Vocabulary Lesson #25: Lakeside Park

Nov 30, 2009



To Withdraw

Nov 29, 2009

- to move back or away

- to draw back from a battlefield, as in retreat

- to remove oneself from participation

- to become socially or emotionally detached

Nothing of Interest

Nov 28, 2009

This is just to say that we're hanging with family for the Thanksgiving holiday.

And a quick reminder that every family is crazy; we're just more comfortable around the crazy we grew up in than with an other crazy on the planet.

*kiss* *kiss*

Fireworks on Thanksgiving

Nov 27, 2009

Every year, after we've demolished a turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie with our families, Handsome and I drive to the Houston Galleria for the Uptown Holiday Lighting. Caroling and Santa and FIREWORKS!!

For me, this is the official start of Christmas and this year was one of the best ever. If you get the chance to go next year, go. It'll be the 25th anniversay of this celebration and it looks to be the biggest ever. And maybe we'll see you there.

A Week of Baking

Nov 26, 2009

What I've been up to lately:

Parmesan Rosemary Butter Crackers, (modified with rosemary instead of thyme, a little more butter and a little less flour)

Zucchini Bread, (well, maybe not this exact recipe, but this was the closest I could find to mine. except I skip the walnuts)

Bourbon Pecan-Pumpkin Butter Pie

Pumpkin and Cinnamon Pecan Breakfast Rolls, (completely made up recipe using puff-pastry, left-over pumpkin butter, and minced cinnamon pecans)

Autumn Spice Sugar Cookies (really just left-over pie crust with sugar & spice sprinkled over)

Mom's Homemade Cornbread Dressing (time well spent in My Momma's kitchen on Thanksgiving morning learning her secret recipe)

Talk About Conspiracy Theories

Nov 25, 2009

Why are none of the major media outlets reporting about this story?

If modern climatologists have faked, distorted, or deleted data to support their theories of global warming, which has resulted in our nation and others actively pursing legislation to implement policies to address the "problem," we've got a much bigger problem than the weather.

Vocabulary Lesson #24: Stick It Out

Nov 24, 2009



Good Stuff

Nov 23, 2009

How to lose an argument online

I'll go ahead and say I think these rules apply for most human interactions and shouldn't be limited to online conversations, as do his recommendations for civil behavior that wins favor with others.

And I'll even go so far to suggest that civil, polite discussions can be distilled to one idea: "Love is patient and kind." Patience and kindness cost us nothing, but are some of the most valuable skills we can ever learn. But they take practice, practice, practice.

Has It Ever Occurred to Anyone?

Nov 22, 2009

That pinning down a screaming, thrashing infant in order for a stranger to poke bloody holes in her ears might be just a bit cruel? Because the blood-curdling wails suggest that the poor child was being tortured.

For Your Reading Pleasure

Nov 21, 2009

A few new favorite websites:

The Art of Manliness

1001 Rules for My Unborn Son

Mental Floss

How Stuff Works

Go! Read! Enjoy!

Civilization and Civility

Nov 20, 2009

What separates us from the animals? It's not language or opposable thumbs or even self-awareness.

It's our behavior. Which explains how the lack of instruction in manners and common decency has led a good portion of our youth astray - behaving rather more like animals than civilized humans.

Allow me to share with you the Unclassified Laws of Etiquette. Selected excerpts:

Never betray a confidence.
Never laugh at the misfortunes of others.
Never fail to give a polite answer to a civil question.
Never associate with bad company. Have good company, or none.
Never exhibit anger, impatience or excitement, when an accident happens.
Never fail to tell the truth. If truthful, you get your reward. You will get your punishment if you deceive.
Never fail to say kind and encouraging words to those whom you meet in distress. Your kindness may lift them out of their despair.
Never refuse to receive an apology. You may not receive friendship, but courtesy will require, when a apology is offered, that you accept it.

And my favorites, combined for effect:

Never fail to speak kindly. Kind words do not cost much, and yet they may carry untold happiness to the one to whom they are spoken. Never give all your pleasant words and smiles to strangers. The kindest words and the sweetest smiles should be reserved for home. Home should be our heaven.

What He Said

Nov 19, 2009

"Did I do anything wrong today," he said, "or has the world always been like this and I've been too wrapped up in myself to notice?"

"All right," said Ford, "I'll try to explain. How long have we known each other?"

