Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Didn't GWB Take Them All Away With Him When He Left?

Today is the day I promised myself Once And For All that I would, henceforth and evermore, stop reading the Comments on any news stories I find on The Interwebs. I will still read the hilarious and daft comments on incidental "articles" on Yahoo because that is just pure entertainment, and it's free.  But I get too disheartened when I read the Views Of America in the comments of actual News.

I have to remember that They are Out There. I don't know why I'm surprised. Two days before Easter, when Jared and Sam informed me that yes, of course we would be coloring Easter eggs; what am I, some kind of communist, I had to hit up a local dollar store to find egg dye.  Luckily, I found some (the packaging and directions were all in French, by the way), and when I made my way to the cashier, I saw a sign that jolted me.  Immediately, I took a photo with my trusty phone, knowing I would send it to Jared and Sam, and thinking I might one day use it here at the Dept.

This is that day.  This, Dearest Readers, is Out There: 

The very same person who cannot see that the "word" Hamber is missing a few letters and, therefore, an entire syllable is Out There saying that the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is not an American because he is a Muslim.  Stuff like that.
I have a lot more to say, but I fear that if I start in on The Politics, I will be less able to Reconnect With My Joy.  Spring is so very slow to arrive and stay here in NEO.  (We had snow on Saturday morning!  Nothing accumulated, thank heaven.) There is life, however; my tarragon is peeking, my chives are already over a foot tall, my oregano has resurged, and much to my "daughter's" delight, teeny dill sprouts are everywhere, meaning homemade pickles for her. 

Join me in keeping The Stupid at bay.  Let's all make a solemn promise to be brilliant as often as we can.

post header image found here

Monday, April 15, 2013

In Which I Have Reached Critical Mass On So Many Things That I Have To Let Them Go

Oh.  Hello. 

Yes, this thing is Still On.  Isn't it ridiculous and, in its own way, Wretched that I take so long between posts?  I am Retired, and I have all the time in the world.  But things have reached...Critical Mass on a variety of fronts, and I just don't Have It to bring.

Why Do I Live Here?
For the past eleventy thousand "Spring" days, we here in NEO have had the following weather in endless combinations:  grey, cold, sleety, rainy, cloudy, dark, fifteen-minute periods of sun, hailstorms.  I feel like I am in some Puritan torture chamber or waiting room of Hell.  There are days when I only get dressed in time for Rick to come home at four-thirty, then rush back into my jammies immediately after dinner, at seven.  Even the cats are annoyed by my sloth, and that is saying something.

Is This Irony?
The whole first year of my retirement, my menopause flirted with me.  How anxiously I awaited the Cessation Of The Monthlies.  After some initial screwing around with me, a trip to the ER, and June's memorable Last Stand which lasted nineteen days, it was finally Over.  And then my migraines returned.  March and April have been record-breaking.  I have, on average now, one a week.  My Cleveland Clinic neurologist has tried everything except Botox injections and acupuncture.  He is blaming their return on hormones/menopause.  I blame everything on it:  night sweats, forgetfulness, dry skin, dry hair, the fact that there is no good Chinese food in our town, and Justin Bieber.

What Am I Missing?
How about all these gun freaks go Take America Back and live out in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, and the Dakotas and leave the rest of us alone?  They can have their own country full of assault rifle-totin', bigass magazine-packin', gunshow-goin', no background-checkin' yahoos all walled off, elect Ted Nugent president, and when they get all likkered up on Buds and Jack, they can blow each other's heads off.  How anyone--in any party (whether they're up for reelection or not)--can say that the right to own an assault rifle and extended magazines is more important than young lives needlessly lost at Newtown or Columbine or Aurora or anywhere (because people keep shooting people), is beyond me.  And I want them all to stop invoking the Second Amendment.  These people are not arming themselves with the purpose of becoming a well-regulated militia, or even for defending themselves against an enemy government.  If they want to shoot an assault rifle for fun, they can do it with a range's gun. Period.  And they can also stop mouthing a lot of fake concern about mental health being beefed up in this country rather than stop law-abiding citizens from having their guns.  These are the same people who want to take the poor off of government assistance (unless it's them) and call Obama a socialist.  And now Congress will debate whether or not to pass a diluted law requiring some background checks.  That's it.  It's like ordering steak and lobster and the waiter brings you a fish stick.  (Hey, no offense to the Gorton's fisherman,who isn't too bad looking these days, in a Spielberg meets Sam Waterston sort of way.)

What Do I Owe You?
I may as well upchuck all my angst-vomit, once and for all.  Cheap therapy, and you know my motto:  First, you wallow.

