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Thursday, June 30, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different: The Dept. Might Crash The Convention In Cleveland And Offer Its Own Nostalgic Nominee


Scene opens on a living room setting. Rick is in his big easy chair; Nance is curled up on the end of the couch. Both are watching the national news; its first story is another depressingly shocking one featuring a taped segment of the republican party's Presumptive Nominee.

Nance: Oh my god. You have got to be kidding me. What a--
Rick: I know. Disgusting. And--
Nance: How can anyone...? I mean, what can anyone see in that maniacal idiot that makes him think, 'This is someone I want as my President'?
Rick: (glancing over at Piper, the huge orange cat) Piper would make a better President than he would.
Nance: He really would. He is far more stable, and much more Zen.
Rick: Well, you'd have to be his translator. And nothing could get started until after 7 AM, when he finishes his breakfast.
Nance: And everything would have to stop again at 5 PM for his snack.
Rick: And again at 9 PM for his dessert.
Nance: And don't forget his Big Nap from 10 AM until 2 PM every day.
Rick: That's right. And sometimes he runs over and sleeps even longer than that. And gets another one in from 6PM until his dessert at 9.
Nance: So...basically, a rerun of the Reagan Presidency!

End Scene.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

S Is For Salad

One dinner in particular at my in-laws' stands out. I can't even recall if Rick and I were married yet, but I was sitting down to a meal of ham, wax beans, and probably mashed potatoes. My first glance told me that the ham--pale, sad, and already sliced--would be dry and a struggle. My eyes widened in alarm at the dish of beans: they were a colour that I had never seen wax beans take on before, sort of a sepia-toned, manila hue with a distinctly grey cast. Horrified, I pinned all my hopes on the Salad. How could anyone ruin a Salad?

The Salad, such as it was, was on a separate plate already made up. It was a limp leaf of iceberg lettuce surmounted by a single ring of canned pineapple. Inside its center was a dab of cream cheese upon which had been sprinkled some walnut dust. We each had one.

I was doomed.

I thought longingly of my mother's everyday Salads, served with every single dinner, even takeout pizza. They were huge family-style bowls full of iceberg and leaf lettuces, fresh onion, cucumber, radishes, tomatoes (when they were in season), and every once in a while, a Wild Card Ingredient, depending upon her mood, my father's request, or what was hanging around in the grocery store, farmstand, or crisper. Oh, and green olives. She made her own vinaigrette, too, and insisted on Regina Red Wine Vinegar. And measure? Ha! It is to laugh. Watching her shake and pour the oil and vinegar bottles over the salad and add her seasonings (always Lawry's Seasoned Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper), then toss and toss and toss again and again was to watch a mad scientist at work.

What I wouldn't have given for one bowl of her Salad at that meal.

No one should be victimized by Bad Salad. A Salad should be a celebration of fresh ingredients made bright by its dressing. It should be flavourful and wonderful. It shouldn't feel like a punishment, and it shouldn't feel like a scavenger hunt or a rummage sale, either.

I hate those Salads that are basically a bowl of whitish-yellow lettuce, a pale crunchy tomato wedge, and a hunk of cucumber. Period. I wouldn't give a homeless bunny that crap. Add one of those sugary, viscous bottled dressings, and I think I'd rather have the pineapple ring with cream cheese.

But by the same token, what is going on with some of these Salads that have a ton of junk in them? Lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach, chow mein noodles, cashews, golden raisins, cheese, tortilla strips, blueberries, shredded carrot, chicken, pita chips, and sprouts? Do you know that some restaurant Salads clock in at over twelve hundred calories? Holy crap.

As soon as the weather gets warm, Rick and I opt for Big Salads for dinner a lot of the time. I follow the same kind of recipe handed down from St. Patsy with a few variations. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar for my dressing, and because I am more picky and exacting, I measure. Every time. I do use Lawry's for that familiar taste, but I use only freshly ground black pepper always. For our Big Dinner Salads, I add a chunked-up chicken breast or piece of steak or whatever protein we fancy. And rather than iceberg lettuce, I use romaine. The rest of the ingredients can vary like St. Patsy's now and then, depending upon what is in season and what I have left over. Once in a while, I make an Asian-inspired dressing, and we vary the Salad ingredients to accommodate that. Summer means lots and lots of options since the farmstands are full of produce: roasted yellow and zucchini squash, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes--the list is truly endless.  But always, I strive for taste and balance.

The only time I buy bottled dressing is to make this terrific Salad, introduced to me by my friend and fellow blogger Shirley. I make one addition to it, and that is to add chunks of crisp apples. It's a terrific Salad, especially in the fall.

Oh, Salad! What a bad rap you've gotten! From turgid Jell-O molds holding shreds of vegetables in suspended animation to ascetic scoops of cottage cheese cradled in cantaloupe halves, you've been dismissed as Diet Fare, labelled as Lady Lunch, and eyed askance as a source of Salmonella In A Sack.

