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Thursday, November 29, 2012

treasure these few words 'til we're together

There's been a rash of robberies hereabouts in the last little while.  In our little town, where everybody knows everyone else.  The circumstances of the robberies indicate that it is someone local doing it.  So that's neat, one of our own violating our homes.  They have stolen a motley assortment of things, but the main thing they're after seems to be painkillers.  So don't bother coming here, thieves.  The strongest stuff we have is ibuprofen and vanilla extract--although we might have a bottle of Nurse McCready's Surgical Bruise Lotion somewhere.

Here's the story I want to tell you (sorry to those of you who have heard this before):  Some years ago we were at a recording studio, and we were talking about Harry Connick Jr.  Some idiot friend of one of our friends said, "Let me tell you who the next Harry Connick Jr. is:  Michael Buble."  I almost choked him to death.  I'm still angry about it all these years later.  Look, Michael Buble is fine.  I don't hate him.  His vocal style is a little off-putting at times (his enunciation of "holl-a, joll-a Christmas" is enraging), but his voice is quite nice.  But to pretend that he is at all comparable to Harry Connick Jr., that he's even in the same zip code, is ridiculous.  It makes me see fire.  You do not compare a crooner, however charismatic, to a composer/arranger/singer/musician.  They're just from different disciplines; both of them singing jazz music is not the only metric we should be using.  There is nobody out there like Harry Connick Jr., at least not that we've heard about.  Does everything he touches turn to gold?  No, but I'd like to see Michael Buble try to play, let alone compose, something like "Come By Me."  Bleh, it's just an infuriating argument.  I have seethed about this silently with occasional vociferous flare-ups (most recently on Thanksgiving) ever since that conversation, and finally the other day I was able to come up with a proper comparison, one that would have actually made sense for that knuckle-dragging buffoon to make:  Michael Buble is the next Mel Torme.  Not as dominant as Sinatra, but ardently beloved by his fan base, which is not insignificant by any means.  There's nothing shameful about being the next Mel Torme.  I will now put this ugliness behind me.

You should know that I gave up on my book.  Thanksgiving killed me.  I sometimes feel like I should have more energy, and then I wonder if I'm malnourished or depressed or just lazy.  I fear just lazy.  But the Thanksgiving prep was too much for me to do and stay on top of my word count.  I will shelve my efforts and take them up again after the holidays.  NaNoWriMo should take place in January or February, is what I'm getting at, when there is nothing to do except contemplate a voluntary medically-induced coma. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

they look like such big, strong hands

I should already be going to bed right now--twenty minutes ago, in fact, but I am so tired and glum that I can't quite get up off the couch quite yet.  I cleaned the office today, which means rather than organize I just threw a whole bunch of stuff away.  Organizing is so hard, you guys, and a goodly portion of it belongs in the category I will refer to as John's Hoarded Garbage.  Ugh, Willa is so much his daughter.  Every time I threw something away she'd come running in at the sound of the thunk against the can, all, "What was that?  Can I have it?", and I'm like, "It's the purse I had ten years ago that got a bottle of lotion spilled in it, no, you can't have it."  Hoarders all.  There was a sound board that we have lugged around with us through multiple moves, a sound board I don't think I've ever seen in use, and John's telling me we shouldn't throw it away "because it still works."  Do you know what "still works" means in John-ese?  Let me tell you.  It means if someone opened it up and soldered the broken slider, THEN IT WOULD WORK.  He actually said that to me.  I told him I refused to let him get sick enough that throwing his precious away would cause a mental break, so I was just going to put it in the garbage BECAUSE IT IS GARBAGE.  He is a wonderful man, but I've got to stay right on him, or we'll be those people with trails through the mountains of garbage in their house.  It's not like I'm a great housekeeper, so we're on a pretty slippery slope as it is.  That's why John and I are so great for each other.  He sentimentally hoards and I gleefully discard; I am a lazy pig and he keeps our house from falling into total disarray, while cleaning the kitchen sink to operating theater standards. 

In other news, I have lost my passport.  I haven't told the government yet, because I'm still hoping I'll find it somewhere in this black hole of a house that devours passports and shoes and nylons and chef's knives and children's coats.  That's part of the reason I cleaned the office today, because maybe the office ate it.  But no luck.  I'll give myself one more week to find it, then I guess I'll have to apply for a new one.  It really is stressful being a scatterbrain.

