Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blame it on the Spanks!

If you happen to work at Target, or you know someone who works at Target or you have a chance to go to the Christmas party at Target, then you just may see me on the annual Christmas montage of Stupid Customer Tricks.
I have been searching high and low for a Mother of the Groom dress with painful results. I’ve been all over Chicago, traipsed through every dress shop between Sterling and Monroe, WI and I almost even purchased a dress in Monroe, but got cold feet when  it came time to order.  “Is there a problem?” the very patient clerk inquired and I broke into tears, “It’s just too fluffy for me,” I sobbed and walked out of the shop.  So, it was a last attempt moment when I discovered, right in my own yard, that Don Galani has exactly what I was looking for.  I had thought they were just a prom and pageant dress shop, but it turns out that they have a very elegant Special Occasion line.  Ok, commercial over.
I waited a full week after my initial visit to ponder the dress and then, decided Monday, it was time.  But first, I needed a new set of Spanks.
I figured if I was going to be making this rather pricey purchase, I wanted to feel good doing it.  So, I went to the gym, showered, DID MY HAIR, PUT ON MAKE-UP and donned a cute red sweater tunic with black leggings and even cuter boots.  Then, I skipped my cute little self to the Spanks store and bought a shiny, new set of Spanks and put them on in the store.  Did I mention they were shiny?  And slippery?  I redressed, admired my compacted shape in the mirror and left, skipping my cute, little, newly compacted self to Target to pick up a few items before heading to (cue the singing angels) DON GALANI.
I was pushing the cart around the Target, looking for odds and ends when I noticed it was getting harder to walk. But, I looked so cute, I disregarded the friction at my knees and headed to the front of the store to check out.  Did I mention that Spanks are both shiny and slippery?  Yeah, so I’m standing in the front aisle, the grand aisle in Target and I aim my cart for the shortest line, take a step and trip, forcing my cart forward into the person ahead of me.  As I balance myself on the cart, the person in front of me, who is, apparently, not in the holiday spirit, turns to stare at me.  I followed her eyes as she looked me up and down.  And there it was, the cause of my walking friction, the reason I tripped, and the impetus for what happened next.  Clearly, the shiny, slippery spanks which hold me in so nicely had no grip on my leggings and they had slowly descended to my ankles as I sashayed around the store, wrapped and caught in the buckles of my cute boots and caused my momentary trip into the person in front of me, who stood horrified and speechless.  I looked at the black leggings bunched up around my boots and did the only thing I could do in that moment.  I reached down, grabbed the waistband and pulled those suckers all the way back up, lifting the tunic in the process and exposing about everything underneath.  Oddly, no one but the lady in front of me even seemed to notice this whole scene had occurred, but I know better.  I worked retail, I know where the cameras are located.  And sure enough, located right behind me was a Target camera.  What else could I do?  I turned around and waved, mouthing the words, Merry Christmas!
As for the dress, I did get to Don Galani and I did order it.  But, I will NOT be wearing panty hose at the wedding, it’s too dangerous.

Coltman is the author of two books.  Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts! is a humor book based on her blog.  Her most recent book, In The Name Of The Father, is a suspense/thriller that reviewers have called a true page-turner.  Both books are available through amazon and Coltman's own website.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Channeling My Grandmother

Grandmother’s have changed since my childhood.  I know several women who are grandmothers and they are gorgeous.  I often find myself trying to figure out where they hidden the fountain of youth.  My grandmothers were unique too.  My mom’s mother Luna, was a musical prodigy, a concert pianist and professor of music in the 1920’s.  My dad’s mother, Nadine (Nadine and Luna, you gotta expect greatness, right?) went to nursing school but didn’t like the sight of blood.  Nadine was a housewife.  But, she was a HOT housewife.  Nadine liked stylish clothing, blingy jewelry, strappy high heels and hats.  Nadine loved a good hat.  I am more like Nadine then I am like Luna. The problem is, I have hidden my style underneath blue jeans and sweatshirts for a lot of years.  I decided this year, when fall arrived, that it was time to honor my heritage and “up” my style.  I went shopping (which I hate - see the Mother-of-the-Groom article for details) and did everything in my power to NOT buy blue jeans, straight black tops or a simple pullover.  Uh, uh.  I bought sweaters, dresses, boots (I LOVE my boots) and a coat.  I resisted the urge to fall into my black “go to” color and picked up some reds, grays and blues.  Feeling so satisfied with myself, I even bought a hat.  Yes!  A hat.  NOT A RED HAT, but a very stylish black fedora that a) fits my fat head and b) looks darn cute.  In fact, I put it on there, in the store, and wore it home.  I wore it all day long and when Moondoggy came home, I had changed into one of my new stylish outfits as well.  I felt downright adorable.  
Moondoggy, who has learned to look for changes when I greet him with such enthusiasm at the door, held me at arms length and said, “Wow!  You look great!  We should go out to dinner,” ooooh the husband points he earned in that statement!  Good job!  I spun around and he nodded with approval.  I pointed at each new piece I was wearing (but I left out the new purse, he didn’t need to know about that) and asked, “Are you sure this doesn’t look stupid?”  He reassured me at every turn.  Finally, I asked him what he thought of my hat.  Without hesitation he told me he LOVED it.  LOVED THE HAT.  

He went to change while I gathered my coat and purse and then we headed to the garage for a surprise date night.  Before getting into the car, Moondoggy stops and stares for a moment before asking, “Are you really going to wear that hat?”
And you know what?  I fought the urge to ask, “What am I trying to prove?” and I WORE THE DARN HAT ANYWAY.  So, if you see me in my rakish new black hat and you think I look stupid. . .don’t tell me.  I want to be a hot grandma some day.

Coltman is the author of two books.  Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts! is a humor book based on her blog.  Her most recent book, In The Name Of The Father, is a suspense/thriller that reviewers have called a true page-turner.  Both books are available through amazon and Coltman's own website.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's About The Victims, Not Paterno's Reputation

The news of the past week has churned up a past memory that I had already processed and laid to rest.  Like a stubborn hemorrhoid, it emerged again with the breaking story of Sandusky, the Penn State coach. There was a huge uproar when the University Board fired the President on down to the famed Joe Paterno (although not the actual Grad Asst. who witnessed the rape of a 10 year old boy).

When I was 11 years old, I was the victim of inappropriate touching, groping, if you will, by a man 6 times my age.  My grandparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Coronado, CA where they had retired from a Naval career; my grandfather a naval Captain.  There were many people at this party, many in dress uniform and I knew none of them.  Dressed for the event, my little sister and I were tucked away in the den with the television, coming out for snacks and drinks.  On one such foray into the party, I made a stop in the bedroom to grab my book, Nancy Drew, and that's when I heard the door close.  An older man, in a suit, entered the room, making small talk.  He asked me my name, whose child I was, how old I was.  He asked me if I had started menstruating yet, his eyes on my chest.  I don't remember if I answered him because he had gotten so close to me, first grasping my arm before helping himself to my emerging breasts.  I know I pulled back.  I remember he quickly calmed me by letting go and backing up.  I don't remember who left the room first because I know I just wanted to get out of there.  I know I didn't tell anyone until much later, it might have been after we returned to Michigan.  My mother was mortified.  I don't know what she did about it, I do remember she wanted to report it and I begged her not to but I answered her questions anyway.  She made some phone calls.  I just wanted it over with.  I do know that it scared me.  I do know that I was embarrassed, I do know it had a profound effect on how I looked at myself, carried myself.  It wasn't a rape, it was a grope.   I tell this story because it is an example of how quickly it happens, how intimidating it is, how close it may be to all of us.

