The Resolutionary

Every year at this time people decide to make their New Year's resolutions.  A lot are too ambitious.  "I'm going to run in a marathon every month."  A lot are too vague.  "I'm going to lose weight."  Some are un-doable.  "I'm giving up homework."

Every year my gym is flooded with new resolutionaries from January through March.  March seems to be when most people give up their New Year's resolution to get in shape, lose weight, and go to the gym every day.  Come March, there is no longer a wait for the treadmills. 

This year, I'm doing the opposite.  My gym membership was one of the first things to go when a job offer came my way.  Until I have a better grasp on what my schedule will be like, there was no sense in paying a monthly membership.  And besides, once the weather improves (I'm such a weather wimp when it comes to exercising outside), the National Mall from the Capitol to the Washington Monument between the Smithsonian museum buildings will be my treadmill. 

This year's resolution will be something more attainable.  Once, after posting the weekly menu, Laoch asked me why I never included lunch on the menu plan.  The kids eat at school and Mr. Gaelic eats at work.  He likes to get out of his office for a while and doesn't take his lunch for that reason.  What I didn't tell Laoch was that I eat on the run.  My lunch is usually a fast-food drive-thru.  For all my cooking clean at the house, I eat trash for lunch.

But this year!  This year, with the help of a full-time office job, I resolve to eat fast-food no more than three times a week.  It helps that there is a cafeteria in the office building. 

Now, if only it were that easy for Mr. G.  He resolved to exercise at least 30 minutes once a week.  He can always lace up his running shoes and meet me halfway on the Mall.  Yes?  We'll see.


Fight Club, Gaelic Style

Mr. Gaelic and I had a fight the other day.  About the laundry.  For more years than I can count, I have been the washerwoman for our family.  Until the girls each turned 12, at which point they were responsible for their own laundry.  But I still do the household linens and Mr. G's and my laundry.

Sometimes Mr. G helps with the laundry.  He does a terrific job of sorting the laundry, most of the time.  He knows which things go in the dryer and which need to be hung to dry, most of the time.  He even folds the laundry when it's dry. 

It's the folding that brought about the fight.

As I fold the laundry, I make sure that everything is neatly folded and placed in the proper place so that when it's time to pull on something there is no thinking about it.  Mr. G, on the other hand, doesn't turn items right-side out.  When the laundry come back to our room, I must then refold the majority of my clothes while his are ready for the drawers.

Trivial, I know.  But it's usually the trivial things that bug us and get under our skin and add up until we (people in general) really can suffer it no longer.  That usually leads either to keeping it bottled up and leading to resentment or lashing out at the other person with a scorecard of grievances.

In our case, I did neither.  I quietly told Mr. G that there was something bothering me that I wanted to talk to him about and asked when we could discuss it.  We pulled two chairs to face each other and I began explaining in a normal voice what was bugging me.  After every statement, he told me what he heard me say so that I was sure he understood me.  I told him how his actions made me feel and asked him if he could come up with a solution.  Again, he mirrored my words and expressed how he didn't mean for his actions (or inaction in this instance) to upset me.  He offered his own solution that I found acceptable.

And that was our fight.

No yelling, no nagging, no hurt feelings, no resentment, no stewing, no slamming doors, no stomping out of the room.  Nothing.  Except a big bear hug after it was over.  We should fight more often.


Seven Deadly Virtues

There are seven of them each, seven virtues, seven vices.  In case anyone needs a reminder, they are Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.  And Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.  I know which ones I deal with on a weekly basis -- Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Envy, and Pride.  Wrath I'm not bothered by, unless someone lays a hurtful finger on one of my children.  Then that person will have to deal with the Wrath of Gaelic.  Other than that, it's just the other six I'm guilty of.

I have no virtues.  Only vices.  All seven of the virtues are quite arduous for me.  I should be more diligent about them.  But then I wouldn't be able to boast of having absolutely no virtues at all.  See, pride is my biggest vice!

A man after my own heart, or finger, has come to my rescue.  He knows that all women need to be reminded of their worst vices.  And in a way that is right in front of women all the time.  As rings on our fingers.  The problem is the way he depicts Pride.  Not my favorite vice anymore.  Looking at Stephen Webster's renditions of the Seven Deadly Vices, I think my new worst vice is Envy.  No, make that Wrath.  No, make it Lust.  Oh, hell, I'll take all Seven of the Deadly Virtues, I mean Vices.


On the Fourth Day of Christmas

After a successful trip for haircuts, seeing Mom's new office was a highlight of the day. Unfortunately, it was locked. Why waste a good visit to a House Office Building without paying a visit to the House ID Office.

The man at the desk was so helpful. After checking my driver's license and recording who was taking the forms, he simply gave me the ID forms to be completed for the Congressman, his wife and adult children, and the office staff. He was friendly and talked to Deirdre about college selection. And who says government workers aren't helpful? In fact, everyone we encountered on the Hill today was exceedingly helpful and friendly.

So the next time that you hear someone degrade civil servants, the government, or the folks on Capitol Hill, just tell them that you know someone who works there who just happens to be the nicest person. And politely ask them to take it back, for my sake.


The Ghost of Christmas Regifting

That does it! I refuse to celebrate Christmas ever again. Either that or I’m going to become a hermit.

The week after Christmas is the annual neighborhood “Regifting Party”. Basically a White Elephant party. A way to trade in (and up?) that chartreuse sweater from Great Aunt Erma.

Before I put my foot down a few years ago, the Regifting Party was fun because of all the extended-family gifts. Back then, the extended family of siblings-in-law, cousins, nieces, and nephews would exchange presents. The problem is that the exchanging of gifts was done out of obligation rather than desire. When people that you’re not close to give you gifts, they don’t always work out. Because how would our relations, who are scattered all over the country, know enough about us to buy something that really meant something to us? We rarely hear from them.

Now they get Christmas cards only. But the kids’ only surviving grandparent still sends a check in early December for me (usually) to buy something for the girls from her since she doesn’t “know what they need” as she says. I don’t mind doing it. But I imagine when she reads her thank you notes from the girls that she’s as surprised as they are to what she gave them.

This year after all the presents were opened and we sat around the living room amid hills of wrapping paper, one of the girls commented that the gifts this year really came from the heart. My gifts from Santa, Finola, and Deirdre all made me cry. (Which is why I won’t celebrate Christmas again. They’re getting too good at making me cry.)

This year, no one asked for anything. No one wrote out lists of Christmas wishes. Each of us in the family had to think about what made the others what we are. Our likes, our needs, our wants.

And they all hit the bull’s eye.

