Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Chess Player

So I'm at the bookstore ringing up customers' purchases and this lovely middle-aged woman comes up to the counter with a little boy and girl in tow. They plop their books in front of me and I notice these two:

"He picked his book out by himself." she said to me, pointing at the darling little boy.

I hold up the book for beginners.

"You are going to learn how to play chess?" I ask him.

"No. The other one is for me." he solemnly says.

I look at the Bobby Fischer book and then at his grandmother.

"He wants the Bobby Fischer book?"

"Yes, He picked it out himself."

I studied this serious little guy for a minute.

"How old are you?" I ask.

"Four." He says. But he is a very very small four year old. I wish I had my camera but I did not, but to give you some idea, here is a photo I found on the web of a child approximately this little guy's size:

I ask, "Well, who is the beginner book for?"

"Me." Grandmother says, sheepishly. "I figure if he can learn so can I."

I ring up their books and ask the boy, "Are you familiar with Bobby Fischer?"

"Yeah. I like his moves."

"Which is your favorite move of his?"

He studies me for a second and I can see a twinkle in his eye.

"Winning." he answers.

"Mine too. "I tell him.

I don't know what you were doing at four years old, but I can promise you, I was not playing chess.

Bugs. May They All Rest in Peace.

I am a lover of living creatures. For instance, you should all know by now how I feel about lizards. I mean, even my blog is dedicated to them by its very title. And I own two large dragons, indigenous to Australia. Even snakes have a place within my heart; put a large snake or a lizard or an armadillo in my yard and I'm in my glory. Add a fox or a large turtle and I am in heaven.

There are exceptions to my love for living creatures however. And I can sum them up in one word; bugs.

I hate bugs. Even ladybugs. Maybe especially ladybugs. (of course, the real list topper is the grasshopper, but that's beyond hate; that's a phobia..thank you, Eddie Margarvo. I still hate you)..We once went through a ladybug invasion; hundreds of thousands of them landed on the sides of every building, including my house. People double checked their meals in order to pick out the little red buggers before taking a bite and more often than not, would find them in their sandwiches. Window ledges everywhere were covered with the corpses of them. It was horrible.

Second in line on my list of most hated insects would be flies. From everything I've heard, whenever they land, they poop and barf. I do not care how small the amount might be. Poop is poop and barf is barf and I do not want them near my food. It doesn't matter to me how much they might adore our poop and barf..the feeling could not be further from mutual. I want them all dead. ASAP.

A close third is the ant, disgusting little lumpy balls of pure energetic filth. God, I hate them. I have a bug man (Jim) who comes monthly to spray my house and yard and what is the only bug to persist? Yup. The ant.

I have a cousin who loves to email me crap. And most of it, I delete immediately. But recently he sent me a video of an ant hill. I do not know why I watched it. But I did and it's appalling. Y'all know how much I love to share appalling stuff with you, so here it is. Enjoy:

How disgusting is THAT???

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dedicated to Tiger Woods

(I know, I know, that's mean. But I couldn't help myself..and btw, click on post title for latest Woods family portrait.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Forever Angel and the Silver Heart

I have written about my dearest friend Cynthia several times. I am so incredibly blessed with this friendship. Cynthia is beautiful, brilliant, articulate, educated, sweet and funny. And I cherish her.

One of our favorite things to do is shop together. One day we were driving back from the store when Cynthia told me a little story.

"When I was in college," she began, "I had a lovely friend. She had beautiful long blonde hair and a beautiful face and I was so happy to have her as a friend."

"We did everything together, just like you and I do. "she continued.

"One day, this girl gave me a gift. It was a silver heart filled with candy kisses and it touched me so deeply. And that was the last time I ever saw her. She simply. without a word, disappeared. I have often wondered if she were an angel. I really believe she might have been an angel."

Cynthia glanced over at me.

"Beej, you remind me of her in every way. You look like her, you sound like her and you're sweet the way she was."

I can't tell you how touched I was. I mean, that's a whole lot of compliments paid there. I decided right then, when Christmas rolled around, I was going to duplicate that gift.

I found a lovely silver heart candy dish (actually it was a little jewelry box but I used it as a candy dish..) I filled it with chocolate kisses and wrapped it up in pretty paper and a red bow. I added a card and wrote on the inside,
"To my forever angel from your forever angel; Merry Christmas."

I gave it to my lovely friend who opened the card first, silently read it, and opened the box. She gasped.

"You aren't going to believe this." she could barely speak, and the words came out as a whisper.

"I never told you this. How did you know? How did you know about my angel?"

"Cynthia, you did tell me. A long time ago."

"No, I didn't, Beej! No I did not!"

She slowly looked up at me.

"Are you her??" she asked.

"No Cynthia." I was beginning to feel bad that I wasnt her. "But you really did tell me about her. and I wanted you to know, that not all angels disappear. Some angels disappear, but not all of them. Some angels are in our life for the duration."

She thought about this for a few minutes as she studied the heart.

'You are a keeper."
"Yup. I know."

And I gave her a big hug.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

All the young people who have invaded my home this Christmas Day have gone to the movies. They are have gone to see 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.' And yes, I was invited but declined to go.

Instead, I am taking this time to browse a book I bought yesterday with a gift certificate from my bookstore.

This is one of those massive coffee table books, called 'EARTH.' It must weigh 20 lbs. But it's worth its weight in gold.

Oh, what a beautiful book. It's an atlas but more. I LOVE maps of all sorts anyway, but this book has the most spectacular photographs I have ever seen in an atlas. I have been lusting over this book for a while now so it's like a treasure to me and I love it. Here is a video I found on this atlas, to give you some idea about how magnificent it is and it allows you to see some of the phenomenal photos. Of course, I do not own the first edition, leather bound one. I own the blue one that is mentioned here within:


This is the first Christmas in memory where I had to awaken the 'kids' rather than the other way around. (How sad is that!) But when the clock hit 8am, I could not stand it any longer and so I got them up.

After the exchanging of gifts, we had out traditional Christmas breakfast:

cooled and crumbled cornbread
bacon drippings

fry bacon. remove from pan. Drain grease, leaving some
drippings in the pan. Crumble cornbread and fry until
crisp. Put on plate and top with over easy fried eggs.

Simple. Yup. But then you break up the egg and mix it into the cornbread and serve bacon on the side. YUmmmmm.

After breakfast, I went back to bed. leaving everyone else to play new games on the wii.

When the young people return from the movies, we will have dinner. Then that's it until next year.

Good Christmas. Day is almost done.
Ah, me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

But Still, And Always, With Love

Here it is, slightly after four a.m. on Christmas Eve. The tree is decorated. Candy has been made and taken to the book store for my coworkers. Token gifts have been given to my dearest neighbors. All the presents have been purchased, tho there are still a few that need to be wrapped. Reservations for Christmas Eve dinner have been made and tonight John, my daughter, my son, his fiancee and myself will go and have a special dinner. There is a ham in the refrigerator for Christmas day dinner. I have waited on all my customers at the bookstore who, at first, were filled with Christmas cheer but who have now become irritable and impatient with spending hard earned money and waiting in long lines.

For various reasons, this has been a difficult season for me. I'm exhausted. I'm ready for it to be done with. I didn't do as much as I usually do. Usually, my house, inside and out, is decorated to the hilt. I love white lights and red ribbons, but I decorated minimally this year. I didn't even put the candy canes on the tree this year. and my family has noticed the difference.