I imagine the victims of Sandusky and it makes me sick.  No one took this to police.  As an adult, I say screw protocol, this was an emergency that should have been reported immediately to the police.  That NO ONE saw to it was a failure to that child, and any other child Sandusky violated. And that child takes precedence over any person, their position or their fame.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Susan Boyle Complex

One of the surprising aspects of finally obeying my muse and settling in to writing books has been the reaction of other people, many of whom I have known for a very long time.  I'm not kidding, people who have seen me at my worst (morning; sheet lines pressed against my face, hair bent in wonky directions, mascara migrated toward my nose), silliest (42nd birthday, Queen of my own birthday parade, driven in the back of a van up and down the beach, fuchsia gloves, blue sequined dress, official princess tiara and a cocktail in my hand - surrounded by my court),  or most serious (ok, I'm blank here) have suddenly muddled into these weird groupies uttering lines like, "Now, I know a famous author!"  Sometimes I think it must be exactly how Susan Boyle feels when people fawn over her.  Ok, so I don't sing like Boyle and the writing game is a little different than the entertainment game, but still. . .

Famous?  Not so much.  Unless famous authors spend their days like this:

Let dog out, wait while he sniffs every other spot he has already marked and ultimately decide he's not ready yet.
Watch morning news to be current on Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Occupy Everywhere
Check email
Check Facebook
Check email again
Check Facebook again
Convince self to go to gym
Back to email
Second cup of coffee
Force self to go to gym
Return, remove stinky, sweaty clothes and start shower
Dog needs to go out NOW
Hastily cover naked body and crouch as you run through the house to door, attach him to lead and wait.  And wait.  False alarm
Return to HOT shower, wash and get dressed.
Emerge from morning stupor to begin a day of writing.
Find dog pile in living room and dog asleep on the couch.
Check email
Check Facebook

Finally, Fight with publishing people about why Amazon and Barnes & Nobel have not picked up paperback yet.  Get assured it will be a few more days (like I was told 10 weeks ago).
I guess if that is famous. . .

In the mean time, I did make a little movie to promote In The Name Of The Father.  Please feel free to check it out and share it with EVERYONE YOU KNOW.  I want to be famous.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Puppy and a Jetski Walk Into A Bar

Recently a friend of mine took a fall and sprained both wrists.  She was lamenting, among other things, her sudden inability to text and subsequent withdrawal symptoms thereof as well as the utterly stupid way it went down -- literally, she fell off the sidewalk. Can you imagine?  
She received all sorts of unique ways to explain her wrapped wrists from, “Doing a video for Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Margaritaville’ - slipped on a pop top, blew out a flip flop” to telling people it was a long story that involved, “a jetski and a puppy.”  Really anything is better than telling someone you fell off the sidewalk. . .
said I, until yesterday.
I was on my way to the gym for a work out.  I ride my bike because I’m cool like that.  I’ve got my gym bag hung on one shoulder pedaling at a moderate rate when I decide to take a shortcut onto the sidewalk that leads to the gym parking lot.  I live with men, I know how to take shortcuts.
I smoothly guided the bike up onto the sidewalk, slowing down to be safe.  I am always aware of my safety, that’s why I wear a helmet.  In the unlikely event that I fall, I don’t want to risk a head injury.  
As I slowly pedaled up the sidewalk, the gym bag fell from my shoulder, landing safely at my elbow, but jerking my hand off the handle bar causing a chain reaction whereby, my left hand over corrected and the bike veered off the sidewalk.  The chain reaction continued with the bike tipping slowly sideways into a very thorny bougainvillea bush, followed by my very 50 year-old body crashing down on top of the bike and the bush.  Did I mention the bush was thorny? Luckily no one was around to witness my epic loss of dignity so I picked myself up before anyone drove by and spotted me prone on the bush.  Unfortunately, my left arm and leg were cut-up enough to produce prodigious streams of blood  - good thing I wear a helmet and it was quickly apparent I had to get somewhere to clean it up and stop the bleeding.  The closest place?  The gym. . .full of people.
Where are a jetski and a puppy when you need one?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Say Yes To The Dress

I have spent a good amount of time extolling the huge differences between men and women.  I have waxed poetic on the XY chromosome and it’s unique set of qualities.  I have proclaimed my womanhood loud and proud, especially having lived with a house full of men.  After all of that, I have to sheepishly admit, I think I have been faking it.
Oh sure, I get my hair done, have manicures and pedicures, am drawn to handbags and shoes and love my share of jewelry.  I thought THAT alone qualified me for the girly girl club.  However, since my newly appointed role as MOG (Mother of the groom), I’ve had to face the very frightening reality that I don’t know nothin bout being no girl.  
Here’s the thing. . .unlike most of my female friends, I hate to shop.  Loathe it, in fact.  I pride myself on the fact that I usually know what I am looking for, where I want to go to get said item, and generally have a coupon when I go.  In and out.  The power shopping days where we girls all head to the mall, downtown Chicago or Galena or Lake Geneva are loads of fun. . .for the first block.  Then, I’m done. But, I amble along amiably, quietly checking my watch and wondering when everyone else wants to cease with the shopping and go get a drink.  
Now, faced with the daunting task of finding the perfect dress for my son’s wedding, I allowed the whole summer to pass knowing I had fall and winter to do that kind of shopping.  Fall had to gall to arrive so, unable to put if off further, I finally made the intrepid trip into a bridal salon.  I very quietly asked to see what they had in their “Mother Of” section and headed over there to peruse the selection.  Apparently people who work in those kind of shops are trained to actually help their clientele.  Not one but TWO overly energetic and enthusiastic women swarmed me, bombarding me with questions for which I did not know the answer, “What color are you thinking?  Formal? Tea length? Satin? Jacket? What dress size are you looking for?  
Size?  Well it depends. . .at Walmart I am an L but at Target I generally go for XL.  Is that what she meant?  Blinded by sequins, I sat down, while the ladies, completely unaware of my mental state, continued to pull dresses from their racks and hold them out for my approval. Well my head simply started spinning and  I wasn’t able to escape until the phone rang and one of the women went to answer it while the other went to see what was in back.  I hightailed it out to the car in search of a paper bag in which to breathe.  
No amount of estrogen can undo all the years of a testosterone driven household and the damage it has done to my “girl”.  Thankfully, the Bride and the MOB have consented to help me through this process. . .they know how to power shop. I might need some wine and Xanax but, if they are patient with me, I may discover my girl after all of these years.  I think I kind of miss her. 

