Byron Was Dead: To Begin With

Yet another death in our circle of friends. This time a high school friend of Mr. Gaelic. To quote Mr. Gaelic, Byron "was a creative artist, a radical free spirit and an angry voice in the wilderness of Alabama." The best tribute I've read so far was written by another blogger. As part of the tribute, he posted a video that speaks to the absurdity of it all.


It's All in the Way It's Used


Finola, the eldest child, is seated at the computer. Maeve, her youngest sister, stands behind her. Thing One, the male cat, lies curled in a circle on the couch.

Both girls look up when they see Mrs. Gaelic, their mother, walk into the room.

Guess what we did today?
We trimmed Thing One's nails because he scratched Finola when she tried to pick him up.
Did you hold him in a towel?
No. Maeve just held him down while I cut his nails.
Y'all should do Thing Two's nails since she scratches my furniture.
We would if we could corner her.
Mrs. Gaelic picks up a lap blanket from the couch and walks into the family room.
Finola, you stay by the door. Maeve, you help me get her.
Maeve and Mrs. Gaelic close in on Thing Two, the female cat, behind the couch. Mrs. Gaelic tries to wrap Thing Two in the blanket as Maeve and Finola gather around Mrs. Gaelic. Thing Two squirms her bottom out of the blanket and immediately lets go a wet kitty fart that send some wet kitty poo flying onto Mrs. Gaelic's hand.
I guess that's where they got the term "She had the sh*t scared out of her" from.
Mrs. Gaelic laughs even though her teenage daughter just used a four-letter word. But in context.


Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Don't you love when your state offers a tax holiday on certain goods? My state held the annual back-to-school tax-free weekend recently. Thankfully, my fashionista teenager was out of the country and was none the wiser that while the cat's the mice will buy.

About thirty miles from my house is an outlet mall; so off we went in the waning hours of the tax holiday weekend. We were on a mission: blue jeans for my youngest daughter who grows like a weed but whose slim frame makes it nearly impossible to buy ready-to-wear that's not cut for the ever expanding waist lines of America's children.

Horror of horrors awaited the 11-year-old. I dragged her into a store for me! Bad Mommy! Buying something for the child then expecting the child to reciprocate and wait patiently for Mommy!

Come close and I'll tell you a secret. I'm a shoe snob. I will only buy really well made shoes. Ladies, check your shoes. If you see a vertical seam on the instep side of the shoe, the manufacturer cut corners by using two pieces of leather to make the shoes. If there's no seam, they used one piece, which takes up more leather, and is therefore more expensive to make.

My shoe snobbery leads to a closet full of mostly designer shoes. But realizing that I could be the next Imelda, I only buy my shoes at outlets or places like DSW.

Having decided on a pair of the baddest, blackest, pointy-toe patent heels to cross my path in years, I resigned myself to paying tax on them since, even at their deeply discounted price, they were over the $100 per item limit for tax free. (I also had a replacement pair of black sandals under my arm.) As the cashier rung up the total, she said if I bought two regularly priced items I could get another thirty percent off the shoes. Any two items. Even two dark chocolate bars of chocolate.

My haul of two pairs of designer shoes, regularly priced at $379.99 and $249.99, plus two bars of Godiva dark chocolate, came to a whopping total of $132. No taxes paid!


Say When

A few days ago I complained about all the death and sickness around me. To paraphrase Dory, Knock it off, God.

Sitting at my birthday dinner Thursday night, I inquired of Mr. Gaelic how his day had been. Big mistake. He said that he hadn't wanted to tell me because it was my birthday, but that the woman in the office across the hall from his collapsed at her desk from an aneurysm. It took the EMTs over 20 minutes to get there.

Yesterday's mood at his office was very somber. All meetings were cancelled. The news is that they're keeping her on life support until her kids can fly in from Hawaii.

Enough already!


A Wine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Six courses. Superb! Wine pairings. Inspired!

To begin...

An interpretation of arctic char and tuna carpaccio served with a Sauvignon Blanc SudTirol “Tramin” 2007

Lobster salad with heirloom tomatoes, diva cucumbers, english peas and Bellavista served with a Roero Arneis “Prunotto” 2008

Carrot flavored pappardelle with a rabbit ragu in a white wine sauce and fresh thyme served with an Aglianico Bisceglia “Terra di Vulcano” 2006

Risotto with saffron, Tuscan Pecorino and fava beans and garlic pesto served with a Barbaresco “Produttori” 2005

Roasted Muscovy duck breast with Trevisan radicchio puree, chicory and raisin timbale and 25 years old Balsamic served with a Giampaolo Motta “Giorgio Primo” 2003

Carnaroli rice pudding parfait with blackberry compote and citrus tuille served with a Maculan “Dindarello” 2006

Before the dessert course, the waiter presented me with a silky tiramisu served in an extra large martini glass complete with a single candle and a rectangle of white chocolate inscribed with Happy Birthday. The only thing better would have been if our table was in the kitchen and the chef was the one telling us about each course rather than the waiter.