Which means that we have absolutely nothing to take to the Regifting Party. Anybody got any soap-on-a-rope?


Menu Plan: December 27 - January 2

Existentialists, hedonists, skeptics, stoics, epicureans!  Finola and Mr. Gaelic are talking philosophers as I'm thinking food.  Funny that one of my favorite foodie websites is Epicurious

Christmas Day is over, but the Christmas season has only just begun.  And already the planning is underway for two more holidays quick on Christmas's heels.  And just as with Christmas, both of the upcoming holidays have their own set Gaelic-family menu.  The holidays?  New Year's and Epiphany.

When the kids were young, I would cook a private restaurant-quality dinner for Mr. G and me to have after the kids went to bed.  Now teenagers, they stay up later than we do.  And get invited to New Year's Eve parties. 
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  cream of wheat
    • Supper:  pinto beans, okra, rice pilaf
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  pancakes, sausage
    • Supper:  pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  soft boiled eggs, toast
    • Supper:  vegetable soup, homemade bread
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  oatmeal
    • Supper:  tacos, refried beans (use leftover pintos)
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  cinnamon toast
    • Supper:  dinner out at New Year's Eve party (family friends so our kids know their kids)
  • Saturday
    • Brunch:  friend's New Year's Day party
    • Dinner:  neighbor's New Year's Day party
    • Supper:  ham steak, black eyed peas, collards (traditional Southern New Year's Day feast)
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  bacon, eggs, grits, toast
    • Dinner:  roast chicken, quinoa, pumpkin
Epiphany is next week.  Another week to plan.  Even though I already know what will be on the menu on the 6th.  You, on the other hand, will have to check back next week to find out.


An Artistic Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Turn on your speakers, go to full screen, and click here for the story of Christmas.


Winding Down and Catching Up

If you’re my friend in real life, you probably know that when it comes to politics I’m Russia – a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. You also know that although I call myself a [insert political party], I have voted for both parties.

If the past is prologue, then I am back where I began.

It all began on the Senate side of Capitol Hill working for a [insert political party]. My hometown Congressman hired me away from the Senator after less than a year in DC. After I left the Hill to work as a lobbyist, the Senator switched parties. As I noted to my other lobbyists, switching parties didn’t change the way he voted. It was probably all those breakfasts at the White House with the President who was a [insert other political party].

Now that my children are older and Finola is attending a private Ivy League college, going back to paid employment was in the game plan. My life as a scheduler will begin the first Monday in January. The Congressman is a [insert other political party].

The circle is now complete. Come January, I will have worked on both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle. As with any job, there are pros and cons. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. Cue the Stones.


How Good Are You?

Match Game was a hilarious show.  It still is, even in reruns.  The panel just wouldn't be the same without Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, Nipsey Russell, and the dumb blonde at the end of the bottom row.  It was always a dumb blonde, always female, but not necessarily with blonde hair.

Gene Rayburn had the best time with audience participation in asking the panel questions that went like this.  "Dumb Dora is so dumb,"  At which point the audience would yell back in unison, "How dumb is she?"  Gene would smile and laugh like it was the first time that happened.  Then he would complete the question to the panel, "Dumb Dora is so dumb, she tried to BLANK her birthday cake."

Recently in telling a friend about my new job, I said that I was already working on the job without being on the payroll yet.  My new job as the scheduler to a freshman Member of Congress begins on 3 January.  The 5th is the Swearing In ceremony.  But people already are requesting appointments with the new Congressman.  People who will be in town specifically for the Swearing In and the celebrations that follow.  So work I must.  Because he has to have his schedule worked out for that first week.

I told my friend that is the reason I was hired.  Because I'm good at what I do.  "Really gooooood," were my exact words.

Which made me feel like Gene Rayburn with some audience that should be yelling back, "How good are you?"


The Wizard of Ahhhhs

And once again, we are five.  Finola arrived home from college.  She's home.  Home!  And this is her room, and we're all here.  And she's gonna be with us for a while, because she loves us, and we love her, and -- oh, Auntie Em -- there's no place like home!


Merry (Postmodern) Christmas

In getting ready for the coming Christmas season, I stumbled upon this.  It may not be quite what the doctor ordered.


What Did You Say?

If you're going to be sick, it's better to be sick the week before Christmas than during Christmas.  That's what I'm telling myself.

Deirdre brought home a cold.  She gave it to Maeve.  Maeve gave it to me.  I told Deirdre I want to give it back to her.  "Read your receipt.  No returns," she retorted.  But having a head cold complete with stuffy ears means mis-hearing things. 

Maeve:  "What is a..l...mo..?"
Me:  "Did you say a la mode or Alamo?"

Deirdre:  "We're at h....st..."
Me:  "Did you say holly stand or Hollister?"

Mr. G:  "Can you put the s....... away?"
Me:  "Did you say syrup or sex?"

I should have been able to guess with Mr. G's comment.  We had pancakes for breakfast.


Menu Plan: December 20 - December 26

This will be a busy week in the Gaelic household.  Finola returns from college late Tuesday night.  There is a party at a neighbor's house on Christmas Eve afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 for kids and adults.  Deirdre and Maeve are acolyting at the 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service.  That means that Saturday is Christmas.

For as long as I can remember Christmas Eve supper was always spaghetti.  Probably because my mama didn't want to have to spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen if she was going to be cooking a big meal the next day.  That tradition is being instilled in my children.  There were exceptions to the spaghetti rule.  For a while we would alternate hosting Christmas Eve supper with friends.  Our years to host, I would give a nod to the wife's Italian heritage and make a pasta with seven types of seafood.  Still the pasta from my childhood, but the more traditional Italian Christmas Eve flavor.  On our off years, my donation would be a homemade panettone.

Here are this week's menus:
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: grapefruit, toast
    • Supper: butternut squash soup (leftover from last week), fresh baked bread
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: cereal
    • Supper: chili with assorted toppings, rice
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: bagels, creme cheese
    • Supper: potluck (to clean out the fridge)
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: oatmeal
    • Supper: potluck (to finish cleaning out fridge) or delivered pizza
  • Friday
    • Breakfast: cinnamon toast
    • Supper: spaghetti
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: waffles, sausage links
    • Dinner: standing rib roast, red wine sauce, horseradish sauce, Yorkshire pudding, mashed root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, congealed salad, steamed pudding with hard sauce
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: cream of wheat
    • Supper: shepherd's pie (use leftover root vegetables as topping)
 Christmas dinner may sound like a lot of work.  It's the same menu from year to year.  After 20 years of cooking holiday meals by myself, by this time I can do it in my sleep.  Sort of like every other holiday with their own constant but individual menus.