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Big Secret

You might have noticed that I haven’t paid much attention to my blog lately. . .then again, maybe you haven’t.  I’m not sure which is worse.  
Most of you know that I have written another book and spent the summer getting it ready to launch.  I have had exciting feedback on this new book - and in case you haven’t heard me talk about it ad nauseum, it’s called In The Name Of The Father.  This book is 180˚ out from the first book.  It was intentional.  If I may speak confidentially, may I?  I wrote the first book because I knew it would be easy for me.  That’s right, I said easy.  It’s not tough to comment on the human condition when it comes to the differences in men and women, they smack me in the face every single day.  Or, to ruminate on my aging body, and justify why I believe wine should be covered by health insurance (that should be a no-brainer!) or share my mishaps with a bag of pot.  So, yeah, in the big picture. . .it was easy.  The big question was, would it sell?  As a control freak, this looming question mark mocked me at every turn.  But, it did. . .and well.  I am proud to say it is still in the Amazon top 10 in humor, parenting and marriage - even after a year.  I learned a lot writing that book, putting it together, marketing it and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  The one thing I learned was the best thing a writer can do it to write another book.  Luckily, I had one on the back burner of my brain with some haphazard starts on my hard drive.  People would ask, are you writing another book?  I’d answer in the affirmative and they’d just assume it was volume 2 of the first book.  They plied me with stories, suggestions, and ideas and I would listen, all the while knowing I wasn’t writing humor this time.  They were busy regaling me with funny and I was busy killing people off.  
So, on August 10th, a year to the day that I released Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts!, I released In The Name Of The Father.  I am proud of both books, but this one is where my passion has always been and, I am here to tell you, it is a better book.   As I said, the feedback has been phenomenal.  There’s sex, drugs, language, murder, and even a love story, not your general humorous fare, right?  So, imagine my reaction when, among all of the obvious "thriller" comments, I get a reader who commented, “I thought it was a cute story.”    Cute? 

My Big Secret

You might have noticed that I haven’t paid much attention to my blog lately. . .then again, maybe you haven’t.  I’m not sure which is worse.  
Most of you know that I have written another book and spent the summer getting it ready to launch.  I have had exciting feedback on this new book - and in case you haven’t heard me talk about it ad nauseum, it’s called In The Name Of The Father.  This book is 180˚ out from the first book.  It was intentional.  If I may speak confidentially, may I?  I wrote the first book because I knew it would be easy for me.  That’s right, I said easy.  It’s not tough to comment on the human condition when it comes to the differences in men and women, they smack me in the face every single day.  Or, to ruminate on my aging body, and justify why I believe wine should be covered by health insurance (that should be a no-brainer!) or share my mishaps with a bag of pot.  So, yeah, in the big picture. . .it was easy.  The big question was, would it sell?  As a control freak, this looming question mark mocked me at every turn.  But, it did. . .and well.  I am proud to say it is still in the Amazon top 10 in humor, parenting and marriage - even after a year.  I learned a lot writing that book, putting it together, marketing it and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  The one thing I learned was the best thing a writer can do it to write another book.  Luckily, I had one on the back burner of my brain with some haphazard starts on my hard drive.  People would ask, are you writing another book?  I’d answer in the affirmative and they’d just assume it was volume 2 of the first book.  They plied me with stories, suggestions, and ideas and I would listen, all the while knowing I wasn’t writing humor this time.  They were busy regaling me with funny and I was busy killing people off.  
So, on August 10th, a year to the day that I released Is It Just Me? or Is Everyone a Little Nuts!, I released In The Name Of The Father.  I am proud of both books, but this one is where my passion has always been and, I am here to tell you, it is a better book.   As I said, the feedback has been phenomenal.  There’s sex, drugs, language, murder, and even a love story, not your general humorous fare, right?  So, imagine my reaction when, among all of the obvious "thriller" comments, I get a reader who commented, “I thought it was a cute story.”    Cute? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I would love to start this with some grand story about my intrepid escapades this summer.  Perhaps the thrill of cruising on an airboat through the wetlands and weeds of the Florida swamps in search of gators in weather so hot, I was never completely dry.  Yeah, I did that.  It was fun.  And yes, there were more alligators than I could count.

Or, learning that 50 means I'm not so good with the upsidedown, twisty roller coasters anymore.  Ask the ride operators at Universal Studios, they can explain.  But, if you were there, stuck in line on the Harry Potter flying experience and they announced over the loud speaker that the ride was "temporarily out of service" - well, it's probably my fault.  Sorry about that.

Or, I could tell you about the day I received a text message from Casey Anthony asking to hide out with me on vacation.  I almost had my phone shut down before realizing that it was a BAD joke from a friend who NEVER, EVER texts but knew I was in Florida.  Ha! Funny stuff Steph.

But, while all of that HAS happened, I've really spent the bulk of my summer sitting on my ever expanding butt, finishing my book, going through edits, and getting it ready for publishing.  And that day came (last Monday).  It's available in paperback on my website with a 20% coupon code available there.  It is also available on Kindle and Nook for $4.99 (links on my site).  Amazon and will pick it up in a few weeks.

There is still some summer left, so what do I do now?  I'm taking suggestions.  Anyone?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

There's a Reason Why Fifty Rhymes With Nifty

In 1961, in Deaconess Hospital, in a well known city. . I was born.  Don't bother doing the math. I'm fifty.  And, I am happy about it.

Seriously, I know a lot of people dread the whole "getting another year older" thing and go with the all black "Over the Hill" theme, but I just don't feel that way.  I feel like I am still in my twenties.  I wake each morning, hop out of bed - ok, I don't hop, I roll, but that's not the point, I get out of bed and make a cup of coffee.  I did it in my twenties, I still do it now.  Except it takes a minute or two before I can stand upright, loosen the ol' back muscles, but that's ok because it takes that long for my cup to brew.

I feel like I could do about anything.  Well, except ski.  I don't ski anymore.  It hurts my knees and I never really felt the high your supposed to feel from whizzing down the face of a ridiculously steep mountain.  But I feel like I could climb that mountain in the summer, just find me a way down because again, the coming down sends a searing pain through my left knee - kind of like a knife was inserted in the joint.  Add ice skating to that list as well, it cramps my feet and they ache, why compound that pain by doing it in freezing temperatures?  Nope, done with that.

I'm still pretty good at tennis.  I don't play on a court any more, but the Wii says I am an expert.  I'll take that.  I can take an extended bike ride, as long as the path is flat and no one cares if I walk it up the unexpected hills from time to time.

I don't have any great desire to have cosmetic surgery.  I don't have a lot of wrinkles (Because, as my sister deftly pointed out. . .we carry our own supply of wrinkle reducer in the form of extra weight. . . I prefer to call it my instant collagen) and it seems to be working.

I have a bucket list, but things like skiing, mountain climbing, bike trips, not so much anymore. . . I've done that and I don't really even want to do them anymore.  What do I want to do?

