Archive for August, 2007

Aug 30 2007

Show & Tell

Published by under Cats,Dogs,Rita

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Gratuitous kitten photo which has nothing to do with this post.

I wonder if Rita is getting senile, or is possibly protesting the recent arrival of the kittens to her Queendom and is letting me know that she objects.

Lately, she’s taken to peering in the bathroom door and staring at me when I’m in there peeing. When I leave, she leaves. Show’s over. But weird. Who ever heard of a Peeping Rita?

The past couple of days, she has barked in her sleep, waking both of us up. I don’t know who’s more surprised. But I know who has a harder time getting back to sleep, and it ain’t Miz Rita, whose peepers close almost immediately afterwards.

Rita may not be the only senile old lady around here. Twice in the past few days I have left her outside and not noticed until:

  1. Rita whined and scratched at the door, which is dog for “Let me in” (sometimes it means “Let me out”, though – you have to take each situation individually;
  2. The building dentists knocked loudly at the door. By the time I got to the door, Rita was standing there looking up at me. I thought the old dog had learned a new trick. But no.

I’m almost as good a parent as Britney.

For those who are wondering who the building dentists are, they arrive at a very early hour and then start drilling out the old bricks and filling in new ones, much like dentists do with teeth if you let them. At least dentists don’t make house calls. The BD’s have replaced quite a few century old bricks, including the wall under the stairs which lead to the main building. It was not reassuring to hear them call out from the inside that they hoped the ceiling wouldn’t cave in.

So far, so good.

Update: When I was making dinner last night (pecan-crusted sole with citrus salsa, lemon-herb risotto, and asparagus), there was a frantic pounding on the door. Rita was getting under my feet in the traditional manner when I cook, so I knew it wasn’t her or the building dentists.

It was Charlie, who dashed into the house when I opened the door and ran to the bathroom. I didn’t like to follow him, not being a Peeping Rita kind of girl, but he came racing out with a pail of water, gasping, “Fire!” and sped outside.

Turned out one of the building dentist tarps was on fire right outside my door. Charlie soaked it down, leaving a smoldering pile of plastic and cloth (burning plastic smells really gross) and a freaked out girl. Have no idea how the fire started, but am very glad it’s ended. And if you can’t be rescued by the incendiary Denis Leary, your nice neighbor is the next best thing.

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Aug 28 2007

Rita and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Published by under Cats,Dogs,Rita

Everything was fine in Rita’s Queendom. She had trained the people pretty well. They didn’t take her out quite as often as she’d like, but with age comes wisdom, so Rita knew that this is what happens when you’ve been living with someone for a while. Other than that, though, she loved her comfortable bed, her routine, and all that attention.

Those days are over.

For some reason, two – two! – obnoxious little furballs have entered the previously peaceful Queendom. They are crazy bananaheads, in Rita’s opinion, and completely unnecessary. For some reason, the people actually seem to like them and coo over them as if they were cute or something. Also, they stink the place up with their food and the results of the food. They don’t go outside, like normal beings.

Honestly!

As if the invasion wasn’t bad enough, that blasted neighbor dog with his obvious Napoleon complex saw fit to attack Rita while she was out for a stroll. She stopped to greet him in the usual polite butt-sniffing way, and he bit her nose! Really hard! There was blood involved. The Girl was horrified and applied gooey stuff to the wound. Rita tried to lick it off, but some of it stayed on, and at least it helped to temporarily mask the kittenstink. Now Rita and the Girl will have matching rakish scars. The Girl is already telling people that Rita had a nose job.

Rita is not amused.

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Aug 27 2007

The Perils of Shopping

Published by under Cats,Dogs,Rita

The new kittens, of course, have provided an excellent excuse for shopping. They require many accessories and necessities, so in preparation for their imminent arrival, I decided to go and pick up a few things.

My aversion to public transit being a matter of public knowledge, I took a cab to the store. I gave the driver the intersection I wanted. He unaccountably drove me to the bus station, which is approximately two blocks from my actual destination. When he stopped, I pointed out that he had not in fact arrived at the requested location. He asked, “You no wan’ bus station?” I said no, I didn’t, though I kept the following thoughts to myself:

  1. You might want to consider actually taking passengers to the place they asked for; and
  2. Do I look like someone who wants to go to the bus station? It’s a horrifying thought. Also, I had no luggage other than a gorgeous handbag I bought in New York in a moment of weakness. I’m insulted all over again on behalf of the bag.

The horror of the bus station insult faded as I entered the store, list in hand, so I felt efficient instead of indulgent. As usual, I noticed several must-haves (and some wanna-haves) while in the course of getting the necessities of kitty life, so by the time I left the store I was burdened down like someone who takes the bus.

