Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Comfort Food Favorite

Many of you have inspired me to cook and share some of my favorite comfort food. When I was a child, my father made Menudo on a regular basis; a staple of the Mexican diet. Although I loved the Menudo, I was not a fan of the tripe. My mother would always remove the tripe from my serving so I could enjoy. As an adult, I discovered Pozole. It was an answer to my prayers; the best of Menudo without the tripe. Here is my favorite Pozole recipe.

Green Pozole with Chicken

9 cups water
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 large white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds (not roasted; 2 1/4 oz)
1 lb tomatillos, husked
2 fresh jalapeño chiles, quartered (including seeds)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (15-oz) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained (I usually double this)

Accompaniments: diced radish; cubed avocado tossed with lime juice; shredded white cabbage; chopped white onion with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

Cook chicken:
Bring 8 cups water, bay leaf, half of onion, half of garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil, covered, in a 6-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken and poach at a bare simmer, uncovered, skimming off any foam, until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool. Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids, and reserve. When chicken is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred with your fingers.

Make sauce while chicken cools:
Cook pumpkin seeds in a dry small skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until puffed but not browned (seeds will pop as they puff), 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely, then finely grind in coffee/spice grinder.

Simmer tomatillos and remaining onion in remaining cup water in a 3-quart saucepan, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain vegetables and purée in a blender with jalapeños, 1/4 cup cilantro, epazote, remaining garlic, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add purée (use caution as it will splatter and steam). Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds and 1 cup reserved broth and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, hominy, and 3 more cups (I sometimes will add 2-3 additional cups of the broth to account for the extra hominy) reserved broth and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes.

Nadine waiting for the Pozole

Serve pozole in deep bowls with accompaniments and toasted corn tortillas.

My, How You've Grown!

a promotional picture from his West End play, Equus
First Dakota Fanning and now this.....is the world ready for a sexy Harry Potter??????

Monday, January 29, 2007

Are you getting fresh with me????


POSTED: 7:17 am PST January 29, 2007


Call him Lazarus -- and then some.

Veterinarians in Florida say a plucky duck that survived two days in a refrigerator after being shot by a hunter has done it again -- this time after apparently dying on the operating table.Perky had been shot earlier this month and put into the hunter's refrigerator. Then the hunter's wife opened the door and the duck lifted its head, giving her a scare.

Saturday, Perky was declared dead during surgery, but veterinarians said it perked up a few seconds later after some chest compressions and oxygen.Wildlife rehabilitator Noni Beck of Goose Creek Wildlife Sanctuary said the duck is sensitive to the anesthesia and won't be having surgery again anytime soon.

This post was especially for Tanya, my friend who believes in the beauty of all living things.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Friday Night Tasting

I am sure that many of us have seen the movie Sideways. And, for any wine geeks like myself, it is akin to Citizen Kane. I was so obsessed with this movie, that I went out and purchased the novel. And, as with most movies, the book was infinitely better. That is not to say that the movie wasn't still great, but I longed to see the additional chapters and scenes in the book played out by the two characters in the movie.

The initial chapter of the book starts with a Friday night tasting at a local wine bar that the main character, Miles, routinely attends. The narrative of the cast of characters at the tasting was genius.... You had the wine snob that carried around his Riedel Sommlier Grand Cru Burgundy glasses in a velvet lined box; only to end up drinking $15.00 Pinot in his $90.00 glass. Then, the frightened wine rep huddled in the corner grasping the last bottle of the tasting as if she was guarding the lost arc. And lastly, the various drunken oenophiles causing general disruption while arguing the nuances of the wine. As I read the chapter, I found the exaggerated scene completely entertaining if not a bit over the top. That was until Craig started working at a new wine bar in town as a consultant.

