Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A List

While with my extended family over the weekend, I started to really notice the contrasts between my in laws and my family of origin. We are so different it's almost a cross-cultural marriage. Don't get me wrong, I love my in laws and enjoy my visits with them - they are gracious and wonderful. But they are New York City Undecided Voters and we are Rural Midwest Democrats. Johnny C has an uncle who falls in the middle, but anyway here are my observations:

Things common with me and my family that you'd
NEVER see at my in laws
The tub of dog food in the kitchen, bound with duct tape, and two BB guns leaning nearby
The campfire pit, and cast iron cookware for that fire
The cooler full of Heineken, Corona and Berryweis on the deck
The giant grill - almost always in full use including to cook the morning bacon
What feels like 10 dogs underfoot
The recycling bin filled to the top with wine bottles
Live chickens
An "Oh, Evolve!" bumper sticker
Cousin S stepping on the dead rooster carcass to rip out feathers for her hat
The constantly running coffee maker with spilled coffee all around
Candles burnt to the nub
Lumber, firewood, and old doors stacked on the side of the house
Piles of books on politics, cooking, and history
Raised bed gardens
Cars coated with gravel dust
Water rings on the coffee table
Greg Brown, Dixie Chicks, and Big Band CD's
Women in hiking shoes

Things common with my in laws that you'd NEVER see in my family
The matching towel set for show in the bathroom
The continuously clean kitchen counters
A beautifully decorated laundry room
The fully stocked bar, and I mean a bar actually built into the living room
Decorative candles
Covers for the patio furniture
Cut glass relish plates
Matching clothes
Appetizer forks
Women in high heels
A very very clean gas grill

Things we have in common
Funny kids
Picnics in parks
Ice skating
Growing tomatoes and basil
Dean Martin
Women in sneakers
"Everybody Loves Raymond"
Great cooks

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Terrorist, Thug or Good American?

You are a cowardly terrorist if you . . .

make death threats, or threaten your opponent's family and friends

use your media pulpit to dehumanize your opponent

vandalize property to instill fear

display images or props meant to intimidate or spark fear, such as a noose or gun sights

are a public figure, and you use violent language or images that encourage bodily harm to your foes

are a public figure, and knowingly stir up the disturbed among us

carry a sign stating you will physically harm anyone who disagrees with you

threaten to come armed to any meetings

DO come armed to a public gathering

Plant bombs or act as a sniper

publish the home address or phone number of your "enemy"

fly a plane into a building, ANY building, to make a point

block anyone from their civil rights

lie to the American public so you can send troops into combat

send combat troops into an area without provocation

You're a fit-throwing idiot thug if you

Block all political plans, just cuz you can

Shout out at other elected officials during assembly or speeches

Believe everything the mainstream media, or FOX news tells you without looking into it yourself.

In my world, you're a good American if you:

Vote in every election

Get informed about the candidates and the issues. If we still disagree, fine.

Write to your representatives

Use your rights to free speech without threats or intimidation

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble and protest

Meet with your fellow Americans to discuss and exchange ideas

Read your history books

Keep on open mind

Question authority, and demand answers

Monday, March 22, 2010

True or False?

I see this giant gulf between Right America and Left America growing wider every day. But is it the truth, or just the result of a blood thirsty media fanning the flames and seeking ever more outlandish sound bytes and headlines? You'd swear there are no reasonable people left in the United States.

However I see exceptions every day, and our media pretends these people don't exist.

Starting with me, there are millions of card-carrying feminists who really love their husbands, enjoy their kids, happily stay home (or stayed home for a while), and bake tons of cookies. We have pretty conservative lifestyles and much of our days are split along traditional sex roles. We aren't forced here, we WANT to be here. I love my Suzy Homemaker tendencies, but would fight to the death over another woman's right to chose a thousand different lifestyles.

There are millions of Americans who could never imagine choosing an abortion, but would never take that right away from anyone else. They don't WANT to invade someone's privacy! They don't WANT the Government to make those decisions.

Americans exist who consider themselves Christian, but you won't hear it from their lips. Instead they display their love for their fellow man by volunteering. They pray in private as the scriptures dictate. They don't feel the need to parade their religion around like an Olympic medal.

A great deal of folks want every one's health care covered, but are worried how we'll pay for it. They have reasonable questions, but can't be heard over the shouting.

There are a lot of solid military types who think we have no business in Iraq.

Most immigrants are working hard, sometimes two or three nasty jobs, and learning English.

A lot of registered Republicans are disgusted with Bush's deficit, and humiliated by the name-calling and buffoonery coming out of their party leaders.

Plenty of Americans live simple lives and are happy with a good laugh, time with friends & family, and a nice meal.

Everyday, in public schools across the nation, kids are safe and well educated.

Not one adult gives a rat's ass about Tiger Woods.

But none of these folks will make the Evening News.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain

Have you come to seek the crone's counsel? Let me share the things I've learned . . . . . .

Some microwave popcorn is just destined to burn, No matter what.

