Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Spider That Wouldn't Die

I have feared spiders since birth. Well, maybe not birth. I was a trifle busy that day. But sometime after that I found out that there were spiders. I realized on my own that they were evil. Works, if you will, of Beelzebub, Satan, The Dark One Who Lives Below.

Up until I was nine my mother killed all spiders for me. In our house, in the car, in the yard. I made her kill spiders in stores. I could not suffer a spider to live. It freaked me out to think that they were still there . . . Somewhere . . . Probably plotting to crawl across my face as I slept. They had to be destroyed. My mother was the spider eradicator.

One evening, when I was nine, I was sitting on the floor of our living room watching television. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement. I turned. Time seemed to stop. There, standing not four feet from me, was a spider. I shrieked for my mother as if Freddy Kruger were breaking in to murder me. My mother, naturally, came a runnin’.

What greeted my mother’s panicked eyes? Me screaming in front of the television and pointing at the floor. The spider, you see, was so small that she couldn’t see it until she knelt down beside me…and squinted. She pointed this out to me. I continued to hyperventilate. My mother decided that this tiny creature would be my first kill. My practice spider, if you will. A warm up for all the times she wouldn’t be there later on in life and I’d have to squash spiders with extreme prejudice by myself.

My mother handed me a rolled up magazine. I took it with hands made shaky with fear. I took a deep breath, crawled up behind the spider, in case it decided to bolt (how did I decide what the back was? No idea. I just knew.), raised my arm and…THWACK! The magazine came down on the spider with all the miniscule strength in my nine year old arm. I looked under the magazine. The spider moved. I hit it again. I looked again. The spider crawled to the left. I hit it again…and again…and again. I looked. The spider crept to the right….And this, my friends, is when I lost my mind.

I grabbed my math book and began pounding the spider over and over again while screaming, at the top of my considerable lungs, DIE! DIE! My mother, who had gone back to the kitchen, came a runnin’ once again. She grabbed me up and sat me on the couch. I continued to stare, fixedly, at the book laying on top of, what I assumed was, The Spider Who Wouldn’t Die. She demanded to know what had happened.

Through my tears I looped up at my mother. “It won’t die,” I said. “It has to die.” My mother went over and lifted up the book. She took a tissue from the side table, scooped up the spider, and squished it between her paper covered fingers. “There,” she said. “Dead. Happy now?” I nodded.

I never had to kill another spider….

Sunday, March 28, 2010

F*ck Cinnabon!

I saw this recipe on PBS a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d give it a try. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s a lot of steps but the smell alone is worth it. And the taste? See title of post.

Ultimate Cinnamon Buns courtesy of Cook’s Country

¾ Cup Whole Milk (heated to 110 degrees)
2 ¼ Teaspoons Rapid-Rise Yeast
3 Large Eggs (room temperature)
4 ¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
½ Cup Cornstarch
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (softened & cut into 12 pieces)

1 Medium Bowl - Greased
1 13x9 Inch Baking Pan - Lined W/Tin Foil (grease the tin foil)

1. Place oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 200 degrees & then shut it off.

2. Whisk milk & yeast together in measuring cup or small bowl until yeast dissolves.

3. Whisk in the eggs.
4. In bowl of stand mixer (trust me, you need a stand mixer…go buy one. Now.) combine flour, cornstarch, sugar & salt. Attach dough hook. Mix flour mixture on low till all ingredients are combined.
5. With mixer on low speed, pour in milk, egg & yeast mixture in a slow steady stream.

6. Mix until dough comes together.

7. Increase speed of mixer to medium & add butter, one piece at a time, until it’s incorporated (1 minute…maybe 1 ½).

8. Continue to mix, on medium speed, until dough comes away from bowl and is smooth (10 minutes…maybe 11).
9. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball.

10. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover it with plastic wrap & put it in the oven till it doubles in size (2 hours should do it).
The above will become the below. It's like magic. Only, ya' know, not.

1 ½ Cups Light Brown Sugar - Packed
1 ½ Tablespoons Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter - Softened

11. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.

12. Roll dough out into as close to an 18 inch square as you can. Remember, you are not a professional pastry chef, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Put the ruler away. Why make yourself crazy?

13. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon & salt.