Do you feel like the Arabian Nights stories are as vital to a well-stocked library as Grimm's Fairy Tales?  I will hear arguments for and against. 

Do you keep a lid on your butter?  I have to, because otherwise it starts tasting like the spice cupboard.  I had one of these glass butter dishes for a while: 
 
but then it broke, and then its replacement broke almost immediately.  So then I was keeping the butter in a Fiesta sugar bowl that looks like this:
Product Details
only in persimmon, and the handle, which had already broken a long time ago, came apart again, and also the lid started to get mold on it, even though I washed it every time I mashed a new stick of butter in it.  My life is indeed a sea of hardship and woe.  Yesterday I bought this butter dish:


I  think it will work better than the sugar bowl because the butter won't be touching any unglazed portion of the piece.  We'll see.  It's in a new color, which I like.  I like that Fiestaware.  I get irresponsible around it. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

on my drum

Hey howdy hey, possums.  How did your Thanksgiving compare to previous Thanksgivings?  Ours was grand.  The turkey was terrific (very important), there was a superb stuffing, the gravy was wonderful, and the pies went over well.  If memory serves, chocolate chess went first, then pumpkin, then banana cream, then lemon meringue, then apple, then rhubarb.  I was shocked that pumpkin was the second to go--John's family has never been into pumpkin pie.  That's why I only made one, because I didn't want to be lugging it home and getting all plump on the leftovers.  Sooo plump . . . But there you have it.  The pies turned out nice, and I think I made the correct varietal decisions.  And the bamboo steamer baskets I bought three years ago and use for pie carriers have held up wonderfully.  It's like one of my best purchases ever.  I might even buy some more.  To think of some small steamer baskets and mini-pies contained within almost makes me lose the power of speech from its cuteness.  Because see, the genius is that the basket protects the pie from misfortune while still allowing it to breathe instead of sweat.  Another thing I do that I think is smart is I buy my pie plates from the D.I., because they are the old-style Pyrex, with a simple lip and that's it, and they only cost a buck.  As long as nobody has used them as a bedpan or to cook meth, then we're going to be laughing all the way to the bank.  Although glass is non-porous, so maybe we're fine either way.

I wonder what Cape buffaloes are like in person.  Are they aggressive or docile?  If any of you know a Cape buffalo breeder who had too many calves this year you could let them know that I'd love to have one, as long as it's free and can live with goats.

I had to take Groceries to the vet last week.  I hate how the vet doesn't even ask you if you're on board with the various remedies and unguents with which he is plying the animal, and before you know it, boom, one hundred and ten dollars.  So I've been putting some kind of gook in his eye (he has a scratch on his cornea), and putting amoxycillin and some sort of anti-vomiting medication down his throat, and he has been pretty good about it, but then today he came in limping and I'm like, "What the crap, Groceries?!"  He's going to have us in the poorhouse.  I'm going to keep an eye on him for a few days and see if he gets over it.  He'd better, is all I'm saying. 

Also, I bought a turkey on Saturday because even though I ate a lot, a prodigious amount of turkey, it wasn't quite enough, and we had Thanksgiving Second Generation last night.  Baked potatoes instead of mashed, leftover gut dressing from my mom (we threw it out), and I made an apple pie.  I cooked the turkey from frozen and it worked like a charm.  I threw some salt and garlic in the cavity once it had been cooking for a few hours, and it was all flavorful and tender and juicy.  So much easier. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

pat-a-pat-a-pan

Well, we spent the weekend with a severe case of "Dumb Ways to Die" earworms, and I took the kids to Idle Isle for dinner on Saturday for restaurant therapy because John was gone again, because nothing says Christmas like your dad being somewhere else, amiright?  Stupid Christmas.  

I have decided what cookies to make for the cookie thing, and I think they are muy sabrosa. I'm not going to tell you what they are yet, because I don't want you to steal my idea.  Stop stealing my ideas, you guys! 