My kids are getting older and so am I. In a year or two my son will be getting married and I will hand over the honor of being the family holiday hostess to my daughter-in-law to be. And I am ready.

For some reason, I'm not sure what, exactly, I am ready to step back. And I feel good about doing that. It's time.

It's time for mom to relax and rest and enjoy life. I may even, sometime during this year to come, leave the bookstore, focus more on reading and working out. I would love to get more into photography. And writing.

Come on, New Year, come on, new life, bring it on. There is change in the air.

Merry Christmas, all. Happy New Year. May your days be merry and bright.

(Tweetey, I'm posting the following video for everyone to enjoy, of course. But mostly I'm posting it for your little girls. Please, have them sit and watch it. The photos are adorable amd I think they'll love it. And a special Merry Christmas to you; I know this year has been a difficult one for you and I want you to know that I think you are a wonderful mommy. xoxo)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Prank

Louie went away for a week and left his apartment keys with a friend who decided to gather their crowd and play a Christmas prank. Here was the result. (this took 36 rolls of wrapping paper.)

And here is Louie's reaction:

Christmas Candy

I'm all for fun Christmas gifts. And to be honest, I do not care what folks give to one another. But some of the biggest sellers at my book store have to do with poop. I kid you not..

First one on the list has to be the pooping penguins. These are little plastic replicas of the adorable arctic animals. You push on its head and a brown little jelly beans pops out of its back end. I sell a lot of these. Why? Why would anyone put this in a child's stocking? I do not know.

There is also the pooping reindeer and in past years there has even been a pooping Santa. He doesn't even yank down his red pants, he just squats and lets 'the good times roll!'

But the one thing I do not understand at all is the lump of chocolate, wrapped in clear plastic wrap and formed to look like a single reindeer BM. Parents love to buy these en masse to put in their children's' stockings.

This, in itself, doesn't seem too, too bad but each time I sell these I offer a small, silent Christmas prayer for the child who is its recipient; please, please, God, let this child be old enough to know that people do not really eat excrement. I have this mental image of a two or three year old being told that it's okay to eat this and then taking that as a green light to, well, you 'it' wherever it appears.

This really worries me. Why would anyone encourage a little child to eat something like this? I think there should be a warning posted on all these lumps;


I'm not dumb; I realize most folks would tell their kids that it is, indeed, just a piece of chocolate. But what about the parent who doesn't think or who is too busy on Christmas morning to explain this to a little one? I mean, there are some people who aren't really all that bright. (Why else would they put on a book of matches where they advertise courses to become a lawyer, 'do not send matches with your application?" If you are thinking of becoming a lawyer, shouldn't you be bright enough to know that without being told?)

This is what I think; I think they should make this candy taste like crap. Then we would not have this concern on Christmas morning.

A Little Merry to All of My Friends

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 100th Post

This is my 100th post. I knew it was coming and originally I wanted to write something spectacular. But what? I had no idea so I did what I usually do when I'm trying to figure something out; I googled.

I didn't know if I would come up with anything (dumb me) so I was stunned when 1,770,000 results popped up! Wow..I ought to get some sort of idea what to write about!

Nope. the vast majority said something like this:

"Happy news: It's my 100th post!! I can't believe it! It has been more than two months since my first post. How many great people I've met ..."

Or this:

"This post happens to be a milestone for my blog - yeah this marks the 100th post. The journey has been exciting so far."

Who cares? WHO CARES!!! You are not accepting an Oscar. You did not accomplish an amazing feat that won you a Nobel Prize. No. What has happened is that you sat here 100 times and wrote about yourself!

Okay, this is harsh. I know that. After all, some of these blogs are fun and funny and informative and highly entertaining. And it's true; I have met some of the most intelligent folks around the world. But I don't think an acceptance speech is called for.

I have to admit, some of the 100th post Google results were interesting. My favorite is probably this one:

"Today is my 100th Post! Happy Post Day to me or I should say to us. I would like to thank my producer, God."

(that one made me laugh out loud.)

Another was a lady who, in celebration, was raffling off a little gift for her readers.

A few honored their readers by posting "100 things about myself."

Another celebrated by baking banana bread and someone else wrote a song to mark the occasion.

So, back to myself. What will I do to mark the occasion of my 100th blog entry? I know exactly what I'm going to do; I'm going to begin writing the next 100. But in the meantime, I'm going to have another cup of coffee, and then go back to google and try to find the person who is raffling off a gift.
Maybe I'll win it.

And in the meantime..lets celebrate:

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today we took my daughter's birthstone ring to the jewelers to have the stone remounted. This ring was a gift to her from her grandmother, one given to her not long before gramma passed away, so Shannon was nothing short of devastated when the stone fell out.

This post is not about my daughter's ring, however; it is about another. the sales lady asked me if I would like to see 'something pretty' and slipped a rock onto my finger. It was a bit too ostentatious for my taste.

"How much is it?" we asked.

"$149,900." she replied.


"Take this thing off of my finger NOW!"

We literally ran out of the door. (

Who in their right mind would spend $150,000 on a ring? At first I laughed but then I got angry. There are so many starving kids in this world, so many many people who do not have food in their bellies or a roof over their heads. Do you know how many pairs of shoes that kind of money could buy?

I do not know why I took this so to heart. I had asked the clerk if she had ever sold one like that. Her answer?

"yes. In fact I have one being sized right now."

"That's a sin." I thought to myself but I didn't say it out loud.

Disgustingly sinful.


I read somewhere that John Updike never had writers block in his life. Needless to say, I am not John Updike.

Lately I have been publishing quite a few videos I have stumbled upon over at Now, I wouldn't post them here if I didn't think they were worth sharing, but I will let you in on a little secret; I am putting them here because...BECAUSE!! (drum roll....) I have run out of ideas. I have hit a brick wall. I am at a loss. Temporarily.

I have wracked my brain trying to think of worthwhile things to share with you. Do I tell you about the fat little boy who was a line jumper at the bookstore, a repeat offender, in fact, who runs up in front of everyone else, stares at me and says, "Can I please get some service here?"
Lucky for him, the other folks who have been waiting in line get a charge out of him. They laugh. I do not think it's funny and the chubby little snot-angel can tell.

Do I write about the exercise video I am getting for Christmas? What do I say, I know I got it be cause I went to the store and got it?

Then I asked myself, "Beej," I ask, "what would Updike do?" And I knew the answer...if Updike could write about nothing, I'm sure he would write about....NOTHING!

Okay, what can I say about nothing? There's a song that starts 'Nothing from nothing is nothing.' But I am not sure what that means.
Then there's the old adage, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'
I suppose that means if you don't try something, you wont succeed. Hmm. So if I don't try to go broke I won't succeed? well, doesn't that make me a success then?

I am really confused so I go to and look up the definition of 'nothing.'


Not anything; no thing (in the widest sense of the word thing); -- opposed to anything and something.

Nonexistence; nonentity; absence of being; nihility; nothingness.

A thing of no account, value, or note; something irrelevant and impertinent; something of comparative unimportance; utter insignificance; a trifle.

A cipher; naught.

In no degree; not at all; in no wise.