14. Leaving a ½ inch border (or thereabouts) around the edge, spread the butter on the dough. An offset spatula is your friend.

15. Sprinkle filling mixture over buttered dough. Press it lightly into dough so that it doesn’t fall out later.
16. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal it.

17. Cut the dough into 12 rounds. The original recipe says this makes 8. I don’t know about you but I don’t happen to want or need to eat a cinnamon bun as big as my head so I cut it into 12. You can do 8 if you want. Good luck with that.

18. Place buns, cut side up, on tin foil covered pan.

19. Cover with plastic wrap & leave in warm place to proof (about an hour).

BREAK: Eat a meal. Run an errand. Paint a picture. Up to you.

20. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

21. Remove plastic wrap & place buns in oven.

22. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

4 Ounces Cream Cheese - Softened
1 Tablespoon Whole Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 ½ Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

23. Remove buns from oven & place whole tray on wire rack.

24. Whisk together glaze ingredients.

25. The original recipe calls for you to glaze buns with ½ of glaze at this point & then, after 30 minutes, apply the rest of the glaze. Well, if you want to go into a sugar coma, you go ahead. The first application of glaze was more than enough in my world. But, like I always say, it’s up to you.

26. Serve.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Perfection Is Intensely Annoying." - Hugh Laurie

I don’t blog enough. I know. . . I know. . . I know! But, you should know that when people point this out to me it only hurts you, the reader. Why? Because you know what you get now. You all know what time it is, boys and girls. Say it with me…

Stream of Consciousness Time With Fury (insert theme song of your choosing)!

I really don’t think I have the energy to do this today. Why did I start this? Dumb. That’s why. Why did I decide not to ingest caffeine anymore? Again, dumb. No. That’s not dumb. That’s not dumb at all. Especially when you consider that I drank so much coffee last Monday? Was it? Whatever. So much caffeine that I was practically levitating above my bed like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters and my heart was beating out a conga (CONGA! [sorry, that’s only funny if you’re related to me or have ever seen “My Sister, Eileen”. You probably haven’t. You should. Unless you don’t like musicals and then not so much.]) rhythm that could have powered Brazil through all of Carnival. OK. Fine. It wasn’t that bad. Happy now? It’s called colorful language. Learn to live with it. Where was I? Fuck. I forgot. Oh. Caffeine. It’s the devil’s work. But I need it. Need. It. Sleepy & yet still can’t sleep so well. Hello, insomnia, how you doin’? I get tired at around midnight. I lay down. I continue to lay there. Staring up at the ceiling. Or the wall. Or the other wall. Or the closet door. It’s good times. How does one count sheep? I can’t picture sheep jumping over fences in my head. Maybe because I’ve never seen a sheep do that. Wander around in a big cluster of smelly, stupid confusion? Seen it. Jump things? Nope. What kind of sheep go around jumping walls? I think they must be thinking of mountain goats. Or deer. Not sheep. Or maybe sheep were a lot more energetic back whenever that expression started. Now I want to know when that was exactly. I will not look it up. I have enough useless knowledge at my disposal without looking that…mid 19th century. Damn. It. You win this round OCD. Which should really be CDO. They only do it the other way to mess with us. I know it. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me. They? Who is this “They” you speak of? Them. Oh. Them. Well, that explains everything. Have I lost you yet?

Great. Now that They’re gone and it’s just you and me, tell me, is it true what They say about you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Who needs astrology? The wise man gets by on fortune cookies." ~Edward Abbey

Horoscope For Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aries (March 21 - April 19) -

You need to be as honest as you can be today--someone needs to hear the truth and nothing but. It’s easier than ever for you to tell people what they need to hear, even if they don’t think they’re ready…or even if they don’t particularly care to hear it. Nobody wants to hear about how tired they look or that their baby looks like a monkey but, hey, as far as you’re concerned honesty is the best policy so who cares who gets hurt? Just watch out for violent reactions. Having your foot surgically removed from your mouth is expensive…and painful.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20) -

For once, you’re totally certain you’re heading in the right direction. Let go of your illusions of self-control and just dive headfirst into the madness. Medication is for sissy Mary’s! Go au natural down that rabbit hole and let the chips fall where they may. At some point a friend or family member will have you committed & you’ll get a nice long rest out of it. Aaaahhh…vacation.