"How long?" Arthur thought. "Er, about five years, maybe six," he said. "Most of it seemed to make some kind of sense at the time."

"All right," said Ford. "How would you react if I said that I'm not from Guildford after all, but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse?"

Arthur shrugged in a so-so sort of way.

"I don't know," he said, taking a pull of beer. "Why, do you think it's the sort of thing you're likely to say?"

Ford gave up. It really wasn't worth bothering at the moment, what with the world being about to end. He just said, "Drink up."

He added, perfectly factually, "The world's about to end."

Arthur gave the rest of the pub another wan smile. The rest of the pub frowned at him. A man waved at him to stop smiling at them and mind his own business.

"This must be Thursday," said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. "I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Phoning It In

Nov 18, 2009

Today is day 18 of NaBloPoMo, and this post is just to keep me in it. Because:

* My back is friggin' killing me.
* I've been coughing up my lungs for a couple days. It seems to have subsided, but the yucky, tired feeling persists.
* I've had a low-grade fever.
* I need a nap even though I've slept for like 20 of the past 24 hours.
* I'm going to make some tea and maybe lie down again.
* I really hate feeling crappy. Hate!

Brussels Sprouts

Nov 17, 2009

Brought to you by the Baptist Wine Club and the letter B.

So The Other Joe wants my recipe for Pork Loin Chops with Brussels Sprouts. And I'll tell you something about it, I don't remember where I got the basis for this, except that I ate a meal of salmon and brussels sprouts somewhere in California or Washington state on a business trip. I think, it's all a little vague. But I absolutely remember the bitter tang of the sprouts in combination with the other flavors on that plate. It was one of those meals you pray is served in Heaven, so you won't be deprived of its enjoyment once you shuffle off the mortal coil. It was that good.

With that said, I just sorta made up this meal earlier this week because thick-cut pork loin chops were on sale, and I just flat-out wanted some brussels sprouts. First and foremost - cook the pork chops any old way you like them. Mine were dusted with sage and dredged in bread crumbs, then sauteed in butter. You could do a roast with a little gravy made with the drippings deglazed with Calvados or port. That would be delicious.

Now for the important details. The secret here is in those infamous sprouts. You'll need about a pound, removed from the stalk.

First, peel off any outer leaves that look wilted or dirty, then rinse in cold water.

Next, cut off most, but not all, of the tiny little nub that holds it all together. Slice each sprout length-wise (top to bottom), so that each little half is held together by that leftover stalk-bit. Now, slice each half horizontally* to the nub, so that you end up with a sort-of miniature shredded cabbage looking pile.

Separately, mince about half a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic. Keep these separate because the garlic goes in near the end.

To cook, saute the onion in some butter and olive oil till transparent. Add the shredded brussels sprouts, sauteing for 4-5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and some sea salt and fresh-ground pepper. Stir it all together and as soon as you smell the garlic, pour in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth OR 1/4 cup vegetable broth plus 1/4 cup dry white wine. Simmer for a minute or two till slightly reduced.

Serve with pork loin chop of your choosing. Enjoy!

*I really should have take pictures. This seems difficult to explain, but it's actually pretty simple if a little time consuming. Alternatively, you could just quarter the suckers. That would be faster and just as pretty.

Vocabulary Lesson #23: Color of Right

Nov 16, 2009




Nov 15, 2009

On any given day, I'll have three or four books "in progress." I guess that's to say I read a lot, and often many different things at the same time.

This morning, I finished Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, and 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, the book based upon Julie Powell's 2002-2003 blog, upon which the movie Julie and Julia was based. I haven't seen the movie, yet. While I'm not necessarily inspired to make a mess of my kitchen learning French cooking, I am fascinated at how such an insane project could help a young woman become who she is. And that holds for both these daring ladies.

I'm also working my way through Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, which is both a travelogue and the story of one man's grief. Neil Peart journals his internal pain and external wonder, making his way toward some sort of peace with an unfair universe. The writing is lyrical and often painful; I have to take it in measured doses.

When I'm cooking in my kitchen, I'm listening my way through Alexander McCall Smith's series 44 Scotland Street, the adventures and misadventures of the residents of an Edinburgh apartment building. The stories are light, delightful, and equally humorous and poignant.

Next up is Shanghai Girls, the third novel from Lisa See, which again explores the lives of Chinese women whose destinies are often predicted by the era in which they lived and the traditions of strict and foreign culture.