My Little Town

Everybody, sing with me now... "Nothing but the dead and dying Back in my little town..." That about sums it up.

I've had enough of death in the past two years to last me well into my 80s. But now, that hooded figure is lurking around again. He took a friend of 20-plus years over the weekend. She was only four months older than I and never smoked a day in her life but succumbed to lung cancer. Speaking of lung cancer and never smoking, the wife of a friend of mine has been diagnosed with it even though she didn't smoke either.

Then there're the brain tumors. A friend and neighbor's tumor was discovered after she had a seizure. Her son had to go back to his city an hour and a half away. She needs someone to stay with her, mostly for balance issues and helping with fine motor skills.

Speaking of staying with friends who need help, I signed up to sit with yet another friend who has colon cancer while his wife is at work. My youngest daughter will go with me since she and his son hang out together at school. His wife warned me that he doesn't look like what I'm used to, having lost his hair and is down to just 125 pounds.

Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of death, dying and bereavement. For once, I'd like to go for more than six months without finding out that another friend has some life-threatening illness.

But the only way to do that is to cut back on the amount of friends we have. Because as the songwriters of this blog's opening song remind us in a different song, "a rock feels no pain and an island never cries."


Here a Moo, There a Carrot

Ever noticed how people tend to go green only when it benefits their own bottom line? Think about all the money saved by switching to CFLs, grouping errand runs, replacing old windows, and a myriad of other cost- and environment-saving ideas.

At one of my favorite grocery stores, they give you a credit for each reusable grocery bag you fill up rather than one of theirs. Our parish has a recycling bin next to the trash can (granted this doesn’t save the church any money but it looks responsible). There’s even the Cash for Clunkers program designed to get inefficient cars off the road.

There’s one place that no one goes when talking about climate change – eating meat. Nobody touches the subject. Like it’s a sacred cow or something. But I read something both interesting and disturbing the other day. According to a 2006 United Nations report, raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars.

Chew on this for a minute: Consider how much energy is involved in growing the food that is fed to the animals long enough for them to become large enough for slaughter to feed you and me. (Yes, I’m an omnivore. Nothing better than a rare to medium-rare filet.) On top of the energy used to rear animals, there’s also the poop that leaches nitrous oxide into the air and streams. Don’t forget about the methane that they emit.

Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week. Just one! That’s like have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, some fruit or carrot sticks for a snack, veggie lasagna for lunch, a handful of nuts in the afternoon, a plate of baked beans, corn pudding, and creamed spinach for supper, and some popcorn for a late snack.

When you look at it in terms other than micro economics, you’ll be saving more than money. Meat costs more than vegetables. It also adds more calories to your diet. Save money while cutting calories while helping the environment. All by just going vegetarian once a week.

So if my family eats all veggies once a week, can I keep my gas-guzzling SUV?


You Say It's Your Birthday

I don’t know what’s a better birthday present – starting my birthday week with the Paul McCartney concert or finding my long-lost bestest guy friend on Facebook.

Update of the friend first: He made it out of Iraq alive even though some of his fellow pilots weren’t as lucky. He’s got a brand-new baby girl and enjoyed some very productive turkey hunting.

History lesson for today: I was born on the anniversary of the first wartime use of an atomic bomb. And also Lucille Ball’s birthday. Which sort of explains me as a whole – a redhead with the temper of a nuclear bomb. Oh, wait, that’s redundant. Nevermind.

Sir Paul: Come to find out that our third child’s godfather was attending the concert as part of his 50th Birthday celebration, thanks to his wife’s posting it on Facebook. Rather than fight traffic closer to concert time, we arrived two hours ahead of time, found our friends, and tailgated our way through a couple bottles of sparkling rosé and some wicked vodka tonics. We parted ways at the gate, us to our cheap seats, them to their prime real estate on the field. A little ways into the warm-up act and Mr. Gaelic gets an email on his Blackberry from a friend at his office saying that the man has two extra tickets on the field, do we want them? Do you have to ask?

On the field! Section B, Row 10, Seats 19 and 20! Didn’t have to use the binoculars! Soot on the nose from the fireworks during Live or Let Die. Confetti down the shirt after The End. Stood (or should I say danced?) the entire two and a half hours of Beatles, Wings, and Macca.

So he didn’t play Birthday. Who cares? He played Something.


Move On Back To Squares

Phenomenally addicting pentatonic scale generator.