Gemini (May 21 - June 21) -

Beware of bossy pals. There’s not much you can do to shut them up so try to just smile and nod your head and wait for them to get bored. If that doesn’t work there’s always duct tape & a baseball bat.

Cancer (June 22 - July 22) -

You can’t make up your mind very easily today, and that may be driving you crazy. You need to get some advice, but deciding between advisors may pose its own little problems as well. Hot cereal or cold? Coke or Pepsi? Meth or Crack? Oh, my sainted aunt, how to choose?! Just lie down with a cool cloth on your head & decide tomorrow.

Leo (July 23 - August 22) -

You’re out on the cutting edge once again, making people wonder how they can keep going on with the same-old same-old. It’s not that you want them to feel bad…much. It’s just that you’re so much better than everybody else. Is it your fault that the lives of the peasants are unforgiving and uncool? We think not. Just slip on your shades and swagger away…you pop-collared fuck.

Virgo (August 23 - September 22) -

You’d love to skip the whole flirtation stage and go right into, say, living together, but this person doesn’t even know you exist yet. It’s probably time to overcome the tension (that exists perhaps solely in your mind) and, you know, say something to them. . . Or you can keep trying to send psychic messages and hoping that your aura will hover above the crowd like a neon arrow. While you’re at it why not try bending spoons with your mind? It’s a nice party trick.

Libra (September 23 - October 22) -

Even someone as balanced as you can feel a little frustrated or blue now and then. Enlist your sweetheart’s aid for a little cheering up -- or tell them to leave you the hell alone for two minutes for the love of God! Seriously! Back up! Can a person get some space? Damn, yo, what is their glitch? Ya’ know what? You may have to cut a bitch. We do not in any way endorse this…but we do understand.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21) -

Are you still holding onto an old grudge? It’s time to forgive, even if you can’t quite forget. Even if this person is no longer part of your life, you are still letting them affect your current prospects. So, put the voodoo doll down and step away from the cyber stalking. ‘Kay? Take a deep breath. . . You can do it. . . We have faith in you. OK? Now, see? That wasn’t so bad, was it? Good job. Next we’ll work on sleeping with the light off!

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21) -

It’s time to suit up for the game of love. This isn’t like seventh grade phys ed; here, everyone gets to play, no matter what…well, it might be a little like seventh grade phys ed. Somebody has to be picked last after all. I’m sure it has nothing to do with your hair lip. . . Or that funny, well, let’s call it an odor. No, certainly not. . . It’s your personality. Let’s face facts. It’s not them. It’s you.

Capricorn (December 22 - January 19) -

Despair is too easy to embrace today -- but if you do, expect to hang on to it for quite a while. You’re much better off enforcing optimism in yourself and…oh, who are we kidding. Life is pain. Life is earnest. Life’s a bitch and then you die…what were we saying? Oh, right. Optimism. Sure. Try that. See where it gets you!

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18) -

Help is needed! Hold on, it’s on its way -- if you can get it together enough to ask your partner for it. The stars urge you to do so -- your honey can provide a badly needed reality check. For instance, you will never get out of debt if you keep using one credit card to pa off another. And, listen carefully to this one because it’s key, you don’t look good in skinny jeans and guy liner if you’re a 46 year old gym teacher named Burt.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20) -

You’ve got quite a lot going on right now, so see if you can get your friends and colleagues to help out. And by help out we mean do the whole damn thing. Because, let’s face facts, they’re better at this stuff, whatever it is, than you are. Also, why deprive people of the greatest gift of all? The gift of helping others. It ups their karma quotient and you get to take a nap. It’s win win, by God!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy. ~Chinese Proverb

Fun fact! Did you know that if you take 1 percocet every 4 hours, as prescribed by your physician, for two weeks your body will become, for lack of a better word . . . And because it’s the word that should be used, addicted? Me neither! So, if your physician tells you to take 2 pills every 4 hours for 6 weeks, um, yeah. Don’t do it.