Sure, I want to go to the Great Wall of China, see the Pyramids and visit Disney's Animal Kingdom, but the big kahuna, the stuff I am interested in is simple.

I want to write a few more books (just finished the second the other day!)  I want to watch my grandchildren grow up. I want to see the possibilities in every day and do my best to reach them - I know how corny that sounds, but I'm 50 now so I don't really care.  I might even buy a friggin red hat (perhaps like the one Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding).  All of my list items are not so lofty though,
recently, I bought a pair of really cute shoes. Black, strappy heeled sandles that zip up the back of the heel. I wore them, last weekend, to a wedding reception for several hours and they didn't hurt.  I call that a big win.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Razing a School Raises Emotions

Last Tuesday, on a very cold spring day, the wrecking crew began the long task of demolishing our elementary school.  A subject that has, from the start, created a lot of angst and discontent among the people of my small town, the razing of our town's began a whole new wave of bitter and sweet emotions and sent them rippling through town.  I  don't have that deep attachment that generations here do, I didn't go to school there but my kids did.

I went to school in Michigan, and, a few years ago, my school was torn down and a new one built in it's place.  So, I understand the emotions people are feeling.  When my old school was being razed, the school took every step they could in letting alumni know of the impending tear down.  In particular, there were tiles that we made in art class that had been used to line the pond in one of the many courtyards and along the walls to the gym/cafeteria.  We made those tiles sometime during the 1970/72 school years (I think - Mr. DeBernardi was the teacher then before Mr. Melton) and they were ceremoniously laid in the small duck pond in the courtyard next to the cafeteria.  The same courtyard where one year Miss Green's class (That would be Mean Miss Green - not the other Miss Greene) built an authentic Navajo hogan out of sticks and mud, creating a life size diorama of Native American Life in Arizona right there in Michigan.  That hogan stood for well over a year, throughout a Michigan winter before finally being removed to make room some other class project.

My school had three playgrounds.  The 4-6th grade playground that sat at the top of the hill that lead down to a private pond.  The one where Some 6th graders hid at the bottom and caused a huge stir among the rest of us who wondered what they were up to (I won't name names but Nancy Crites and Carol Williams MIGHT want to ask their spouses about it).  The 1-3rd grade playground where the kickball field was and the kindergarten playground that had the big cheese, a set of concrete cylinders painted yellow with holes in them looked like a yellow cheese castle.  But I digress.

I was in Michigan on the last day of school and stopped into the school office to see if my tile was still available.  The whole of the student body was in assembly so I was allowed to wonder the halls to see if I could find my tile.  And this is what I did.

I headed straight for my kindergarten room.  I walked over to the chalk board that was still located at the far end of the room.  I picked up a piece of chalk and wrote on the board:

1966/67 Mrs. Collins room.  Afternoon kids were the smartest class to ever come through Harlan.

Then I headed to the first grade hall where I went to my old room.  I walked straight to the board and wrote:

1967/68 Mrs. Carlin's Class - Learned to read with Dick and Jane.  Still like Sally the best.

and it went on:

1968/69 Mrs. Bobicz (Miss Cowan) used to put masking tape on Tommy Barbay and Julie Sakuta's mouths to keep them from talking all the time.

1969/70 Mrs. Rop (married to the tall, scary, Assistant Principal who never smiled)'s class - Eric Freeburg married Jody Laurie on the playground, complete with bridesmaids, groomsmen and kleenex flowers.

1970/71 Mrs. Knight's class.  We spent our free time playing the Partridge Family LP, singing "I Think I Love You" over and over.  Poor Connie Austin always had to pretend to be Keith Partridge.

1971/72 Mrs. Mellon's class - What can I say?  Her hand lotion was greasy and it stunk. Thanks goodness I had my best friend Karen to get me through.

1972/73 Mrs. Black's class - Brian Young really did steal my (and Karen's) shoes, tie them in impossible knots to the top of the jungle gym and spit in them as we were being called back in to class.  We never "narc'd" either.  Why?  Because we secretly liked it.

I didn't find my tile that day but I had a great time walking down memory lane and leaving the current teachers those notes on their boards.  So, I really do understand the melancholy people are feeling here.  They can tear down the building but they can't take away your memories.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thanks A Lot Harold Camping

In case you weren’t aware of it, the Raptured was scheduled to occur last Saturday, May 21 at 6 p.m.  There was some confusion as to time zones and all, but I think they finally settled on Pacific time.  If you are still here, apparently you weren’t included in the massive rise up.  
Me? I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be drawn up to the Heavens leaving nothing but the clothes I was wearing in a pathetic heap where I was standing either. So sure was I that I would still be around, I made plans for the evening.  I was going to go looting.  I don’t mean just any old appliance store for a big screen tv or a blu ray player looting, I mean I was gonna amass me some major works of art, architecture and the occassional piece of bling.   
I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to do some decorating.  My first acquisition?  The Last Supper.  I have a wall it could fit on and even if it doesn’t, I could remove the frame and wrap it around a corner. It might class the joint up a bit.  I’ve also always had my eye on the Venus De Milo.  She’d be a nice addition to the front yard. I was thinking I could hang a bird feeder from her somehow or, wait. . .how about some plastic flowers?  Wouldn’t that be cute?  I’ve always admired the colosseum in Rome but without a place to put it, I had to give it some additional consideration and then it dawned on me.  The Byron Football field, duh.  Maybe rename the thing Coltman Stadium.  As for the bling?  I’m not asking fro much there.  The jewel stash of the royals in appealing, however, there is a diamond and emerald bracelet up at Zavius Jewelers that I’ve always coveted and I might just have to go snatch that baby before my spree ends. This opportunity was just too good to be true.  But first, I had to make sure I wasn’t accidentally confused with one of the saved people.  So, I waited it out through the Eastern Daylight Savings Time zone.  To test the waters, I even Facebooked a message to my east coast friends asking if they were still around.  I received no response.  Hmmmm.  Perhaps, I wondered, this is happening by time zone like a sweep across the world.  
Moondoggy and I decided that waiting around for the Rapture was a waste of time, and besides the view would be better out in the open, so we decided to take a walk.  It was a beautiful evening.  The weather was warm, the sun was shining and we headed off on the bike path.  At six o’clock Central Time, we paused.  We waited.  We looked to the sky.  Aaaand nothin’.  Nada.  I was getting a little ticked off because I saw Harold Camping on tv and he PROMISED this was going to happen.  He was adamant and I kinda made my plans around his assurance.  At the very least, I wanted the emerald bracelet and now it didn’t appear that would be happening either.  The Last Supper and Venus would have to stay safe in Paris and my bracelet locked away in a case on Perryville road.  Huff and pouty face.
It was at that moment the church bells started ringing at the United Church like they do every night at six o’clock.  The Tune? “He Arose.”  I think they must have a sense of humor there. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

When the Plan Goes Out the Window

During my first year of wedded bliss, approximately nine months were spent alone as my husband was working abroad.  I, on the other hand, was living in Virginia Beach working as the on site manager for a large apartment complex.  Everyone knew Moondoggy was not around, thus, I slept with an axe.  Yes, an axe and no, not to do serious physical harm to the murderer I was sure would be breaking in.  The axe was for breaking the window so I could make my escape.  I hated being alone at night. . .still do, although it got immensely easier when we moved from the big house in the woods to the small house in town.  Within screaming distance I always say.