I also have all my pie decisions made.  There were some strong contenders in the testing pool--including a surprisingly robust showing by dark horse Apple Cider Cream Pie (I expected the children to hate it, but Grant was a huge fan--he placed it above the Butterscotch Meringue)--but alas, I cannot make all of the pies I sampled.  I am very careful about messing with Thanksgiving traditions, so there weren't really very many open slots for new pies.  Here is the Thanksgiving 2012 set list:

1.  apple
double crust, 1/3 tart, 2/3 sweet

2.  Pumpkin
the Herd way, with filling and crust baked separately

3.  Banana Cream
Sue Watanabe filling, 1/2 of a banana pureed and blended in, bananas sliced onto the bottom of the crust, because banana cream purists require that bite of banana

4.  Chocolate Chess
I was thinking there was no way this would win me over, because I am so in love with Chess Classic, but then my children hoovered the sample up like it was going out of style, even Emmett, who hates pie (is obv. a communist), and I realized that this could simultaneously fill both the chess and chocolate cream categories.

5.  Lemon Meringue
I think I use a different recipe for this every time, but I think I'm going to use the Joy of Cooking recipe.

6.  Rhubarb
I want another fruit pie, and another double crust pie, and rhubarb is the business.

The new pies that didn't make it on the list were all good enough that they can be made again, but not for Thanksgiving quite yet.  I'll put them on the farm team for a while, and if they show their mettle they'll be drafted to the big leagues.  I feel bad about the lack of a plain Chess pie, but it's just the way it has to be.

If anybody was wondering, I am still incensed about Pyrex's redesign of their liquid measuring cups.  I started hoarding the old style as soon as I saw the monstrosity they had wrought. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

I like the one with the vomit beard

This is my favorite thing I've seen for a while. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

in my pretty garden the flowers are nodding

Some things: 

1.  Life in the CIA is way sexier than I ever imagined.  Maybe it's actually a front for an international escort service? 
2.  This is a very interesting article. Especially this statement:  "What is emerging from the best research is that the old nutritional mantra—burn fewer calories than you consume—is correct in the thermodynamic sense but useless on the individual level."  The older I get the more I realize the truth of this, both for me and for other people.  
3.  I'm trying to think if there's an adjective that makes a person seem more useless and worthy of mockery than "socialite." 
4.  Some lady on NPR, can't remember which one, said that "gif" is the word of the year, but she pronounced it with a soft G, like Jif peanut butter.  Whaaaa?  The G in it comes from graphic, shouldn't it be a hard G?  That's how I say it.  That's the right way. 
5.  What is with my cats not eating kibble that spills on the floor?  Sometimes I eat food that falls on the floor, and some animal that licks his own behind thinks he's better than me? 

That is all. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

a lot of people hate this hat

We have entered the choice and precious time of year in which I am often able to eat pie for breakfast.  What a wonderful world. 

On Friday we had a master class in blood-drawing.  One of our neighbors is an EMT, and also raises racehorses, so he came and taught three of the members of the Goat Consortium how to draw blood without killing our goats.  We have to have their blood tested to make sure they're healthy before we can breed them.  We watched him do Wendy's goats, then we came to my house and I dug around in poor Hazel's neck for a while until Mike had to do it for me, but then I was able to poke it right in Sally's vein and get the blood we needed.  Exciting!  Every day I learn more things that make me dangerously and deludedly self-assured in medical emergencies. 

Have you started listening to Christmas music yet?  I did a little bit during the weekend, but I'm still not quite ready for a steady diet of it.  It's pretty and all, but sooner or later you're going to run into some dummy oversinging (except Mariah Carey--that is not oversinging, that is good and true), or the radio station will play the Aaron Neville version of "Please Come Home for Christmas" instead of the Eagles version, or they'll play that awful Band Aid colonial vanity piece, or heaven forbid "The Christmas Shoes" with the elfin urchin choir, and then you're mad and wonder how our society went so wrong.  It's treacherous territory. 

Here's my current proposed pie lineup for Thanksgiving (I AM SO EXCITED TO EAT TURKEY I CAN BARELY STAND IT): 
1. chess
I am the only person in my family who likes this pie, because it is so much. But I want to give John's family a chance to taste it and maybe gain a testimony of it. 

