Rot Off the Press

OMG!  Have you heard?  Jennifer Grey is the judges' favorite on "Dancing With the Stars".  Snooki wants to date a nympho.  "Australia's Next Top Model" crowned the wrong winner on live TV.  Michael Douglas has cancer.  And the Bachelorette just broke up with her fiance.

When did this happen?  When did talk shows like "The Merv Griffin Show" devolve into Jerry Springer and Howard Stern?  Will we do anything for our 15 minutes? 

It used to be that only "white trash" would air their dirty laundry in public.  That lesson stuck so hard that I view all "reality" shows as catering to the sleaze factor of the trailer set.  Come on, people.  Do we really need to watch a bunch of vapid narcissists out-shallow each other with their tantrums and gotcha moments?

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that there is only one television set in the Gaelic household.  And the one set is usually unplugged (damn energy vampire) and turned on only for special occasions or Netflix viewings.

Just as the families on "19 Kids and Counting" and "Sister Wives" don't discuss how their religion plays a major role in having so many children or spouses, this blog is doing a grand job eluding the question of whether activities like blogging and Facebook updates aren't grasps for 15 minutes' worth of fame, if only from a small number of people.  Is it really important that the people I went to high school with know whether I had an intense ballet class or am missing Finola?  Who do I write for?  Why do I write?

Is it important to know that gunmen hijacked a school bus in Nigeria and kidnapped 15 children?  What does it mean that Syria and Iraq have restored full diplomatic relations (you mean they broke diplomatic relations sometime?)?  Who is Kim Jong-un and why did he go to boarding school in Switzerland?  Is Brazil's cozy relationship with Iran really threatening the presidency of Dilma Rousseff?  Does the Spanish unions' strike have anything to do with the austerity measures in other countries?

Do most people prefer the pablum of fluff?  Has our national attention span been relegated to mere seconds?  Is anybody still reading this?

Maybe none of us is better than the dirt-poor mama with six kids running around in a yard that she keeps clean with a broom.  Maybe we need the fluff to keep our minds off of our daily monotony.  I don't have the answers.  But I doubt I'll find them in the grocery store check-out aisle.


Smarter Than the Average Atheist

It's been all over the airwaves since yesterday.  The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted an interview of Americans and found that, when it comes to knowledge of religion, Americans don't know much 'bout history.

Out of 32 questions, the average number of questions answered correctly was a paltry 16.  Atheists and agnostics led the pack with 20.9 questions answered correctly, followed by Jews at 20.5, Mormons at 20.3, evangelical Protestants with 17.6, white Catholics with 16, white mainline Protestants with 15.8, no particular religion coming in at 15.2, black Protestants at 13.4, and Hispanic Catholics bringing up the rear with only 11.6 correct answers. 

The really interesting tidbit is that education was linked with a greater religious knowledge.  Remember that the average number of correct answers was 16.  For people with a college degree or higher, the average number of correct answers rose to 20.6, followed by those with some college at 17.5, while those with only a high school diploma or less got 12.8.

In a news blip about the quiz, one commenter said that he gave his children Bibles when they were young because it was the best way to make atheists out of them.  In my own search for meaning, my parents raised me in the denomination of my more recent ancestors - Southern Baptist.  But my father always questioned things and, at one time before I was born, dabbled in Unitarianism.  For a long stretch during my high school days, I saw no need for church. 

Growing up in a small town where you go to school with the same people that you're in Girl Scout with, take ballet with, go to church choir with, are in youth group with, etc. etc. ad nauseum, when the group excludes you from everything, you're left completely alone.  I watched as all the Mean Girls were "saved" and baptized.  One would think that turning towards God would turn their hearts towards accepting everyone.  But it didn't.  In my eyes, joining the church became something you just did, not because God spoke to you but because everyone else did it.  Which wasn't for me.

My parents supported me in my decision to leave the church.  They also supported me when, not having set foot in any church for years, I came to a personal understanding of God in my life and wanted to officially join the church and be baptized. 

Mr. Gaelic also was raised Southern Baptist but in high school began attending a Unitarian church.  When we were first engaged, he took me to a Unitarian service and I took him to a Southern Baptist service.  Unitarian was too foreign to my sensibilities and he wasn't about to go back to the Baptist church.  So we met in the middle in the Episcopal church.

Both of us still have many questions that neither priest, nor pastor, nor Bible, nor prayer can answer.  Yet we still hold fast to our beliefs.  To me, questioning my faith makes my faith stronger.  I'm not one to blindly accept anything.  I don't understand everything but I still continue to search for the answers. 