I am interested in the one definition .. 'Nonexistence.'. So, if I say the kitty litter box is nothing, does that mean it doesn't exist? Well, piss on that! (har har) I know it exists because I can, well, smell it! Or do I use the definition, 'irrelevant?' Well, darlin', if you think it's irrelevant, then you go stand next to it after a few ripening days.

I do not like this word. In fact, it means nothing to me. Hmmmm I'm not sure what I mean by that so up to the definitions I go again. Okay, lets choose 'nonexistent.' Well, that's not true because if it didn't exist, I wouldn't be having this problem!

I give up. I am not John Updike. I have writers block. And there's nothing I can do about it.


Voice Of An Angel

Just For Fun - TV Bloopers

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weird Weirder Weirdest

Last night I grabbed my book and began to read in front of the tv. It didn't take long for me to fall asleep. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning and one of those true life documentaries was on television. I became totally engrossed. It was the weirdest thing I had ever heard of, so weird that when I woke up again this morning, I googled it to see if I had dreamed it. It took me a long time to find anything on it (mostly because I had the wrong tv channel) but, find it I did.

There was a middle aged family man, very average, on the dumpy side sort of guy, who met an eighteen year old beautiful blonde high school girl on an online game site. This guy told the girl he was an eighteen year old Marine named Tommy who was about to be deployed. He sent a photo pf a young handsome, rugged soldier and told Jessi it was his photo. This continued for months, the older, grungy man and the unsuspecting gorgeous young girl.

After a while,, Jessi sent Tommy a package. Unfortunately, Tommy's wife got it first. It was some very sheer red thongs. it didnt take long for his wife, Cindy, to put two and two together and Tommy confessed to her. Cindy felt it was her duty to contact Jessi and spill the beans, explaining that Tom was really almost fifty, and was a family man.

Jessi was furious. She badgered Tommy with a nonstop insulting messages. He apologised profusely but assured her that his love was the real deal.

Tom had a coworker who really was eighteen, named Brian. Now, I must have dozed off for a few minutes because I missed just how Brian ended up involved with Jessi online, but he did. And guess what happened...THEY became involved. Well, this just sent Tom over the edge. He ended up hating Brian.

To give the devil his due, Tom did try to break free from Jessi, but she would not leave him alone, writing that Tommy lived within Tom and she could never stop loving the fantasy of 'Tommy.' Meanwhile, shes telling Brian just how much she hates Tom.

Tom catches wind that Jessi and Brian are having a fling. He begins to tell Jessi he is going to kill Brian. It got so bad that Jessi's mom got involved, messaging Tom to leave her daughter alone.

Then one evening, Brian headed out the door from his place of work. He got to his truck and sure enough, Tom shot and killed him. The police did their little investigative thingy, found out all that was going on. They got themselves an arrest warrant, but Tom was GONE!!

The police in West Virginia, where Jessie lived, were contacted and went over to the girl's house to make sure she hadn't been harmed also. The door was answered by Jessi's mom who broke down weeping, admitting that SHE HAD BEEN THE ONE TALKING TO TOM ALL ALONG! and Jessi, who really was her daughter, had no idea that her mother had been posing as her and had been sending her photo to men over the net.

Here is a photo of Tom (on the top) and Brian (bottom.)

I cannot find a photo of either Jessi or her mother but the daughter is indeed a beautiful girl and the mother is overweight, unkempt and very unattractive.

So, eighteen year old Brian is dead. Tom is in prison. And where is Jessi's mom? at home. Same as always. They had no charges to bring against her because they had no proof that she had instigated Brian's death.

Weird. Weird weird weird.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Whine Cellar

All I wanted in life when my kids were little was an outhouse. I dreamed of what it would be like to go to the bathroom without two little kids lying on their bellies trying to watch me through the crack at the bottom of the closed bathroom door.

"Mama! What are you doing?" they would ask without fail.

"I'm in here eating chocolate cake and ice cream so that I don't have to share with you." I would tease.

( "What the heck do you think I'm doing in here?") I'd wonder.

My daughter, who is two and a half years older than my son, would giggle. My son, who was a bit slower on the uptake would whine.

"I want some cake!" and I would hear him sniffle.

So my dream was to have my own private outhouse where I could go at will without interruption. I dreamed of nailing a handmade sign on its door which would read PRIVATE CLUBHOUSE. KEEP OUT!!

Of course this never happened and eventually the kids lost interest in what mama was doing behind that door. (The dog, however, still likes to scooch down on her belly, stick her nose in that crack and snort. But that's another story.)

Now, I no longer have need for my PRIVATE CLUBHOUSE. Now I need a WHINE CELLAR.

My back yard is large enough to accommodate this. All I would need is a backhoe and a cement truck and I could make this a reality. I dream of banishing all the whiners in my life to this place in the ground. And there would be a lot of them.

Take my daughter. My beautiful girl ran away from home a few weeks ago. Well, at 22 I suppose that's a bit misleading. Except she did, on a complete whim, move back to Tallahassee to be with her rotgut old friends and her deranged, drug addicted high school ex-boyfriend.

I am not pleased with her. And she can tell.

Hers a snippet of a phone call I had with her last night.

"Hi Ma."
"Hi Shannon."
"I don't feel like I'm a part of our family any more."
"I'm sorry you feel that way."

"Mom! Why don't you want me to be happy?"
"I'm glad you re happy, my love."

She begins to weep.
"Mom! You don't phone me any more."
"Well, I tried but you don't answer your phone."
"That's because my feelings are hurt."

I end up by sending her money for a bus ticket home. And I'm thinking to myself, all I want for Christmas is a whine cellar to put all the whiners in.

Earlier that day, my son's girlfriend (Fiance? I'm not sure any more what her relation to my son is.) wanted to talk with me.

"Hi momma!" (she's learned I melt when she calls me that, fool that I would think I'd have learned better by now..)

"Hey sweetheart."
"I tried on wedding dresses today and found one but it costs $1,000. I look beautiful in it!"

(oh oh..)

I glance at my son who is beaming.

"Um, ma, we were, um, you think y'all could help pay for our wedding?"


The whining begins... from the both of them.


"Get thee to the whine cellar, both of y'all!" is what I'm thinking..

Now I work hard. I love my job because I work in a bookstore. And I love the people I work with. The first person I always see in the mornings is Judy. Judy runs our bistro and used to be the happiest person I knew. Not any longer. Now she is of late a miserable cuss who spends all her awake hours bitching. This woman can bitch up such a storm that sometimes I sit back and think how much i admire her tenacity to hold on to slights in her life. Now, tho, I'm tired of it.

"Get thee sorry hiney to the Whine Cellar, Judy!" i think to myself.

Yesterday, I did a little Christmas shopping for the whiners in my life and decided to have my nails done while I was out and about. The salon is run by a Vietnamese family. None of them speak English. The matriarch of this family perches down in the chair next to me and begins to her son who is my manicurist.

I do not understand Vietnamese so this hour long, nonstop tirade, begins to sound like a cross between a meditation mantra and a speaking in tongues. At first it was tolerable but soon became highly irritating and I could not wait to get out of there and away from her mouth.

(I have to admit something awful right now; I am presently reading an excellent book Called 'American Psycho' about the mind of a serial killer whose murderous method of choice is to slowly hack his victims into shreds. I thought of this as I notice manicure scissors on the table next to my hand. I quickly and shamefully disregard any notion I have of using these on this whining woman. It was a fleeting thought, but an alarming one, nonetheless.)