2.  apple
I'm leaning very traditional in my pie tastes this year.  Sometimes you don't want apple-cranberry or apple-pear or apple-mangosteen-lychee-Brazil nut.  Sometimes you get sick of all that crap and you just want a plain old apple pie, dangit, is that so hard?  Apple seems like one of those pies that you really miss if it's not there, but also you don't choose first, because you want to try all the others first.  We take apple for granted, is what I'm saying. 

3.  some kind of cream
Probably banana.  I was thinking about banana-chocolate, because I feel less inclined to hew to tradition here.  Is this a culinary misstep? 

4.  pumpkin
Because you have to have pumpkin. 

What are your thoughts?  Should I add more to the lineup?  Less?  Modify the list? 

Along the subject of turkey, yesterday in church I drew this picture: 

Sometimes we don't pay as close attention to the talks as we should. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

teach me some melodious sonnet

Cookies I have attempted: 

1.  Chocolate Meringues
These would have been better if I had continued beating them, and if they had been vanilla instead of chocolate.

2.  Gingerbread Palmiers
These were messy and irritating.  The ones on which the molasses syrup did not burn were good.

Today I'm going to try a spiced pumpkin sandwich cookie.  It's supposed to be a carrot cake sandwich cookie, but I don't like peeling carrots and Emmett is at school.  I worry about this sort of thing.  I like Christmas cookies to make me think of Christmas, but there comes a time when you're like, "The next person who brings me a spiced pumpkin anything is going to be fed to the crows."  There must needs be moderation in all things.  I don't even know why I'm making these cookies; I hate cakey cookies.  Those pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are so rarely what I want, and even then only if there are no other choices.  Except maybe snickerdoodles--ooh, death is not an option:  snickerdoodles or pumpkin chocolate chip?  I might just go without. 

I bought a book of Grimm's fairy tales from Costco the other day, and we are really enjoying it.  I think fairy tales are so instructive, and such a good conversation starter.  Fairy tale people are crazy!

It's time for me to start deciding on pies for Thanksgiving.  Plus I still owe Bart (the guy who takes care of our tiny field even though it's a huge pain in his butt) a banana cream and Jake (a boy in our ward who bought a pie at the trek auction) an apple.  I'm for sure going to try a chocolate chess pie, and maybe a regular chess pie, because that was a transcendent experience for me.  Suggestions? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

in the refrigerator, or, failing that, a cool wet sack

A small prayer for this morning:  Please oh please smite our elected officials with the Stick of Cooperation, the Stick of Bipartisanshipfulness, and the Stick of Being Cool to Us. And if anyone refuses to serve the best interests of their constituency out of sheer cussedness, smite them with rickets or dropsy. 

I got 1000 words typed in my novel yesterday, and it's starting to be not quite so sucky.

On Sunday our YW lesson was about managing time wisely, and there was a good piece of advice in it:  each day, make a list of the things you need to accomplish, in order of importance.  If you only get a couple of things done, or even just the first thing, it's okay, because you worked on the most important one.  First of all, sad for me that that was such a useful piece of advice, as it was along the lines of "Put your garbage in a garbage can, people.  I can't stress that enough.  Don't just throw it out the window."  Secondly, I've done it the last three days, so I guess I'm all better now. What a relief!

I'm trying out recipes for that cookie party--you know the one.  The one we can't talk about.  But I decided I'd go this year, even though I was decidedly underwhelmed by the other entries two years ago, the year I made the Millionaire's Shortbread. Right now I have some chocolate meringues in the oven.  They don't look or taste promising. 

It is a gorgeous day outside, and I'm so happy that we have gotten a little bit of fall after all.  I was pretty miffed when it looked like the week we spent sweating in California was the only week of fall that Utah was going to have.  Lousy winter.  It had better be a prodigiously snowy one, or there's no sense in even having it.  I don't need all that jazz of freezing in the winter if I'm just going to be parched all summer. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

mary jo, lisa

Remember a while ago when I talked about how Mormons name their kids super weird things?  Maybe you didn't believe me.

So, it's not the most hilarious video I've ever seen, and the accents are off, but I very much enjoyed the girl whose hair gets progressively bigger with each Mc name.  And the names are even more insane than I thought.  I love my peeps, but sometimes I wonder about them . . .

