookies. And you won't get that slather of fat on your lips as you eat your cookies straight out of the oven.

Vanilla. Don't you dare use imitation vanilla extract. Ick! Real Madagascar, bourbon vanilla. It makes a difference and it's worth whatever you pay at the specialty food mart for it.

I made my cookies with a package of Nestle milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. I even followed the recipe on back of the Nestle package. That's unusual for me because I love my Southern Living recipe from years and years ago. But, what the heck. The main difference was 2 sticks of butter instead of 1 1/2. That made a big difference, too. The cookies were thinner and crispier around edges. And the dough! I've made myself sick eating that cookie dough. Oh, and I changed the cooking time. They suggested 375, but that's just too high for my oven. I stayed at my trusted 350 for 10 minutes. Works every time.

Now, what about my diet, you may ask? Two cookies won't kill me or my diet. And I did keep it to 2 cookies. I probably ate another 2 in cookie dough, but I ate only 2 cooked cookies. Moderation is the key to success. I was craving some baking time in my kitchen, and I was craving a dessert. This solved both my problems.

Of course, I'm still thinking about making that pie. The only thing better than the smell of butter baking in cookies in the oven, is the smell of butter and flour mixing then baking as a dough surrounding a mound of apples. Mmmmmmmmm. That's real comfort food.

Friday, January 27, 2006

She's the Cutest Dog Ever!

This is one of my favorite pics of Daily Dog. She's a PBGV (Petite Bassett Griffon Vendeen).

Daily Update

She's eating! She had stopped eating her dog food, but we knew she was hungry because she wanted our food and treats. So, after fighting it for too long, we bought canned dog food. I started putting it in her dish and she ate like a dog who hadn't eaten for a couple of days, which is what she is. I couldn't put it in the bowl fast enough. And the bet thing is that I can put her medicine in it and she'll eat it without knowing! No more fighting to get her to eat something with her pills in it.

Now, I'm worried about her teeth. What if she wasn't eating because it was too hard on her teeth? Putting her under to work on her teeth is dangerous since her heart is so big. So, she's eating, but what if she gets an infection because she has something wrong with a tooth.

I can't just be happy that she's eating. No, I have to create a whole new problem. Guess I'll just watch her and see.

Do Ya Have To Have One Style?

It seems unfair to have a house or apartment with many different rooms and only have one style through out it, doesn't it? But every real estate person will tell you that rooms that don't flow together don't sell well. And I worry about selling my house because I'll only be in it for 3 years, at least. I love my house, and I love all the paint colors that we chose and the new floor we put in the kitchen, and the shelves we put up, and the pub we are putting in the basement. But rooms that flow can also be a little restrictive, don't you think. I've tried to put something in red in every room, just to give a little spark in them.

And our real estate agent came by to see the changes and was impressed by the way everything felt warm and complete. The rooms downstairs are different colors, but they are all from the same palate (Eddie Bauer American Bungalow), with "Pecan" being the dominate color. Cohesion! Flow! Neutral, yet colorful! Hmmm. Guess I went too far with that last one. But at least the walls aren't off-white, like every military base I've ever lived on.

OK, back to the original point. There's a definite style to our house, and for the most part, I'm happy with it. It's not complete, but then again, it's not a showplace, it's a home. It's a kind of arts and crafts meets a country lodge comfy kind of house. But I was looking at cabinet door handles for the kitchen, and everything I went to, Al said was "too country" or "too modern" or "too contemporary" or "too cottage." And he was right. We have a quasi-Tuscan look going for the kitchen. Of course, it's not complete because it has oak cabinets and an ugly counter top. But, it's nice. And the new handles on the cabinets take away from the American Country look of the oak cabinets. But why can't I have the cool looking black handles? I think they're a nice contrast. Al thinks they look too modern. So, we tried handles that have a cool swirl to them, but they don't set flush on the door, so we'd have to drill a larger hole (I dont' want to do that). Then, we tried these black-ish handles that have a cool texture. But they look kind of small and don't have as much contrast. And we tried a mission style, which is really nice, but the kitchen isn't really mission. But the living room is, so maybe this would tie in? All I know is that we are taking waaaaay too much time picking out door handles. So, here's some pictures. What do you think, dear reader? One (you can't really tell, but it's pretty black), Two, Three, or Four?

