August 31, 2006

I Craved, Therefore I Created

It had been months since I made a batch of spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti just doesn't fit my image of an appropriate summer meal. Who wants to eat a heavy pile of pasta drowning in deliciously divine meat sauce on a hot summer evening? Not I.

But I craved, therefore I created. Perhaps it is a sign of autumn impending. Where the hell did the summer go anyway?

I've been making spaghetti sauce the same way ever since my mother first taught me how. I think I was around 12 years old. It's not a recipe I've adapted or changed in any way.

Well. Except for that one unfortunate era. A certain someone, a certain woman, concocted her spaghetti sauce using tofu and carrots. Therefore, obviously, it was imperative to craft my own in a similar fashion.

Carrots I knew about. But tofu? New to me. This was long before one could Google their way to expertise on a topic. Could I ask the woman I was gaga over to teach me? Oh hell no, that would never do. Then she'd know I was a tofu novice! How uncool! I was such a dork. I vaguely remember a trip to the library to read up on the every nuance of tofu.

Somehow I must have figured it out because I do recall batches of spaghetti sauce bastardized with diced carrots and blobs of bean curd. I even convinced myself it tasted good. What was I thinking? Who the hell was I back then?

Mercifully I eventually got dumped regained my senses and returned to formulating my sauce as it was intended: the way my mother taught me.

Good stuff, my spaghetti sauce.
It always brings me home.


August 29, 2006

Tis the Season!

Biting into a peach can be such a crap shoot. Oh sure, it may appear to the quasi-educated eye to be a fine specimen. Yet the first bite reveals it to be but a fake, a fraud, a horrible pithy parody of what had been so eagerly anticipated.

But during the height of peach season, every one is a winner! Still, I select carefully. I give the fruit a quick once-over. Is the surface relatively unblemished? Check. Color? Looks good. I squeeze it carefully, gently gently. Does it give ever-so-slightly to the light pressure of my thumb? Good, good. Is the scent delicate yet fragrant and distinctively peachy? Excellent.

The reward is sweet juice flooding my mouth as my teeth rip through the delicate skin of the Perfect Peach. The texture is soft, gently yielding to my bite yet possessing a fleshy firmness that nonetheless melts in my mouth as the rich succulent flavor indulges my every sense.

The prepared partaker of the Perfect Peach always secures a napkin before indulging. Even so, one can be hard-pressed to avoid juice running down one's chin and over one's hand, making fingers ill-suited for anything except holding a peach. Somehow I never mind the mess. It's part of the Perfect Peach Experience.

Few things in life are as sweet as eating a peach in the height of peach season. That time is now, my fellow Earthlings. The season is upon us. Go forth and be fruitful. Eat a peach!

Don't forget a napkin.


August 28, 2006

Soon It Begins....

This past weekend was all about prepping for fantasy football drafts.

Our money league, the one in which I won $200 last year (yes I know, yesterday's news, but I cling to victories great and small), has a live draft. All twelve team owners gather at the appointed place at the appointed time. Some clutch reams of printouts with notes scribbled in the margins. Others tote laptop computers. One shows up with nary a scrap of paper or even a pencil in hand. That guy, history has proven, hasn't a hope in hell of ever making the playoffs.

A humongous whiteboard imposingly stands at attention at the front of the room. A large color-coded grid delineates drafting rounds and owner names. Usually there is a Hot Chick to record the player names in the appropriate slot as they are drafted by we owners. Invariably, the Hot Chick never accurately spells certain complex player names like "Houshmandzadeh" and "Roethlisberger" but then again, who does? When she trips over spelling "Smith" and "Jones," however, I'm glad she's got her looks to fall back on.

One may think the atmosphere would be relaxed. But no, oh no. Our fantasy football draft is serious business. A nervous tension hangs in the air. There is little banter, less laughter. There are no snacks or adult beverages. There will be plenty of time for all those things later.

I haven't quite decided what to wear to the event. I'm not sure it matters, but can it hurt to dress for success? I think not.


I'm playing in another league this year too, no money involved. An online league. A league full of bloggers! The excitement is verily palpable! These owners are so laid back, we've already had someone volunteer to finish in last place. No, it's not me. I plan on winning.

In the interest of full disclosure, there are two non-blog team owners. We have room for two more teams if anyone wants to join us. Drop me a line.