Put a Bible in my hand and I'll find enough inconsistencies that will make you think I'm either atheist or agnostic.  I'll tell you stories from the Bible that are almost verbatim related in other religions using characters from other religions.  I can quote you the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism as well as tell you why the Five Great Religions of the World are, to me, only Two Great Religions.  I can impart my whole religious belief by telling you to read "The Last Battle", the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Perhaps I'm one of those religious elitists that live in the Ivory Towers of academia questioning the very existence of a god.  Or perhaps I'm a fierce believer in WWJD extolling that with God all things are possible.  Or perhaps, just maybe, everything isn't as black and white as quizzes and polls make things out to be and I happily reside in both worlds.  And know that Jonathan Edwards wasn't just a failed politician, unlike (according to the Pew Forum) most Americans.


La Vie en Français

Judging from a number of my friends on Facebook, most people use FB for diversions like Farmville, Sorority Life, etc.  I figured out how to block those updates, and even block the game applications entirely.  As if FB wasn't a big enough time sink. 

However, that said, my FB updates tend to be mostly from news organizations (especially since the advent of my blocking game applications).  I use the word "news" very loosely.  That includes Martha Stewart Living, Backpacker Magazine, AMC Theatres, political blogs, and actual news sites such as the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the Guardian (UK), the Independent (another UK), and France 24. 

France 24 (in the French pronunciation) gives much more international news than the other sites.  However, it's all in French.  That's a great way to keep my French from rusting to oblivion.  Take this morning's update, « Vous êtes désormais plus de 50 000 personnes à aimer cette page ! Bravo à tous et merci encore pour votre soutien et votre fidélité. »

Either I'm really tired, really lazy, or really into my French today.  Because I read it, understood it, but couldn't translate it into English.  C'est dommage.


If the Tennis Shoe Fits . . .

My exercise clothes were laid out the night before.  My before-bed routine was complete.  The blanket was tucked under my neck and sleep was delicious.

Too delicious, apparently.  Morning came much too soon.  Deirdre was way too alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic.  Today begins Spirit Week at the high school culminating with Homecoming this weekend.  She rifled through my closet looking for my house shoes to wear to school.  It's Pajama Day, after all.  She had the look down pat, complete with a pink eye mask stretched across her forehead.

The early morning search through my closet made a mess of my shoes.  Usually they're neatly placed with their mates.  In a rush to make it to the (easy) Pilates class, my hands reached into the dark closet and retrieved a pair of sneakers.  It wasn't until the class was on the floor removing our shoes that I even noticed the sneakers weren't from the same pair.  A blue shoe on one foot and a green shoe on the other. 

I feel like Little Miss Matched.  When is Crazy Dressed Day?


Menu Plan: September 27 - October 3

Is next weekend really October?  It can't be!  It's still summer, isn't it?  Around my neck of the woods, it certainly feels like summer.  Not Indian summer but a continuation of summer with no reprieve.  Our fair city broke records last week for temperature highs, and lows (the highest lows at night for this time of the year).

My figs are still ripening but there isn't enough to make another batch of fig preserves.  I pulled up my tomato plants two weeks ago thinking fall and frost would be on the way.  Those green tomatoes could have ripened on the vine.  And my cool weather veggies were all burned to a withered crisp which means no late crop of collards, broccoli, or spinach.

This at a time when the dearth of veggies in the American diet has been everywhere recently.  Health professionals have been trying to push the 5-a-day program for eating more fruits and veggies.  In news reports in recent weeks have been stories about a campaign for baby carrots taking on junk food.  In yesterday's New York Times was an article about how we Americans have (sort of) listened.  We've turned to French fries to up our veggie intake.  The article has a photo of a baby carrot vending machine next to a junk food vending machine.  The baby carrot vending machines were even lampooned in last night's Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live (too recent for a video link).

So let's see if I can fit more fruits and vegetables into my family's menu this week.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  bagels with cream cheese
    • Supper:  potluck (Maeve's ballet, Deirdre's Girl Scout press event, Mr. Gaelic's weather delay from work [rain in the forecast means no motorcycle ride to work which means public transportation])
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  cereal
    • Supper:  whole baked cabbage (cabbage left over from last week's borscht)
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  grapefruit halves, toast
    • Supper:  baked mac & cheese, fried okra, honeyed carrots
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  toast, fig preserves
    • Supper:  cheese soufflé, asparagus
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  oatmeal
    • Supper:  shrimp étouffée, rice, salad
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  muffins, muffins, and more muffins (Muffins and Mugs [BYOM - bring your own mug] breakfast party we're throwing before our neighborhood arts festival)
    • Supper:  pizza for girls, dinner our for adults (fundraiser for new grand piano at our church)
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  bacon, eggs, grits, toast
    • Dinner:  pot roast, roast potatoes, sugar peas
Wow!  Even for a foodie like me, it's damn hard fitting in all those fruits and veggies every day.  Lunch and snacks will have to help make up the deficit.  And maybe the installation of a baby carrot vending machine by the back door?