I have been taking percocet off and on for the past 6 weeks. Not at the dosage prescribed by my doctor, thank God. Nope, I’m a little soldier who attempts, if possible, to suck it up. So, I’ve been taking maybe 2 a day. I haven’t had much pain for the past 2 days so I haven’t taken any. And, hence, therefore and thusly I woke up after the 2 hours of sleep (5:30 - 7:30 AM) that I was able to get (you try sleeping in a neck brace and see how well you do) with wicked spasms in my arms. I, being me, went immediately to the bad place and thought that I’d managed to break my neck in my sleep…even though I hadn’t moved. But then I thought about the fact that I wasn’t in much pain so, really, what are the odds that a broken neck wouldn’t hurt? Slim to none. Second bad place I went to? Percocet addiction. DING! DING! We may have a winner. Apparently, when your body is trying to rid itself of the demon opiate it spasms. DT’s, anyone?

Now, after waking up and going to multiple bad places (they don’t call me Dark Fury for nothing, after all) I went and read my prescription hand out for the valium which I was also given in case, and I quote, “you start getting muscle spasms.” How, I have been wondering, would Valium help with that? Well, kids, Valium is used to treat symptoms of detox. So, either I’m supposed to be spasming as part of my regular recovery or they bloody knew that I would need them to get through tossing the Percocet. Great. I feel good about that. Wait…not so much. If they knew I’d be spasming during my recovery should they not have told me why? Or, if they knew I’d need them to get through pitching the opiates should they not have told me that as well? Apparently not. Super.

Let us be clear, I am not in any way a Percocet junkie. Opiates are good for pain management and that’s about it. How people get high off this shit I have yet to figure out. It cuts the pain in half and makes you go to sleep. Woo Hoo! Party time? Nope. Not so much. Sleepy time? You betcha’. And, as an insomniac, I can understand the appeal of that but, seriously, it only put me to sleep for about an hour. Big whoop. Not worth it. Tylenol PM is a better sleep aid. But, I digress! I took the Valium and now the spasms have subsided. Also, I may be able to catch a nap if I’m quick about it. I have a finite window for drug induced sleep as for some reason the drugs don’t work so well for me. I blame my hippie gene pool. My father smoked so much dope, dropped so much acid (even though he always had a bad trip . . . the man ain’t right in the head) and took so many pills (no, so many, seriously, he used to go and pick them out by color combination…as in yellow and blue make green so I’ll take 3 of each…what? We’re artsy people.) that I’m convinced that I have opiates and THC permanently embedded in my DNA making it almost impossible for me to get any sort of wacky effect from pain meds. Go, father, it’s your birthday. Hopefully his other kids have inherited this trait as it makes surgery so much easier. Of course, on the down side, he loved morphine and that crap makes me sick as a dog. Oh, well, we can’t have everything in this life.

So, whether or not you decide to follow your doctors orders, if ever you should , God forbid, have a need for pain management is up to you and, let’s face facts, if it’s a fatal disease or a truly horrific incident you shouldn’t worry about the addictive properties. But, as one pal to another, if you can do without it then I advise you to do so. Thus ends my PSA for the day. . . .

Of course, it may just be that after the surgery my muscles and nerves which were injured by the condition which needed fixing are regenerating or attempting in some way to right themselves….Who knows? But why go to the good place when bad is so much easier and I don’t need GPS to get there?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

“Look in a mirror and one thing's sure; what we see is not who we are.” Richard Bach

Brushing your teeth shouldn’t be a mine field. It should, in fact, have no emotion attached to it at all. Tooth paste on the brush. Brush up. Brush down. Brush side to side. Brush the back teeth. Brush the tongue to avoid halitosis. Be thorough because anything worth doing is worth doing well…especially when it helps you keep your teeth. Teeth are important. Important but not an emotional battle ground. No, brushing your teeth shouldn’t make you reevaluate your life. And it wouldn’t either if it weren’t for that damn mirror.

There it is. Morning and night . Every morning and every night of your entire life staring back at you. Showing you every change. Whether you want to see it or not. And, as you get older and your mother starts leaving bridal magazines around the house when you drop by and suggesting names for your future imaginary children while knowing full well that you don’t know, in point of fact have never known, any man you’d like to spend a month with let alone a life, the mirror can be a friend and a foe.