"Get thee to my Whine cellar, mamasan." I think to myself.

Okay, okay, having a whine cellar dug into my back yard is bit over the top. I know it's not gonna happen. But I need a break from all this constant whining. And I know exactly what I am going to do...

I am going to lock myself in the bathroom. And eat chocolate cake and ice cream.

And I'm not sharing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Connie Talbot

Now and then I'll stumble upon a video that makes me cry. This is one of those:

Of course, it touched my heart because she is only six years old and her voice is exquisite. But it's more than that, what does the future hold for this baby? If she were mine, I would be torn between sharing her gift with the world and saving her. I am frightened for her. Think, Britney Spears. Think Charlotte Church. She smiles at six. Will she smile at 16? Or at 26? If she were mine, I think I would say, "your loss, world, is my child's gain," share her with family and close friends and buy her a nice karaoke set.

But her mom did not choose that for her. So, I suppose she belongs to us now. Poor poor beautiful baby.


(Sherry, ask and you shall receive.)


1 16oz pkg. dried black beans
2 bay leaves
1 smoked shoulder roll or daisy ham (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
few drops Tabasco sauce
1 Polish sausage (about 1 lb
cooked rice
sliced oranges
cooked kale greens

Wash beans. Soak overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain. Place in heavy pot and cover with water. Add bay leaves and ham. Cook on low, covered, about 2 hours, stirring often. If they become dry. add more water.
Remove pork. Discard bay leaves. Saute onions and garlic in oil. Put 1 cup of beans on a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and put back into pot along with onions, garlic, tomato sauce, Tabasco and orange juice. Cut sausage into 2 inch pieces and place on top of beans. Simmer about 20 minutes. Serve the beans, ladled over the cooked rice with the meat on the side. Be sure to serve the sliced oranges and kale greens with the feijoada.

feijoada is the national dish of Brazil. The original recipe has about 15 kinds of meat and various ingredients not available here.

I found this video over at youtube. This guy's recipe is a bit different than mine, but it gives a good idea on how to put it all together.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Living Room Furniture & Portuguese Soup

I am spoiled well beyond rotten. I would be ashamed of it except it has been going on for so long that I've become, well, used to it. Not that I take it for granted; in fact material things have never meant a whole lot to me, but, nevertheless, I am spoiled.

Today's event is not the exception to anything, it is the rule.

"Hey, let's go to the furniture store." John said to me out of the blue.

I had my shoes on and my purse slung over my shoulder before he finished his sentence.

Once at the store, he stood back and let me loose.

"It's Christmas, Beej. Go choose what you want."

I have simple tastes. Don't give me ornate, I prefer simple. I'll choose Danish over Baroque, anytime. So I laid my eyes on a Seafoam colored living room set., with chocolate piping. I looked up at John, and pointed at it.

"I just want the love seat and the chair." I told the sales lady.

"No no, Beej. Get yourself the entire set." John said. "Order her the entire thing." he instructed the clerk.

We head home and take long, lovely naps. I awaken well after John, who is downstairs in the family room, watching tv.

"Mornin'" he says. (It's 6pm.)

My plan was to make him a nice dinner but my sleep had cut into the prep time so I skedaddled into the kitchen.

John lived in Brazil for quite a long period of time and came away from there with a strong love for Portuguese food. His favorite is called Feijoada, which is a dish with beans, kale, a variety of meats and sliced oranges:

But time is unforgiving so I settle for a mock Portuguese soup that is incredibly easy and one that we both love:


1 whole smoked sausage link, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 large box or can chicken broth
1-2 cups water
1 large package raw coleslaw greens
2 cups instant potatoes
ground pepper and salt (to taste)

melt butter in the bottom of a large pot. add sausage pieces and brown well. Add broth and water. Heat. Add coleslaw greens. Stir until well mixed. Add instant potatoes. Stir. Reduce heat and simmer until slaw cabbage softens and instant potatoes thicken broth. (the longer it simmers, the better it is.)

Jessica Rabbit

I was amusing myself just browsing along over at and happened upon this. I hadn't seen it for years and years but it still impresses the heck out of me. Enjoy:

(I read that this was all done without the use of computers. Amazing. And brilliant.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Phone Bill

I added my son to my phone service early last year. The agreement was that I would buy him the phone and put him on my plan and he would pay the monthly bill of $79. This went as it should for a while. He responsibly put a $20 bill in an envelope every week for that first month.

The second month's bill came, however, and when I opened it, I went into a slow burn when I saw the total of $162, twice what it should have been.

" Hey, um, I think you need to put more cash in for your phone bill."I informed him, keeping my voice at an even pitch.

"Can't" he answered in between bites of a sandwich.

Maybe I heard him wrong, I told myself. It was kind of hard to make out the exact words of a 19 year old guy who has every crevice of his cavernous mouth stuffed with a ham sandwich.

"Huh?" I replied.

"Can't mom. I don't have it."

I stared at my boy before I let him have it:

"Tgioug kfeoe49g fogigtoiffrr hiyr ve#$%$%$#GDF!!" I screamed.

He stared at me as if I were a martian.

"Ma! Calm down!!! I can't understand a word you're saying!!"

Calm down. Calm down?? I will try as soon as I get my head unstuck from the ceiling!

I finally landed.

"I need you to pay this bill."

"Ma," he smiled at me in a condescending manner that made me want to bop his head against the wall. "Peace out. It's all good."

"So you're going to pay it?"

"Can't. Don't have it." And he strolled away with another sandwich in his hand.

I am a believer in tough love. So this is what I did. I phoned the altell people and paid the bill with my card. Then I instructed them to suspend his service until further notice, which they did immediately.

An hour later I saw a blur fly down the stairs. After the dust settled, I recognised it as my son. His eyes bulged out of their sockets. In his fist was his cell phone.

"Don't you think that was a bit radical, mom?"

Obviously he had just discovered he had no service.

I did not look up at him, and focused instead on the book I had been reading.

"Peace out. It's all good." is all I said.

After he pulled HIS head out of the ceiling and landed, I informed him that as soon as he reimbursed me for $162, I would have his service reinstated. He was a very unhappy camper but he knew that God (me) had spoken and would not back down.

It was amazing just how quickly he came up with the cash and his phone was turned back on. This has not occurred again all is good.

Until yesterday.

I pulled the mail out of the box and saw there was a new phone bill. I didn't give it a second thought until I opened it.


That's two hundred and twelve smackaroos.

Am I angry? No.
Am I ready to rip his ears off his head? No.
Am I ready to take the phone, set it behind my rear tires and back over it? No.
Am I ready to take my son, set him behind my rear tires and back over HIM? No.

And here's why:

"HAYWARD, Calif. -- A Hayward man is hoping his cell-phone service provider will work with him after receiving a massive bill for over $21,000 largely made up of charges incurred by his son after the teen was added to the family account, KTVU-TV in San Jose reported.

When he first got the bill in the mail, Ted Estarija couldn't believe his eyes.

Estarija said he thought adding his 13-year-old son to his cell-phone account would cost him an extra $50 a month. Instead, the recently unemployed Hayward father now owes Verizon $21,918.

"I was completely caught off guard," said Estarija. "This is outrageous. It seems like it comes to almost $100 a minute."

