Thursday, August 30, 2007

Better Than Spam Subject Lines

The other night D. and I stumbled upon one of the most unintentionally (I think?... I hope?) hilarious shows ever on PBS. It was a documentary about the Cat Fancier's Association International Cat Show. Best in Show? It's got NOTHING on cat people. NOTHING. I wish I could give every one of you the gift of watching that documentary.

Instead I'll give you a sampling of some past winners' names and pictures.

Enjoy. You can thank me later.

Budmar's Beyonce of Inthewind

Catsafrats Shine On of Agonistes

Fuzzy-Foot's Confetti of Deydream

Grand Premier Noblessa's Peace Maker of Stunning

Heartbeeps Stardust (my personal favorite cat name EVER!!)

Kissables Sensation (no, wait....this one's my favorite! Really!)

Velva's Bulletproof of Heartbeeps

Wishes Powder Sugar (that other stuff about favorite cat names? I take it back. Because this one's the best. For real)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Almost better than Lindsey Lohan's "The cocaine pants weren't mine" excuse is Senator Craig's "I have a wide stance."

I believe you meant a "wide, STRAIGHT, stance," Senator, right?

Monday, August 27, 2007

So Long, Alberto Gonzales.

What can I say? It's been a particularly busy week.

So okay.

My daughter started 7th grade the same day we started our new term. The students are especially needy the first few weeks (I can't blame them). My boyfriend had a birthday and we celebrated by going to someone else's birthday party. I have a lot to make up for. I managed to make a birthday dinner, but otherwise I haven't done near enough spoiling of this wonderful man. Not to mention the fact that he's put up with me this past week while I've been a Certified Crazy Person. I'll be making up for a lot.

Tell me, oh wise it bad parenting to allow your 12 year-old daughter to attend a rock concert with her friend, unsupervised, in Oklahoma City? She seems to think it's a perfectly reasonable and safe thing to do. OF COURSE SHE DOES. I'm thinking I'm going to have go with a "No go" on this one and be the Worst Mother in the World....yet again.

We've tried to find time for relaxation and fun:

D.'s messy and delicious cake. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream complemented it nicely.

Birthday dinner table.

Birthday dinner: ribeye steaks, grilled portabellos, herb mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, salad, and crusty bread.

Chicklet doing her job (being cute).

Ahhh, life in the South. Yeah....those civil rights we take for granted SURE DO SUCK!!

Back seat passengers.

Stella driving a golf cart for the first time and scaring the bejeezus out of me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Simple Request

Just once it'd be nice if my students arrived with no drama or issues.

But I guess that's too much to ask when you're coordinating 13 different flights from seven different countries. Somehow a wheelchair battery disappeared between Frankfurt and Chicago. Kind of an important piece of luggage, I'd say...since it's loss renders the wheelchair ABSOLUTELY USELESS.

This is supposed to be D.'s birthday weekend. I've got to get out of town, like, now so I'll stop obsessing and yelling at airline personnel.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Even More Food

Umm, in case you haven't noticed I've been particularly obsessed with food and cooking this week. Maybe it was having to eat exclusively in restaurants while on the bus trip. Maybe it's because the farmers' markets are super enticing right now. Maybe it's just because I love to cook and eat. Whatever it is, here's a sampling of the meals that came out of our kitchen last week:

Mahi Mahi poached in a lemon/olive oil/artichoke heart/basil sauce. Couscous with toasted pine nuts and a caprese salad.

Poached eggs on toast with heirloom tomato slices and fresh pesto.

Farmers' Market bouquet and brunch.

This was a dish I invented. It's baby eggplant, sliced and broiled, then layered with roasted red peppers, fresh tomato sauce, goat cheese and herbs, topped with parmesan and bread crumbs and baked a while.

Fettuccine with sautéed shrimp, lemon juice, white wine, fresh herbs and haricots verts (fancy French green beans).

Key lime pie sorbet with raspberries! This was much easier than I thought it would be.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Speak of the Devil...

...and he comes to your public library!

From the Fayetteville Public Library web site:

Anthony Bourdain, author, chef and host of No Reservationson the Travel Channel Speaks at FPL
Friday, October 19 at 7 pm.

This is more exciting than when Wilco played here!

His latest blog entry for Top Chef is, as usual, on-point and a total riot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oprah Moment

I was running some errands the other day....just going about my day when the immensity of this thought stopped me cold:

"I am happy."