The (Holiday) Time Machine

When Mr. Gaelic and I bought our Christmas tree today, there was still snow on the branches from earlier this week.  Yes, it's only seven days until Christmas.  No, we weren't too busy to get one before now.  It was on purpose.  Waiting until Advent is over before we begin celebrating Christmas.  Advent ends tomorrow.

Next year, we'll be buying our tree from a cut-it-yourself tree farm.  The church where we usually buy our tree sold out yesterday.  The garden center where we purchased this year's tree only had a handful left.  The salesman at the garden center told us that they don't get fresh shipments during December; they get one shipment of trees just before Thanksgiving since people want to decorate after the turkey and leftovers are in the fridge.

If I had it to do over again, I would institute some changes in our house.  Santa would visit on December 6th, the feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.  He's the saint that "evolved" into Santa Claus.  December 25th would be a religious celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and not a celebration of commercialization.  Adults would exchange gifts on New Year's Day as they did in Medieval and Renaissance times. 

I already buck one trend.  There is no Easter Bunny. 

During Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, everyone in the family gives up something.  During those 40 days, we put whatever we have given up in our Easter baskets.  Whether it is Starbucks, chocolate, or scotch, when we are tempted to partake during Lent, we put it in the basket.  For things like scotch or Starbucks, we put in either a new bottle of single malt or a gift card for lattes. 

When Easter rolls around, we can break our fast of what was given up.  But it's a more meaningful symbol of sacrifice if we can see it every day on the dining room table.  After all, that's part of the meaning of Easter -- sacrifice (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter).

How did I get on Easter?  Oh, yeah, before we forsake Him on Good Friday we have to birth the Baby.  Now, if only I could just turn back the clock a few years and have the kids' stockings filled two weeks after Thanksgiving by that almost-forgotten bishop . . . 


One Good Turn

Have you ever worked and worked at something? Trying to get it right. Whether it’s a lay-up on the basketball court and putting some English on your backhand. You practice it over and over trying to condition the muscle memory.

For several months, my routine at the gym has been: 20-30 minutes of interval training on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the rowing machine, 3 sets of free weights (alternating upper body, lower body, and abs), then 15 minutes practicing my ballet turns before ending with a long stretching session. For just as many months, my excuse for not completing the turns crisply was either being too tired or being too rushed or having a stuffy nose and ears (inner ear disturbances through off your balance). They are just excuses. Because I wasn’t finishing the turns with technical accuracy. But then yesterday . . .

Nailed it! [Happy dance] Wow! You should have been there. It was an awesome feat. I was able to stick my tour jeté. That was the Best. Feeling. Ever.

I may never again be able to nail it like that. And I may not do much walking today. Too many celebratory pirouettes across the basketball court.


No, Really, Honey, I'm at Karate Class

It was bound to happen. 

A man wants to go to a bar with his friends and stays a little longer than he should.  He knows that if he calls his girlfriend/wife/significant other that she'll be mad at him for going to a bar.  He needs an alibi.  His friends will cover for him.  But if he whips out his cell phone in the middle of the bar, she'll know where he is and still be mad at him.  It's too cold/rainy/crowded to step outside to call. 

What is the poor chap to do?  How can he convince her that he's not at a bar?

Enter the Teletransporter.  Yes, it's a real thing.

It's a soundproof booth from which he can make a most convincing call.  There are different sound scenarios to play while he calls her.  There's only one catch.  The only ones available so far are in Argentina.  That's quite a ways to go for a beer with your friends just to have a cover with the Teletransporter.


I Know Who I Am

I don't watch TV.  There are exceptions to that rule, such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (gotta see the Rockettes), some sporting events (depending on how my teams are doing), and all of the Charlie Brown holiday shows.  Most TV shows that I've seen are shown via the computer, either Hulu, YouTube, or straight from the show's website.

Although there's one show that I did want to watch last year, even though most of that viewing was after the televised time and viewed directly from the show's website.  "Who Do You Think You Are?"  It's coming back this fall with more stories of family roots.  Learning about celebrities' family trees can be entertaining, but I watch the show for clues of how to search for my own family. 

At what point is my research complete?  It probably will never be complete.  There will always be the proverbial brick wall of an ancestor that I will swear was dropped off by aliens.  It's been said that our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.  My children know me; hopefully I'll be around for my grandchildren to know me.  Two hundred years from now, I hope one of my descendants will have a genealogical chart where I am listed.  And possibly know where my grave is and place flowers on it in my memory and in thanksgiving that, without me, that man or woman would not be standing there.  Much as I have done at countless graves of my ancestors.


Ode on a Sensuous Leg

Oh, to have my legs caressed with a special softness! To feel them wrapped snugly in a warmth that envelopes them entirely. All at once. From my lacquered red toes to the top of my ballet-toned thighs. Front and back and all around. A kind of softness that makes people want to rub their hands all over my legs.

I’ve only felt such a luxurious touch once in my life. And that feeling was so fleeting but also was so memorable that it etched itself forever on my soul.

Now my greed, envy, and lust want it again. My legs desire nothing more. Just to be swathed during the winter in nothing less than cashmere stockings.

But I’m not picky. If you can’t find cashmere stockings, I’ll take cashmere tights or hold-ups as well.


Of This I Am Certain


Now that we've got the kids out of the way, let's talk about Santa Claus.

Do you remember when you were a child at Christmas?  You couldn't wait for Christmas.  Do you remember staying up to see Santa but always falling asleep?  He never came when you were awake.  Even when you weren't sure whether Santa was real or not, you still made a list for him.

During yesterday's sermon, the priest made a comment that I had never heard before.  "The opposite of faith isn't doubt; it's certainty."

He wasn't talking about Santa Claus, of course.


Menu Plan: December 13 - December 19

Almost 200 pounds!  That's how much meat was stuffed into the freezer this past week.  In the long saga of the meat co-op, the last possible pick-up time until next spring was last Wednesday.  My order included a quarter of a cow and a half of a hog.

In reorganizing the freezer, there was a treasure trove of some of the richest homemade stocks you've ever laid eyes on.  They lay forgotten underneath more recent additions of puppy pops (doggie ice cream), frozen yogurt, and Phish FoodPart of the reorganization included making a detailed list of everything in the freezer and the numbers of same items. 

