Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Moment with My Daughter

These are my two lovely daughters. The one on the left is the oldest. She considers herself a fashionista and she does put together some nice looks. She rarely leaves the house without belting something or adding a splash of color with a sweater or shoes. She loves all things designer. I don't know where she got her expensive taste from.

However, when it comes to table manners, she's atrocious. A complete contradiction. Today we had lunch together at Olive Garden and I was watching her eat fettuccine alfredo. She looked up and said "What?" She's hunched over her plate like an inmate, holding her fork in caveman-like fashion.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking though, when you have that first date with a guy that you really, really like at a nice might want to consider going somewhere that you can order a smoothie or something. Drink your dinner, you know? Because if he sees your table manners, sweetie, you're in trouble."

Still clubbing her fork, she said "It's not that bad, Mom. Besides, you never sent me to manners school."

(I love how at any given moment my daughters can find a way to blame me for every problem...including the economy, the hole in the ozone layer and world hunger).

"I never went to manners school either, whatever that is, and I don't eat like a wild boar."

She laughed and again told me that I was exagerrating.

I sighed and said, "Would you please wipe the alfredo sauce from your chin?"

"Geez, Mom, I didn't even know it was there."

"Really? You didn't feel that noodle slapping you in the face as your slurped it from the plate?"

She giggled and wiped her chin with the back of her delicate hand.

So...perhaps I spoke to soon. I'm looking for some sort of manners class, school, prison, rehab center. Anything.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fungus Among Us

Tonight was good. Tonight was Zen. Tonight I made the Turkey and Rice soup, with mushrooms and sage. And sweet Lord, it was creamy goodness incarnate.

Just to walk you through the experience, I started about 4:30 PM. No kids, no grandchildren, hubby was in bed because he had a tooth extraction. Not that I'm glad about the tooth extraction, I'm just sayin'. It was QUIET. That's rare in my house. I poured a nice glass of red and started to chop the onions. Then I cried. Then I put on my glasses because the soup bible (the one I pictured yesterday) is unfortunately the tiniest cook book I have ever seen in my life. So very tiny.

I started out listening to opera. I want to love opera, I love moments in opera, but after about half an hour, I wanted to stab myself in the eye with my cutting knife. The sadness of the music just kills me. I tried reggae, made me want to get high...tried Christmas music, too cheesy...I even tried jazz but the only station I have available made me feel like I was in an elevator so I went to back to my constant...SIRIUS Coffeehouse music. A little Tracy Chapman, a little Neil Young, a little Jack Johnson. Perfect.

I chopped, stirred, sipped and listened. And at the end, I had this delicious creamy soup, full of turkey, browned mushrooms, sage and...well, creamy, creamy goodness. Seriously delicious. The kind of soup you want to bathe in...yep, it was that good. I used my culinary skills that I learned from the movie "Julie and Julia" which simply states that when browning mushrooms, don't crowd them. Apparently, mushrooms don't like to be crowded. Who knew?

I love mushrooms. Finally, a fungus after my own heart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Soup Nazi

If I were younger, I'd move to Paris and enroll in culinary school. I'd love to be a chef. Kind of strange, a love for cooking is something that developed later in my life. It was Hamburger Helper and hot dogs when I was young, now I want to explore ingredients I've never heard of and learn how to cook beautiful food. And serve it on red square plates. On the terrace of my villa in Italy.

But for now, I'll have to settle for this little book and all the delicious soups it can teach me how to cook.
This week before Christmas, my children are out out of town so I'm going to turn on some nice music, jazz maybe, or show tunes in honor of my new blogger friend, Mark, pour myself a nice glass of wine and make this...(sorry Mark, but the image of a guy down in the engine room kicking up his feet to the soundtrack of RENT is too priceless not to share).

and maybe a little of this...

And if they both turn out horrible, I'll whip up some Crawfish Etouffee because I know how to cook that with one hand behind my back, thanks to my cool sister-in-law, Lisa. The woman can cook, seriously.

And then I'll invite all of my friends over and make them stand in line, not looking me in the eye, and ask for the soup of their choice and if they don't speak up quickly enough, I'll shout


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shadow Fish

It's Shadow Shot Sunday, people. For more cool shots, check out Hey Harriet. She has given us all creative inspiration with her wonderful blog! Thanks again! I've never noticed shadows like I have in the last couple of months...what a wonderful, new way to view the world.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fairytales and Lifetales

I promised some stories last week. Thanks to everyone who said such sweet, encouraging words to a very, selfish woman. Namely, me. I forgot that Christmas isn't about how others make me feel, but about what I give out. And all year long, too...not just Christmas.