And after, or maybe during, Shanghai Girls, I'll be dipping into C.E. Murphy's Walking Dead, the fourth novel in her Walker Papers series. These novels, set in Seattle, detail the mysterious adventures of Joanne Walker, a modern-day shaman and police detective. I think there are ghosts and zombies in this one!

Oh and let's not forget Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham, which I am expecting any day now and will probably be writing more about as I read through.

So, I'm reading inspiring auto-biography, travelogue, literary AND science fiction, and some self-help. Goodness that's a lot of words.

The Slow Dark Spiral

Nov 14, 2009

My maternal great-grandmother committed suicide in her mid-thirties, there on the back porch while her children watched.

My maternal grandmother never quite recovered from the early death of her third child, and while she had moments of laughter and happiness, there was a always sadness in her eyes. She never spoke of him.

My mother collapsed into a major depressive episode when she was only a couple years younger than I am now. One day, she quit her job, came home and went to bed, not to emerge for a few months.

But she got help. She talked about what was going on in her mind. Somedays, still, I can hear that dark edge in her voice, but I haven't seen her succumb in the past 20 years. I guess she's coping, or a least putting up a quiet fight against the black hole of depression.

And there are dark days here, too. Days when effort is useless, life is hopeless, when all joy has been sucked out of the universe. And I wonder if I'm next.


Nov 13, 2009

Driven up and down in circles
Skidding down a road of black ice
Staring in and out storm windows
Driven to a fool's paradise

Driven to the margin of error
Driven to the edge of control
Driven to the margin of terror
Driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole

Driven day and night in circles
Spinning like a whirlwind of leaves
Stealing in and out back alleys
Driven to another den of thieves

Driven in - Driven to the edge
Driven out - On the thin end of the wedge
Driven off - By things I've never seen
Driven on - By the road to somewhere I've never been

The road unwinds towards me
What was there is gone
The road unwinds before me
And I go riding on

But it's my turn to drive

-excerpted from Driven, Test for Echo, Rush

Oh Sure, Blame the Pelican

Nov 12, 2009

Today's headline: Man distracted by pelican drives Bugatti in marsh

What the headline doesn't tell you is this: "The motorist dropped his cell phone, reached to pick it up and veered off the road and into the salt marsh."

So it wasn't really the bird at all. It was dropping his phone and attempting to retrieve the device that was the real distraction. Proof that money can buy you expensive cars, but it can't buy you common sense.

And In Other, Better News

The brown pelican was removed from the endangered species list yesterday, after reaching the brink of extinction in 1970, a combination of DDT poisoning and feather hunters. In fact, along the Texas Coast, the Eastern Brown Pelican had dropped to only a few dozen mated pairs.

I have often had an affinity for this majestic bird, watching the graceful lines as they fly in formation along the coast and occasionally dive-bomb the surf for a meal. To me, they are absolutely beautiful, and I have long awaited this good news. Over the past decade, especially, I have noticed their numbers increase so that flocks in flight are now a dozen individuals or more rather than only a few, as during my childhood.

And now, they are recovered. I couldn't be happier.

The pelican is a symbol for self-sacrifice, devotion, and philanthropy, and has been used throughout Christendom as a symbol of Christ's Passion and the Eucharist.

Gimme a F@*%!#& Break

Nov 11, 2009

Euphemism of the day: "faith-inspired violence"

Not even Fox News is willing to call a spade a spade.

Happy Wednesday

Some days the office is just work, and some days it's fun. Today is one of the latter.

Everyone is sharing their favorite unusual cover bands. Some fun ones:

Reel Big Fish, jamming ska-punk covers of rock bands like Duran Duran and Poison

Dread Zeppelin, chilling out with reggae versions of (you guessed it) Led Zeppelin

Hayseed Dixie, rocking out AC/DC (and others) bluegrass style

What about you? Got any cover bands that make you happy? Share the love!

Texas Tragedy

Nov 10, 2009

As anyone who watches or reads the news can attest, all eyes have been focused on Fort Hood the past several days. Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world with more than 35,000 individuals residing on or near the base, and it's only an hour from my home north of Austin.

What I find most shocking about the debate surrounding the mass murder that occurred is that military and intelligence individuals KNEW the danger and did nothing. The army will kick you out for your sexual behavior, but sedition and treason are blatantly ignored in the name of political correctness. Heaven forbid we should offend anyone.