In Case of Emergency, Remove Bra

For your dirty-bomb-terrorist-attack, shelter-in-place, hysteria-inducing survival kit, load up on plastic sheeting, duct tape, and red frilly bras. Not that you’d need the bra for entertainment. Usually if one is holed up in an airtight space with poisonous gases outside and a limited amount of oxygen inside, any type of undergarment would be superfluous. But a bra just might save your life.

A Ukrainian doctor has invented the Emergency Bra, inspired by her first-hand eyewitness of the effects of Chernobyl. Once off, which most adults can do one-handed, the cups separate into two masks which are then placed over the nose and mouth to filter out harmful particulates.

Now whenever a terrorist drops a dirty bomb in the city center, we women have the means to save our lives. And we get to pick which nearby man we might also want to save. Choose wisely, gals, ‘cause he better be eternally thankful.

Finally! A legitimate excuse for men to nuzzle women’s chests without getting slapped. “But I was just trying out the gas mask.”


Prep By Prep, Inch By Inch

Abercrombie and Fitch is dead; long live Abercrombie and Fitch.  Did you ever stop to ask why there's a moose head hanging over the cash registers at A&F?  What's with all the hockey sticks?  Does anyone remember the first incarnation of A&F?

A&F's flagship store was on Madison Avenue in New York City and filled with goods for hunting, fishing, and sporting.  Fashion was more of an afterthought, like what your grandparents wore.  It died a dignified death befitting any store that catered to the monied elite of Bar Harbor and Nantucket.  Its death was duly noted in "The Official Preppy Handbook", the parody that some people used as a Bible.

Abercrombie and Fitch is now the must-buy store for the new "Preps".  Just in time for "True Prep", the sequel to the OPH.  The new Preps sport Lily and Tory and Hermes and Goyard.  There are still the old standbys of L.L. Bean, Ralph Lauren, and J Crew.

Raise your hand if any of these shoes ever graced the floor of your closet.  Weejuns, Top Siders, Tretorns, Pappagallos, Maine hunting boots, or duck shoes?  Stand up if any of these ever covered your body.  Paisley, madras, Lacoste, embroidered corduroy, or monogrammed anything?  True Preps of the world unite if you owned any of these!  Bean field coat, Chesterfield, Skyr, Carroll Reed, Chris Craft, or anything Orvis.

All of a sudden I feel like piling the kids and the dog into the Volvo, heading out to the Vineyard, and playing a set of tennis with numerous breaks for Bloody Marys.


My Current Crush

Men always say that when they quit looking at pretty women is when they die. Well, boys, women look too. And just like y’all, we develop crushes.

There’s the voice crush. You know the one, the guy with the voice that feels like lying back on a feather comforter. Then there’s the ability crush. A man who’s so good at what he does that he becomes irreplaceable at his office. There’s the face crush. The guy with chiseled features, a strong jaw. The body crush. The one whose bare chest can make you swoon. But not a butterface. It’s gotta be the whole package of face and bod. It’s just that some men have more of one than the other.

The ultimate crush is when enough of the individual crushes come together to create the perfect crush. My current perfect crush is a good seven years older than I am. He’s a friend on my Facebook account. The texture of his voice isn’t off my charts but his Southern drawl makes up for it. He’s very experienced and very well-regarded in his profession. His smile could put anyone at ease and his cheeks look ripe for the pinching. As for his body, no clue. I’ve only seen him in a suit or in shirt sleeves rolled up to deal with the summer heat. But he’s a sharp dressed man.

Whenever a reply from him to one of my emails arrives in my inbox, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to read it. And he always answers my emails within 15 minutes of my hitting send. Oh, a man who writes back. Promptly. Impeccable manners! His mama must've taught him good. Or his wife. But my money’s on his mama.

Now, girl crushes . . . that’s another blog entirely. But yeah, we get girl crushes too, just like y’all.


I Think I'm Turning Russian-ese

The veggies from my garden this year included cabbage, onions, carrot, and beets. There were also strawberries, raspberries, figs, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and lettuce. Of the first group one can make a delicious soup. Although Maeve called it a stew.

Don’t laugh, but I’m beginning to become Русско. (That’s Russian for Russki.) For longtime readers, you’ll remember my trek across country two years ago. My birthday on that trip found us in Chicago where we stumbled upon a wonderful Russian restaurant. I would remember how to say Happy Birthday in Russian as the waitress said it to me except for the flight of vodka that accompanied my dinner.

So, what do you get when you add cabbage and onions and carrots and beets? Throw in some chunks of beef and a dollop of sour cream on top. Serve it up with warm-from-the-oven black bread. You get a hearty supper of borscht and bread. The only thing missing was the Belvedere.  But my potato crop didn't take this year.  My Irish roots are still very strong.


That's What She Said

[cell phone conversation]

Mr. Gaelic: Where are you?

Deirdre: We’re up the path to the right. We just walked up here to check out the campus.

Mr. Gaelic: Where exactly?