I know, they aren't the best pics, and you don't have the whole room, but it doesn't matter. Which one looks best?

I'm kind of enjoying having a different handle on each cabinet. Maybe cohesion is over-rated. Maybe ecletic is the way to go. Maybe I should just shuck it all and go art deco! Al would like that. What he wouldn't like is English country cottage, and of course, that's what I really want. But, I want English country cottage in England. Or Scotland, actually. A stone cottage that's as old as the clans with a rock fireplace that has to be going all the time because there always seems to be a draft. And an auga in the kitchen that keeps that room always the warmest room in the house.

But I digress.

So, guess we'll figure out something. And my house will stay a palate of neutral yet colorful. And it will sell, and I'll have to start all over again.

But for now, I'm going to watch House. Such a cool show.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

She's Lucky She's So Cute

Well, Daily came up to me and sat and stared at me. I petted her, but that's not what she wanted! I said, "Do you want something?" And she hopped in the air, turning around at the same time with a little, "Yep!" and led me to the pantry.

But here's the kicker. I got out a rawhide stick and held it in front of her, she sniffed it, and she turned her nose away! Obviously, she doesn't want that treat, she wants a different one. So, I got a different one, and again, she turned her nose up at it. Then, I got out the Denta Stix, and her tail started wagging and she started licking her lips. Guess that's the winner. I can't believe I actually kept bringing things out for her.

Then she jumped on the couch with me and pooted on me all night. What is giving this dog gas?!? It's worse than my husband's, and that's saying something.

But, she had a cough-free day, so I'm not complaining. Yesterday she was coughing so bad and having such a hard time breathing that I just knew I would walk downstairs this morning and she would have passed away in her sleep. Her poor little heart has gotten so big that she just can't go for walks any more. It's just too much for her. Plus, she's decided she doesn't want her dog food any more. Oh, she wants food, just not her dog food. So, she's getting roasted chicken and peanut butter (with her medicine hidden in it).

Gosh, that entry got a little sad there in the end. Sorry about that. She's a special dog, and it's just so hard to watch her not feeling well. She's our baby, afterall!

Oprah Tells Frey He 'Betrayed' Readers

Ya think?

Well, it's about time Oprah came around. She defended this writer because the "feeling" of the book is true. What? A memoir by its very definition is true, isn't it? Well, I guess that's the million-dollar question isn't it? What does define a memoir? Personally, I think a memoir is an over-priced, over-publicized autobiography. It's less egotistical to call it an autobiography and much more elegant to call it a memoir.

Guess Oprah found out she's not invincible. Now that she's received lots and lots of angry emails about her leniency with this guy, she has him back on the show and apparently (I didn't see it) rakes him and his publisher over the coals.

And just a quick reality check, people. It is the writer's job to fact check. Things that stand out and are questionable will be checked by an editor or an editorial assistant, but it's the writer's responibility to be accurate. Publishing companies barely proofread their galleys any more, let alone spend the money and time on fact-checking. It's very easy to blame the publisher for letting this get out, and yes, if they knew there were false statements and accounts in the book, then they are just as responsible. But if they never checked because they believed the hooey this guy was passing on and all they could see were the dollar signs the book would bring, they aren't responsible for the accuracy. They're just greedy like every other business in the world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Cute Thing Daily Does

If she's standing when she poots, she runs away from it. It's like a booster pack--it makes her run faster.