The men and women in our armed services deserve better than this, to die at the hands of a jihadi masquerading as a "brother in arms."

Our prayers are with the families of the fallen and the recovering victims and the defenders who brought down a madman. We are thankful for their service, and their bravery in a war that has come to our front yard.

It should never have come to this.

You'd Think We'd Be Beyond This By Now

Nov 9, 2009

Had a cavity filled this morning. For the first time in nearly ten years. I thought I was done with this stuff already. Gah!

Vocabulary Lesson #22: Twilight Zone



The Strong Life Test for Women

Nov 8, 2009

My Lead Role is Influencer. "You begin by asking: 'How can I move you to act?' In virtually every situation your eye goes to the outcome."

My Supporting Role is Weaver. "You begin by asking: 'Who can I connect?' You see the world as a web of relationships, and you are always excited by the prospect of connecting two new people within your web."

What about you? Take the test and share you results!

On Happiness

Nov 7, 2009

Wherever researchers have been able to collect reliable data on happiness, the finding is always the same: greater educational, political, and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women as compared to men.

The second discover is this: Though women begin their lives more fulfilled than men, as they age, they gradually become less happy. Men, in contrast, get happier as they get older.

- from Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

Ten Long Years

Nov 6, 2009

We spent Christmas and New Year's Eve of 1999 in Paris.

We toured Notre Dame Cathedral. Le Louvre. Avenue des Champs-Élysées. L'Arc de Triomphe.

We lit a candle for my dying grandfather in Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, beneath the sacred heart of Christ. I prayed for him. My candle - alone - went out. We left the cathedral in tears. We knew.

Later to the South. We toured the Langedoc: Montpellier. Carcassonne. Nîmes. Le Côte d'Azur. It was cold and grey.

We celebrated the Millennium at La Tour Eiffel. A German stranger planted a big wet sloppy kiss on my right cheek. We drank Champagne on the Avenue de New Year near the Palais de Chaillot, looking across the river to the fireworks. That effervescent edifice that signifies all things French.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world. But I missed him. Still do.

In my secret heart, I think the WWII Merchant Marine would have gotten a kick out of that city on that day. I know he'd have enjoyed my being there on that other day. All those other days. So, I try to make it up with my one remaining grandparent. Handsome's inimitable grandmother, the Capo di Tutti Capi of his clan.

I'm pretty sure it's not enough . . . that too late is just too late.

Red Lipstick

Nov 5, 2009

I think every woman should have a tube or three of red lipstick, one that is absolutely perfect for her skin-tone and personality. I happen to have about a dozen tubes of red lipstick, because I just love it and can't resist new colors.

But, for posterity, I'll share my current favorite: NARS Rouge D'Enfer*

It's luscious and satiny, goes on perfect every time even without lip liner, and it moisturizes lips all day long. I always feel like a million bucks wearing it. And unlike many other red lipsticks I've tried, I don't feel like "HERE COME JENNIFER'S LIPS!" Mostly, I feel like, "Watch out world, here comes Jennifer!" And that's a pretty good feeling.

*Should I be worried that Rouge D'Enfer means "Red From Hell"? Because it sounds . . . naughty? . . . wicked? . . . sinful? Ou peut-être "Rouge D'Enfer" est parfait pour moi. Non?

The County Line

Nov 4, 2009

Not my favorite BBQ joint in Austin, to tell the truth. I prefer Rudy's, whose Sause is hot and tangy. Not sweet, which I DO NOT LIKE! So there.

Green-Eyed Monster

Nov 3, 2009

Know what's hard dumb? Feeling jealous when others claim the top prize. Because they deserve their prize, really, they do. They kicked sales butt, as did everyone you know.

It doesn't help that I'm a bit (ha!) of a perfectionist and anything less that #1 is a huge disappointment leading to hours of self-flaggelation and resulting in self-induced depression.

Told you it was dumb.

Well, once the depression wears off, I'm still there. Hopefully more determined, with a better attitude, and a plan to claim that prize the coming year. Because I don't want to fight the green-eyed monster again.


Vocabulary Lesson #21: Working Man

Nov 2, 2009




Nov 1, 2009

Well, this is me. Playing along with National Blog Posting Month. Nearly missed the first day, which is an inauspicious beginning.