With the discovery of liquid gold, this week will see more soups on the menu.  Even though stock freezes well, it should not sit at the bottom of the freezer never to see the bottom of a soup pot.  And with that, I give you this week's menus.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  bagels, cream cheese
    • Supper:  peanut soup, millet bread
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  cereal
    • Supper:  pinto beans, corn pudding, fried okra, cornbread
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  cereal (again since Mr. Gaelic is catching an early flight to Chicago for business)
    • Supper:  butternut squash soup with bleu cheese, fresh baked bread
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  cream of wheat
    • Supper:  potluck
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  grapefruit, toast
    • Supper:  date night (both girls are babysitting)
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  bacon, eggs, grits, toast
    • Supper:  pizza for girls, Winter Solstice Party with Boat Burning for Mr. G and I (yes, a real Viking tradition)
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  pancakes, sausage links
    • Dinner:  pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans
Our friends, who are Jewish, are having their annual Winter Solstice Party where they burn a boat, just like the husband's ancestors.  Jewish Vikings???  No.  He converted to Judaism for his wife.


256 Shades of Me

Contradictions in my life are a norm.  Usually because society today tends to only see things in black and white, although there are many shades of grey.  Take, for example, some of my liberal opinions.
  1. I believe there should be no Ten Commandments on courthouse squares or behind judges' benches and there should be no Bible to swear on before a jury.
  2. The Church should not be authorized by the State to perform legally binding marriage rites.
  3. Stores should not decorate for Christmas.
I'm a radical, aren't I?

But once people learn my conservative beliefs behind my leftist opinions, they get a clearer picture.
  1. I am a Christian.  At some point there may be a Hindu or Muslim or Wiccan judge who wants to post some of their religious writings behind the bench.  I don't want to see that in a courtroom or on the courthouse square.  I don't want to have to swear on some Wiccan book before a jury.  To prevent that from happening, no one should be allowed to have anything.
  2. Too many churches are already performing same-sex ceremonies.  In wanting to welcome all of God's children, these churches are ignoring the Biblical purpose of marriage.  There should be two marriage ceremonies, the legal one performed by the State and the religious one performed by the Church.  Those who want only the legally binding contract of a marriage certificate would see a probate judge or his representative.  Those who want to live in the Biblically-sanctioned institution of marriage would also have a marriage rite in the Church.
  3. Christmas is religious holy day, not a time to make money for stores.  As a Christian, I don't celebrate Hanukkah or Passover (although I have been invited to Seders and Shabbat dinners).  Seeing non-Christians, or worse former Christians who now claim to be atheists, decorating a tree and going carolling doesn't celebrate Jesus's birth.  Why not only sell Christmas trees at churches on Sundays (or Saturday evenings if there's a service then) to parishioners?  You want to celebrate Christmas?  Go to church!
Do I still sound like a leftist? 

I don't believe we can legislate or force our religious views and morality onto others.  We tried that once.  It didn't work.  (See the 18th and 21st Amendments to the Constitution.)  As much as we may dislike being a melting pot of religions and races and beliefs, having a majority Christian population (for now) should not give us license to inflict our beliefs on minority populations (who might become majority populations in the future and want to inflict their beliefs on us).

According to a paraphrase of Winston Churchill, I am Russia.  I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  However, with that quote, now everyone will be seeing red and calling me a Pinko Socialist Commie rather than seeing all of my shades of grey.


Saint Gaelic

I just realized that when something is bugging me I don't/can't wait until the next day to blog about it (if I've already posted one today).

Take today for instance.  For the past three nights Mr. Gaelic and I have been called saints by several parents.  The latest ordeal began last Saturday night when Dierdre and her two friends Alice and Lori were planning on spending the night at Lori's house.  They were all downtown with their boyfriends before they were to head back to Lori's when they ran into another friend, Jordan.

Jordan is a very petite blonde who was adopted from Russia by a single mother.  There has always been some sort of drama surrounding Jordan and her mom.  The biggest was last summer when Jordan ran away and moved in with a boyfriend several years her senior.  Two other mothers became involved before Jordan was returned to her own mother.

Last Saturday, Jordan told the three girls that her mother had said it was alright for her to sleep over at Lori's too.  Lori's mom asked Jordan if it was okay when all the girls showed up.

On Sunday while Mr. Gaelic and I were sitting in church, my cellphone rang.  We had left Maeve at home because she was tired from babysitting the night before.  I didn't answer my phone but shoved it deeper into my purse to muffle it.  Turns out that the police were at my house and wanted Maeve to call us.

Jordan's mom had called in a missing person's report on her.  The police had gone to all the places that she had been known to go.  Apparently they hit our house before hitting Lori's house.  That's where they found her.

Deirdre and Alice, who returned from the sleepover just after I arrived home, were telling me the whole story (which, believe it or not, I've shortened here) when the police pulled up in front of my house again.  This time Jordan got out of the cruiser and walked to our door and the police drove away.  No how-do-you-do, no nothin' from the police.

Jordan and her mom needed a cooling off period.  It was agreed that Jordan would stay with Alice for two nights and with us for three nights.  Mr. Gaelic talked to her about what her plan was.  She had none.

Mr. Gaelic is the only male in her life.  Her mother is a never-married woman; Lori's father died 11 months ago; Alice found out about her father's affair before her mom did and he moved in with his much-younger girlfriend.  But Jordan needs more help than any of our skill sets allows.

In talking to her mom today for almost an hour, she and I decided that we would drive Jordan to her mom's house this evening.  I don't know whether Jordan will stay or leave again.  As much as I would like to help, she just can't stay here another night.  And I'm not about to turn her out on the street. 

This is what I was actually writing about the other day with the tractor-beam parents and the lighthouse parents.  I really have come to appreciate lighthouses.  They can be the saviors of many.  But still some ships are lost at sea.  I'm ready to hand back my sainthood.

My Chemical Addiction

Element: Redhead
Symbol: RH
Atomic Weight: Accepted as 118, but known to vary 105-175.
Discoverer: It's debatable, some say Adam, but we now know that only God could discover something so perfect!
Occurrence: Copious quantities in all Urban areas, with slightly lower concentrations in Suburban and Rural areas. Subject to seasonal fluctuations.

Physical Properties

1. Surface usually covered with minimal painted film. As a rule, not necessary.
2. Boils at everything, freezes without reason.
3. Melts if given special treatment.
4. Bitter if used incorrectly. Can cause headaches. Handle with care!
5. Found in various states; ranging from virgin metal to common ore.
6. Yields to pressure applied to correct points.

Chemical Properties

1. Has great affinity for Gold, Silver, Platinum and many precious stones.
2. Absorbs great quantities of expensive substances.
3. May explode spontaneously if left alone on dates.
4. Reactive in liquids, even more increased activity when saturated in alcohol.
5. Repels cheap material. Neutral to common sense.
6. Most powerful money-reducing agent known to Man.