Now for the stories. A few days ago, Dino and I got wrapped up in the most ridiculous texting marathon. We collaborated on a fairytale that was born out of sheer frustration and we had more fun than two grown women should have...on a weekday...without liquor. You can read it, in parts, here. I've known her forever and our sense of humor has grown up together, influenced greatly by Monty Python and just plain silliness. So that's one two women, thousands of miles apart, found a little joy in the middle of a drab, routine week just being girls again. And using the words "belch", "poo" and "flatulent", many, many times. Who knew?


The other story happened last week, just a few blocks from my house at a Circle K. My daughter and I had stopped to put gas in my car at the end of a very long day. I was a little grumpy (see previous blog) and feeling sorry for myself. It was very cold that night, unseasonably so for Louisiana, and I was leaning against the car pumping my gas, when I noticed a man wandering up the sidewalk. He had on many layers of clothes, tattered and worn, a full red beard, ruddy cheeks, warm smile. He asked the woman next to me if she could spare some change.

"I won't give you money," she said, "but I'll buy you something to eat."

"Okay, Burger King has $1 double cheeseburgers."

The Burger King was just two blocks down from the Circle K.

"If you want to eat, I'll buy you a sandwich here. I'm not going to Burger King."

"Okay, whatever you think. I just know that food here is pretty expensive."

"It's here or nothing," she said, rather sharply.

"Okay, whatever you think is best," he answered with a smile.

So he stood there, waiting for her to finish and when she did, she popped the cap back on, put the nozzle back in the pump, got in her car and drove away.

And there he stood. Hands in pocket. Our eyes met, and he smiled and turned away. Like this happened all the time. I think what got to me was that smile. He didn't yell or curse at her. Just smiled. How could she just drive away, I thought? I was sick.

I finished pumping my gas and called out to him. I told him I was going down the street to Burger King and asked would he like a burger or two?

"I wouldn't want you to go out of your way," he said. There was that smile again.

I told him I was going there anyway for my daughter, and if he would be here for a few minutes, I'd bring them back to him. He said okay, he'd stick around for a few minutes and sat down on the bus stop bench.

When I came back a a few minutes later, my daughter rolled down the window and said, "Sir? We brought you some food."

He walked over to her window and peered past her to see who was driving and for a minute, looked as if he didn't recognize me.

Then he smiled and said, "You came back."


"Yeah, there's hot coffee, too. Cream and sugar in the bag."

"Thanks, ma'm and have a good evening."

And there was that smile again. As we drove away, my daughter and I talked for awhile about why some people end up living alone, out on the streets. Some by choice, but so many by one bad break after another. And we talked about how easy it truly is to give in small ways, everyday. And how we wished we could give more.

I didn't tell this story to pat myself on the back, it was just a bag of cheeseburgers. But just to remind myself that we're all in this together. And a bad day to me, is still a great day. And those who have great days, and families, warm homes, and cars, can always reach out and show a little kindness to someone who has so little.

That's all...two stories, both different, but both about bringing a little joy.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shadows and Ghosts of Christmas' Past

The other day, I was driving down Line Avenue in my hometown and had to stop when I saw this tree. The way the light was filtering through the leaves made it glow. I wish I could have captured that glow in this photo. You don't see a lot of leaves this color in Louisiana. For more Shadow Shots, go here!


And now for something completely different. For the last few years, Christmas tends to find me a little blue. I think it's four things.

1. My children aren't little children anymore. They've lost some of that magic that I used to see sparking in their eyes when they were younger. They try, but it's just gone. Same thing happens with birthdays as you get older. And mostly, it's harder to create that magic for them now. A candy cane and a cup of hot chocolate just doesn't muster up the same excitement. They're teenagers and so they spend a lot of their christmas vacation with friends. I miss them.

2. The darkness.

3. The effect the darkness has on my sweet hubby. I have never seen anyone in my life who despises winter like he does. So, naturally, he retreats a little. To his cave. And his Xbox. And in general, just seems a little...well, absent. I miss him.

This is what he looks like and where he sits pretty much all winter long. Note the scowl, the popcorn and the jacket. Always with the jacket.

4. This is the second Christmas since my grandmother died. It seems strange without her here. When I was a kid, we spent every holiday at her house and those are some of my sweetest childhood memories. Oh, how I miss her.