Deirdre: Oh, I can see Mom from here. I see your legs. Look to your right. Just at the tree. We’re SQUIRREL!

Mr. Gaelic: I’m going to start calling you Dug because you’re just like a dog.


Trees Tag

The undersides of both of my upper arms have deep purple bruises from armpits to elbows. It’s the way my arms stopped my fall from a wire 40 feet in the air strung between two trees. There was a harness involved, as well as two carabiners that alternately locked onto the wires.

The stretch of the ropes course trail that caused the bruises was a series of 1X1 slats strung up in a series of trapeze-style “swings” lined up end to end. The object was to walk across the series of 1X1 swings to the next tree platform. It takes coordination, balance, agility, and strength. It’s not a timed course. Thank goodness.

Halfway across my quads and biceps were in need of a rest. I straightened my legs and stood up on one of the 1X1 “swings”. That felt good. My balance was there. My legs were straight. No strain on my quads from reaching for a swinging 1X1 with one foot while the other one was positioned on a different one. All the while the 1X1’s are swinging in opposite directions due to the pressure my feet are exerting on them to swing away from my center of gravity.

Pull those inner thighs together to bring yourself into a standing position rather than letting the 1X1’s get farther and farther apart until you’re doing the splits 40 feet in the air with just your two little (gloved) hand and two biners holding you up. Jumping the back foot to the next 1X1 swing and trying to push into a standing position at the same time threw off my balance. Down my arms came across the support wire.

It didn’t hurt at the time. Adrenaline has a funny way of keeping the pain at bay until you’re safely down on terra firma. It wasn’t until the drive home that I even noticed the bruises. Massive. Dark. Tender to the touch. Some with welts underneath.

But what a thrill ride the ropes course was! The trails are rated like ski slopes with one double black diamond. Next time I’ll try that one. Nothing like swinging in the trees on a gorgeous late fall afternoon to really make you feel alive!


Menu Plan: September 20 - September 26

Oops!  Sometimes my best laid plans go awry.  Take last week for instance.  All those yummy meals that were planned, not all of them came to fruition.  Why?  Scheduling difficulty.  I forgot to plan for the Back-to-School night and the late ballet class for Maeve and the nights that Mr. Gaelic either worked late or had client dinners. 

So this week's menu selection will be repeating some of those suppers that didn't get made last week.  The ingredients are all on hand and need to be used up before they go bad.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast:  choice of cereal
    • Supper:  borscht, homemade hearty bread (from last week's menu)
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast:  cinnamon toast, fruit salad
    • Supper:  pinto beans, risotto, orange beets (the garden overproduced beets)
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast:  cream of wheat
    • Supper:  stewed tomatoes, creamed spinach, corn pudding
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast:  homemade cinnamon-raisin bread
    • Supper:  potluck (see what's left in fridge)
  • Friday
    • Breakfast:  English muffins, fig preserves (just put up last Saturday)
    • Supper:  salmon patties, French fries
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast:  omelet, bacon, toast
    • Supper:  Welsh rabbit, baked kale
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast:  buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy
    • Dinner:  roast chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans
Maybe this week will be calmer than last week in terms of evening commitments.  One can always hope.


I Can Name That Band in One Line

"She came in through the bathroom window," he sings.  "Name that band."

"The Beatles."

"Oh, you're good."

Some of them are easier than others.  But his encyclopedic knowledge of music is frightening.  If it's classical, opera, gospel, old-time country, or rock, he knows it.  Add in some reggae and lots of R&B.  Rap, new stuff, or pop country, not so much.

And he likes quizzing me on which band or song has a particular line that he'll sing.  Sometimes I feel like Shrevie's wife Beth in "Diner".  Although he didn't quiz me on the flip-sides before we got married.

Sometimes I can stump him.  Like with Skylark's Wildflower.  And when that happens, oh it feels so good.

His penchant for musical quizzes has broadened to the girls as well.  For children born after "Smells Like Teen Spirit", they have quite a grasp on classic rock.  I'm not sure how this knowledge will benefit them in the real world unless they grow up to be DJs or writers for Rolling Stone. 

But it's a lovely parlor game to play when we're in the car.  When I'm working on the tenth edition of my resume, not so much.


Does This Make My Baby Look Fat?

My eldest baby is off at college. For several weeks before moving into her college housing she went through her room creating three piles: take to college with her, store in the attic, and trash. For anyone who’s seen Toy Story 3, you’ll understand why I cried through the whole movie. Except that I didn’t cry when Ken was modeling his vintage clothing.

The teens were given two options: have a yard sale and split the proceeds or load up everything for a donation run to Salvation Army. They wanted to have a yard sale.

The last yard sale at our house was probably a good ten or 12 years ago. I detest yard sales. Having them, at least. So if the girls were going to put one together, I was going to get rid of as much as I could so that I don’t have to even consider the possibility of a yard sale for another ten or 12 years.