But I still love you. I love you even though you are worky to put together, despite my Salad Spinner and the help of Rick, my Salad Sous Chef, a man always happy to help with anything that doesn't end up looking like stuff his mother made.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

r Is For republicans


Even in the title, I cannot bring myself to capitalize the R and give this political party any respect whatsoever, especially now.

My longtime readers have journeyed with me through both terms of the Angel Of Death (Bush 43), including my Despair of the Election Of The Dark Times. We watched my Countdown Clock until a Democrat finally sat in The Big Chair in the White House, and together we mocked the teapartiers with great mirth, critiquing their sad, poorly-executed signage. I declared my own suitability for Vice President, my love for past Democratic Presidents and Presidential Candidates, and offered to serve as a nonpartisan government Department of my own.

All of this Good Fun aside, for me The Politics is Serious Business, especially Presidential Politics. To put it into perspective, let me share a brief story with you:

In April, Rick and I were visiting a winery in Ontario, Canada, whose owner/winemaker was born in Poland. As we tasted and chatted, he wanted to talk Politics. He conveyed a deep dismay with the United States' embrace of its current republican standard bearer. "I don't understand," he said. "This guy is a clown, a television personality. He has no political experience, no diplomatic intelligence."

I assured him that I, for one, was not only disgusted by this candidate, but alarmed by him. "The American press and media have created a monster," I told him. "Because he makes good TV and good copy, they have legitimized and inflated his candidacy. And the republican party fringe element has found its Poster Boy. I could not be more disappointed and embarrassed."

"But Americans," my host continued rather passionately and knowingly, "they have to remember. They are not just electing a president of their country. They are, in fact, really electing a President of the Whole World. Don't they realize or think of that?"

Sigh.

I have to say, I seriously doubt that any of the republicans who have endorsed the current Presumptive Nominee of their party (however tepidly or reluctantly) have thought of that. At all. These pompous, cowardly, self-righteous self-preservationists have blindly put Party before Country and Position before Constituency. They would rather Fill The Chair than Help The Country. Or the Whole World.

It is repulsive.

Even as some republicans meekly condemn this yahoo nominee as racist or bigoted or wrongheaded or whatever, they always conclude their remarks with a statement of support. Even so-called Christian groups are conflicted, some conditionally withholding support, depending upon whether the presumptive republican nominee woos them effectively. Ugh.

How dare this party call itself The Party Of Lincoln? It bears no resemblance whatsoever to that assemblage, the one which railed against slavery and passed the Thirteenth Amendment. It was President Lincoln who said of one political party:

"I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

It is a short bit of editing to make his remarks ring true for Today:

I am not a republican. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of women, be in favor of degrading classes of any people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except Muslims.” When the republicans get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except Muslims, and women, and Mexicans.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

No, this republican party is not The Party Of Lincoln. It's more like the Know-Nothing Party; the name--with this nominee especially--is a much better fit by far.

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Q Is For Quirks

Now that I have reached the Advanced Age Of Fifty-Seven, chances are slim that I will change very many of my habits now. Oh, sure, if my esteemed neurologist told me that, say, sleeping on my memory foam pillow was triggering my migraines, I'd switch to whatever he said. But some of my Quirks are so ingrained as to be Second Nature, and I can't Just Stop Them.

I know some of you have them too, these Quirks that are part habit, part genetic code, part survival instinct, part plain old preference. I'll share some of mine, and then I want you to share some of yours, too.

FOOD: Ketchup on eggs; ketchup on roast lamb (I know--sacrilege!) and the only ketchup is Heinz; all beef is rare rare rare; Miracle Whip, not mayo, unless I'm making tuna anything. And in this house, white sandwich bread is a Sin. And so is any pepper that is not fresh ground. Oh, and I keep all cake in the fridge. I like cold cake. But no cake and ice cream. I hate that combination. Actually, I dislike pie and ice cream as well.  I am secretly in love with french fries.

DRINK: No "sweet tea." No milk. No instant coffee. Dry wine only. No ice in martinis. No hot tea.

COMFORT: I cannot sleep without a cover of some kind, and the room must be completely dark. I rarely sit without my feet up under me unless at a restaurant or if I am "company." I do not eat a meal outdoors unless forced. After I eat ice cream, I usually need a blanket. I hate wind, but also dislike having to run the air conditioner.  I do not like an overhead fan blowing directly on me, but a heater directly on me is heaven.  If the water would stay hot, I could take a bath for several hours.

MISCELLANEOUS: I do my hair and makeup every day, even if I'm not going anywhere. I put my seatbelt on just to move cars in the driveway (I also use my turn signals). At home I verbally correct everyone's grammar and usage on television, online, and in the newspaper. (To the cats, if Rick is not around. To no one, if it is on my car radio.) And each time it is on, I gamely watch about half of "Dateline", then promptly fall asleep before any resolution. (That show is The Best Sleep Aid, and it's free!) I run a fever when I get overtired, when I have a migraine, and sometimes when my arthritis is Just Plain Horrid. I still hate feet unless they're baby feet or animal feet, and we all know how I feel about republicans (I still won't capitalize that word).

Okay! Your turn. What Quirks make you You?

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