August 27, 2006

Eyes Open

" ... Watergate does not bother me.
Does your conscience bother you? ... "

I blame it on Gina. Late again for her Pointless Points game, I departed with my points appetite unsated and I was cursed with Song Lyric Stuckage™. A Lynyrd Skynyrd song lyric no less. It's been days. Days! Still stuck. Eh, it could be way worse. At least I like the song. It could have been something by those Wiggles she mentions from time to time. Those dudes scare me.

The lyrics are bouncing around my mind completely out of context to anything else bouncing therein. They bounce. Independently. It's like a big rubber room in there.

I'm conscious of conscience these days. Does mine bother me? Why yes, yes it does. But only when it should. The key is paying attention. I try to heed its signals. My conscience gives out plenty of signals. Life is copacetic when I heed and act accordingly. It's a good thing. Obviously that's the major role our consciences play. Otherwise what good are they? As useless as a key drawer devoid of keys.

It pays to not fool oneself.
One's conscience rarely speaks without reason.
It's best to make time to listen.

Do you?


August 26, 2006


"Suzaaaannnne! Come look at this." Wendy's voice rang out from downstairs. I found her in the dining room, dancing from foot to foot, hugging herself tightly.

"Pixie brought us a present." She pointed toward the back door. Together we peered out to the porch and observed a body lying spread-eagle face up on the step.

"It's a squirrel!" I cringed.
"No, it's a frog!" she squealed.

I peeked again, more closely.
"No honey. It's a squirrel. A baby squirrel."

She peeked again herself.
"You're right!"

We both made sad pouty faces and her dance escalated to spasticity as she herky-jerkily fled the dining room.

I'm not used to such girlish behavior from my partner. Typically when a dead creature is discovered on our property, I squeal while she gets all up close and personal, scientifically curious, making relevant but weird comments like, "Definitely a boy. Look at the size of his scrote!" At times my mind has whirled considering preventative options should she suddenly decide to do a full autopsy.

But today, it was me behaving scientific and un-oogified.
"I'll need to take a picture!" I said impulsively.
Perhaps all the crime TV I watch has had an effect.

I grabbed the camera and got to work. As I photographed the unfortunate and quite dead baby squirrel I observed nary a mark on him to indicate the manner of his demise. No blood, no guts, no gore. I noted his not-yet-bushy tail curled almost artistically away from his body, his babyish ears, his disproportionately large feet, his delicate whiskers and, yes, his package. I imagined Pixie carrying him softly in her mouth like she does with her stuffed toys: trotting around the yard, through the doggie door, onto the porch, gently depositing him on the step.

My scientific curiosity fled as did my photographic zeal.

Wendy, by then, had joined me on the porch. She seemed more herself and offered to dispose of the body.

I mumbled an om mani pedme hung and left her to it.


August 23, 2006

Suburban 21, Tuesday Night Special Edition

What did you do to celebrate your 21st birthday? Personally I can't recall my own. Way back then, turning 21 wasn't a big thing. Eighteen was the big deal as it represented becoming a legal adult for all things great and small.

About the only new thing when one turns 21 these days is the ability to purchase and drink alcohol legally. That's not to say youth of today wait until they are "legal" to imbibe, but turning 21 is a coveted landmark in that regard.

Then there is, of course, the whole symbolic passage into Real Adulthood. I am reminded of a Pink Floyd lyric: "Welcome, my son, welcome to The Machine." Yet life doesn't have to be that way. I hope for my son it never is.

We hosted a party for The Boy on his 21st. A kegger. Yes yes. I'm not sure what that says about us as parents but obviously we don't think it says anything too terrible because we have no regrets. You, dear readers, may feel differently.

We were welcomed to be part of the festivities. We knew the no-longer-kids who had been friends of The Boy in high school and his newer friends from college. Other guests we were meeting for the first time.

The picture exhibits me about to partake of a Peppermint Patty administered by The Boy: a shot of pepper- mint schnapps and a squirt of chocolate syrup introduced simultaneously to my mouth. I was also initiated to the intricacies of a game called Flip Cup, in which, I am pleased to report, it is easier to achieve competence than is Beer Pong. The members of my team raucously supported my burgeoning skill.

(Truly I'm curious: would you have played along?)