For thirty years the thought of being alone all night has conjured elaborate scenarios involving me slithering out of bed and slipping under it - which no longer is possible, me using my mad kick boxing skills. me breaking the window for attention and then running like hell..  I have lain awake at night plotting every escape route, strategy and hiding place possible should I be stuck alone and the murderer come a callin'.  So, last night, due to work schedules, Moondoggy had to work an odd midnight shift and there I was, alone.  I wasn't even nervous about it, after all, I do have Moose the Wonder dog.

There I was, minding my own business, sleeping in the middle of the bed with ALL the pillows and my dog, when my ADT alarm beeps the little staccato beat indicating that a door has been opened.  The dog goes nuts barking and leaping off the bed, scrambling headlong into the living room.  I have prepared for this moment for years, I know exactly what to do, self preservation is my middle name.  And what do I do?

I climb out of bed, head down the hall toward the living room where I see the light of a flashlight shining along the floor.  You would think at some point I would have stopped right?  NO!  I keep going, where I come face to face with a man in a dark clothings who, I realized later, was more shocked than I.  
"Oh NO!  Wrong house," he calmly and quickly raises his hands in the air and clearly announces, "We're firemen!  Wrong house!" Like a scene from some slapstick comedy movie, he starts backing up repeating, "We're firemen.  Wrong house.  We're leaving."  Moose is doing his best warning growl (although secretly thinking if one of those guys produced a ball, all bets were off) and just before he closes the door and leaves, I say, "Wait, what's your name?"  He gives it to me (and I am now awake enough that I know who he is).  Then, there was that ghastly smell.  I think Moose might have had a little "nerve" gas.

I flip on the light and there, in the mirror, get a gander at what the intruder was looking at.  I am wearing my best thread bare pair of red Mickey Mouse jammy pants that long ago lost the drawstring.  I am also wearing an old gray tank top.  Gravity hit the girls long about pregnancy time and never left, so, without a bra, a tank top is about the worst look I can have.  My kids have said they need therapy after seeing me in that tank top.  And amazingly, I'm still not scared.

I called Moondoggy at work to relay the humorous tale, calm down, and allow my dog to relax because something smelled awful and I'm pretty sure it is my perfect little dog. Moondoggy was not happy at all and asked me to call the police.  I waffled.  I WAFFLED but acquiesced, dialing 911 assuring the operator It was NOT an emergency but felt it needed reporting.  She did not think it was funny. "Ma'am there have been NO fire calls tonight.  I am going to have an officer stop by."

Well crap!  I've already seen myself in the mirror and, looking around, I realized that I was not prepared for guests.   I quickly threw on a hoodie sweatshirt, fluffed the couch pillows, took my old coffee cup to the kitchen, decided I didn't have time to do dishes so opted to shut that light off and sat down with the shade up to wait for the officer, like it was the most normal thing in the world.  And a minute later he was there.

The young, good looking, former marine was on duty.  I wished I had brushed my hair!  He took some info but offered what he thought had happened:

The next street over in the same location lives a woman who is infirm.  She often makes errant calls to the fire and police stations and sometimes they do midnight service calls to her house.  There is a new driver on duty and he got confused with the streets. . .

As he was telling me this, there was another knock at the door and the two firemen returned after making their call, to apologize again.  All I can think about at that moment was about is my hair, which looks like a tornado!  They had in fact, been doing exactly what the police officer said.  I looked at these three men standing in my living room, one apologizing profusely, one turning redder by the minute (he must be the new driver) and one who now has to make a report about the whole thing and I said, "Next time I'll make coffee and have donuts," to which the police officer, a funny guy, says "Donuts?""   

As they left , I scooped Moose into my arms and took one last look in the mirror, "and I'll even brush my hair,"  I commented to my reflection.  Moose sniffed close to my mouth and jumped away running down the hall.  I smelled that putrid, rotting sour odor again.  It wasn't the dog, it was my breath.  Forget brushing my hair, I should have brushed my teeth.

As for the practiced escape plan?  It went out the window without me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where oh Where Shall the Wedding Be?

In case I haven't mentioned it in any conversation where I can fit it in, I am the Mother of the Groom.  And, with all that role entails (and does not entail) I am extremely grateful that I had boys.  There is so much I don't know about wedding planning and most of it would never occur to me - at least at this point in my life.  I fear that I have spent so much time floating in a testosterone laden environment, I've lost my XX edge and even believe that my uterus may slowly be shrinking.  However clueless I may be about my new role, I have been graciously included on the hunt for the perfect venue and studied up on choice options on the internet so I can, at least, speak the language.

Although I am directionally challenged, I can drive to Chicago blindfolded.  I can easily navigate my way to both my kids apartments, but anything beyond Taylor St., Racine and Michigan Ave and I'm lost.  So picturing the venues as presented by their websites has allowed me to remain geographically neutral. We have looked at four different venues.  The first was a lovely place with an lovely indoor space and a large, very nice, very lovely spacious tent attached.  They have their act together there. and we were impressed.  But. . . it's not the place. That's ok because I have no idea where it is still and fear I would probably get lost on the way to the wedding.

We looked at the Pritzker stage in Millenium Park.  It has HUGE glass doors that enclose the stage and look out onto the skyline.  Beautiful.  The whole shebang would take place on the stage including the reception and if you can get over the fishbowl feeling of it all, it's a pretty good deal.  EXCEPT, your guests enter through the back stage area strewn with backstage bric-a-brac stacked up against cold, gray cinderblock walls, up cinderblock steps and. . . it's not the place.

And then there was the Most Promising venue.  This place is a mansion downtown that was built in the twenties by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The structure is four floors in height and spans the size of half a city block.  It is enormous.  I had looked at the website before driving in and I have to say, it was WOW.  I was fairly certain this was going to be the place. We entered through the front door and were guided through the massive first floor.  It took my breath away.  The actual venue is at the back of the mansion in their Gatehouse.   And as we sashayed though the house, a museum dedicated to the family that owned it, the MOB and I were exchanging knowing smiles.  And then we entered the Gatehouse.

Down a narrow set of wooden steps, a landing where the restroom was located, and then a short set of more creaky wooden steps, we entered the venue.  The coordinator proudly pointed out the quaint period lighting, we saw bare lightbulbs dangling from metal rods.   The coordinator talked about the carefully refurbished wooden walls, I got a splinter.  The coordinator showed us the couryard where, if the weather is nice, we could hold the ceremony outside because the driveway makes a nice aisle for the bride, a crumbling cement driveway that led to the back garage. . .also known as the Gatehouse.  The coordinator kept talking and I watched as, one by one, the Bride checked out, the Groom pulled out his phone and checked his Facebook, the MOB studied the concrete floor . . .and the coordinator kept on talking ending with the following:

"And we will happily allow your guests into the mansion for tours at the cost of $5 a person.  Many wedding guests enjoy the tour.  There is also a security guard on duty during your event but that is really for the protection of the museum.  Any Questions?"