Estarija said he asked Verizon to restrict his son's usage to phone calls and texts, but the bill shows his son downloaded about 1.5 million kilobytes of data with his phone.

"This is not completely his fault," said Estarija. "I put more blame on Verizon than anybody. They shouldn't allow this to happen."

A Verizon spokeswoman told KTVU-TV she couldn't comment specifically about the issue while it is being investigated, but said the company planned to work with Estarija to resolve the problem.

Estarija admitted there may be a lesson to be learned here, but at almost $22,000 it comes at too high a cost.

"There's no way I can pay this, so (I'll do) whatever I can to get this resolved," said Estarija.

He said his biggest concern right now is not how to pay the bill, but helping his son. Estarija said his son has become despondent over causing his dad so much financial and emotional distress.

I feel so blessed. So very very blessed! (and as it turns out, my son has the cash to pay his $212 bill..)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vincent van Gogh

'Vincent van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Vincent was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence. Between 1860 and 1880, when he
finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two unsuitable and unhappy romances and had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in the Borinage (a dreary mining district in Belgium), where he was dismissed for overzealousness. He remained in Belgium to study art, determined to give happiness by creating beauty. The works of his early Dutch period are somber-toned, sharply lit, genre paintings of which the most famous is "The Potato Eaters" (1885). In that year van Gogh went to Antwerp where he discovered the works of Rubens and purchased many Japanese prints.

In 1886 he went to Paris to join his brother Théo, the manager of Goupil's gallery. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon, inevitably met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin, and began to lighten his very dark palette and to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists. His nervous temperament made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day undermined his health. He decided to go south to Arles where he hoped his friends would join him and help found a school of art. Gauguin did join him but with disastrous results. In a fit of epilepsy, van Gogh pursued his friend with an open razor, was stopped by Gauguin, but ended up cutting a portion of his ear lobe off. Van Gogh then began to alternate between fits of madness and lucidity and was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment.

In May of 1890, he seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise under the watchful eye of Dr. Gachet. Two months later he was dead, having shot himself "for the good of all." During his brief career he had sold one painting. Van Gogh's finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, in symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh's inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature.'

biography courtesy of Van Gogh Gallery

Click on post title to go to that site.

Crumbs on a Plate

There is a little game I love to amuse myself with. Sometimes, when things are quiet in the bookstore, I'll look around and imagine what might go on when the day is done and the lights are off. This is what I imagine...

All the characters in all the books come to life as soon as the key has turned in the lock. They rub their eyes, shake a sense of awakening into their heads and stretch their arms to the ceiling. Then the nightly social event begins.

Rhett Butler has sauntered over to the Biography section where Marilyn Monroe is squeezing out of the pages of her book. Her sequined dress sparkles as she watches Rhett approach her.

"Happy birthday, Mr. Butler, happy birthday to you." she finishes her song and giggles. "Did you like that, Rhett?"

Rhett raises one eyebrow.
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Just then, Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom dribbles a basketball out of the Sports section, running past them on his way to meet up with Emma Bovary over in the fiction department. On the way, he is passed by Alice's friend, The Frantic Rabbit, who is rushing off to the children's section to meet with Flopsy, Mopsy, and Peter. Rumor has it that the berries have all been picked and cleaned and there is a bowl of them set in cream, awaiting him.

"Where you rushing off to?" Rabbit asks, not missing one beat with the basketball.

"I'm late, I'm late. For a very important date. No time to say hello good bye, I'm late, I'm late. I'M LATE!!!" And off he runs.

Harry finds Emma Bovary over in the cafe talking to Scarlett O'Hara. Alice is there serving tea and cakes to her friends. Scarlett offers one to Harry as she turns back to Emma.

"I may have an 18 inch waist, "She says, cramming another cake into her mouth, "but as God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!"

Just then I catch a movement coming out of New Age. There is Nostradamus walking with determination over to the card game section.

Mother Theresa runs out of the Christian Living section to catch up with him.

"Where are you going, my son?" she asks.

"I'm going to pick up some Texas Hold em partners, Mother. I know I can win!"

"Do you think that's ethical, my son?"

Just then Tinkerbell flutters by. her usual bright light blinking and fading.
She soars over to the Musical Scores shelf. She flits over the rows of books and finds one called "Applause." and opens the cover.

"Clap! Clap or I will die! " she begs and a loud burst of applause comes from the pages.

Meanwhile, Peter Pan is over in the Home Repair section. He's tossing books on the floor until he finds one that will tell him how to repair a stuck window.

Back over in Fiction, Anna Karenina is strolling arm in arm with the conductor for the the Little Engine who Could.'

"I think I have strong emotional issues."she confides.

They head over to the cafe where Isak Dinesen is sitting at a table with Thoreau, talking about Africa. Noah, who has just come out of the Bible department is pulling up a chair.

"Wild animals? You want to talk about wild animals?? Oy do I have a story for you!"

Suddenly there is a click at the front door. All of my literary friends turn and look. The sun has come up and there I am, unlocking the door.

"RUN!!!!" they frantically scream out in unison. By the time I enter my bookstore, there is nary a soul in there but myself.

I glance around to make sure everything is in order for the new day and see a plate with cake crumbs on it lying on top of a cafe table. "Hmm, wonder who left that out."i think to myself.

I swear I heard a little girl's giggle coming from the Marilyn Monroe biography.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Open Letter to Tiger Woods' Lawyer

Dear Tiger Woods Lawyer:

Hi, it's me, Beej. I just want to tell you that I, too, have had sex with Tiger Woods. So have both of my sisters, my daughter, my hairdresser, and my Great Aunt in Topeka.

I know Tiger is grateful that I am willing to keep my mouth shut. He can best show his gratitude by depositing $5,000,000 into my bank account, $3,000,000 into each of my sisters' accounts, $2,000,000 into my daughter's account and $1,000,000 into my hairdresser's account. He does not, however, need to deposit anything into my Great Aunt's account; at 87 year of age, the excitement of swinging Tiger's putter caused her to keel over and die.

oh I almost forgot; please let him know I am grateful that he left no divots.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Architecture and My Epiphany

I'm going to start this post with a little, meek disclaimer. What I am about to write is in no way meant to stir up a debate on religion, belief or personal choices. I am a firm believer that folks have the right to their own choices and I really do not care what others do. To me, the biggest point is every one's right to decide what to think, how to live or where to live. And now that I have that out of the way, let me proceed...


I am second generation Italian. (I would have been first generation except for the fact that my grandparents had their last two babies after they came to this country. All of my mother's siblings except her youngest sister, were born in Italy and my mom couldn't speak English until she was about 7 years old.) My family is from a small village in the region of Puglia, on the east coast of Italy, right on the Adriatic Sea.

In their small village is a magnificent cathedral which was built in the early 1600s. (this is the actual cathedral built by my ancestors:)

I'll get back to this in a little while, but let me preface that with a little something.

When I lived in southern Virginia, I belonged to a church run by the most left wing priest you could ever have the joy of meeting. Father John was more than my priest. He was my friend. For those of you who have known me for a while through our online book club, you might remember my writing about Father John; he was the priest with the ponytail and the pierced ear.

Anyway, I had gone to a convention where Father John was the speaker. I had also just read an article about a phenomenal cathedral that was about to be erected in one of the poorest sections of the Bronx. Father John has just given a beautiful talk on ways to help others on their faith journey. He was taking questions and I, never known to keep my hand down, stood up.