1. Highly ornamental, especially in sports cars.
2. Can greatly improve hormonal levels.
3. Can warm and comfort under certain circumstances.
4. Incapable of cooling things down, when it's too hot.


1. Pure specimen turns rosy pink when discovered in natural state.
2. Turns green when placed beside a better specimen.


1. Highly dangerous except in experienced hands. Use extreme care when handling.
2. Illegal to possess more than one.


Good News, Bad News

I have some good news and some bad news.  Which do you want first?

The bad news is that I may not be able to blog as often as I would like to after the 3rd of January 2011.  The good news is that is the start date for my new job with the congressman-elect.  I was offered and accepted the position I wanted.  :)


She Comes from Alabama with a Resume on her Knee

For those of you who wished me luck in my job interview, you are the best!  My phone interview with the Chief of Staff went very well.  So well, in fact that in setting up a time for the interview through email exchanges, he remarked that given my previous experience he felt like he was walking into a BMW showroom.

Then came the interview with the Big Boss.  In all my life I have never had an interview with someone in his hotel room.  He invited Mr. Gaelic to come along; so I took him with me. 

We chatted.  I think I passed because while I was sitting there he called the Chief of Staff and told him that if he wanted to hire me to do it.  I think the job is mine.  We just have to make it official.

My professional life officially started while I was in law school in my home state of Alabama.  To help pay for tuition, I worked in the district office of one of the U.S. Senators from Alabama.  He offered me a position in his Washington office and I didn't look back.  Eight months after moving to DC, my hometown congressman wanted to hire me since I was from his district.  In total I was there seven years before moving "downtown" to a lobbying firm where I lobbied for medical education and medical research.

While pregnant with Maeve, our third child, I decided that I really wanted to be a full-time mother with my youngest and be there for all her milestones.  Which is what I've been for all these years now.

But now I'm headed back to work on Capitol Hill for a freshman Member of Congress from my home state.  I'm pretty sure the job is mine. 

All this is a way of letting you know more of who I am.  And also to explain that my blogging days will be numbered.  After January with the new Congress, I will not be posting updates on Facebook or uploading blogs here.  My time will belong to the constituents of the congressman's district, which incidentally is also my mother-in-law's district.

I will try to blog whenever I can.  I love and appreciate each and every one of you. 


Mrs. Gaelic, In the Living Room, With a Match

Tight opening shot of Mrs. Gaelic in front of the fireplace on her knees lighting kindling to start a fire.  Pull back to include Mr. Gaelic and Deirdre walking in living room.  Mrs. Gaelic looks exasperated, sits back on her heels, looks up at Mr. Gaelic.

Can you come do this for me, Mister Fire Starter?  You're so good at it.  I'm not good at starting fires.

Sure.  [long pause with a deep thoughtful expression on his face]  Tu est très bon dans la chambre.

Deirdre walks up behind her father with a wrinkly nose.

Ewwwwww.  You made me take French.  I've had French.  That's gross.  I don't want to know that. 

Mrs. Gaelic is almost on all fours laughing so hard.

You can't do French.  You can't do Russian.  Forget about German.  You'll have to learn sign language.

I could do sign language for that too.

Yeah, right.

Out of Mr. Gaelic's line of sight, Mrs. Gaelic makes a sign which cannot be repeated on prime time blogs. 


Both Mrs. Gaelic and Deirdre erupt into laughter. 


There's a Light, Over at the Gaelic's Place

A couple of years ago, the adult ed hour at our parish was led by a phenomenal woman who works as a chaplain at a local private school.  Her talk was about children and parents and relationships.

She said there are two types of parents -- tractor beam parents and lighthouse parents.  Remember the scene in Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon gets caught in the Death Star's tractor beam and pulled into the landing bay?  That's like a tractor beam parent. 

They are intent on making the child into what they think the child should be and do and learn and say and befriend.  They latch onto the child and draw that child into their ways, their beliefs.  The children aren't allowed to fully become their own person.

Now imagine a lighthouse.  What does a lighthouse do?  It stands on a craggy outcropping shining its light out into the darkness.  If a ship were to go toward the lighthouse, what would happen to the ship?  It would be destroyed on the rocks.  Ships see the light from the lighthouse and know that the light is leading them to safer waters, not drawing the ships toward danger.

Finola, who sat in on the discussion, claimed that she was the lighthouse to many of her friends.  She thought that being a lighthouse is a very tough position to be in as a teen among peers.  Perhaps she was born old, more mature.

Being a lighthouse parent is also a hard row to hoe.  We've tried to be lighthouses for our children.  Recently we've been shoved into the lighthouse role for Deirdre's friends.  I see the tractor beam of the other parents.  They want their children to be what they want the children to be.  And the children rebel in various and sundry ways, often reaching out to us "the cool parents".

We are no less strict than other parents.  We just know when to pick our battles and which battles are more important than others.  Parenting is a difficult and sometimes thankless job.  I am encouraged by the knowledge that my children's friends feel comfortable enough to seek refuge in the calmer water to which we can lead them. 

With time, perhaps the tractor beam parents and their rebellious children will learn to live with each other's differences.

Menu Plan: December 6 - December 12

A day late and a menu plan short; or, better late than never.  My plan of getting the weekly menu plan done yesterday went up in smoke on Saturday night when I received an email requesting an interview. 

I am the cavalry.  I'm the one who gets called up to the front when the financial need arises.  The need arose when Finola got into such a prestigious private college.  College was in our budget plans.  But we just need a little extra for the private school part.

My job search had not been going very well for several months.  It's very difficult to get to the interview stage when online applications sort potential candidates based on certain words or phrases used in the answers.  It's like a guessing game to figure out what the computers might be looking for. 

Finding a job is always about who you know.  Mr. Gaelic's colleague (Mr. A) passed along a copy of my resume to the son-in-law (Mr. B) of the colleague's (Mr. A's) former boss who passed it along to the chief of staff (Mr. C) of the man (Mr. D) I want to work for.  Since I have been a full-time mother for the past 13+ years, I needed to find out what has changed in my field in the meantime as well as find out a bit about Mr. D so that I know what he's looking for in an employee.  After church yesterday, the afternoon was spent researching all sorts of information and biographical sketches.  Never go to an interview unprepared. 