This is Why Committee Work Sucks

You know, I thought that I would challenge myself and push myself beyond my boundaries. I thought this would be very good for me. I've been shying away from any kind of responsibility, terrified to have anyone relying on me to perform or succeed at something, so when the pastor of my church asked me to chair a committee for the new campaign drive, I said sure.

I'm a sucker because I can't say no. I'm too proud to admit that I might not be able to do it, and I'm too flattered that he would think that I would be a good chairperson.

So, here I am, calling people I don't know, asking them to be on this committee and sitting at a table with other committee members, as they stare at me, wondering what they have gotten themselves into and wondering why they can't say no. Well, at least we're all in the same boat.

It would be OK, if it wasn't for the rude woman I had to call. She left a message to my message that she couldn't give me an answer and she was told someone would call her and give her more information about what this is and that I was just going to have to call her and tell her about it because she won't give me an answer yet. Oh, and she doesn't answer the phone after 7, so I better call before then. Sheesh. Fine, I don't want you on the friggin' committee any way. But here's the kicker--after I talked to her (groveling in my apologies for not realizing she needed more information), she said yes! Well, conditional yes--yes, I'll give it a try. I'm in big trouble.

So, now I'm sitting here, dreading the phone ringing and being yelled at again. I left 2 other messages for 2 other possible members this morning. And I volunteered for this! I just keep telling myself, "it's only for 2 months, it's only for 2 months."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Cute Thing Daily Did

Al is such a sucker for his puppy. Daily is pretty spoiled any way, but she's really spoiled now that her congestive heart failure has gotten worse. We feel so bad that she feels bad that she's getting lots and lots of treats. And her favorite is beef jerky. And jerky comes from the big guy by way of the pantry.

So, Daily knows Al is a sucker, er, that he is tuned into her needs. So, as Al was in his chair and on his laptop, Daily came and sat in front of him and stared at him. Every time he looked up, she wagged her tail. He said, "What do you need, sweetie?" And she wagged her tail. "Do you want something, honey?" And she wagged her tail. Then he stood up, and she stood up and wagged her tail. He said, "Well, what do you want?" So she led him into the kitchen and to the pantry door. Then she stood there looking at it, wagging her tail. She wanted jerky, of course! So, he gave her some, of course! And she was happy. And Al was happy. And who said dog's can't talk? Well, at least they can communicate!

The Overwhelming Affect of Fear

It's 4:01 on a Tuesday afternoon, and I have nothing to show for the day. OK, I did go to the gym, which is pretty great considering that I'm still feeling sorry for myself because of the spinal tap I had Friday, even though I should have worked out harder and longer. But ain't that always the case.

No, it's now 4:04 and I have nothing that I should have or could have been doing done. I have phone calls to make for the committee I'm on, but I absolutely hate talking on the phone. And I especially hate calling people I don't know. And I could be studying my Italian lesson for tonight, but this isn't for a grade or anything, and I know the numbers, which was the main assignment for tonight (zero, uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci--from memory!). I could be working on one of the 4 knitting projects I have going on. I could be painting my craftroom downstairs. I could be writing. I could be reading. I could be setting up deadlines and assignments for the committee members to hand out Monday night at our meeting. But I sat on the couch watching Poirot mysteries--ones I had seen before.

Why do I do this to myself? I just feel guilty and lazy. I've decided it's fear. I feel kind of frozen. And I'm having little anxiety attacks. I'll think about the phone calls I have to make, the test reults I'm waiting for, and the responsibilities of this committee I'm chairing and my heart starts beating a little faster. See! Just typing those words made my heart beat faster. It's silly, I know. Maybe I stopped that anti-depressant too soon.

Now it's 4:22 and I'm losing interest in typing this because Charmed is on. I've only see this one about 4 times, so I guess I have to watch it again, huh? Class is at 6:30 tonight, so I only have about an hour and a half left to dread it. Then I can come home and dread the phone calls I have to make tomorrow.