Some of you who are reading this have known me a very long time, others not so much. Either way, this is kind of a big deal. I've been through some shit, as they say. I've worked really hard to get here but also realize that despite all my hard work there's something indefinable...maybe kismet, luck, chance, fate, who thank for where I am.

I'm in the best relationship I've ever been in. I have the best job I've ever had. My daughter's doing about as well as a middle-schooler can do. I have a plethora of supportive and diverse friendships. I feel stable, fulfilled, blessed, challenged, and very, very lucky.

Gratitude - it feels good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Triple Digit Temps

I have an ice cream maker and I'm not afraid to use it.

What are the best homemade ice cream flavors?

Nothing More Than Feelings

Marty directed me to the coolest site - We Feel Fine. What a great idea, to trawl the web looking for any mention of "feeling" and then take the writer's data to hypothesize what cities are happiest, guiltiest, etc.

It's hypnotic, the application where you can randomly click on a bubble and it gives you a feeling.

I'm proud to note that Fayetteville is listed as one of the "greatest" cities. How do I feel about that? Oh, JUST GREAT.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cold Comfort?

This picture seems to be everywhere today. It creeps me out. I can't figure it out. Rove looks sad? Emotional? In trouble? GWB looks paternal? Authoritative?

Curse You, Perseids

I'm awake past midnight on a Sunday night. I've been drinking iced coffee in preparation. I slathered myself in Skin So Soft and ventured from the cool cocoon of the bedroom.

Now I want to see some f'in METEORS, dammit!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

This Just In:

It's too hot to think.

If you want to see me, you'll have to come to my house where I'll be downstairs in the air conditioning. Please bring chilled sauvignon blanc, sliced watermelon, and good gossip.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Things NOT To Do On A Much-Needed Day Off

  • Work
  • Get my oil changed
  • Drag boyfriend along to hair appointment
  • Drag boyfriend along to David's Bridal
  • Try on bridesmaid dresses
  • Drive all over tarnation
  • Get lost taking daughter to friend's house
  • Fight with boyfriend

One day I'll learn to take my own advice.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thoughts On: Anthony Bourdain

I first became acquainted with this guy (or his persona, rather) when I read Kitchen Confidential. It was a fully entertaining read, but he came off like an egotistical, macho, badass, thinks-he's-god chef dude (are there any other types?). That kind of masculinity just grosses me out. So I didn't read any of his other books and disregarded his Travel Channel show, No Reservations.

But then something strange started to happen. I happened to watch one episode of No Reservations and started to like what I saw. He seemed more humble, curious, respectful and dryly funny than I remembered. Then he wrote an incredible essay for Salon about being in Beirut when Israel started its attack on Lebanon.

Not too much later my obsession with Top Chef and all things Bravo TV-related reached full force levels. He was a guest judge on the second season of Top Chef and was so hilarious and his critiques were spot-on, it seemed. I started to watch his show more often.

I must say, I'm a fan now. It's true. He's grown on me. I find him hysterically funny and truthful but not necessarily mean-spirited in his observations. His Top Chef blog is now a weekly read. And I really do like his show, even when he's somewhere in Africa eating antelope anus smeared with ashes. Don't ask me to talk about that any more, please.

So...well done, Mr. Bourdain. You've caused me to completely change my opinion. That's a good and rare thing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

All Discussion and No Pictures

Forget American history, racism, or international relations....let's get back to more important topics, like food.

I mostly ate nasty road food on the trip. There were a few exceptions. We were served a traditional southern feast at the Davies Plantation - fried okra, ham, turnip greens, mac n' cheese, fresh sliced garden cucumbers and tomatoes, and something our cook would only call "pineapple casserole." It appeared to involve a combination of canned pineapple, Velveeta cheese, and crushed Cheez-Its on top. I shit you not. I'd be lying if I said it didn't taste as bad as it sounds.

And on my last night in D.C. I treated myself to an insanely beautiful and delicious sushi dinner. I'm talking thinly sliced flounder laid flat and topped with shiso leaves, fried carrot bits and truffle oil. Or salmon ceviche with finely sliced red onions, shiso again, and ikura....all sweet and salty and creamy and crunchy and spicy and sour in one bite. I spent three hours eating such things and sipping cold sake. It was perfect.