That's my excuse for not getting my menu plan posted on a Sunday as I have in the past.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  grapefruit, toast
    • Supper:  potluck (where did all that food come from?)
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  cereal
    • Supper:  meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  oatmeal
    • Supper:  steak, baked potatoes (meat co-op delivery day!)
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  cinnamon toast
    • Supper:  baked beans, dirty rice, fried okra, cornbread
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  cream of wheat
    • Supper:  cedar-plank salmon, roasted root vegetables, lentil salad
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  cereal (have to be at church at 7:30 for meal delivery at a retirement home)
    • Supper:  pizza for girls, eat out with Mr. Gaelic (date night)
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  bacon, eggs, grits, toast
    • Dinner:  roast chicken, green peas, mashed acorn squash, dinner rolls
Wow!  I didn't realize just how busy this coming Saturday is until now.  7:30 a.m. meal delivery (similar to Meals on Wheels), 9:30 Deirdre's Girl Scout troop cleanup (at a different retirement home), also at 9:30 Deirdre's Girl Scout home-baked cookie drop-off (as a fund-raiser but not the official boxed Girl Scout cookies yet - those are being sold by our troops beginning December 22nd), 11:00 local charity pick-up of our old mattress and box spring (same group as is organizing the early morning meal delivery), 6:00 p.m. Deirdre to babysit, and finally Time To Be Determined date with Mr. Gaelic (whom I haven't seen much of lately due to his travelling on business). 

Whew!  I'm tired just typing that.  Good thing it's potluck tonight and I don't have to think about cooking.


Rain Delay

Boy, I haven't done anything today.  My menu plan for the week will have to wait until tomorrow at this point in the evening.

You see, I've been busy.  Studying.  For a job interview.

Wish me luck.


The Rusty Gael

For someone who gave up drinking months ago, having one little drink is a lot.  I'm a bit rusty at holding my liquor.  Last night was a scotch tasting event in conjunction with the Christmas parade, which is today. 

At the event, distributors bring in several of their single malts.  Dewar's and Johnnie Walker were there as well, but moving on to the real scotch . . .  There was Aberfeldy, Balvenie, Glenmorangie, Macallan, Laphroaig, Craggenmore, Dalmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenfiddich, Talisker, Glenlivit, Highland Park, and a few more that I can't remember.  The tastes are served in thimble-sized plastic cups.  So not really enough to make a full drink. 

It's also used as a meet-and-greet by the local politicians.  The mayor, various city council members, school board members, muckity mucks, they were all on hand.  The food was, well, what's the word I'm looking for . . . forgettable.  Unfortunately in past years the heavy hors d'oeuvres were enough for a light supper. 

My usual ritual is to compare the less peaty ones as I work my way around the room.  Why I continue to this I do not know.  My favorites include everything from Glenkinchie to Dalwhinnie to Oban to Balvenie.  Never ever put a dram of Laphroaig or Ardbeg under my nose. 

After I determine my favorite of the evening, with two thimble fulls in hand, I make a beeline back to the Dewar's table that I purposefully skip.  In my opinion, blended scotch isn't scotch but a travesty.  At the Dewar's table, my request is simple -- two thimbles of Drambuie.  All four thimble are swirled together in a larger cup (that they have for water and sodas).  Four or five cubes of ice.  Perfection. 

That's it.  I'm done for.  Take me home, James.


Stoopid State Law

There are some pretty silly or downright stupid laws on the books. 

One college town has an ordinance against public drunkenness.  However, you can't be arrested for public drunkenness if you're wearing a morning suit.  My law school exploited that loophole by all of us renting tails for Homecoming while the third years provided trashcans full of fuzzy navels and two other drinks that for the life of me I can't remember what they were. 

My state has a stupid loophole on the books.  When I wanted to ride a motorcycle alongside Mr. Gaelic rather than sitting behind him, I took a class at the local community college.  It was a full day of classroom instruction followed by a written test.  Only if we passed the written test were we allowed out in the roped-off parking lot for the practical instruction.  For someone who had never driven a motorcycle it was fantastic, starting from the basics of how to turn it on.  The DMV driving test was the practical test given by the instructors.  We still had to go to the DMV for the written test.

The loophole in the law that I find stupid is that scooter riders don't have to take any special classes or pass any special tests before they can hop on a scooter.  Granted scooters don't have the horsepower of motorcycles.  But they still need to understand certain things about a motorized two-wheeled vehicle.

I think the law is stupid because, on a recent damp drizzly morning, we were following a scooter rider downhill on a major street.  It was early enough that the only traffic on the street was the scooter in front of us and our big SUV.  I saw the light changing to yellow and knew the scooter was going too fast to stop.  Sure enough, when he hit the brakes he braked with only the back brakes and started fishtailing.  He recovered but knew he couldn't stop and continued on through the intersection.  Thank goodness that the car which was stopped at the cross street didn't immediately start moving when the light turned green for them.  The scooter would have been toast.

Even a motorcyclist with a 250cc bike must pass the written and practical test.  Yet scooter riders are exempt, even though scooters are getting bigger and bigger, some maxi-scooter even up to 800cc's. 

Some things I just don't understand.


Oops, I Did It Again

Remember yesterday?  How I left the gym without underwear?  Well, so, today at least I remembered my underwear.

Today's morning workout was much easier and quicker than yesterday's.  Only a 45 minute abs-and-stretch class.  Followed again by a quick shower.

Today's shower was planned.  My bag was packed with underwear (!), street clothes, warm socks, and the most basic of makeup needs -- mascara and lip gloss.  But no shoes.  I was forced to wear my tennis shoes (sneakers, trainers, whatever you know them as).

It felt so weird.  The only times you'll ever see me in tennies are at the gym or doing yardwork while wearing an old pair.  Wearing jeans to a movie?  Nope.  Sightseeing?  Uh-uh.  Riding a motorcycle?  Never.

One of these days I'm going to walk out of the gym freshly showered and dressed completely.  Down to the underwear and shoes.


Just the Bare Facts

It's a good thing no one pants'd me yesterday morning.  They would have had the surprise of their lives. 

Trying to maintain that weight loss from our summer holiday, yesterday's morning work out entailed 35 minutes on the treadmill (3.5 mph and 3% incline), 10 minutes on the rowing machine, 20 minutes practicing ballet turns and jumps, 15 minutes of upper-body weight training, and 20 minutes of stretching.  My workout clothes were drenched afterwards.  Rather than just leave wearing sweaty clothes, I took a quick shower at the gym.

The thought of putting back on those sweaty clothes made my skin crawl.  But I hadn't come prepared for a shower and change of clothes. 

I hope no one saw what I did.  I can't believe I'm telling you this.