)^( I am locked in a tense and heated battle for the championship in our Fantasy Basketball League.  It is between Sam and me.  After leading by as much as 180 points, I now cling to the top spot by just 77.  The whole thing is decided on Wednesday, with games Monday and Tuesday as well.  I spend hours working my team and adding and dropping players to maintain this advantage.  It's not fun at this point, but I have to win.  Update:  I lost.  I had a last-minute scratch of Reggie Evans one night, and it was downhill from there. Sigh.

)^( Two words:  Cat Hair.  I have never, ever in the history of my life as a Cat Owner had a cat that sheds like Piper.  It's absolutely astonishing.  And goddam irritating.  My entire life is covered in cat hair.  And both cats are very into cuddling.  My clothes, my bedspread, my's horrifying.  Rick refuses to allow his laundry in the same load as mine because the cat hair is ubiquitous.  I got very cavalier regarding the cat beds not too long ago because V-grrrl said she never vacuums her pet beds, unlike me. I used to vacuum them for noisy hours, hating it.  But finally, they got so full of wads of hair that I simply threw them out and got new lovely ones that are NOT FLEECE and that are washable.  Both cats hate them and will not use them. 

Which is how I feel about guns, actually.

)^( The Great Gatsby is coming to theaters soon, directed by Baz Luhrmann.  I've seen a few trailers, and I've read a few articles, including one analyzing the themes in the novel and one defending the teaching of the book.  I love this book, and I so miss talking about it.  Where is my Perfect Job where all I have to do is talk about the books I love to people who want to hear about them/talk about them with me?  You have no idea how fascinating I can be.  When I'm not whining, that is.

I think I need a Jaunt or Getaway or a long drive to Someplace.  I know I need some Spring.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Life Of Pie

One Saturday the boys came over for the day, and they accompanied Rick and me on our Saturday Drive.  By Happy Accident we ended up at our favourite pie shop, and our serendipity continued when, upon entering, we saw that they were having an Open House/Tasting of sorts.  An extremely merry and encouraging woman behind a long table full of little samples practically begged us to try each and every one, including the strudels, lady locks, and cookies. 

It was almost thrilling.

Naturally, I ate far too many, and once I had hoovered a full-sized bunny cooky, I turned to Rick.  "Now I am regretful.  Why on earth did you let me eat so many samples of pie?" I said woefully and accusingly.  "You know how I cannot eat during the day, and you know how I get when I eat too many sweets."

Jared said, "Wow, Mom.  You ate that stuff like you were stoned."

But, in my defense...pie.  So much PIE.

I know you understand.

Jared and I both love pie, so we've decided to do this post together (as in, he emails me his when he is done).  We're going to attempt to identify our Top 5 Favourite Pies, chat about each as necessary, then turn it over to you in Comments.  Jared would like to stipulate that pizza and cheesecake and Boston Creme Pie do not count.  Basically, we are talking about pie.  I think we all know what a pie is.

(When I received his part of the post, I chuckled.  When you see it, you'll know why.)

Let's do it.

Nance's Top 5 Favourite Pies

1.  Lemon Meringue
2.  Cherry
3.  Strawberry
4.  Pecan
5.  Rhubarb

1.  Lemon Meringue pie is probably my favourite pie because it was rare that I got it.  My mom made pies often, but Lemon Meringue only showed up around Easter, and then later, when my older sister Patti* asked for it.  The one drawback of this pie is the meringue.  I hate meringue.  But if you put whipped cream on a lemon pie, it's Too Much.  If you have plain lemon pie, it seems sad.  I think meringue looks pretty, so after I admire it, I just peel it off and give it to whomever likes meringue.  Lemon Meringue pie is tangy, smooth, and sunshiny. Hands down, it is The Best Pie! *perceived favourite child, and this is one reason why!

2.  Cherry pie is a classic.  It's one of the few pies that is truly wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It's also a fairly common pie, so it's almost always available should you need A Pie Fix.  Even if you have to buy a can of Thank You cherry pie filling to bake your own when you crave pie, it's still a decent pie.  Cherry pie is happy and innocent and like a hug from a friend.

3.  Strawberry pie is so wonderful.  I can be put off by the bloody-looking ones, but I make a killer strawberry pie of my own. With a layer of cream cheese (whipped with a little bit of sugar) spread on the bottom crust and topped with my own natural glaze, that pie is a slice of summertime.  Strawberry pie, because it's made with whole berries, makes each bite a burst of flavor.  This is a pie that makes me feel like I'm being bad because it's so darn good, but somehow virtuous because look, it's really just fresh fruit!

4.  Pecan pie is sin on a plate.  It's rich, sweet, buttery, and I can't eat anywhere near a grownup-sized piece, or I feel like my teeth are on edge and my stomach is crystallizing like rock candy.  Pecan pie is always the first pie to disappear at any of our family's functions.  I made one pecan pie in my life.  It was terrific, but it contained almost no ingredients that I ever used again.  I think I still have that bottle of Karo....