And did I mention that I'm still waiting for results from a spinal tap. A SPINAL TAP people! No, it wasn't that awful--getting the blood work was actually worse--but it's just the very idea that I had to have a long needle inserted into my spine and the fluid sucked out. And I was awake for it, too. But Al really came through for me and held my hands and kept me calm. Everyone is positive that the results will be negative. I'm not making any guesses--I'm screwed either way. If it's positive for MS, I have MS and will wish that I had changed my insurance over to USAA before it was too late to do so. If it comes back negative, I'm in for more tests. And if any of those include a needle being inserted into any part of my body, forget it! I'll live with the pain. It's a just a little discomfort in my cheek.

Well, that's enough angst for one entry. Think I'll go pet my dog for a while.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Project Runway Rocks

I never watched reality shows. As a matter fact, I was very proud of the fact that I had never watched an episode of ANY reality show, including American Idol and Survivor. Until Project Runway. I watched the end of Season 1, and I sit on pins and needles waiting for every Wednesday episode of Season 2. It just works for me. The idea that these people are given a project and they have a short amount of time to use all their skills and talent to create a stunning design. And they are judged by other designers, only. No call in, no "America votes" so no popularity contest. The general public are idiots, as a whole (I include myself in this), so anything that doesn't include them is just a better show, as far as I'm concerned.

Now, I'm not that naive. I know there is no such thing as a reality show. It is scripted and people are planted and the producers have more say than the experts on the show. But I don't care! I love this show anyway! I'm sure the producers are just reveling in the fact that after last night's episode, there are 30 pages of emails on the message board about how they can't believe the judges let Santino stay and cut poor Emmett. Some of them even said they wouldn't watch any more because it was so obviously fixed. Oh please. Like they're really not going to watch any more. Not watch and miss Zulema call for a walk-off by the models and take Nick's model (I'm guessing that's what will happen)? And Jay, last season's winner, coming back to judge! Who would miss that?!?

I'm even playing the Face-off game where I pick who I think will win and who will be out. I'm not doing well at that game. It's kind of hard to guess when you don't know what they'll be designing. I just keep choosing Zulema to lose because I don't like her and I don't think she's very good. I usually choose Nick or Chloe to win, but poor Chloe will never win even though she is obviously the most talented. Her stuff is just too wearable and too nice. Not "designer" enough, I guess. But she'll be in the final 3, I'm sure. I'm guessing her, Santino, and Nick (or maybe Daniel, but I'm rooting for Nick).

It's a sickness. I'm finding myself intersted in fashion, too. That's really scary, because the only name I wear is LLBean. Or Victoria's Secrets. I don't have the body to worry about it or the money or any where to wear it to, but it's fun to look.

Sigh. It's Thursday and I have to wait a whole week before I see the next episode. I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sorry for Typos

Well, I guess you have to be smarter than the machine to use it. I haven't figured out the Spellcheck thing on this site, so when I went back and scanned the other posts, they are full of errors! That's so embarrassing. I guess just clicking on Spellcheck is not enough. And I'm so arrogant that I assumed I must have spelled everything correctly, even though I know that I'm the worst speller ever. An editor who can't spell--sounds like a bad joke, but sadly, true.

So, sorry. I'll try to do better.

Living a Child-free Existence

My friend Amy told me that she knew she was ready to have a baby when she had a dream about an angelic, blond-haired little girl holding up her arms and saying, "Mommy." Well, I've had a baby dream, too. In my dream, I've had a baby girl, but I can't remember where I put her. And I keep forgetting I have a baby. A woman has come into the house to do some kind of home improvement and she says, "Oh, you have a baby girl," and I say, "No." She looks confused then motions over to the corner, where sure enough, there's a crib with a baby in it! "Oh, yes, of course, I have a baby girl. Huh. Guess I should check on her." There's no telling how long that baby had been there, and I begin to stress that there is no way I can properly bond now because the baby is too old, so hubby Al says, "Maybe we should put that baby up for adoption so she'll be taken care of." I'm very relieved and say, "Yes, I think that would be best."