Before exercising, I had peeled off an outer layer of sweatpants, tee-shirt, and sweatshirt and left them in the locker.  Not having anything else to put on, I quickly stepped into my dry sweat pant and pulled the tee and sweatshirt over my head.  Commando style.  No undies.  No bra.  Zip.  Nada.  Nothing.

And no one (until now) was any the wiser.


How the Grinch Saved Christmas

My daddy told tales from his childhood of putting up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  In the old Cary Grant-Loretta Young version of "The Bishop's Wife", they decorate the tree on Christmas Eve.  Donna Reed and kids are decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve when Jimmy Stewart comes in with trouble from the bank examiner.  According to Anglican church tradition, Christmas decorations don't go up until after all four Sundays in Advent have been celebrated.

This year we're following suit. 

It seems that the Christmas creep gets earlier and earlier every year.  Stores were decorated this year even before Hallowe'en.  The week before Thanksgiving there were at least two houses in our neighborhood in full Christmas-light regalia.  Some of my high school friends asked on Facebook whether the day before Thanksgiving was too early to put up the tree.  And some of my close friends put theirs up on Black Friday.

Through the years, I've begun feeling that people seem to be hanging onto Christmas a bit too much.  They try to milk every last drop of party time out of December and leave up the lights on their houses until St. Valentine's Day.  I'm reminded of the Chip and Dale cartoon where they wished for Christmas to happen every day.  After a while it got old.

To appreciate the specialness of the season, it must be fleeting.  To appreciate the happiness of Christmas, we must remember Good Friday.  For to really understand and have a gauge for happiness one must understand grief and sadness.

[This is where my mind races off in tangents about non-Christians, especially those raised in the church who never darken the church door, adorning their living rooms with evergreen trees and giving presents to each other on December 25th.  But that's another rant, er, I mean, blog.]

So in these days of Advent, there is going out a decree from Mrs. Gaelic that all the Gaelic household shall observe Advent during Advent and Christmas during Christmas.  There will be no pop-guns, bikes, roller skates, or drums, no checkerboards, trikes, popcorn, or plums.  No presents, no ribbon, no wrappings.  No tags, no tinsel, no trimming, no trappings.  Not one little speck of the holiday season.  Not 'til the calendar says it's time for the Christmas season.

[Yeah, yeah, I know I'm mixing my allusions here.]

While everyone else in the world (so it seems) is decorating their trees, and mantles, and banisters, and front doors, we'll be lighting purple and pink candles.  And while everyone else in the world (so it seems from past years) will be flooding the stores for 75% off Christmas merchandise, we'll be just getting started with our celebration. 

I may sound like the Grinch with my stern decree.  But for twelve short days, my family will know that Christmas is here for only the briefest of moments before being swept away into the gift-giving season of Epiphany.


The Sounds of Silence

Rarely do I delve into politics on my blog.  But I just couldn't keep quiet anymore.  In my high school days, a wise older man used to tell us, "Your actions speak louder than your words."  In this situation, what also comes to mind is:

"Silence is consent."

"Silence speaks volumes."

"The most profound statements are often said in silence."

"The tree of silence bears the fruit of peace."

All of these could be true.  Of what do I speak?  China's silence on the North Korean attack on a South Korean island and the upcoming war games of South Korea and the United States.  China has been hush-hush on the recent events, and North Korea has precious little oil, and there may be a power struggle going on in North Korea for control of the country. 

Several people have said publicly that they fear another Korean war.  There might be fighting between the two Koreas.  But I doubt it'll be what it was in the 1950s.  To me, this is a good example of knowing one's history and understanding today's geopolitics.  And listening to the sounds of China's silence.


Menu Plan: November 29 - December 4

There was much in the media this past week about Thanksgiving and how the Pilgrims and Indians didn't overeat and then go shopping.  Apparently, during those times people were a bit more conservative with their stores of food, wanting to make the harvest last through the cold winter months.  So it's apropos that today is the first day of Advent.  A time to scale back in preparation for the Christmas season.

The first week after Thanksgiving is also a time to finish off the turkey.  When you order one from the meat co-op you order a weight range.  This year's turkey was on the upper end of the range.  Lots and lots of leftovers.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  cereal (Mr. Gaelic leaves for a business trip)
    • Supper:  creamed spinach, corn pudding, pinto beans
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  oatmeal
    • Supper:  turkey pot pie
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  cinnamon toast
    • Supper:  turkey barley soup
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  cream of wheat
    • Supper:  baked mac and cheese, broccoli, honeyed pumpkin
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  soft-boiled eggs, toast
    • Supper:  pizza for girls, Mr. Gaelic and I are headed to a scotch tasting with heavy hors d'oeuvres
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  waffles, bacon
    • Supper:  tuna casserole, salad
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  sausage gravy, homemade biscuits
    • Dinner:  hot turkey salad, potatoes, green beans
It cannot be December already.  Just where did the year go?  Time for another holiday soon.  Time to pull out the cookbooks and see what can be done ahead of time.  Maybe it's time to dust off my mama's fruitcake recipe.  Lots of planning and decisions coming up.  Stay tuned to see what it'll be.


The Decline and Fall of the Marriage Institution

For several Spring Break holidays when the kids were younger, our family retreated to a resort in southern New Jersey, an older hotel with a huge circular dining room and gracious awnings over the floor-to-ceiling windows.  One of the nice things about a holiday is being away from the hubbub of the everyday world.  One of the grating things about a holiday is being without a newspaper for a week. 

On a cool misty Sunday morning we managed to find a New York Times at a local coffee shop.  Mr. Gaelic got the A Section while my attention quickly turned to the magazine in search of the crossword puzzle.  On the way to the puzzle, there was an article by a woman about her "radical" parents.  An interracial couple, they opted to live together rather than get married.  They raised two daughters during their many years together.

Recently, the Pew Research Center's National Marriage Project released study results claiming that 39% of Americans think that marriage is obsolete.  The same study concluded that 69% of Americans think it's a bad idea for single women to have children.  Apparently, the type of family that I grew up in and that we provide for our children -- working father, full-time mother -- is in the minority today.

I know several women who are single and have children.  Some do it on their own; some live with the child's father; some are a bit of both.  And I know plenty of people who aren't and never will be ready for marriage or should never have gotten married in the first place.  I know lots of people who think that being married is just having a piece of paper and they don't need a piece of paper to prove that they're a couple.

That strikes me as very odd.  Intellectually I can understand their arguments.  After all divorce is more costly than the marriage in the first place.  And there are many marriages that don't adhere to the contract of marriage.  But there's something very official about that piece of paper. 