On exiting the store, I discovered that there was a mysterious and annoying parade in progress, making traffic worse than usual. I decided to drag my purchases a couple of blocks away – not to the bus station – to the next major street, in the hopes of catching a cab that wouldn’t immediately be trapped in the parade standstill.

You’d think this was a good strategy, but on arriving at Major Street and dropping my packages to rub some feeling back into my hands, the following happened:

  1. There were no cabs.
  2. A kilt wearing busker set up about three feet from me and started piercing my ears with his bagpipes. I know Queen Victoria was awakened in this manner every day, but I’m not regal enough to stand it. After about five minutes, I was ready to ask him how much he’d take to cease and desist and why on earth he felt the need to inflict the kilt thing on an unsuspecting public.

Instead, I loaded up my packages and fled at a positively queenly pace to the next Major Street, where I collapsed into the first cab I saw. I’m not above being girlishly helpless when it suits me, so I managed to persuade the driver to help carry the packages to my front door. Now, if I could teach Rita to open the door, I’d be all set.

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Aug 23 2007

Make Way for Kittens

Published by under Uncategorized

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June (top), Dennis (bottom) and Phil (middle) get cozy.

Astute readers may have noticed the “agreed to adopt two kittens” part of this entry. I have to admit that I’ve been cheating on my blog with Facebook. It’s so much easier for the lazy like me to just post a line or two, maybe a couple of photos, than to compose paragraphs and paragraphs and then think of a title. So I have become that reviled, mid-life crisis cliche, cheating on the old with the newer and younger, but unwilling to give up either.

Which is why pictures of the kittens are on Facebook, but haven’t been here until now. And I saved the explanation for here, since it will take more than a bon mot and a picture.

Long, long ago, about a couple of months ago, my kind-hearted neighbor rescued a pregnant cat. The cat, named Quince and cared for lovingly by Patricia, considerately gave birth on Patricia’s tax return on July 2*.

Although tiny, and barely more than a kitten herself (we estimated her to be less than a year old, and she is too thin, although not too rich), Quince gave the world seven, count ’em, seven gorgeous, healthy kittens. A former farmer who lives in my building tells me that this is an unusually large litter for a first try (and believe me, her last – the vet appointment is already made), and that it’s unusual for all the kittens to survive.

But survive they did. Patricia is keeping Quince, to whom she has become very attached, and all the kittens are spoken for. I fell in love with June and Dennis (above), and will bring them home for good in a few days. Patricia is letting the kittens leave gradually, so it’s easier on both their mothers. Two, Otis and Phoebe, have already gone to their permanent homes.

Fortunately for me, Patricia is in New York on business for a few days, so I get to feed and play with them twice a day until she gets back. Patricia has a lovely, secluded back yard, and it’s delightful to take a cup of coffee and watch the kittens play in the flowers with their mother, or doze in the sun, all snuggled up together.

*This happens to be the birthday of a certain lovely Cat, so it’s clearly a good day for cats to be born.

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Aug 21 2007

Calamity Suzy Rides Again

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Dogs

Well, venturing from the house really didn’t pay off for me.

  1. I took Rita for quick tour of the alleyway (yes, that alleyway) before running (and falling) some errands. No fiesta evidence, but the following: yoga pants; sports bra; hoody, abandoned, as if someone petite had just stepped out of them (and walked away in her panties?!). No body, just the clothes. Go figure. I can’t. Neither can Rita.
  2. A guy with a heavy Scots accent asked me where the nearest coffee shop was. Outside a Starbucks. His accent was so strong I had to ask him to repeat it. Which of us looks dumber* in this particular anecdote?
  3. A Jamaican cab driver earnestly asked me if I spoke Polish. I don’t know what about me exactly broadcasts “Get your Polish translations here” or why this guy was in such dire of need of same, but there you have it.
  4. On walking into a store – or attempting to do so – I stumbled and fell, embarrassing Self and breaking a nail. It’s always the innocent who suffer.
  5. A visibly (across the shoulder and up the neck and onto the face) girl asked me if I knew where to buy a bathing suit. My immediate, unspoken response was “Do I look like someone who knows where to buy a bathing suit?” I look like someone who should be heavily sedated before even thinking of buying a bathing suit.

    I told this story to my fabulous friend K, who said we should invent a place where women could buy bathing suits and not want to kill themselves or the nearest supermodel. In our imaginary (but wildly successful) store, you’d get valium and a cocktail of your choice before even approaching the dressing room. The dressing room would be lit by candles, which we all know are the most flattering, as opposed to the hideous fluorescent bulbs favored by most department stores, which make one look like a cottage cheese avalanche. I think we might even go as far as those fun house mirrors which make you look really thin, as opposed to those completely un-fun mirrors in department stores which scar you for life. We’re thinking of calling it Suit Yourself. Investors, apply to me.