The Boy wanted his party on his actual birthday despite the fact that it was on a Tuesday, smack dab in the middle of the Real World Work Week. Partying during the work week is evidently not anathema to young adults. His friends came from far and wide, north and south, east and west. I'm only exaggerating a little. They arrived toting pillows and sleeping bags, prepared to crash on our basement floor or wherever else a clear spot could be found. The extravaganza unfolded over three days, Monday to Wednesday. It was a very satisfying parental experience.

A satisfying parental experience? A keg party? Ayup. Quite so.

Wednesday morning, Wendy and I slept in and left the house together around 11:00 am. We tiptoed around so as not to disturb the bodies slumbering in the living room and in the basement. Dudley, our indiscriminate snuggler, curled up with the random body asleep on the couch as soon as it was apparent to him Wendy and I were not going back to bed. The house appeared messy, but not terribly so: Solo cups scattered around, discarded glow necklaces, a paper plate or twelve, a few partially consumed bottles of water.

Until I turned the corner into the kitchen and looked beyond. Home to the remnants of the buffet, the dining room was a disaster area. Our screened porch looked like a hurricane had hit. I closed my eyes to the disarray and headed off to work.

By the time we returned home, The Boy had gone to drop his last guest at the airport. Our house was clean. Not spotless, but damned near. The only obvious evidence of the party was a thank you note one of the girls had slipped under our bedroom door that morning and the empty keg on the porch.

Ayup. Satisfying. Quite so.


August 22, 2006

QueerCents: Money & Mates

Wendy and I were recently interviewed at QueerCents for their Money & Mates series.

I love their by-line: "We're here, we're queer, and we're not going shopping without coupons."

Check it out. They post on some interesting topics.


August 21, 2006

I'd Forgotten

The first night The Boy was home for his summer vacation, I cooked up a big welcome home dinner. I prepared what I thought was enough for an army. There were no leftovers.

An hour later he announced, "I'm about ready for my after-dinner pizza."

He was serious.

And so it has been during his visit. He's the white male equivalent of the proverbial bottomless pit.

When he first left for college, I struggled to adjust to cooking for two. My grocery shopping and meal preparation routines have since evolved, what and how much I prepare modified to suit the new family circumstance. I've found it challenging to revert to my old ways, even temporarily.

After feeding him for the past few weeks, I now wonder how he ever finds the time to nourish himself adequately while away at school. I no longer wonder why his grocery bill is so high.


August 15, 2006

21 Years

Twenty-one years ago today, August 15, 1985, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy at 1:07 a.m. Seven pounds six and a half ounces, 21" long. My labor was short, a mere seven hours from the first faint "was that a contraction?" until he took his first breath of air and scored consecutive perfect 10s on his Apgar tests. It seems like yesterday.

He and I had a little tiff recently when I asked him a question he'd already answered. Three times prior. My memory can suck, yet his birth statistics I have no trouble remembering. The same holds true for many other memories of our lives in the decades between his birth and now. Things that clutter my head, warm my heart and, at times, bring unexpected tears to my eyes.

Today he stands before us at 170 pounds, 6'-0" tall. Handsome, fit, self-assured and kind, his ready smile framed by incredible dimples mirrors the mirth dancing in his green eyes. The dimension he brought, rather, brings to our lives is more amazing than anything I ever imagined.

Happy birthday to my baby.
And yes, he'll always be my baby.


August 13, 2006

Chivalry Lives?

Place: Our local Home Depot
Time: Saturday, noonish

The Boy and I were purchasing drywall, eight 8'x4' half-inch sheets. We had one of those nifty rolling carts, designed for carrying such product vertically, strategically positioned nearby.

Sheets of drywall are, for reasons unknown to persons such as myself, stacked in two-sheet groupings connected by a paper tear strip at each end. Since we were buying an even number, we were loading it much as Noah loaded the Ark: two at a time.

The first two sheets were clumsily maneuvered onto the rolling cart. Sheetrock is heavy, but not impossibly so. More cumbersome and awkward as anything of that size tends to be.

The Boy said, "Mom, if you can lift just a bit higher we can slip them on the cart this way." He motioned in the air indicating a path over the bars of the cart into the center section rather than sliding them from the end of the cart as we had with the first set.

"Well, I can try. But I'm an old woman," I said laughing.

Just as those words exited my mouth, another shopper was passing by. He continued on a few steps then stopped and turned around. He said, "Would you like some help?"