My closet looked like it was suffering from projectile vomiting. Piles all over the bedroom. Things that I hadn’t seen in years. I found my stash of cards from all the flowers that Mr. Gaelic sent me when we were first dating and he was leading up to the proposal. I also found baby girl clothes. So tiny! With the delicate lace that my mother insisted on buying when I was making their layette. And the ethereal cotton dresses that I wore as a baby before my father had air conditioning installed in the house.

When I held up one tiny gown I could only picture how big the girls are now. All grown up and off at college. When I was in the thick of it, I thought they’d never grow up. Now when I look back on it, their childhood was gone in a flash.


A Little Bit of Pixie Bust

Credit card balances that automatically download to your Quicken program are both a boon and a bust. Boon because it saves so much time in keeping track of your monthly expenses. Bust because sometimes Mr. Gaelic catches me spending more money than he thinks is necessary.

Take, for example, when Deirdre and I went to the hair salon recently. The salon owner has done hair for photo shoots in New York. There’s a fierce competition among area stylists to have a chair at the salon. And the services are expensive.

So it’s not quite like a $400 haircut on Air Force One. But the pampering you get at the salon makes you think you’re the head of the free world.

What really gets me is when Mr. G is downloading the monthly reports on our Disney points credit card while sitting in another room and all of a sudden there’s a “J*sus Chr*st” exclaimed loud enough to carry throughout the whole downstairs. Busted!


Behind Every Successful Man is a Woman Who Won't Make Biscuits

It’s hard to look at a mass-produced biscuit when you’ve just enjoyed a homemade buttermilk biscuit. The first Sunday after Labor Day our parish gears up for the new program year with lunch immediately following the main service. It’s always the same – fried chicken wings and thighs (at least by the time I get to the front of the line that’s all there’s left), baked beans, potato salad, and biscuits. Those “biscuits” resemble hockey pucks.

On this particular welcome-home Sunday, Mr. Gaelic made buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. He’s the biscuit maker in the family. Biscuits aren’t my forte. That’s because they weren’t my mother’s either.

That’s because my father made the mistake early in their marriage of telling my mother that his mother’s biscuits were better than hers. She never made biscuits for him ever again. Ever! Every weekend he’d make biscuits. Because he wanted biscuits. And his biscuits were fabulous.

Mr. Gaelic heard the story of why my father was the biscuit maker in my family. A fast study he was. He never made the same mistake my father did of telling his wife (me) that his mother made anything better than I did. Actually, that’s because I’m a much better cook than she is, which he freely admits anywhere outside of his home state. A good Southern boy always tells his mama he loves her cooking, even if he gets fed better at home.


We Wish You a Meaningful Christmas

Today’s blog is in video format. And a reminder. There are 102 days until Christmas. Remember, Christmas is a fixed holiday. It doesn’t move around the calendar like Easter.

Here’s one of the things I wanted to share. And here’s the other.

How does one offer best wishes for Advent? My solution? Have a Meaningful Advent!


Crazy Heart(burn)

Jeff Bridges won the best actor Oscar for the lead role in Crazy Heart.  He portrays a washed-up, alcoholic, has-been country singer. 

A major theme in the movie is that his character Bad Blake had been one of the great country musicians in its heyday.  He taught a younger musician Tommy (played by Colin Farrell) everything about country music.  Now Tommy was playing arena concerts and wanted Bad to write some new songs for him.  Bad doesn't want to because he thinks that everything coming out of Nashville is shit.

I am so glad that an Oscar-winning movie understands what so many of us country music fans know.  Pop country music isn't real country music.

I blame Alabama.  The country music group, not the state.  They had tried to break into the Top 40 world of rock but couldn't.  So they switched genres and reinvented themselves as a country band.  Bingo! 

If you watched the CMA awards, most of the music has a Top 40 sound rather than a C&W sound.  C&W is what it used to be called when I was growing up.  Country and Western.  That's back when most country music had a down-and-out feel.  You just can't write good country music unless you know the loss and hard-knocks of life.

Whenever I tell people I'm a country music fan, they ask if I like the latest Carrie Underwood or Brooks and Dunn.  Who?  That's pop country.  I don't listen to pop country.  So I have to clarify.  I'm an outlaw country music fan.

I don't even attempt to ask how they like the album "Van Lear Rose" or the latest Johnny Cash, released several years after his death.  Do they even know that Loretta Lynn is still recording?  Or the legacy of the old-timers being carried on by a new generation that has lost favor with Nashville?  For those not in the know, that would be Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon) and III (Bocephus's son and Hank's grandson).

Do the pop country fans know who the Louvin Brothers were?  David Allan Coe?  The Delmore Brothers?

It's always heartening to see T Bone Burnett's name attached to anything.  He wrote some of the music for Crazy Heart as well as produced it.  But Hank III best sums up how a lot of us old-time country fans feel in his song "Dick in Dixie".