We were no more than fifteen seconds out the door when the Bride announced, "I am NOT getting married in the horse poop room of this mansion!"

That was not the place.

All I can say is, they need to give their web designer a big fat raise and sorry you'll be missing the $5 tour because we have found our venue and you'll never guess where.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And I Barely Caught My Breathe Before. . .

When you hold your newborn baby in your arms and gaze into the eyes that peer back at you in complete and utter surrender to the comfort and protection you offer, you aren't thinking about the week I just had.  The last thing you consider in that tender moment is hearing these words, 'I asked her to marry me and she said 'Yes!'"  But that is exactly the way my Wednesday afternoon began.

You cannot imagine the level of joy I felt at that moment because, my boy, my wise, wise boy is marrying up!  Not only has he chosen to spend the rest of his life with a woman who ticks all of the boxes of independence, intelligence and beauty, she is a proactive do-er and that, I quickly discovered, comes straight from her mother.  Boy hydee has my son hit the jackpot on mother-in-laws!  Less than 24 hours from their announcement, she was on the phone with me, extending her hand and offering to let me be a part of all the planning activities, something I have not practiced for almost 30 years.  I am sorely out of shape when it comes to being a girl or the mother of a girl and am wholly grateful that they are directing this rodeo and allowing me to ride the tethered pony along behind!

On Saturday, Moondoggy and I drove into Chicago to meet the Mother of the Bride (MOB) and, along with the happy couple, look at venues.  By all accounts, the events of the prior few days had hardly soaked in, and I was having a tug-of-war with the aging process which suddenly felt compelled to speed up as I realized I would be the Mother of the Groom (MOG). And there we were, being swept into what we will a year long process of planning.  

The MOB is a strikingly beautiful woman with an exuberant and vivacious personality and she can give her daughter as much grief as I give my boys - you gotta love that!  She is also a business owner who just happens to be an accomplished. . .LARGE EVENT PLANNER!  Have I got it made or what?  I am doing my thanking and praising all over the place about this.  There are simply things I don't even think about due to the lack of estrogen in the house that the Bride and the MOB knew to ask about and I could nod in agreement without looking to pathetically out of it.  But the BEST part of the whole day was when we met the wedding planner at one venue.  On introductions, she thought Moondoggy was the Bride's father and then asked if I was the SISTER!  Let me repeat that for you, she asked if I was the SISTER and when I laughed and told her I was the groom's mom, she said, "You look so young!"  Now, I hear a lot of things, but young has never been one of them.  Either she was a misguided but kind gal or she is the slickest of salespeople the wedding industry has ever produced.  Frankly, I don't care which because her comment sent my newly accelerated aging process into retreat.

Thankfully the MOB gave me a Chicago Wedding Planner Guide.  Now I have homework, but I am looking forward to rekindling my girly self and enjoying it.

And I say with pride, I am the Mother of the Groom!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don't Call These Men Dogs - That Would Be An Insult To The Dog

Another book by an indie author.  I have been impressed with the plethora of excellent independently published books; books that may never have been available in the past.  As with all of the books I discuss, I'm not saying read this or don't.  I'll just leave it up to you.

by Dave Conifer.

The guy doesn't mess around.  There is nothing coy in the title.  Revenge takes an ugly form.  Wrecker is a novel replete with unexpected twists and turns and characters that seem like polar opposites, but essentially are the same.

Stuck in an unsatisfying marriage, Jane Havelock is busy mothering their young daughter, enduring the boorish and wholly unappealing attitude of her husband Steve.  Rarely have I readily disliked a character so quickly, but this guy is piece of work.  Stuck on himself in numerous areas, he, ever the shark for a bargain, hires a cut rate handy man to complete projects around the house.  Now I know what you are thinking.  You think that Jane will inevitably fall for the handy man who is always there when her egotistical, power hungry spouse isn't.  You think that, as the handy man endears himself to her young daughter, that a relationship will develop.  Well, don't think.

From there, the handy man takes them all on a wild ride filled with a case of "Roid Rage", revenge and self loathing that not only put Steve in a position of professional and financial ruin, but also in a position to find appreciation in Jane.  Too little too late if you ask me.

Conifer creates some despicable men to be sure, and just when you think the story will go one way, he turns it on a dime.  Unexpected.  Shocking.  Disturbing.  What more can I say?

Available through Amazon and on Kindle:

Barnes & Noble:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The True and Real Story of. . .

Normally I don't take this space to rant. I don't feel normal today.

I've about had it with a trend that has been sweeping the country for the last year or two and I simply must address this before more people throw their hard earned cash at what really is worth nothing more a dollar.  My beef?  The Wedge Salad. I did not realize how prevalent the hype about this phenomenon was until watching "Modern Family" (I DVR it so I am a week off episode order) the other day.  A knock down, drag out fight took place between a married couple all because of the Wedge Salad.
You've probably seen it on the menu of your favorite restaurant, priced between $8 and $10.  But, do you know what a Wedge Salad really is?

My sister invented the Wedge Salad back in the 70's.  It's true.  In a fit of famished creativity, on a day when our snack foods had been depleted, my sister, too hungry to make a traditional salad, just cut a head of lettuce in quarters, poured dressing on the cut edge and let it seep into the crevices.  Then, she stood over the sink and ate the entire salad without dirtying a plate or cutlery.  Genius.

We called it a Bachelor Salad, but it became a very real part of our food reptoire. A true WS consists of a head of lettuce cut into quarters.  You can get 4 salads out of a head of lettuce.  Cover one of the wedges with dressing.  In my sister's case, it was my mom's homemade Thousand Island dressing, which is to die for and I would have to kill you if I gave you the recipe.  A true WS is not something consumed at the table, on a plate with a knife and fork, a true Wedge is always eaten over the sink.  THAT is a true Wedge Salad.  This bastardized version is a disgrace to the meaning of the original.

I'm not sure who claims to have originated the restaurant version that has become so popular, but they are making a killing.  Figure four WS from one head of lettuce, a smattering of bulk dressing, some cheese and bacon to stick and your talking ten bucks for a dollar salad and they are calling it gourmet.  And so many people are lining up to pay for it.

So next time you sit in a restaurant and ponder the Wedge, remember, you can make it at home in about 2 seconds and save yourself the money.  If you really want to spend that money, send it to me - I'll find something better to do with it.

Rant over, go back to your lives.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb - Trust Your Dogs!

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb is my latest Indie read.  And, as promised, I committed to write about the books of other indie authors that I read. So, here you go.  I won't rate or recommend - that would seem somewhat pompous on my part.  My taste might must be all in my mouth.  But, I will tell a bit about it and let you decide for yourself.