But I missed cooking when I was gone. So tonight I stopped by ONF and Richard's Meat Market, deciding on fennel bulbs, green tomatoes, watermelon, fresh sage and pork tenderloin. I baked the tenderloin in white wine, fresh sage and rosemary. I knew I wanted that fennel but wasn't sure how it was all going to work out. I carmelized some thinly-sliced Vidalia onions and added the sliced fennel bulb. At the last minute I julienned (as best as possible) the green tomatoes and threw them in. I thought the carmelized onions would be sweet, the fennel would add an interesting twist and the tomatoes would add some tang. I made my standard salad (mixed greens, toasted pecans, blue cheese, red pepper, cucumber w/ mustard-sherry vinaigrette), but then I wanted the fennel/onion/green tomato mixture to have some kick so I added a dash of Sriracha sauce to it. I wasn't sure how the "flavor profile (someone watches too much Top Chef)" would come out. Plus, I never really know how the meat will cook. I was raised vegetarian and even though I've been cooking meat for years it always feels like a crazy experiment.

It turned out pretty well, especially with a bottle of Spanish rosé Angela had brought over once.

The watermelon was for dessert. SO GOOD! I could eat my weight in watermelon in the summertime.

Monday, August 06, 2007

How The Students Saw Me

This was funny.

I have a bunch of the students' photographs on my computer because I am putting them all together. I don't have many pictures of myself and now I have a ton and it's weird to see how I look through another's camera. Apparently I spent most of the trip on the phone, bent over my notebook, sweating, holding my hair up, and squinting.

I did get interviewed by a local television station in Greensboro, though!

Home, Sweet Home

I got home last night after taking just about every form of modern transportation available (except for a boat) to get home. We took a cab to Union Station in DC, a train to BWI airport stop, a shuttle bus to the actual airport, a plane to Newark, another plane to Arkansas and then my own car back home. HOME! Finally.

I've never been so happy to return to a hotter-than-hell, flea-ridden house!

The weekend in Washington was eventful, just like everything else. We were busy with the conference so I didn't get a chance to see anything that I wanted to see. But I'll go back when D. and Stella and I can go together and be as touristy as we want to be.

I really just wanted to walk around taking pictures of buildings.
This one was in Atlanta, actually, across from the King Center.

Washington seems to have nothing but beautiful old buildings like these.

And these.

I think this is the FBI building. I thought it was appropriately forboding and impenetrable-looking.

You know, monuments and stuff.

It wouldn't have really been appropriate for the students to see me flipping it off, now would it?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bear With Me!

I just got in trouble with my dad for not posting a daily entry. I will. Just not now.

We're in DC. Every single minute has something planned. I have to pay $12 an f'in day for internet access at this fancy schmancy hotel and wouldn't have time to use it anyway. I'll try to get up early enough tomorrow to head across the street to the cafe where there's free wireless, good coffee, and best of all....PEACE AND QUIET!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Birmingham, Atlanta, and Greensboro

We needed more time in Birmingham. We needed more time everywhere, but Birmingham is the crux of the whole damn thing, the symbolic center of the struggle for civil rights. And there we were, staying in a hotel located at the outskirts of the city. Once we drove downtown, though, I could sense a change. The students are interested in the events and the historical repercussions, but this is my country. This is my ugly history. Being downtown where the fire hoses and dogs were turned on the protesters was an unsettling experience.

We went to the 16th Street Baptist Church. The students wanted to discuss the finer points of the movement. They're at the age where they are just understanding how things fit into a spectrum of history and global power dynamics. They ask the best questions and make connections I would never think to make.

We drove on to Atlanta. The King Center is a sprawling complex in downtown Atlanta. We were shadowed by a no-nonsense reporter and her jovial photographer. We walked and walked, listened, talked, and walked some more. There are dozens of pandhandlers who swarm the visitors to the center. Are they taking advantage of white guilt, black guilt or just tourists in general?

Yesterday and last night we were in Greensboro. A woman from the International Civil Rights Museum spoke to the students. She was a mesmerizing speaker and a fascinating woman. She spoke to them about the importance of democratic participation, of divisions between blacks and whites and within the black community, of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, of current ingrained racism. She took us down to the original Woolworth's, which is under construction and will eventually become the International Civil Rights Museum. Everyone sat at the very same counter where the Greensboro Four sat in 1960. There were smiles as we all sat together, and then tears when it started to sink in.

It was our last night before we go to Washington. The end is looming in our minds and weighing heavy on our hearts. We're hugging each other a lot.

Today will be a long day on the bus.