Well we're losing all the outlaws
that had to stand their ground
and they're being replaced by these kids
from a manufactured town
And they don't have no idea
about sorrow and woe
'Cause they're all just too damn busy
kissin' ass on Music Row

So I'm here to put the "dick" in Dixie
and the "cunt" back in country
'Cause the kind of country I hear nowdays
is a bunch of fuckin' shit to me
And they say that I'm ill-mannered
that I'm gonna self-destruct
But if you know what I'm thinkin'
you'll know that pop country really sucks


Menu Plan: September 13 - September 19

Our city has several farmers markets, mostly on Saturday and Sunday, one on Wednesday.  However we're surrounded by two counties that have a plethora of farmers markets, and better web designers.  One of the counties has an online list of the markets by different days of the week, by location, and even by vendors.  Pick your day, or whichever one is in the location of where else you might be on a particular day, or by which vendor carries whatever ingredient you need for your recipe.

I've been blowing right past the neighborhood farmers market on my way to the neighboring county's farmers market on Saturday mornings.  The neighborhood market is quite small and the prices are higher than in the next county.  Some of the same vendors have simultaneous booths at both markets, but better prices and selection in the next county.

Sunday is the day for a family meeting to discuss what everyone would like to eat during the coming week based on what's in season.  The executive chef (moi) has veto power, as it should be.  This is what will be on the table this week.
  • Monday

    • Breakfast: boiled eggs and toast
    • Supper: baked ziti, salad

  • Tuesday

    • Breakfast: choice of cereal
    • Supper: black-eyed peas, rice pilaf, orange beets, cornbread (double recipe, freeze one to use in Thanksgiving dressing)

  • Wednesday

    • Breakfast: homemade cinnamon-raisin bread
    • Supper: borsht and hearty homemade bread (save half loaf)

  • Thursday

    • Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar
    • Supper: Welch rabbit (use half loaf from Wednesday), steamed broccoli

  • Friday

    • Breakfast: bagels and cream cheese or cinnamon toast
    • Supper: tuna casserole, salad

  • Saturday

    • Breakfast: bacon, choice of egg, grits, toast
    • Supper: potluck (see what's left in fridge)

  • Sunday

    • Breakfast: waffles, sausage
    • Dinner: pot roast, mashed potatoes, English peas, homemade dinner rolls
Did you notice that Sunday is dinner not supper?  That's because I was raised in the South.  Dinner is the meal that occurs around noontime.  It was traditionally the biggest meal of the day, regardless of the day. 

The roast gets thrown in the oven before heading out to church and the dough is left to rise next to the hot oven.  Afterwards it doesn't take too long to finish everything up. 

What's on your menu for the week?


And So It Begins

My eldest daughter Finola is a first year (sounds so Harry Potter-ish) at a private Ivy League school in Massachusetts.  Mr. Gaelic claims it's a cult.  During the orientation week, the school kept the kids so busy that she didn't have time to call home. 

Meetings with her academic advisor.  A walk-about to meet all the professors and find out about the classes they teach.  A tea with the college president.  A discussion of the summer reading selection with the author herself.  A dine-around to sample the food at all the different dining halls.  A concert just for the students.  A barbecue for the kids.  Sessions on different aspects of college life.  Even a class picture of the entire first year class, Class of 2014.

As with many kids when they leave home, she forgot some things.  Her favorite poster of her favorite Shakespearean play.  Her face cleanser.  Some earrings. 

After buying a long 6" by 6" mailing box, the few things that she forgot looked quite lonely all by themselves.  Let's just add some of her favorite snack foods - four jars of different type olives, two bags of pistachios.  Maybe next time there will be home-baked cookies in her care package.

There are sure to be many more care packages through the years.  This is only the first.


It Was Nine Years Ago Today

Remember where you were exactly nine years ago today, the tenth of September 2001?  Me either.  But I remember the feeling.

It was an innocence much like growing up in the 1970s in the rural South.  A time when, subconsciously, you knew that there was something going on in the world but you weren't sure what. 

My father insisted that I stop playing in the backyard to watch breaking news of some airplane landing on an airstrip in a distant country, a man walking down the steps, and kneeling on all fours to kiss the ground.  My father pumped gas that cost 37¢ a gallon into our AMC Gremlin and complained when the price shot up.  My father plowed several rows of vegetables at my grandfathers farm and got upset when the collard greens had more holes than greens.

I didn't understand my own innocence until the next day and the years that followed.  I felt like I had been thrust unwillingly into a maturity and adulthood that I didn't want or even know existed.  My former innocence was a flickering memory. 

As in an old cartoon when a character gets hit over the head and forgets everything only to get hit over the head and have his memory restored, it took another large event to return my innocence to me.  During the summer, my neighborhood experienced a weather disaster that left everyone without electricity for 48 hours. 