5.  Rhubarb pie is something my grandma always made, along with other weird, old-timey pies like elderberry and ground cherry and something called a milk pie.  I'm crazy about rhubarb pie, with its sweet and sour taste.  Lots of people can't take rhubarb straight-up in a pie, and they insist upon mucking it up by adding strawberries.  Forget that!  I'm a rhubarb purist.  Did you know that rhubarb is also called "pie plant"?  That's all you need to know!  Save the strawberries for their own pie.

Getting full?  Save some room.  Here comes Jared.

Let's get one thing straight right now: Pie is the pinnacle of human dessert achievement. If you do not like pie, I suggest you go eat a bowl of hair, as you are a dummy and do not deserve delicious things.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk a little about what makes a good pie. It cannot be too wet. The crust must hold up. It must be flaky, yet firm with good flavor, and flavor that says “Look, I know that this isn’t about me. But, since something has to accompany this delicious filling, I am here. I will not disappoint you”.  The following, in order, are the greatest and best pies that one could ever eat. In order of dominance:

Jared's Top 5 Favorite Pies
1.  Pecan
2.  Cherry
3.  Lemon Meringue
4.  Strawberry Rhubarb
5.  Key Lime

1.  Pecan pie. It is basically flawless. A textural tour de force, pecan pie manages to successfully balance the “crunchy, soft, crunchy” sandwich element of pie that is tough to do with other pies. Crispy, sticky, caramel goodness on top. A rich, sugary, center, and a nice, firm crust. The only thing better than pecan pie for dessert with a cup of coffee? Pecan pie for breakfast with a cup of coffee and the Sunday newspaper on the front porch on a crisp fall day. Basically, pecan pie would be uncomfortable if it knew how I felt about it.

2.  Cherry. A good cherry pie should be a bit bitter, with a nice, sweet finish. The cherries had better not be mushy, either, or you can take that shit back, and dump it in the toilet. Because you are a pie failure. I would recommend eating a nice cherry pie slightly warmed, with a scoop of nice vanilla ice cream. And not that Vanilla Bean bullshit. Straight Vanilla will be fine. Who do you think you are, putting fancy ice cream on your pie? Get out of my face with your pretentious ice cream habits. The proper ratio of pie to ice cream should be 2.5:1. Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong and spoiling your pie.

3.  Lemon Meringue. My birthday was this past Thursday the 28th. So, on Saturday, my Grammy, Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, and I all convened at the Dept. for a birthday dinner. It was a great time. I made my sister try a bite of the Lemon Meringue. She resisted, but as she is young and doesn’t know shit, I insisted and she obliged. She barely got it in her mouth, shook her head, and went out to spit it out in the bushes. I was appalled. The meringue was spongy, sugary. The lemon was just enough of a custard to make it feel like velvet, and I was in heaven. I ate it ice cold, holding each refreshingly lemony bite in my mouth for a spell, moving it over the fronts and backs of all of my teeth so that each one got to share the deliciousness. By the time I had swallowed a bite, I had another one loaded up. Even the gorging at the family dinner table could not have prevented me from relishing this treat. You know the very first cocktail of the weekend after a hard week at work? That “AAAHHHH” feeling? That’s how every bite felt.

4.  Bacon pie.(Kidding. But this should be a thing.) Strawberry Rhubarb. No pie better executes balance like this one. Rhubarb is tart and biting and toothsome, the strawberry soft, delicate, sweet, and delightful. Know what ruins Strawberry Rhubarb pie? Nothing. That’s what. If a big dog licked my StrawBharb pie, I wouldn’t get mad. I would applaud the dog’s good taste. (“Good for you, dog. You know what is up. But do it again, and I will take you outside and leave you there. Forever.”)Resist the urge to go a la mode with this pie. It is better by itself. It would be analogous to putting ketchup on a T-Bone. Also, if you do that, keep that secret to yourself, because it will make me hate you.
5.  Key Lime pie. It makes me feel very Floridian. But not in the ugly Conservative Republican Florida Way. In the “I am refreshed because I am eating this delicious breezy treat” kind of way. I had this for the first time EVER a couple weeks ago, and my life is forever altered. It was a brisk day that felt like early fall or very early spring in Northeast Ohio. There were pie samples at the local Pie Haven. I said “Self, go get one of those, and give it hell.” So I did just that. Wow. A little whipped cream topping sitting on the throne of green wonder greeted my tastebuds with a “hey…get ready for this shit” and then….BOOM! Key lime explosion. There is no going back. Graham cracker crust was the vehicle for this treat, and it was the perfect accompaniment. Go have one now. (Also, fuck key lime yogurt. It is crap. It does not do the Key Lime pie justice. It is thus dead to me forever.)
What are you waiting for?  Talk about your favorite pies in Comments.
cheery pie image here
talking pie image here

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