DO NOT consider buying a large, dark, uninhabited home that has a homeless guy hanging around in it no matter what the dollar deal and decorating potential are.  It's not worth it.  But, if you insist that it would be the perfect place to live and raise a child, then understand why I will never visit.

Chances are good that the house has a violent history that the seller failed to mention and the chances are even better that your child will know before you do.

No matter how typical that set-up seems for a ghost story, there is something irresistibly enticing about an old house with a history and so, I intrepidly opened the book.  Robb, not only writes a story that conjures up spirits, those spirits are as vividly painted as the the epic that made them ghosts in the first place.  In red.

There is violence, there are characters killed, and there are twists that yank you from one side to the next when you aren't looking.  And if I tell you that Lucifer changes the spelling of her name and saves the day, would that prospect creep you out?  Just a bit?  If not, you can find The Butcher's Boy here here. On Nook here and here for Kindle   $3.69  - Not bad for a scare.

As for me, I'm going to take some Aleve and RUN.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Don't

I'm going to risk irritating a lot of women here.  Tomorrow is Valentine' Day, the day set aside to show your spouse, partner, lover, crush just how much you really love them.  It's a day that involves lots of red hearts, cards, candy, special dinners and chocolate treats (ok, not a bad thing).  It is so entrenched in our society that even first graders know the importance of this day and spend time creating their own pink, purple and red mail boxes in anticipation of receiving handfuls of small printed "cards" with their classmates names on the back.

Valentine's Day?  I'm not a fan.

I know, you already think I am party pooper, right?  I despise going to the store and spending a ridiculous amount of  money on a card that, in our house, will be thrown away by the end of the week.  I don't need a card to remind Moondoggy that I love "Us" - if  I haven't made that clear by now, we would be in marriage free fall.  I sure as heck don't want him to go out and spend money on candy (I don't need it), we already dine out more than we should, and that $5 on a card would be better spent elsewhere.  Moondoggy is off the hook in our house.

We will wish each other a Happy Valentine's Day in the morning.  He will leave for work.  I will get chicken out for dinner.  That about does it.  We don't need to set aside a special day to proclaim our love.  At this point, that kind of holiday seems silly.

Now Mother's Day?  That's a different story.  And in case you are wondering, about 90 shopping days left.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes it Helps to be an English Major

One of the unexpected bonuses of writing a book is networking with other writers.  Seriously, since my book came out, I have spent time on some interesting forums and have had the opportunity of meeting other authors as well as reading their books.  The indie writer is a  unique animal.  The indie writer is not the “I want to write a book” vanity press author of old.  The indie writer/author often chooses to go that route because of the long lead time to publication (2 years), the freedom and control to write from the soul and not to a pre-ordained audience, and because it allows the author to make that book available in different venues (online, ebooks, Kindle).  It also requires that the author oversee his or her own marketing and therein lies the rub.  So, as promised, from time to time, I am going to review books from other indie authors.  I will not make recommendations however, that choice will be left up to you.

Larry Enright seems like a nice enough fellow.  He is clean cut, has a good sense of humor, and, although I don’t know this for a fact, is probably a younger brother.  I am basing that last observation on the main character from his book, “Four Years From Home”  - the character is Tom Ryan.
A mystery unfolds over the holidays at the Ryan house when all but one of the Ryan kids return to celebrate.  The youngest, Harry, the golden child, has been out of the house attending college out of state- never to return, as the family is informed by college officials that Harry has died in an unfortunate accident.  
Oldest child, Tom, is sent to find out what really happened.  Story enough in itself, except that Tom Ryan is one of the most self centered, egotistical bullies you could imagine. As the oldest child, Tom ruled his world with an iron fist and all those around him are but minions to complete his latest reign of terror, his own siblings obstacles to his supreme position in the family.  In his delusional world, Tom is the king and everyone and everything is designed around him, about him and for him.  The first clue into the depth of Tom’s ego is his ongoing conversation with himself.  Constantly arranging and rearranging his rules to suit the moment, loses are acceptable as long as the end result is a gain for Tom.  When Tom’s world enters Harry’s world, the collision of the mind in epic and unfolds into an act that only Harry could understand, and he’s not there to explain it.  
So is Harry dead?  Is Tom going to uncover what happened in the four years Harry has been gone?  
That will be up to you to determine if you read Four Years From Home, by Larry Enright.  It is available here:  Paperback  $12.95

And really?  For only .99 what have you got to lose?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All The Right Moves

You'll have to pardon me for the abrupt manner and delivery of this piece, but it just happened so it feels  a little like breaking news.

Moondoggy, my lifelong love, just made a pass at me for which he believes the end result will be unfettered bliss.

We've all been there.  You are sitting there minding your own business, when stud muffin walks in and gazes at you while you toil at whatever activity you are pursuing.  He is mesmerized.  He is enthralled as he watches you (and thinks you don't know he is watching) go about your life.

Gently, he approaches and lightly caresses your shoulders.  He lifts the hair from your neck and whispers into your ear, "Do we have plans today?" The shivers run down your neck and you reply, "No.  Why?"  Then, he lifts you from your chair and carries you off to the bedroom, spontaneous, wild and passionate.

Uh, huh.  Right.  In whose world?

This is how it really went down:

It's morning and I have been sitting in the living room watching CNN and writing.  I'm not dressed.  I'm wearing blue jammy shorts with little red strawberries all over them, a black tank top and a big ol' sweatshirt because the house is freezing.  I have just fixed myself a bowl of Kashi fibre cereal and am back in my comfy chair with an old quilt draped across my lap, a bowl of cereal perched on my chest, and my teeth yet unbrushed, hair uncombed and body unshowered.  A lurid and fetching sight apparently.

Up comes Moondoggy from his man cave for this third cup of coffee and he wanders into the living room.  "Do we have plans today?" he asks and I respond, "No, why."

"I think we should have sex."


The funny thing is, he believes that should do it for me.  Oh sure.  I am feeling especially sexy as I eat my twigs and sticks.  My perfume has long ago dissipated and been replaced with bad morning breath, bed head and 24 hours without a good body soaping.  I feel like I just want to freakin sprint to the bedroom right this minute - Honey! Let's Go!

I have no idea what my facial reaction looked like as these thoughts were swirling in my brain, but I just realized Moondoggy has gone back down into his man cave.  I guess the mood has passed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eat This Now - Or Don't!

I received a gift card from Barnes & Noble from a friend and without hesitation went right out and bought Rocco Di Spirito's "Now Eat This," a collection of comfort food recipes retooled with lower fat and caloric contents.  Always looking for the magic potion that will equal good food without the naughty stuff, I was hoping I had found the holy grail of cookbooks.