As darkness engulfed the individual houses, the neighbors on my block gathered on a centrally located porch lit with candles and glo-sticks for the kids.  One neighbor hauled over their fire pit to the hosting neighbor's front walk.  Everyone brought out their best scotch, tequila, wine, marshmallows, ice cream, and cheese. 

Nine years ago tomorrow, our innocence was attacked because of how we lived.  We were one of the few countries in the world that didn't have armed military patrolling our airports.  We went about our daily lives without our children learning how to duck and cover.  We celebrated our achievements and shared our innovations (the Internet, GPS, heart-valve surgery, Velcro, the light bulb, the assembly line) with the world.  We were a bit cocky and a bit too big from our britches.  But we were happy.  And that happiness really vexed others who weren't happy with their own lives. 

If living well is the best revenge, then reclaiming our national happiness and our former innocence is the ultimate victory.  Some people may accuse me of Pollyannaness or being an ostrich with my head in the sand.  Perhaps.  But in the 1970s, my father, who was active in the local civic theatre, portrayed The Mime in The Fantasticks.  The most memorable song from that play keeps running through my head today.

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.


In the Beginning Was the Tweet

Who wrote the first five books of the Bible? My childhood Sunday school teachers said that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. How could Moses have written about his own death and events that followed? Of course, they didn’t like it either when I asked that if the prophecy for the Messiah was that he would be of the House of David and born of a virgin then why is Jesus’ lineage at the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew given through Joseph. Either he was born of a virgin or he was of the House of David.

Have you ever noticed just how many words are in the Bible? By some accounts, 773,692. That’s a lot of words.

Imagine trying to Tweet that. But someone has.

"Day 1: Lighting system installed. BRB. Days 2-6: Some assembly required: sky, plants, cows, people. Left humans in charge, LOL. Day 7: Siesta."

But the most efficient Tweeter of the Bible was Saint John. His most famous tweet? “Jesus wept.”


Street Dreams (Are Made of This)

Do you have a recurring dream?  My dreams aren't usually the exact same dream so much as a theme.  They typically are about houses and graveyards.  But in a good way. 

All types of houses - palatial, modern, gothic, cramped, secluded, etc.  Exploring the layout of the houses.  Upon awakening from a house dream, I'd be able to draw a blue print of the house in my dream and vividly describe every detail, piece of furniture and speck of dust. 

The graveyards in my dreams aren't the spooky, cobweb-covered nightmarish kind.  They're the kind with old markers, that I'm usually eagerly discovering on crisp fall days with lots of golden leaves in the trees and on the ground.  The kind of cemetery where I feel peaceful and am wanting to uncover bits of my family history.

But the past few months my dreams have been about a large city.  It's a city that seems familiar but isn't a city I've been to in waking life.  It's bustling with lots of cars and buses and taxis and pedestrians.  In my dreams, I've visited different areas of the same city. 

Last night it was a beautiful museum next to a small river.  I was so overtaken by the beauty of the scenery of the shops and parks just across the river that I didn't make it inside the museum, instead framing pictures in my camera's viewfinder looking through weeping willow branches.

Yes, yes.  I know what each dream "means".  Houses usually relate to oneself and personality.  Graveyards typically relate to unresolved grief.  Cities generally relate to community and one's social environments.

But do you think that this could be a case of a cigar being a cigar?  As a child, I wanted to be an architect and to this day still love drawing floor plans for my dream home (no pun intended).  I'm a genealogist who adores working in graveyards.  And I love to travel, often to large cities to experience new cultures.

Either that, or I'm a person with an ever-changing personality, who is grieving over someone or something, but who has a large circle of friends and opportunities.  I'll stick with the cigar theory.


Food Indigo

Frugality is something that should come naturally for a daughter of Depression-era parents. Sometimes we all need a little help.

Here she comes to save the day! Mighty Mom is on the way!

My help cometh from an online group that sends out links to coupons and offers. Most of the coupons and offers aren't for grocery items. They're for restaurants and services. Getting a good twofer at a restaurant is right up my alley.

Except that I'm a walking contradiction. I'll clip coupons and shop the ads for things like toilet paper, shampoo, and laundry detergent; but I'll buy only the grass-fed beef and free-range eggs. I'll only shop the discount rack at DSW; but I'll only buy shoes cut from one piece of leather. I'll make reservations during Restaurant Week; but I don't like chain restaurants.

So when the online coupons and offers to restaurants want me to eat at "casual dining" restaurants, I hit the delete button. Casual dining to me is sitting at an outdoor table at my favorite French bistro, or eating at the counter of my favorite home-cookin' diner. That delete button has been getting a lot more action from me recently. Dropping my subscription has been on my mind.

It's just not giving me what I want. And it keeps clogging my inbox with pleas to use its offers. My frugality gene thinks that the time spent deleting all those incoming emails is worth more than waiting for that one true hoped-for ideal offer.