"I want to know," said I, "how the Church can even begin to talk to anyone about this when they are planning on building a multi million dollar structure in one of the neediest neighborhoods in our country."

I glanced around the room and could feel my face turning red because there were suddenly about 200 pairs of eyes fixed on me.

Now as I said, Father John was my friend. He was used to my mouth but I think I caught him off guard by saying this in front of his audience.

"Beej..." he said. And that was all he said.

"No I mean it. I think they could forego at least one chandelier and take that money and buy food for these folks. That would do more to increase the trust in the Church than any light fixture ever could."

I think he wanted to strangle me right then and there. He slowly began to recite to me the reasons the church was doing this and how much pride this cathedral would instill in these poor folks. I didn't buy it.

"It's hard for anyone to be proud of a building in their neighborhood when their stomachs are empty!" I was getting angry now.

Father John asked me to sit down and told me he would talk to me afterwards about this. I did so, and trust me, he and I got into a rip roaring argument afterwards.

Okay, now let me broach the subject of architecture. (You are going to have to trust me that all these subjects will tie together by the time I'm done.) In the recent past, I have seen many photos of beautiful buildings in Mexico. One of our dear blogger friends has been kind enough to share his photos of the gorgeous buildings in the place where he is currently abiding. I am not picking on Mexico. As I said, there is an equally gorgeous cathedral in the village of my ancestors. I became utterly jealous and longed to be in the midst of such beauty. I mean, I ached for this. I have been busy raising kids almost my entire life and have not had the opportunity to experience any sort of world travel and I hungered to experience that. There are, of course, some impressive buildings in my own country, but not to the extent that there is in Mexico, or Italy, or England, or basically anywhere other than in either the United States and Canada. We are just too 'young' as countries to have that to the extent of these other countries. But then I had this HUGE epiphany; it was more than that.

If you have read 'The Pillars of the Earth,' set in England but I suppose its story could apply to many other locations, you know that the construction of these magnificent buildings was brought about by the blood, sweat, tears ,and even life itself, of the poorest of people, those who struggled to feed their families, find a warm place for their families to sleep at night. People sacrificed and suffered in working on these structures because they had no choice! The more awe inspiring the church, the more money their parishes were given, the more chance of having food on the table. In other words, hunger was taken advantage of. People sought refuge from starvation. And if you wanted to fill your bellies, you had better be willing to sweat your tail off to erect these buildings.

Now, back to my family land; As I said, there is a breathtaking cathedral in this little village. My family lived there for more generations than we can trace back. I know, I know! my ancestors helped build it. There is no doubt in my mind that they suffered, they struggled, they cried and prayed to get this building done because they had no choice! They really weren't given any choice to do otherwise.

And THAT is the reason my grandfather came to America, leaving behind a young wife and a half dozen children. He came here to better himself as a way to better his family. After a few years, he sent for my grandmother and aunts and uncles. Now let me tell you how successful his dream became for his family; My cousin is a Judge. My nephew is a doctor with also a PhD in immunology and microbiology (yessiree, that's an Md.Phd., folks.). We have several lawyers in our family as well as a dentist. Another nephew is an artist with carvings in some pretty prestigious museums as well as the author of a coffee table art book for which he had a NYC signing, he attired in a full tuxedo. My niece is one of CNN's news anchors.I could go on and on. But this is why my grandparent left their homeland. And it happened. Their dream came to fruition. It would not have occurred had they stayed in the shadow of that building.

Now, if one looks back to the majority of churches in the early history of our land, they are stark. They are minimal. They contain what was needed by the congregation. I doubt anyone died building them. They were enough to serve their purpose and that was that.

The remnants of an early American Church:

These earliest of immigrants suffered to come here in order to have the freedom of choice. My own family, rather recent immigrants, is a prime example of that. So are all the poor Mexicans coming into this country by the droves in order to feed their families. Their gorgeous cathedrals are plentiful, but they have not done a whole lot to ease the extreme poverty in that country.

In short, my epiphany was this; there is a reason why neither the USA nor Canada has the extreme amount of breathtaking architecture that other countries do; it was a choice our ancestors made. Their priorities dictated something more. They lived through something most of us in our fair country have not. And you know what? I'm glad. I am so glad. Because if they hadn't done that, we could all still be struggling by the roadside, looking for shelter in the shadow of a towering cathedral.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Omo

My sister lived for several years in Ethiopia and because of that, there is a special place in my heart for this country. The Omo is a group of people comprised of several different tribes, a group that is rich in tradition, tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Tourists have 'discovered' these people and because of that, the culture there is on the verge of being destroyed. For some reason, whenever something unique and beautiful in its diversity becomes known, it inadvertently becomes destroyed. I hope that doesn't happen in this case because it would be such a beauty lost.

These people have not as much as a mirror to admire their human art, so it all goes on faith that whoever is decorating their bodies, embellished with uncovered pigments from the earth and wild flowers, is creating unique works of art on a human canvas.


Friday, December 4, 2009


There is treachery in this world, evil occurrences, murder, torture, sexual deviance. And God has had enough.

He has sent a sign of better things to come; Did he create a river of pure water for draught ridden lands? Or change the hearts of a multitude of child abusers? No. He laid an egg.

Yup, He laid an egg in Texas, USA. Is it a newly created holy relic, brought into this world during this most blessed of seasons as a sign of better things to come? At least one woman thinks so:

Now, I'll admit, I am a believer in God. I am. But I don't think that means I need to be a believer in eggs. And if you look at that chicken, who is the proud Virgin Mary of the poultry world, I don't think she thought it a blessing while she was laying this thing.

Most of us would, maybe, take a photo and then scramble the egg. Or at least put little holes in the ends and blow out the insides. But are these farmers doing that? No, these people are going to save this egg. Can you imagine that? Thy have it in a little black box. And if it sits there much longer, they WILL need a gt the stinky stench out of their home.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Michaela and Tareq Salahi

The other evening, Michaela and Tareq Salahi attended a State Dinner. Normally, there is not much to-do about guests at these dinners but all hell has broken out over these folks, because they crashed the damned thing! The media as well as congress are up in arms over this. Security had been breached with very little effort.

These people also crashed a Black political event recently:

'WASHINGTON – On September 28, 2009 The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation hosted its Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner as part of its 39th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. More than 4,000 guests attended the event which is the major fundraiser for the Foundation’s scholarship, internship and fellowship programs. Michaela and Tareq Salahi were in attendance. The couple was approached by CBCF staff when they were alerted about a ticket dispute at the table. Upon asking for tickets for the table, which the Salahi’s could not produce, the couple was asked to leave and they complied.'

This thoroughly cracks me up! The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation?? Just take a look at these people while at this event:

I mean, isn't it obvious something is amiss??? I'm just about rolling on the floor laughing over this. I find it absolutely delightful.

I know, I know, it's just not a good thing that folks, particularly con artists such as Michaela and Tareq Salahi, can get that close to the highest powers in our land, to sneak in, sashay and smile like they own the place, posing for pictures with the highest powers of out country. It is a dangerous thing, and Congress is about to question them on this. That in itself is not funny. But what I do admire is the pure gall of these folks.

This takes guts. This is not something the ordinary person would dream of doing. But, there is something about people who dance outside of the lines that wins my admiration.