Moondoggy and I are both picky eaters.  I am not a huge fan of red meat.  I know what you are thinking, but it's true.  I have never ordered a steak or roast or anything of the like in a restaurant in my entire life.  I seriously have never considered it.  Moondoggy does not like nor will he ever eat anything that contains a pea, a green bean, a mushroom or an onion.  His onion detector is enviable.  He can look at a pizza and spot the accidental onion, take a sip of soup and tell when there is even an onion flake present.  Moondoggy presents a challenge when I am cooking because I respect his ick factor, but it makes cooking challenging at times as I promised him a long time ago I would never attempt to sneak an onion, mushroom or green legume in his food.  I am, after all, a woman of my word.  With the "no, no's" firmly tattooed onto my brain, I took the daring step of attempting one of the recipes in my new book.

Chicken Alfredo a la Rocco Dispirito-
When I am are going for comfort, creamy and rich, I figured I'd start with an alfredo.  And while I am not going to lay out the recipes here, I will share some of the surprise secrets here that I believe make the dishes really good - or really bad.

The first ingredient listed is. . . . .Onion garlic puree.  Yep onion.  What to do, what to do. . .I decided to forge ahead and make what we, here in our house, call Safety Chicken ( a chicken breast cooked in the oven in case the dish is inedible) and follow the recipe as written.  The onion garlic puree consists of a sweet vidalia onion chopped into pieces and placed into a microwave safe bowl along with 6 cloves of garlic, a 1/4 cup water and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover them with platic wrap, microwave for 10 minutes, then blend or food process until is makes a thick smooth puree (about a cup.)

And THAT is the base for the Alfredo sauce.  Onion.

So, the chicken is pounded thin, dredged through wholewheat flour, egg whites and panko bread crumbs.  Cook it in a skillet with a dash of olive oil until tender and crisp.  Whole wheat pasta cooked in boiling water until done and THE SAUCE:  The Onion garlic puree, some milk, nutmeg and grated parmegiano reggiano cheese cooked until the cheese is melted.  Coat the pasta, place chicken on top and then finish with the sauce.  The aroma is sublime.

And then I did the worst thing I could possibly do.  I fed it to Moondoggy. I did so without warning him that the dreaded onion was laced throughout entire dish. Thank God I had a piece of safety chicken in the oven.  I held my breath and he took a bite. . .and then another. . .and then another.  Finally, he said, "This is good.  You can make this again," and I exhaled.  It was good - it was really good.  And here is the best part. . .

Serves 4 with each serving containing:
320 calories (Yes that's for the chicken, the sauce AND the pasta)
5.5g of fat.

I'm not kidding.  Moondoggy gave it 5 stars until a few days later when I caved due to the weight of guilt that was sitting directly on my shoulders.  I tearfully admitted there were onions involved and he took it to 4 (on principal, he said) and I have now lost all credibility with him.  But, on the bright side, he is willing to try any other recipe that calls for the Onion garlic puree, but swears he won't like it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kindle Love

I've decided that this is the year I need to take an intrepid step in the blogging world.  Usually, my blog contains an essay or short piece - almost always drawn from real life - and almost always the honest truth (I love the word "almost" because it is a magnificent qualifier allowing me to fudge a bit.)  Sometimes, I even delve into some serious prose, when I am so moved, but I am mostly, well, looking for a laugh.  I am a laugh slut.  But, two things have occurred that seem to be begging to be blogged upon.

The first is my (as in I own it) new cookbook.  "Eat This Now" by Rocco DiSpirito is a collection of comfort food recipes retooled to be healthier, lower in fat and in calories.  I was intrigued when I watched him create his rendition of Macaroni and Cheese with a tenth of the fat and calories and still deem it edible.  So, I bought the book.  I have tried several recipes and can say with the exception of one, they have been pretty good.  So, I am thinking of taking one day a week - say Tuesdays, and writing about one of the recipes and what we thought.  Moondoggy is a harsh food critic and brings forth an honest view that runs from Bleccch to his stellar "This is good" rating.  Tell me what you think.

The next thought comes from my beloved Kindle reader.  I am proud to say that I was  a first adopter of the Kindle the day that Jeff Bezos introduced them on Oprah a few years back.  I had to have it.  It ticked all of my boxes: Instant gratification because I could buy a book on a whim, one small machine that housed hundreds of books, cute with little push buttons.  Sold!

And I have coveted my Kindle ever since.  So, when my book came out last August, while I was pushing sales all over the place, I was secretly prepping it for Kindle use and it came out in September.  It's a no-brainer really, buy the paperback for $14 or the Kindle version for $2.99?  I know what I would choose.  I have spent a lot of time marketing for Kindle and have had a pretty good run so far and in that time, I have discovered some really talented indie writers, who also have some pretty good books out there.  I am going to take a day and write about whatever book I am reading on my Kindle.  In most cases the books are all less than $4.99 and in many cases they are $2.99 and 99 cents on Kindle but also available at Amazon in paperback.  These writers deserve some shout outs and you might find some books you really enjoy for not a large investment.  Just sayin.

Weigh in, please?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Laughter All Around

Normally, on any given day, I make myself the butt of a good joke or funny story, that's just how it always seems to come out.  However, it would be unfair of me to steal all of that dubious thunder, without acknowledging the natural comic talent all around me.

Over the years, I have had opportunity to witness some of the funniest schtuff tumble out of the mouth of the people around me.  Just last week, I had the opportunity to drive my Younger Son and a female friend of his to the train station (they were headed to Chicago.)   Female friend was sitting in the back seat chattering away about, oh everything, including some of the things she has done while away at school.  And amidst the parties and classes and roommate issues came this gem:

Female Friend - Oh My Lord!  You would not believe how irritating people can be.  How Rude they can be - especially theater people.   I was sitting at the "Glee" (as in the show) auditions waiting for my turn and without provocation, the guy next to me starts to sing this song - REALLY  loud.  And then, all of these other people spontaneously join in and they're all singing like they are already on the show.  One person would start a song and then everyone would join in.  I actually had to go out into the hall to have a conversation on my cell phone. Where did they think they were?

I looked at Youngest Son.  He smiled and said, "yeah, she really just said that."

My friend, Erstwhile Earthmother Kim and her spouse, the Great Dane are known for "their" song.  Whenever we are all together, the Great Dane will somehow get "Love Shack" to be played by whatever band, Dj or Jukebox is around.  The last time, the band mentioned that they also loved the B-52's (the song's artists) and Erstwhile Earthmother Kim looked at me and said, "Is that the name of the band?  I always thought that was the song number on the jukebox!"

My Older Son has a friend who is the King of mashed up unintentional one liners. I have come to call these pearls Cameronisms.  I'll just leave you with a few and let them sink in.

"I found a new allergy drug.  It really knocks you up."

"I want to study a broad.  Who wouldn't?"

After a discussion about males finding their feminine side:
"Yeah, I like to touch my manhood"

In a college class at the chalkboard describing a business problem, he wrote:

. . .and that would leave 79 younits in stock.

Upon getting a part in "Seven Brides for Severn Brother's"-
"They cast me as a "suitor" in the play!  I can't wait to take those girl's measurements!"
(umm. . .a suitor is NOT a tailor, or a seamstress!)

When you are surrounded by that kind of comic genius, you really can't go wrong.