Well, that’s what happens when you leave the house.

*Years ago, one of my oldest friends was rooming with an Australian guy. I came over to visit my friend, who hadn’t gotten home yet. The roommate did his best to entertain me, but I was completely unequal to his accent. After a few rounds of “Excuse me?” and “Can you repeat that?” I subsided into agreeing with everything. Am convinced that as soon as I left, he told my friend that I was just about the stupidest person he’d ever met. “I aked her if she was a cannibal, and she said yes! She agreed to have 19 children with me! She thinks Ronald Reagan is a genius! Ronald McDonald, too!”

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Aug 19 2007

Happy Birthday, Kathleen!

Published by under Detroit

Happy birthday to Kathleen, who is truly one of Detroit’s treasures. Spending time with her is always the best thing about being there.

Kathleen and I met when we both worked at the Hell Corporation*, and meeting her was one of the very few good things to come out of a bad situation. Maybe every cloud really does have a silver lining (and for the gift minded, please note that Kathleen prefers silver, white gold or platinum). She was definitely my personal silver lining during those dark HC days.

She was smart enough to get out first, but we always stayed in touch, and get together as often as we can. She is one of those rare friends you could call at 2 am in tears and she’d get right in the car, no questions asked. And when she got there, she’d actually make you feel better.

She loves Iggy Pop (and wrote a review of his most recent Detroit show that is better than any music magazine you’d care to mention) as much as she loves the Symphony. She knits and knows pretty much everything there is to know about hockey. She is as beautiful as she is smart, and as funny, too. She is fiercely loyal and utterly tolerant. She knows what love is.

Hope you’re having a great day, girl!

*Like He Who Shall Not be named in the Harry Potter series, it shall not be named. But it knows who it is.

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Aug 18 2007

Six Years On

Published by under Uncategorized

The wise and wonderful Kathleen may have solved the mystery of my recent cooking frenzy:

“I’m thinking that cooking for you is one way to honor your father since the anniversary of his death is approaching us. It makes you feel close to him all over again.”

The day is now here, so I thought I’d share one of Dad’s menu meals in his honor. I’d like to think of the good times we had, and we always loved to cook together.

Dad created “menu meals” for special occasions. He and Margaret always changed clothes for dinner, always had flowers and candles on the table, and always enjoyed coming together and sharing their days in the evening, both being so busy. But for menu meals, Dad would actually print up a little menu and put it at each place setting. Sometimes he’d even invent an occasion, such as the grandchildren leaving after a long visit. This particular menu is from Valentine’s Day, 1998.

14th February 1998
Happy memories, my dearest.

Gratin de Champignons
Ch?teau la Jaubertie, Sauvignon Blanc 1993

***

Scallops with Peppers
Roasted New Potatoes with Fennel
Asparagus
Penfolds Semillon Chardonnay 1993

Gratin de Champignons

1/2 lb mixed mushrooms, preferably wild, sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons cr?me fra?che (or cream)
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons butter

Saut? shallots in butter at medium heat. Cover, cook for 10 minutes. Add cognac and cook for a further two minutes. Add the mushrooms. then add flour and cream mixed together and cook, stirring continuously, for five minutes. Put into oven proof dish and bake for 15 minutes. [No temperature given; I’d guess 350. I also think a sprinkling of cheese would be a good addition before baking.]

Scallops and Peppers

8 large scallops
1/2 each red and yellow peppers, thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons dry Vermouth
150 ml cream [slightly more than 1/2 cup]

Gently saut? the shallots in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Add peppers and continue saut?ing for a few more minutes. Add white wine and Vermouth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream, bring just to the boiling point, add scallops and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Serve on scallop shells.

Roasted New Potatoes with Fennel

10 new potatoes, halved
2 bulbs fennel, cut in wedges
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomato
100 ml red wine [not surprisingly, less than 1/2 cup]
100 ml stock
Parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200C [400F]. Place all ingredients in a heavy roasting pan in one layer. Roast, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, when most of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Bon app?tit!

Dad used to say that when he died, he hoped his children would raise a glass of wine to his memory and say, “The old man wasn’t so bad.” Hope you’ll join me in a toast to the memory of a great father, who gave us so many gifts – most of all, love.