Do I like them? No. I think they're overbearing and snooty. But I do need to give the devils their due.

An Open Letter to Tiger Woods

December 2nd. 2009

Dear Mr. Woods:

Hi. It's me, Beej. I just wanted to drop you a little letter and tell you how sorry I am about your car accident. I want you to know how much I admire you; only you could take out a fire hydrant at 3 mph. Good aim, Tiger!

I think I understand what happened. I have a feeling you were '5 under parring' that cute little waitress, Rachel Uchitel, from NY.

Lets face it, no man is called Tiger because he's good at a sport. (wink wink.) I personally would never marry a man named Tiger. I would instinctively know what that would mean. and lets face it; (and I'll be blunt here because I know you wont share this letter with anyone) you are the best in the world at sinking your balls into little holes.

Ok this is what I think happened. Your beautiful blonde wife found out about your girlfriend. They say she whacked the back window with a golf club in order to save you after the accident. I know in my heart she really was trying to whack you.

I admire you to begin with because from your injuries it is obvious she beat the crap out of you when she heard about Rachel. Did you defend yourself? No! You, as a gentleman told yourself, instead, "I am getting away from this bitch before I kill her." And off you went in your Caddy van. Good move Ti!

I heard on the news yesterday that you are worth well over a billion dollars. I was amazed and I thought to myself, wow that's a lotta cash for hitting little balls around a yard! You must do good by your wife and I bet Christmas at your house is awesome. I want you to know, if you would marry me, I would spread the wealth. You could have all the little waitresses on the side that you want. I would not whack you with golf clubs. I would just take all my diamonds and jump onto my private jet and say, "Oh well, what do you expect from a Tiger?"

I wish you well, and hope your face heals quickly.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Champions Of The World.

Here it is, December first, 5:30 am and I am wide awake and about to jump in the shower and wash my hair. In a couple of hours I'm going to go open the bookstore doors and let in all the shoppers who come out of the woodwork at Christmas time.

I just love working in a store at Christmas time, especially a book store. I always get these folks who have no idea what literature is and who are there to purchase something for the readers in their families.

Most of them will look for a bargain and a fair share will ask me to discount their purchases for whatever reason they can devise.

Very rarely do I even come close to having a melt down with them, even at this time of the year. They amuse me. Even the rudest of them. And I'm pretty successful at getting them to return, even the ones who tell me they will never be back because I wouldn't slash the prices of their books.

I'm going to have a great day today. And part of the reason for that is because I'm going to put into practice BBC's wonderful words of wisdom to me;

"Fuck you, get out of my way. I'm moving on."

And if you think I might be talking to YOU, you are probably correct.

Thanks Billy.

Rock on, Freddie.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Healing Confession


It has been in the back of my mind to write about this ever since I began this blog. I have told very very few people about this, or at least the entire story. But I still cry when I think of it. I have deep lingering sadness that has been with me for years and years. But I know, if I write about it, it might ease my heart. So here goes:

I almost died when I was a teenager. I awoke one morning very very very sick. My dad took me to the doctor, Dr. Brezing, who immediately sent me to the hospital. I was hemorrhaging internally, and hemorrhaging badly.

Back then, they did not have the diagnostic tools that they have now. As a result, they could not find the cause of the hemorrhaging. They hooked me up to all kinds of tubes, and IV drips. The pain was unbearable.

I was in the hospital for three months, from June to September. Most of the time, I was not conscious. I would open my eyes and it would be daylight and somebody would be sitting in a chair next to my bed. The next thing I knew, it was dark and my dad would be sitting there. Once in a while I would open my eyes and watch fluid of some sort drip, drip, drip, either into or out of my body. all the while, the pain was there and it was bad.

They put me on morphine which dulled the pain for a while but then it stopped working. I still asked for it tho because it made me feel like I was flying and the pain was secondary to the high. But I was a smart little girl and I told the doctor what was going on and told him to take me off the morphine, which he did.

About a month into this I asked the doctor if I was going to die. He told me that it was a possibility. And I was filled with wonder because I wasn't frightened; I jut wanted the pain to go away. If I died, it was okay as long as I didn't hurt any more.

Then one day, I was lying there and a doctor I didn't know came into my room. At this point I was used to doctors wandering in and out of my room, examining me. This doctor gently pulled down my covers...and then he sexually accosted me. As sick as I was, I didn't know what was what and I remember wondering if he was just examining me. But my senses told hold, and I asked him what he was doing. And he stopped and left my room. As he opened my door to leave, Dr. Brezing entered, and they chatted briefly and it was obvious that they were acquainted. I was so confused. I couldn't figure out how that doctor could have really done this bad thing to me if he knew my family Doctor. I was really confused.

Eventually, I had a five hour exploratory surgery during which they found the source pf the problem. (I am not ready to talk about that, but it was bad.) I healed physically, with time.

I have a scar, both physically and emotionally. The physical scar has faded a lot and isn't all that bad. The emotional scar never healed.

If you have read all of this, I thank you; I NEEDED to write about it. I do not want to die with this unhealed. I have gone all these years without telling more than a couple folks because I felt ashamed. I felt dirty. I felt it was my fault. And you know what? I am letting that all go, right now, right this minute by writing about it here.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Memories of a Lima Bean

I was at the book store and this lady asked me to help her find a particular cookbook. I took her to that section of the store and we began to talk about favorite foods.

"I love lima beans." she told me. "I would rather eat lima beans than anything else in the world."

I just gawked at her. Lima beans. Lima beans???

"Lima beans over steak?" I asked.

"Oh yes!"


"Uh huh!"

"Chocolate cake? Ice cream?"

"Yep. Over any of those things. I'll eat them any way they are fixed. I love lima beans!"

I thought this was a bit strange. If you put a lima bean in front of me next to a piece of chocolate cake, or a steak, or a few crab legs, I would knock the bean to the floor in my rush to devour the other stuff. But I figure, to each their own, and left this lady to pick out her cookbook.

I began to think back on my own first experience with lima beans. I must have been about four or five years old. My mother put one solitary bean on my plate and told me I had to try it. Worse yet, I could not leave the table until it was gone.

I looked at that ugly bean. There was no way I was going to put that pukey thing in my mouth. So I did what any self respecting pre-schooler would do; I squished it up into my nose.

My mother did not see me do this but what she did see was the end of a mashed Lima bean sticking out of my nostril. She made me blow it back out into a napkin and I got sent to my room.

She never forced me to try any other food again, and to this day, you can't get me near a lima bean without my stomach turning.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey & Tetrazzini

And here it is, and it was wonderful. The table is not fully set yet and the wing came off the turkey when I transferred it to the platter, but it still looks pretty. I'll make turkey tetrazzini tonight.


3/4 lb. mushrooms
1 small green pepper, slivered
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 Tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups light cream or half & half
4 to 6 cups diced cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 small jar diced pimentos
2 Tbsp sherry (optional)
6 oz thin spaghetti, cooked
2 eggs yolks, beaten
grated parmesan cheese

Slice and cook mushrooms and green pepper in butter for five minutes. Blend in flour and seasonings. Add cream, stirring constantly until thickened. Add turkey, pimentos, and sherry and heat. Add small amount of sauce to slightly beaten egg yolks; stir into remaining mixture. Pour over cooked spaghetti. Put into casserole dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes in 300 degree oven. Serve with shaker of parmesan.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning

I jumped out of bed at 0-dark-thirty this morning. This isn't really a rare thing; I'm a very early riser as a rule. But this is Thanksgiving morning and I always bake pies at the crack of dawn on this day so they are as fresh as can be.