And to add to all of this, my best friend is in a wonderful relationship with a great guy so she's a little absent at the moment, too. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for her, I just miss her.

Things just seem different this year. Not necessarily bad, just different. So I spent a few days feeling blue and pitiful and then I decided to make the most of it. I'll use some of lonely time to catch up on my many great books that need my attention. And catch up on my writing. I still have an unfinished novel from Nanowrimo that needs my attention. One of my goals for this year was to finish said novel. That leaves me a few weeks. I'm such a procrastinator.

And I've also decided that the christmas tree is MINE this year. No one wants to help me decorate the little guy so guess what? The box of sentimental ornaments in the attic from years past is staying in the attic. This year, the tree is going have blue lights and very few ornaments. It's going to be simple. Maybe I'll make ornaments. I can learn to be crafty! Maybe my colors will strictly be blue and brown. I never liked forest green or red anyway. Or maybe I'll just go with the blue lights and a string of popcorn. My little Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
And he and I, the tree that is, will have a very, merry little christmas. And find new ways in which to celebrate doing things for complete strangers.

Those stories to follow...

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's an AWARD!

Thanks for passing on the award, Dino. I love awards.

I'm just like the father in one of my favorite christmas movies, "A Christmas Story." You remember the movie? The father is always entering sweepstakes and contests just in the hopes of winning something special...just once. Finally, the day arrives that he receives a special delivery from a prize department. He can't believe it! It finally paid off! He rips open the box, panting with anticipation, pulls the prize out and stares in gratitude and amazement.

"What is it?" his wife asks.

"It's an AWARD!" he shouts, clinging feverishly to the prize...a shapely, woman's leg, clad in a fishnet stocking and a black stiletto. But's not just a beautiful leg, it's a LAMP! Which he quickly places in the living room, facing the street, for all the world to see. His prize.

My family and I still quote that line every chance we get. It never gets old. "It's an AWARD!" we shout! And you'd be surprised at the many situations that you can use a line like that. Really. Amazed.

So in return for this beautiful award, I'll answer the questions below in one word or less and pass it on.

I'd like to thank the academy, God, my family...sorry, got lost there for a minute.

I need to pass this on to five people, post on their blog to let them know I left this award, and then I need to answer a list of questions in ONE word. And they they will answer these same questions and pass the award on to five others.

1. Where is your cell phone?…
2. Your hair?…
3. Your mother?…sparkly

4. Your father?…rock

5. Your favorite food?… pasta

6. Your dream last night?… water

7. Your favorite drink?…
8. Your dream/goal?…
9. What room are you in?…
10. Your hobby?…
11. Your fear?…
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?…
13. Where were you last night?…
14. Something that you aren’t?…
15. Muffins?…
16. Wish list item?… piano
17. Where did you grow up?…
18. Last thing you did?…
19. What are you wearing?…
20. Your TV?…
21. Your Pets?…
22. Friends?…
23. Your life?…
24. Your mood?… melancholy

25. Missing Someone?…
26. Vehicle?… necessary

27. Something you're not wearing?… designer

28. Your favorite store?…
29. Your favorite colour?…
30. When was the last time you laughed?…
31. Last time you cried?…
32. Your best friend?…
33. One place that I go to over and over?…
34. Facebook?…
35. Favorite place to eat?…outside

I'm passing this award along to Lisa, Becky, Ray, Sweet Repose, and Linda. Have fun!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

This Moment

I cheated...I didn't take this photo but my daughter-in-law did! This is her daughter, and my inherited granddaughter, Makaila. I love this photo. Head on over to Hey Harriet for more interesting Shadow Shots. Yep, it's Sunday. And thanks, Sam!


Watched a couple of good indie movies this weekend. Paper Heart, a quirky semi-documentary on the question of true love. Also, The Answer Man, a movie about a man who writes THE spiritual answer book for his generation and yet, has no answers...whatsoever. Isn't this true for all of us? The main character kind of reminded me of my father, always reading and searching for answers to every theological question, but he hasn't always been so good at living in the moment. He's learning that now, though. And that's all that matters. So many of us never learn that lesson.

Our culture seems to view happiness and success as some elusive vapor. Something that we're always working towards, waiting for, searching for. And when we get there, we'll rest. We'll finally relax.

What a load of crap. This is it folks...this moment. This relationship, this friendship, this dinner, this glass of wine, this sunset, this busy, imperfect day. What a waste when we don't see it...when we don't see the little girl, underneath the net, peeking through.