It's brought into glaring focus in that New York Times magazine article by the woman with a black father and a white mother who never married.  The father had served honorably in the military and when he died was given a military funeral complete with a flag-draped coffin.  After close to 40 years together as a couple, through good time and bad, raising children in a loving household, the military and the federal government wouldn't recognize the woman as the man's next of kin.  They weren't married.  The honor guard presented the neatly folded flag to the eldest daughter sitting next to the woman the man had loved for so long as she looked on with tears in her eyes. 


The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Meat

A couple of weeks ago I kvetched about missing the deadline for the last meat co-op delivery.  You can't keep a good woman meatless.  Incensed about forgetting to hit the checkout button on my order, I emailed the farmer's wife to ask if there were any way to buy from a different delivery location.  However, driving all the way to the farm, about two hours away, was not my preferred pick-up destination.

If you've kept up with the organic, non-GMO, local, free-range debate in books and movies over the past few years, you would know the farmer.  The products he sells -- beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, and sometimes rabbit, lamb, duck, and duck eggs -- are all free-range.  After seeing the farmer prominently in one of the food debate movies and discovering just how close the farm is, my research turned up several co-op delivery sites in my neck of the woods.

Meat products are as seasonal as vegetables and fruit.  Chicken lay more eggs when there's more sunlight in the summer before slacking off to almost none in the winter.  Cows and pigs and sheep give birth in the spring in the northern hemisphere.  If you want to have suckling pig or a leg of lamb for a spring holiday and expect to buy it a week before the holiday, chances are it's from Australia or New Zealand where it would be autumn and the piglet or lamb would be big enough for slaughter.  If you want local piglet or lamb, you'll need to freeze it until the spring.

The farmer's wife wrote back allowing me to pick up at a different delivery site.  Joy!  Elation!  And the delivery date isn't until the second week of December!  That means that the freezer will have been emptied a bit more with all the Thanksgiving dishes having been eaten yesterday.

Good thing.  Since this is the absolute last delivery until late spring next year, I'll need to stock up.  My order included:

1/4 cow (approximately 110 lbs. of meat)
1/2 pig (approximately 100 lbs. of meat)
2 Filet mignons
5 Delmonico steaks
10 lbs. ground beef

That 1/4 cow and 1/2 pig means a quarter of the cow and a half of the pig.  You can order a whole animal if you want, but we don't have that much freezer space.

My only regret is that the cuts won't include a standing rib roast for Christmas or a ham shank for New Year's.  He didn't have any lamb available either.  Maybe the other farmer who shows up at the farmers' market has a leg of lamb to stick in the freezer for Easter. 

The one thing about holidays from my childhood home that I never liked was back-to-back meals.  Mama served turkey for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas, and ham for New Year's Day and again for Easter.  In my house, the now tradition is turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving, beef rib roast and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas, ham, collards, and black-eyed peas for New Year's Day, and lamb and asparagus for Easter.  Oh, and pancakes on Shrove Tuesday which needs bacon or sausage as an accompaniment.

Darn it!  I didn't order any bacon or sausage.  Back to the order form!


Thanksgiving by the Presidents

Sure, the first official Thanksgivings in America were to give thanks for safe passage from England, good land to live on, and a fruitful harvest.  NOT for football, overeating, and sales.  But how did we come to celebrate the fourth Thursday of November as a day of Thanks and Praise?  By proclamation of the President and a bit of legislation to boot.  Check it out here.  (In the legislation, notice the other dates that are set forth as national holidays.)


To the Point

The house is full.  My eldest baby is home from college.  All is right with the world.  Now if only the rear defroster on my car and the water line in the refrigerator would work, everything would be perfect.


Bite Me

Back in my college days, the most interesting class I took was an English class, Romantic Poetry. Romantic as in Romantic period, not romantic as in romance. Romantic as in Lord Byron, John Keats, and Percy Shelley.

One of Finola’s classes for next term is entitled Bite Me: The Cultural and Critical Uses of the Vampire. What? This is considered a comparative literature course? And we’re paying for this?

But then I read the course description.

This course addresses vampire beliefs and their proliferation in cultural forms since the first legends of the undead in Europe and in cultures around the world. What have vampires been made to signify? Starting with early vampire myths and recent anthropological interpretations, we will move historically and thematically through a range of works, considering how vampires have been shaped as carriers of history and genealogy, symptoms of religious and class anxiety, central figures of postcolonial critique, polymorphous sexual identity and addiction, and challengers to prevailing ideologies of gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and immigration as cultural invasion. Theoretical and critical readings will be central.

For someone who wants to major in anthropology, it makes more sense after reading the course description. And the fact that she’s read Bram Stoker’s Dracula several times just for fun can only help.


The Bucket (Book) List

Have you seen the Facebook meme about BBC’s list of 100 books? According to the reposts, the average person has only read six of the 100. The problem is, the BBC never claimed anything of the sort. Turns out that the BBC only asked Britons for their favorite book in a search for the nation’s (Great Britain’s) best-loved novel.

Funny thing about lists. Ever notice how when you stumble across something that says “The Top Five…” or “The Ten Best…” or “Six Things to…” you tend to read the list? Sort of like the Bucket List that’s also going around. “Put an X by the things you’ve done…”

Recently while reading my Facebook news feed (I actually have it set like a news aggregator), there was one list that combined both the Book List and the Bucket List. Let’s call it The Booket List. No, let’s not. That’s just cheesy.

So here is a list of books that the author of the list thinks that every man (since it was on a male-centric website) should read before he dies:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
Collected Stories of John Cheever
Deliverance, by James Dickey
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
The Good War, by Studs Terkel
American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
A Sport and a Pastime, by James Salter
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis
A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee
Hell’s Angels, by Hunter S. Thompson
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Dubliners, by James Joyce
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell
Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison
Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
The Professional, by W.C. Heinz
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
Dispatches, by Michael Herr
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
A Fan’s Notes, by Frederick Exley
Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian
Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (my current reading selection)
Affliction, by Russell Banks
This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff
Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow
Women, by Charles Bukowski
Going Native, by Stephen Wright
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John LeCarré
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, by George Saunders
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
The Shining, by Stephen King
Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford
American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley
What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer
The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene
So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell
Native Son, by Richard Wright
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee and Walker Evans
Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
The Great Bridge, by David McCullough
The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerou
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Underworld, by Don DeLillo
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

As you can see in the above list, my 19th Century Russian literature phase has come to an end (or else is on hiatus). Goncharov and Turgenev didn’t make any list. More evidence that I really must be weird. Now my book of choice is populated with the weirdoes of New Orleans. If we’re known for the company we keep, does that apply to the company of fictional characters in our minds?