Cleaning the kitchen is a thankless, never-ending, mind-numbing task.

Some people just wait for an opportunity to bitch. They live for it. They look for it.

If you live in a small house, don't prepare fresh fish.

Anyone born after 1970 who becomes a smoker is a numbskull.

Teenage daughters will rip out the very heart that loves them fiercely. And yet we still pack them a cold lunch. Only the Great Spirit knows why.

It's true what they say about a man with big hands. He wears big gloves.

Many winters will come and go before Fox News speaks the truth, Beware the Fox.

There is always ketchup in the frig . . . . until you need it.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Look what I made!!
Here's my "recipe" for friend Kit. I don't follow recipes to a T, but you shouldn't have any trouble with this one. The photos are all out of order because blogger hates me and changes the formatting rules every day.

Note: I use a Kitchenaid Mixer - I highly recommend one.
Put hot water in a mixing bowl to warm it up.
Get ready 1 cup of warm water that's about 105-110 degrees - use a candy thermometer.
Dump the hot water out of the bowl, and add your exact cup of warm water.
To that add
2 1/4 t. yeast (or one pkg)
About 1T sugar
Stir until yeast is dissolved and let it "proof" for about 5 minutes - just let it sit there.

Then add:
1T good olive oil
1/2 t salt
2.5 cups flour
Seasonings if you like - Italian blend, minced garlic, dried oregano, what have you

Get this stirring - either by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook attached.
Gradually add more floor, a heaping spoonful at a time, until dough clings to the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. Don't use more than 3.5 cups.
Knead well. On my mixer, that's 5 minutes.

Put dough into a greased bowl, turn to coat, cover bowl, and let rise until double in bulk, about one hour.
Here's where you can use your imagination and get creative. All ingredients are approximate.

Spinach artichoke filling
A bunch (1/2 bag?) of chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta
1 beaten egg
1 jar marinated artichokes, drained, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
2-4 cloves garlic, minced and barely sauteed.
Piles of shredded mozzarella - to taste

Sausage filling
1 lb hot Italian sausage, browned and drained
Piles of shredded mozzarella - to taste
1 cup ricotta
1 cup marinara sauce
2-4 cloves garlic, minced and barely sauteed.

Preheat the oven to 400 with a pizza stone or cookie sheet inside. Sprinkle your cooking surface well with corn meal.

Get a large area ready for dough rolling. I use a large wood cutting board with rubber mats underneath to keep it still. Get some flour. Sprinkle about 2T of flour on your surface and smear it around. Also put some on your rolling pin.

Pull out your dough ball. It will deflate! Separate into 4 chunks (will make 4 calzones serving 2 each) or into 8 chunks (making single serving calzones)

Roll a ball out until it's about 1/4" thick. Put a pile of your filling in the middle of the bottom half of the circle - leave about a 1" margin. Fold the dough over the top to make a half circle. Using both hands, "twist" the edges together with your fingers thereby sealing your pocket. Pierce the top 4-5 times with a fork. Don't forget that step!!!!

Beat an egg. Brush the tops of the calzones with the beaten egg.

Using a large spatula or pizza peel, place calzone on the hot surface. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until filling is bubbling through the holes and the crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is Friggin Awesome

Thanks Sis!

Happy St. Patty's

This video is now my yearly tradition. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Minnesota Spring

To most of the nation, Spring means flowers and green grass in March. To Minnesotans, signs of Spring are much more subtle. We have to look really hard for clues, while suffering through at least 2-3 more quick-melting snowstorms. Here's what Spring looks like here:

The exposure of previously snow-buried crud in yards.

We remove the Christmas lights from the roof.

When I switch out the heated mattress pad for the regular one.

Glowing orbs of white people in shorts.

When the screens come down from the garage rafters, and make their way back to windows.

The sounds of blackbirds and crows, with a few robins thrown in.

Guys get their sports cars out. No one drives their beautiful sports cars in the winter here - the road salt and sand will reduce it to the frame in two years.

We start buying iced coffee.

We just look right past the large piles of dirty snow.

Guys start pulling their ice fishing houses off the lake.

I switch from Fox River and SmartWool socks to regular socks.

We quit wearing long underwear UNDER our PJ's.

We throw open the windows when it's 45 degrees and sunny.

We start to notice our car kinda smells. Whatever smells used to be frozen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vintage Sisters

Today's vintage photo theme is SISTERS. Sisters are a big theme in my family. My Grandma had four of them, my Mom had two, I had two, and I gave birth to three. There were brothers involved, but anyone who has sisters knows how strong, and sometimes nasty, that bond can be.
I love my own sisters more than I can say - they are my best friends and my biggest supporters.

Above is Cheesecake Maven, Sister #2, and me at the piano. CM did an oil painting of this setting while in high school. CM made me so mad right around this age that I bit a chunk of skin out of her shoulder. Then Mom cried and I felt horrible.

Another quiet evening at home.