That kind stranger and The Boy had the cart loaded in no time.
I'm a much better supervisor than grunt laborer.


August 6, 2006


I'm gonna be scarce.
So scarce you may even forget who I am.
Oh nos!

But The Boy is home for an extended visit.
Extended in this case being three weeks.

Wow. Three weeks.
I don't think I could handle a three week visit with my mom.
Guess we'll see if he can.

So I'm gonna be scarce.
Gotta soak him up while he's here.


August 3, 2006

Out With the Old

Several weeks back, my mother said to Wendy and me, "I want to do something nice for you girls. You've done so much for me. I've decided I'm going to buy you a new microwave."

My first thought was, "But we have a microwave." Never mind that it is a dinosaur taking up a huge amount of space on the kitchen counter. Never mind that it was purchased before The Boy was born. Never mind that it has a broken door latch that evidently can cause operational difficulties for people with long fingernails. Never mind any of that. It worked fine and I felt no strong desire to replace it.

But once my mom makes a decision, argument is futile. She had decided we needed a new microwave and that it should be of the over-the-stove variety. Preferably with a turntable. My mom has very strong feelings about the need for a microwave turntable. Mother knows best.

A quick aside about our kitchen. When we purchased this house, there were no upper cabinets. Yes that's right. Just bare walls, stark white tile, countertops to ceiling. There is a story there, an almost reasonable and logical explanation for the cabinet deficiency. Yet we had equally as reasonable and logical explanations for why we needed them. We filled those bare walls with cabinets all the way to the ceiling.

The cabinets look great. Except for over the stove. It looked unfinished, like something was missing. The stove exhaust vents through the floor, so we had no hood. Once the idea was planted, the desire to fill that void with a sleek modern microwave was compelling. I decided yes yes yes! Such an appliance would be a wonderful thing indeed!

My mother came to visit and we went shopping. It didn't take long for us to choose the new appliance. She insisted on paying for installation also. "It's a gift, Suzanne. A gift shouldn't create more work for you two." I caved in easily. We do have enough work to do around here.

I had two concerns I shared with the salesperson.

"Our kitchen walls are tiled."
"No problem," she assured me.

"There is no outlet in the cabinet above, but there is one near the stove."
"No problem," she said.

I took off from work to meet the installers at our house.

"We can't install it," said the short one. "The walls are tiled and there is no outlet in the cabinet."

I just shook my head and sighed. His supervisor explained via telephone that they couldn't accept the responsibility of drilling holes in tile. He was very apologetic. "If you have someone drill the holes, we'll come back and install it." Yeesh. I was reminded why I tend to mistrust what salespeople tell me.

After I hung up, the short one started talking again. He said, "Hey lady, I can go ahead and install this for you. The outlet and tile are no problem. I'll do it for you right now, on the side. You can pay me the same amount you would have paid the company I work for."

Oh lovely. Just lovely.
I showed him the door.

I hesitated to share the installation debacle with my mom. But the subject could only be avoided for so long. I had to spill it. By then I had read the instructions and knew it was an easy job. I have no qualms about accepting responsibility for drilling through tile. Wendy and I had also decided we'd be happier with a new circuit run for a cabinet outlet. After a visit from the electrician, the installation itself took us all of an hour to complete.

In an odd coincidence, our old microwave, the one that had been plugging along for over 21 years? It died about a week before we installed the new one. Almost like it knew it was no longer needed.

Kismet. Or something like that.
Mother did know best.


August 2, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

You're not paying attention if you are unaware much of the country is being fried by a heat wave. We're broiling out here on the east coast. Not only do we have intense temperatures, we have humidity. Humidity so thick it is like a living force pressing one into the ground and sapping all strength as it causes sweat to bead the moment one ventures outside of air conditioned spaces.

A wonderful time for our company picnic, yes?

The Powers That Be thought so.

I, not being a Power That Be, had little say in the matter.

But I did bring along a cooler of water balloons. Those delightful little gems brought me a little power of my own.


August 1, 2006


... I blogged about work I'd be typing until my fingers were nothing but bloody little nubs. But since I don't, my fingers are safe and I'm not typing much at all. Instead, I'm adjusting in virtual silence as the swirling emotions about the ch-ch-ch-changes that have been looming on the horizon for months morph into what will become the New Normal.

Normalcy, some say, is overrated.
Yet I crave it.

Don't you?