So, I don't think I'm ready to have a baby. And considering that I'm going to be turning, ehm, 40 this year, I don't think it's going to happen at all. I'm ok with this. Yes, every Thanksgiving I think about how this is the one time of year that I wish I had a lot of kids and a huge family. And, yes, there are times I wonder if I made the right decision and what I'm missing, but overall, I have to say that I'm happy with my decision not to have kids. Many women, and men, can't understand and automatically assume that there is some physical reason why Al and I don't have kids. There is a physical reason, the idea of that much responsibility for the rest of my life makes me phsically ill and terrorfies me.

Now, I know there are those mightier-than-thou types who brag about how they don't want to add to the overcrowding problem in the world, so they are doing some great civic duty. Well, if you want to think of children as population, that's fine, but my reasons aren't nearly as noble. I just don't feel the need to have them. I like children. I love my friends' children and I would love it if my brother found a great woman to marry and had children, but it's just not for me. When I hold a baby, I don't get that down-deep tingle of "wouldn't this be great to have one of my own." I never have.

Basic of most basic of feelings, I don't want to have to go through growing up all over again, even if it is through my child. It wasn't fun the first time, why would I want to go through it again? Peer pressure, school, back-stabbing friends, weight issues, self-confidence issues. No. Not again.

Besides, I enjoy my time alone. I have time with my husband, I have time with our dog, who is a great low-effort companion, and I have time to myself, and that's all I have time for. I like being able to get up and go somewhere for a weekend; I like having the house to myself at night when Al has a night shift. I like that we can plan a trip to Italy next year, and maybe even squeeze in a trip to Scotland. Selfish? You betcha. But honest.

So, let's talk about the reactions I get. One "friend" told me after I was frustrated that her little monster screamed all the way through the store, that I shouldn't have children because I obviously didn't have any patience. Many people say, "Oh, but you would be such a good mom!" You don't know that, and you obviously don't know me. If I thought I would be a good mom, I would be one. Then there's, "Oh, I was going to invite you to the party, but you don't have kids and there were mostly families there." Actually, I was relieved not to be invited; she was right, I didn't fit in with that group. Then there's the tinge of jealousy, "Well, you get to do (fill in the blank) any time because you don't have kids." Or "What do you do when you stay home if you don't have kids?" And "Well, I'd like a little sports car, but with the kids, we just can't." Yeah, but if you had a sports car, you couldn't pull out in front of me as you run that yellow light with your kids sitting in the backseat of your huge SUV.

A few battlegrounds have been set: restaurants that will ask you to leave if your child is disruptive, and libraries that will take kids to the police station if parents don't pick them up when the library closes. I think we (I'm speaking as a general public "we") are tired of parents not being parents and letting their little darlings get away with anything and everything. I hate going to Wal-Mart because invariably there is some kid crying because he can't get down out of the cart or he wants that toy or candy bar. And I don't know how many times kids have run past my table in restaurants while the Moms sit and talk. They've gotten so used to ignoring their kids at home, that they easily ignore them in public. Besides, they're just being kids, right? I don't think so. If I had acted like that, my mother would have taken us home immediately, and I would have understood that it was my behaviour that made us leave early.

And then there are the people who get all bent out of shape because people without kids are giving them advice. Well, guess what, we live on this planet, too. And we have opinions and rights just like you do. And the world doesn't revolve around your children--your world might, but the rest of the world does not. And the fact that you have children doesn't add any more weight to your opinion or make it right that your kids are crying and screaming while I'm trying to eat a nice dinner or watch a movie or pick up something at the grocery store or trying to admire that piece of artwork at the museum. We have non-smoking areas in a restaurant, why not non-children areas?

Well, that's probably enough ranting for today. Yet again, all rant and no answers. But I guess that's how this outlet works. More later.