I did not get off to a good start. I pulled out all the ingredients, set them on the counter and whipped around at my usual high velocity..and knocked a dozen eggs to the floor. My kitchen floor is white marble. Transparent egg whites, especially at 0-dark-thirty, are near impossible to see. I did get it all cleaned up, but not before I walked through the sticky slimy mess and tracked in across the room on my way to the mop.

"Jeez," I thought to myself, "I hope this isn't an omen of how the day is going to go."

It wasn't, and the pies turned out perfect.

This year, we have a huge, HUGE, HUGE! turkey, weighing in at just over 24 lbs. This is not the biggest turkey I've cooked but it comes pretty darn close. Usually I make two different dressings, one in the 'fore' and the other in the 'aft,' but this year I'm making one, a cornbread and apple stuffing that's wonderful. (I cut the apples at just the right size so that there is a slight apple taste through the dressing and some really soft apples pieces throughout.)

I shove stuffing into the cavity. I don't spoon it in. I scrub my nails and hands and grab hold of it. This is this thing; I'm watching my hand with its little diamond chip on the pretty pink fingernail, go in and out of this big bird's ass end, and I'm thinking, "This is soooo me." And it is.

Would you like to see what a 24 lb stuffed bird looks like?

And to put it in perspective, here it is in the oven:

As you can see, it fills my oven. It'll cook for six hours.

I've used this lovely painted old turkey platter every year since I can remember:

Pretty, huh? And every year when i pull it out of storage, I know the holidays have truly begun.

There will be seven of us eating this turkey today. but, none of it will go to waste. in fact, I can promise you, it will be all gone by Monday. A lot of it will be taken up in a turkey tetrazzini that I'll make from scratch tomorrow. (It's a much anticipated tradition in my home.)

The next photo to show you, will be in a following post, and it will be a photo of the pretty platter with the finished product, all golden and juicy, on it. And I'll include the recipe of the tetrazzini.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. I'm so blessed with your friendship.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Me, The Red Faced Doggie Mama

Question; how many harried little Southern Italian mamas does it take to load a 100 lb rebelling dog into the back seat of a white compact car? One, if it's me. Yup, my darling dog, Abby, is ill again. It's not her fault; she has been cursed with a recurrent skin disease that covers her from the webs of her back toes to the dripping nostrils of her nose.

My son had been given strict orders; be home by 1:30 pm because I cannot get Abby into the car by myself. 1:30 came and went, 1:35..1:40...and it was clear to me that I was in this alone.

She was excited when I pulled out her pink leash. This is an enigma because I have never seen a dog who hated to ride in the car as much as she does. But it makes getting her out the door and to the car easy. Then the hard part comes; open the back seat door and she scrunches her rear end down into the ground and develops the hiney strength of Zeus.

I did, however, get her up and attum, tho she did tumble back to the ground once.

I talk to her calmly as we head down the road. I can hear her stomach heaving and I pray to God.

"Please God, let her hold it until I get there.." and my prayer is miraculously answered.

As I pull into the vet parking lot, my cell phone rings.

"Hi ma," its the man cave man.

"You are in trouble! I am not a happy mama. "Where were you??"

"Effen traffic ma!"

I'm thinking, "I wish I could boot your effen rump into that effen traffic right now."

Instead, I simply hang up on him.

Our vet's place is an animal hospital, not just, well, a vet's place. In fact our vet, Dr. Martin, teaches at Auburn University's veterinarian school.
So some of the clientele is rather rich and rather snooty. (I am not one of THOSE, trust me.)
And as chance has it, as I'm pulling my 100 lb cur out of the car, one of those rich Southern Magnolias is getting out of her BMW which is parked next to my little white compact car.

Abby scurries (as much as a 100 lb dog can scurry,) in front of her, hunches down and pees directly in front of this lady's classy black heels.

I scold Abby and apologise to Mrs. Magnolia, but what else can I do?

Abby and I head inside.

"Um, Abby just tee-teed in front of the door." The receptionist glances at Abby who wags her tail and belches.

I try to lighten the situation with humor.

"I've never had a daughter do that before."

She doesn't laugh.

I try to hold on to my dignity as we are soon led into the back room and head down the hall to what is known as 'the big dog room.' We are just about there when Abby rounds out her butt and to my horror, drops about the biggest bowel movement I have ever seen plop from the pooper of a living being.

The receptionist just stares at it. Then she looks up at me.

"I bet you never had a daughter do that before either, right?"

Dr. Martin soon checks Abby, gives us antibiotics and we head to the car, and what does Miss Abby do? yup, you got it..O0ps she did it agsin. Thank goodness there was no rich Mrs. Magnolia stepping out of the car next to us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Half Broke Horses; Jeannette Walls

It's a damp, dark, drizzling day today but rather than staying warm and dry inside my home, I am about to head out with my friend Cynthia to go up to Troy University where I will help her sort out data she had compiled for her doctoral dissertation. So, instead of writing something brand new, I'm going to share with you a book review I wrote earlier this morning.

>Half Broke Horses; Jeannette Walls

I was a little hesitant about this one because I read the reviews were not as good as they were for 'The Glass Castle.' You know what I have to say about that? I say, "Shame on those reviewers!" I think they said that because they wanted to jump on a band wagon filled with self proclaimed literary aficionados, who seem to believe that a great first book cannot possibly be followed with an equally as great second book! In this case, that is exactly what happened however; 'Half Broke Horses' is not only as good as 'The Glass Castle,' it compliments it. It fills in a background of the family and we learn that the spirit of the family members is an inherent thing.

'Half Broke Horses' is the story of Lily Casey Smith, the author's grandmother, whom we first meet in 'The Glass Castle.' What a woman! Without people like Lily, the west would never have been settled. She was beyond feisty; she had a spirit that was beyond any possibility of ever being 'broke.' In fact, she was the tamer of wild horses, the one who knew how to take a fall and get back into the saddle, who knew you don't sit around moping when the odds are against you but instead, you just find a different way to saddle up.

Lily was a horse trainer by nature, possibly one of the first horse whisperers ever. But 'Half Broke Horses' does not really have much to do with the wild mustangs but more to do with people, people who do not profit from broken spirits but who fly the fields with fire and gusto.

After reading this, we know why an elderly Rosemary Walls, Jeannette's mother, was perfectly comfortable living on the streets of NYC, why unconventionality was simply, well, conventional for her.

This was quite a book. I was a bit put off because it's called 'A True Life Novel.' But Walls explains that in her Author's Note. She says, in part:

"I wrote this story in the first person because I wanted to capture Lily's distinctive voice, which I clearly recall. At the time I didn't think of the book as fiction. Lily Casey Smith was a very real woman, and to say that I created her or the events of her life is giving me more credit than I'm due. However, since I don't have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing - and I've changed as few names to protect people's privacy - the only honest thing to do is to call the book a novel."

When I read that, I immediately thought of James Frey and all the hoopla that erupted when it came out that his memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," was in fact, not all true. and I wondered if that is why Walls labelled her book the way she did.

Regardless of that, I was as enamoured with this book as much as I was with Walls first.

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