Wouldn't You Like to Have a Pepper Too?


There’s an old joke that says . . .

Q: What do blowjobs and eggs benedict have in common?

A: You can’t get them at home.

A recent survey says that 45% of men really enjoy fellatio while only 17% of women enjoy doing the honors. My money says that those 17% are single women because once the wedding ring goes on, the urge (need?) to please her partner in that manner goes off.

My problem is that I’ve developed a bad habit of needing a cold Dr. Pepper chaser to be able to complete the act. If you know what I mean. Unfortunately, I don’t drink sodas anymore. Except at possibly the movie theatre. And if I’m at a movie, I’m there to watch it, not make out.

So when Mr. Gaelic met me at the checkout line at the grocery store over the weekend, he had not one but two cases of Dr. Pepper under his arm. I tilted my head and looked at him wide-eyed exclaiming, “You can’t be serious!”

“No, no. They’re made with real sugar. That would just be icing on the cake,” he said without even having to ask what I was thinking.

Apparently men and women both think about sex quite frequently. Just more than men think we do.


I Want to Go Back

College classes weren't as interesting when I was in college.  My freshman fall semester was World Civ I, Biology 101, Calculus for Engineering, French 201, and English 101.  Finola emailed a list of her classes.

Intermediate German, History of Ancient and Medieval Western Philosophy, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, and Celtic Worlds First Year Seminar.  Can you tell she wants to major in Anthropology?

I'm envious.  How do I sign up?


Observations from the Road

I-95 is the most traveled road in America.  Some observations to make it at least tolerable:
  • EZPass.  Nuff said.  Drive without it and lose several hours waiting for the Cash Only lanes at the toll plazas.
  • If crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York City, get in the lane with the most tractor trailers.  Even with the EZPass, hour-long lines stretch into New Jersey.  Tractor trailers take up more space than cars.  Two lines being even, the one with the 18-wheelers will move faster because there are fewer vehicles in the same amount of space.
  • If there are three lanes of traffic on the interstate or toll road, the left lane will be the fastest, the right lane will be the second faster, and the middle lane will be the slowest.  Those German laws of ticketing for passing on the right wouldn't even convince people in the middle lane to move to the right.  But that's another blog entirely.
  • Buy gas in New Jersey.  It's cheapest by far and you don't have to pump it yourself.
  • Take your own seat protectors.  Even though some restrooms have the holders for seat protectors, they're not always filled.  Women are nasty in restrooms.  We squat rather than sit because we were told that we could get all kind of diseases from sitting on public restroom seats.
  • If you buy it, they will eat it.  Even if you're not hungry, if there is snack food in the car, you will eat it.  So if you're trying to eat healthy, either buy healthy car snacks or don't buy it.
  • Avoid New York City at all costs.  If you're driving from points south of New York City to points northeast of New York City, take the New Jersey Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway to the Tappan Zee Bridge to Connecticut.  We all (heart) New York, just not while crossing the Hudson River.
  • Always question authority, especially Bitching Betty.  She may try to take you on the fastest route, but in actuality it may not be.  Sometimes that bitch just doesn't know what she's talking about.
  • The economy must have been really hard on some folks.  In past years, crossing the Delaware, George Washington, and Tappan Zee bridges have been quite boring.  Now there are signs along the bridges reminding people that life is worth living and offering 1-800 numbers to call if in crisis.  And CCTV cameras to boot.  Just in case.
  • When the toll road splits with trucks and buses on the right lanes and only cars on the left lanes, if you're driving a car, stay to the right with the trucks.  It actually moves faster than the lanes with just cars.
  • If you're offended by teens who wear sleepwear in public, men who wear socks with sandals, or women of a certain age who really shouldn't wear shorts past that certain age, then avoid each and every rest area, fast food joint, coffee shop, or gas station along the way.  Your eyes will thank you.


One Flew East, One Flew West, One Flew Off to College

One down, two to go.  Finola, the eldest, is safely moved into her college housing.  Can you believe it?  No tears!  It was time to let go.  But there's a pang of uncertainty in not wanting to text her too much but still wanting to know how her day was.  So far, three days into it, and I've only texted her twice.

But Dierdre, the second daughter, is fast on Finola's heels.  On the way home from Massachusetts, there are two college visits in Connecticut for her.  One was today, the next tomorrow.  Mr. Gaelic is ready to send her off to a convent.  During today's walking tour, she was remarking about all the cute guys.  Oh, dear.

Maeve has been such a trooper.  But she's still such a kid.  And so adorable when she falls asleep in the back seat on the drive between colleges.  How can I make the next six years slow down rather than speed by?

One realization occurred to me today.  In six years, we could have three graduations in the same year - Finola graduating from graduate school, Dierdre graduating from college, and Maeve graduating from high school.  It feels good knowing that my daughters are growing into mature women.  But it also feels like it's happening too quickly.  My babies are leaving the nest.