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Aug 16 2007

Stacked

Published by under Uncategorized

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The library has a wonderful system. You order your books on line, much like Amazon, only it’s free. When they arrive, you go and pick them up. Now, arrival times may be as delayed as they are at SFO* or Newark, but at least you can wait in the comfort of your own home instead of the discomfort of the airport. For example, I am currently 1,266 of 3,809 for the new Harry Potter. But on the bright side, I’m first in line for the new Sue Grafton, which doesn’t come out until December.

I took a vacation from the library, putting all the books I had requested on hold so I could do things like go to Cleveland, not blog, and agree to adopt two kittens. When I released the hounds, I discovered that I had gone to the head of quite a few lines, and I ended up getting about a dozen books at once.

Looks like I’ll be busy for a while.

*Speaking of SFO, how creepy is this?

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Aug 15 2007

Delicacy Deluge

Published by under Uncategorized

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Now what?

For some reason, I’ve been cooking up a storm lately. I know they say “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and I can’t stand the heat, but I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen, either. Maybe it’s because I’ve had writer’s block lately – my creativity, such as it is, must be seeking another outlet.

Yesterday’s menu of delicacies was prawn & artichoke salad, followed by crab cakes with cilantro-lime aioli. I made peach cobbler for dessert. I’m out of control!

You can find the crab cake recipe here, and the aioli here, but the salad is one of my Dad’s recipes. As he notes in it, “The recipe is one that Margaret [his wife] thought superb, even by my high standards.” Immodest, but true. Check it out:

Prawn & Artichoke Salad
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used the seedy type)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (I used a little less)
12 oz. peeled, cooked prawns (I used salad shrimp)
14 oz can of artichoke hearts (packed in water is best)
Iceberg lettuce

Chop the garlic and crush it to a pulp, mix the garlic and mustard together to form a paste, then beat in the vinegar and finally the oilve oil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Stir in the basil and onion. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the prawns and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more. Drain the artichoke hearts and halve each one. Make a bed of lettuce, spread the artichoke hearts over it, then spoon the prawn mixture over the top.

Dad food is the best food.

Things are a little more traditional tonight (sage roasted turkey breast, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli), but tomorrow’s menu is more exotic: chicken satay with peanut sauce, coconut ginger rice, cucumber salad. A friend brought me a giant bouquet of basil, so I think there’s some pesto in my future.

Come on over – I’ve got leftovers!

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Aug 14 2007

Beauty of the Beast

Published by under Dogs,Rita

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Rita takes a break from all that admiration. One’s public can be so exhausting.

I came home from sharing lovely Rita’s loveliness with her adoring public* to find that both my sisters had called in my absence. Again! It’s pretty cool to know that two people in two different countries are thinking of you at the same time. This may be quite common for celebrities like Rita, but unusual for Me.

I suspect they called because I haven’t blogged in so long and they were wondering what, if anything, was up. You might be wondering, too. But since it’s the Silly Season, a month historically devoid of any real news, you won’t be surprised to learn that there has really been nothing to report.

Things went down and things came up so I didn’t go to late, so maybe they’re just a sensitive bunch of guys.

Since I couldn’t be there in person, I decided to send Kathleen the tickets I would not be using (sob!), along with a quite cute birthday card and a token gift. Since I was, of course, late in getting to the post office, I figured I’d better overnight it. The post office worker fondled the package and asked me what was in it. I told her it was a magnet, and that, my friends, is a big mistake.

Even though the magnet consisted of a sunny daisy blossom captured in plastic with a magnet the size of a baby’s thumbnail on the back, it is apparently a dangerous object. You’d think I was trying to send my friend a handgun or illegal drugs instead of a refrigerator decoration. That might, in fact, be easier. When they mentioned that it would be $43 to overnight the offending package – yes, forty-three fun-filled dollars – the decision was made.

The next tier of service, though more magnet-tolerant and half the price, would take four days, meaning that the tickets would arrive by 5:00 on the day of the game, or approximately 2 hours before the first pitch. I had to hope for the best.

The “going postal” expression began to make more sense to me, though I wondered idly why they call it that when it’s mail, though I guess going mail-al or mail-o doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The notice for the package was there by the appointed hour, but the actual package failed to appear. There may be a bench warrant out for it by now. Fortunately, Kathleen’s friends had standing room only seats, so they could still use my errant and invisible tickets. Oh, and as of yesterday, the hazardous package had yet to be redelivered.

And I thought I was late.

*Literally, in the case of a distinguished older Golden Retriever, who came running when he spotted her and sniffed her with the thoroughness and alacrity usually reserved for vintage garbage or extremely dead small animals. Rita tolerated it, as she does the attentions of puppies, small children, and others who are unable to resist her considerable allure. If she were human, she’d smile and sign autographs. The Golden’s owner exclaimed, “He just loves your dog!” Apparently he had been thrilled by Rita before.

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