It can be a bastard setting you up for the big fall when you come home at two o’clock in the morning when your face is showing the wear and tear of a good time. Mascara streaks. Lipstick fades. Powder settles. And then, Mr. Demille, you truly think your mother is right. You’re not getting any younger. You are, as it happens, getting older every minute. This minute, this one right now, is the oldest you’ve ever been…until this minute…and then, of course, there’s this one. Well, it may be better than the alternative but it doesn’t feel so hot at the time. The mirror isn’t to blame. It’s just a reflection of what is. But, as every woman knows, there are good mirrors and bad mirrors. Mirrors that flatter and mirrors that solidly tell what may be the truth and may be a grave insult. And none of the good mirrors are on duty at two o’clock. You think the wicked witch in the fairy tale must have had a two o’clock mirror. You brush your teeth and you go to bed.

In the morning a mirror can be magic. It can reassure you that despite the sins of last night or a lifetime that you still look pretty damn good in the morning without makeup or even a hair brush. You wish you could take credit for it but you know that that’s all down to genetics. When do you ever remember to moisturize? You don’t. And, sin of sins, you usually, despite purchasing all manner of expensive facial cleansers, wash your face with regular soap. The horror! The only contribution you make is SPF protection on a semi-regular basis. So, clearly, the good moments have nothing to do with you and may, now that you think about it, be the mirror giving not you but your mother a compliment since she’s the one who gave you the good genes to begin with. But a compliment is a compliment and you’ll take it. And, after the two o’clock mirror of the night before when you thought that you would have to immediately check yourself into an upscale “spa” in Mexico City for a quick “freshening up” the eleven o’clock mirror is your pal and your coconspirator. It assures you that no matter what anybody might say, including yourself, you are not in fact the hag of the western world. That there are still good times to come and to be had. And that, if the Lord be willin’ and the crick don’t rise, you’ll have the face you see staring back at you for a good five more years at least. You believe in genetics and SPF. You can face the world. But first you brush your teeth because fresh breath is important.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.” Hubert Humphrey

"“In Obama’s worldview, our trust is in government not in God. A denial of how God designed and created our economic and social systems to actually work in the real world."
Minnesota Family Council PresidentTom Prichard

Why is universal health care such a scary concept? Is it because it’s sometimes called socialized medicine? Why is that frightening? Because it contains the word social which makes people think of Socialism which, in turn, makes them think of Communism…which is dumb.

If people without access to health care are given access that doesn't mean that somebody is going to goose step into your home and start taking your stuff…unless they’re a National Socialist*. . . in which case you have bigger problems than who’s taking your TV. So, calm down and start thinking of ways to fake a Prussian family tree. But! I digress. Universal health care, at it’s core, is a very Judeo/Christian concept. The strong take care of the weak in order to hopefully turn the weak into the strong some day. It’s a do unto others kind of a deal.

And this is why the "religious right" are wrong. They stand there in their two thousand dollar suits and pumps and talk about family values and Christian ethics while proudly fingering their WWJD? bracelets and, basically, flip the bird to the poor. Hell, to the middle class! And if, God forbid, you’re gay? Get right outta’ town!




They don’t want you in their town. Unless, of course, you’ve been to a “reprogramming” camp or seminar and men /women no longer hold any sway over you…except for in public bathroom stalls…and then they’ll elect you to congress. I digress. Again. Sorry.

How can people say they abide by and have no faith in any teaching but those of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Bar Yoseph…look it up.) behave in this way? It maddens me. They quote and they quote and they spout their hate for every kind but our kind till their faces turn red. And, the funny part, if there is a funny part, is that these people have, in fact, studied the bible. All of their quotes come from the bible. But they skipped some important stuff.

Blessed are the peace makers: for they shall be called sons of God.

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

These are the rocks of the faith as I understand it. let’s face facts, if Jesus was alive today they’d want him deloused before being allowed into their eminent presences. And then, after he gave the sermon on the mount, they’d call him a dirty, hippie, commie Jew…well, they’d leave out the Jew bit. . . But, come on, they’d think it.

My point, if I may be permitted to believe I have one, is that a true person of God, any God, doesn’t turn their back on the infirm. They don’t pull themselves above the muck and then kick the people down who are trying to pull themselves up as well. They try to help those people. Why? Because that’s what a person does. Anything else makes you a schmuck.

So, the question is simple, my fellow Americans, do you want to help your fellow man? Or do you want to be a schmuck? And if you, just for a minute, look down at that shiny little bracelet of yours and actually think about the question I think you’ll find the right answer.

*FYI - not Socialists but Fascists