CM, Me, and a baby Sister #2.
Whenever I see photos of this couch, I remember when it caught on fire from a fireplace spark. Mom took the smoking cushion outside and my brother and I took turns peeking into the burn hole to see if it was still smoldering.

The sisters I gave birth to.

My SIL (on the right) and her sis - another close pair.

A more recent photo of CM, me, and Sister #2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dear Drivers

Dear folks attending the crowded school event. I know the parking lots are covered with ice and snow, and our harsh winters often erase the painted lines. But if Luciano Pavarotti and William Howard Taft could link arms and stand hip-to-generous-hip between your car and the next, you're parked too far away, and you're probably taking up two spaces.

Hey you, yeah you with the giant SUV. See how your front end is dangerously close to the car parked on your left, but your rear end is kissing the car to your right? That's because you aren't parked straight. Fix it. Now.

Hey Old Guy, your turn signal is on.

Dearest new teen driver. Contrary to what your Mother told you, you really aren't that special. You cannot text, talk, run your iPod, drink Red Bull, and drive well all at the same time. And frankly you don't drive so well under the best of circumstances. So put down the phone, buckle up, and take the ear plugs out. The life you save might be your own, but it also might be MINE or the life of someone I love!!!

Hello macho guy. Pushing hard on your accelerator in no way demonstrates your manhood, your aggression, your sexual prowess, nor your physical strength. My Grandma can floor a gas pedal. We all can. It's no big talent.

Dear Suburbanite in the Hummer, we're all laughing at you.

Hey kid. Listen up. You are getting into my paid-for van to come over to my house to play with my kid, eat my food, watch my tv, and tear up my lawn. If you make one more comment about how old my vehicle is, or how I don't have two sliding doors, or how yours is much nicer I will drop you off at the closest police station, tell them I found a gun in your back pack, you were making bomb threats on your facebook page, and you molested our cat.

To the NICE Minnesotans. It's not good manners to let people go before you at 4-way stops. It's confusing. And annoying. If you were the first one there GO! If we got there at the same time and you're on the right GO! If you aren't crossing traffic GO! If it's your turn GO! If you don't know the rules of 4-way stops take another route. or get educated.

That's my Kid!

This is my daughter's small ensemble at Saturday's concert. I won't tell you which one is her, because I'm under strict instructions from the girl herself. Proud Mama here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Great TV shows of childhood #2

So, you can probably tell by my post that I didn't watch the Oscars. It's no fun when I haven't seen most of the movies. Even making fun of the gowns didn't appeal to me this year.

Hawaii 5-0, or as my Grandma called it "Hawaii VO-5", wasn't always watched, but that theme song!! They take the Oscar for best TV show theme song ever. Book 'em Danno.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Recovery?

I've been hearing and reading a lot about recovery - and how we're "in it".
But how do we define recovery?. I certainly don't define it by stocks going up, and corporate profits soaring.

I don't think Americans expect more from life than they put in. But they certainly don't expect a kick in the teeth for being a working stiff, or for having a few kids, or for getting sick.

Here are some of my definitions:

When the only people out of work are those who truly can't, or won't, work.

When everyone has a clean, safe place to live.

When no one goes hungry, except Renee Zellweger.

When every kid in America can fully participate in school sports, arts, and other activities without extreme financial stress on their families.

When every city has completely adequate first responder coverage.

When working families can maintain a working automobile without sweating every repair.

When parks, trails, etc are not only open, but maintained.

When the budgets of schools, social agencies, etc are fully funded.

When tuition at state schools is affordable to all.

When families can have one parent home, with reasonable sacrifice of income. Meaning clipping coupons, buying used cars, etc.

When there is no such thing as medical bankruptcy.

How do YOU define recovery?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Barney Fife remembers the Preamble

We were mad crazy for this show at our house. My brother and I would nearly wet our pants at this one.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

TV Shows of Childhood #1

I freakin loved this show, mostly because I had a school girl crush on Randolph Mantooth. Those wacky 70's first responders!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vintage Family Vacations

More vintage family slides. And the theme this post is vacations!
Above we have my two sisters, heading up the boat at Lake Kabetogama, MN.

Our trip to Disneyland about 1967. Above is me on left, and sister Cheesecake Maven on the right, wearing the sweaters my Mom had made. Behind us the March Hare is getting my brother's attention. Sister #2 was just a baby and stayed at our friend's house.

We made several trips out west to stay with relatives in California and Colorado. One even involved a car trip on Route 66. I'll never forget onion rings made from chopped onions in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Back to Kabetogama circa 1973

My brother at Knott's Berry Farm, California. Mom knitted that sweater too.

At the cousins' house, Barstow, California, 1967

In front of the Roy Rodgers museum, where they actually have his horse Trigger stuffed and mounted. I'm noticing that we wore the same outfits pretty much every day.

Again Kabetogama, our yearly fishing pilgrimage. This was probably 1975 when my adolescence took an ugly turn into straight hair and big glasses.

Above the travel weary family getting off the train in California. My parents had planned to "see the West" by train, but after a very loooonnnnggg trip with whiny kids, they bought plane tickets back home.