Now, go vote!  

Monday, November 5, 2012

volare, whoa-oh-oh-oh

I broke it to the kids today that CHRISTMAS IS CANCELLED.  Weep, wail, gnash teeth!  Not really.  I just told them that we're doing a trip instead of presents for Christmas because we're saving up for a new car.  We'll do a book and a small present, and then head off for our free week in sunny Park City or something like that.  We did this a couple of years ago and loved it, and since John and I don't want our kids to grow up to be greedy S.O.B.s we have typically been pretty restrained in our gift-buying, so the kids are happy with either option.  We have got to get a new car.  Charlie Tuna is just getting too squishy for poor little Ike.  Oh, Li'l Brudder!  He's almost as tall as Emmett, probably outweighs him (I think his bones are made of iron), and I think maybe part of the reason he's so FREAKING HATEFUL in the car is because he is miserable, and seeks that all men might be miserable like unto him.  Maybe he just needs more leg room. 

Haircut on Friday.  I'm sick of the standard bob and am probably going to get a shag-type thing.  I will most likely regret it, but Catherine is wise and will lead me back onto the straight and narrow if I ask for something terribly unsuitable.

My novel was just under 3000 pages, but then I hit a wall and realized that I could not possibly finish it in first person.  So I have gone back to the beginning and am doing third person, and am up to 500 words, which is not even a full page!  Brava, me. You guys, I am so embarrassed about this book.  I hate even talking about it.  My mom asked me what it was about and my face reddened.  So far my mom and John are the only people to whom I've confessed my subject matter, and neither of them seems very impressed, if that tells you anything.  They both half-raised their eyebrows and said something like "Oh, interesting" in that voice that means "Oh, dumb."  And it is!  IT IS SO DUMB.

Are you so excited for Election Day?  I am!  I love it.  I love wearing that little red "I Voted" sticker the entire day.  I have my voter info pamphlet all rolled up in my purse, with my candidates circled in orange Sharpie.  And no matter who wins tomorrow, we can be thankful that all of the problems will soon be fixed.  I'm sure of it. 

It does not seem possible to me that it's 69 degrees in my house.  It feels more like 60.  Oh, I feel so bad for all those people without heat.  Just hearing about it makes me feel panicky.  Being the pessimist that I am, I could never be comfortable thinking that someone was going to come along and help me in a disaster.  What I'm always thinking is that a disaster is all it would take for society to completely unravel and turn into tribes of vicious brutes.  I'm a day person! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

with a subway token and a dollar tucked inside my shoe

I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the first time.  I'm excited about what I've got so far.  Don't get me wrong, it's way stupid.  But I have an extremely vociferous inner critic, and this writing exercise is to help me learn to push through the embarrassment and feelings of inadequacy.  Shut up, Inner Layne.  You don't know my life. 

I just went out and picked some beets and Swiss chard, and I don't know if you've looked at the calendar recently, but if you did, you'd see that it's November.  I guess I must be the best gardener of all time.  I can't find the garlic, though.  Do you think the chickens would have dug it all up and eaten it, or is it just dissolved?  Who can say?  These are the little mysteries that give variety to my rural existence.  I ate a Honeycrisp apple the other day and it was not exactly terrible, but it was one of the least enjoyable apples I've had in a while.  What's going on?  I thought that Honeycrisp apples were supposed to be the hot new sexy thang.  Pfft.  It tasted like a Granny Smith, all spongy and one-note sour.  Thank goodness our Honeycrisp tree died.  I just hope the Cameo doesn't end up the same way.  I've always really liked the Cameos I get from the store, though, and if an apple tastes good in such less-than-optimal conditions as the grocery store, it's probably a safe bet. 

Next Halloween I'm going to buy Nerds and Junior Mints--they were woefully underrepresented in the candy haul this year.  Willa got over a hundred pieces of candy, and most of them were Kit-Kats.  I used to like Kit-Kats a lot more than I do now.  What has changed?  Maybe I just eat better chocolate nowadays.  A Toffee Crisp is better, isn't it?  Foreign candies taste better and have better names, we all know it's true.  I guess America is good at other things.  Sigh.