Friday night tastings usually showcase one or two wineries with several varietals from each. If the bar is really lucky, a rep from the winery will be in attendance with wine in tow as they work the room. Generally, I stay away from the Friday night tasting. After a long week at work, I really don't want to fight for a spot at the bar to drink my $5.00 flight, when I could be relaxing at home with my very own bottle of wine and catching up with my TIVO . However, I had dropped a co-worker off near the wine bar and decided to bite the bullet. As luck would have it, there was an opening right in the middle of the bar next to one of the regulars, Tom, and right in Craig's line of pouring. Since I am an avid people watcher, I looked forward to checking out the scene. Tom and I had meet a couple of times before and he remembered that I had catered the Champagne tasting the previous month. We chatted back and forth about wine and local restaurants, the general foodie chatter.... During our conversation, a large group to my left waved to get my attention.

"Are you Michelle, Craig's girlfriend? We were starting to think that you didn't exist."

They were all staring at me with smiles. I felt obligated to do or say something brilliant.... But, all I could come up with was.... "Yes; did you think I was a figment of his imagination?" They sent over a pour from the bottle they were consuming. Now I had three glasses of wine in front of me. The evening was looking better and better. I raised my glass to them and thanked them for the gift. They went back to talking amongst themselves and I resumed my conversation with Tom. However, Tom and I were having a difficult time hearing one another over a pompous ass sitting on the far right of the bar.

I turned my attention to the ass... I noticed that he had two open bottles sitting in front of him that I did not recognize, two glasses that had writing on them that the bar did not carry, a stack of business cards, and a wine bag (usually a insulated backpack that most wine salesmen use). My mind immediately jumped to a conversation that I had with Craig a few weeks earlier about a local vintner that had shown up one Friday bringing in his own wine and pouring it into glasses of the bar's patrons while asking the bar owners if his winery can be showcased in an upcoming Friday tasting..... This was that guy!!! And, he was up to the same thing even though he was asked to not do so.... He was trying to make eye contact with me after he noticed that my wine glass was on the verge of being empty. Was I then next intended victim to have his swill poured into my glass???

Soon enough, the large party on my left was opening up their second bottle and the noise level was beginning to elevate. Eventually, the majority of patrons had abandoned the flight tasting and were now taking full bottles from the retail side to open and enjoy. Mr. Ass and Mrs. Ass were debating about what to do for dinner. They decided to order sushi from the restaurant a few doors down because, as Mr. Ass put it, "I still have three bottles of wine in my bag". This guy was unbelievable. He comes in, brings his own wine, starts pouring his swill into the glasses of others and he is going to hunker down with a plate of sashimi from the sushi restaurant. Doesn't he understand how this looks? If you're pouring free wine into people's glasses, they won't buy anything from the bar, let alone purchase anything from the retail side.

Eventually, the asses were ambushing patrons, criticizing the bar's pour and offering up their swill. When they had run out of wine glasses, they sent their ambush victims to request empty glasses from the staff. This became a bit of a production after the staff questioned why they needed an empty glass and what wine were they drinking. The gentleman explained that he was being offered wine from a patron and they had run out of glasses. The staff was fuming and the asses realized that they had been spotted.... The staff was now huddled together questioning the ambush victim and discussing the audacity of Mr. Ass amongst themselves. Around this time, one of the owners of the bar had just arrived and was informed of the disruption (more huddling). She went over and requested that they cease and desist, so to speak. Mr. and Mrs Ass get an earful as she explains that it's disrespectful to their business as well as the winery that they are showcasing during this evening's tasting. She coolly levels the final blow by asking them, "And how would you feel if we allowed someone to do this to you during your tasting or conducted ourselves this way in your place of business? Please do not pour anymore of your wine for our guests. Please just put it away." Dirty Harriet was in the house.

Following their tongue lashing, the asses finished their sushi in silence, settled up their bill and quietly limped out of the bar. At the other end of the bar, other forms of ambushing continued, at least for me. The rowdy party to my left had moved closer to my direction and started to engage me in a conversation about Wal Mart and Costco. One of the ladies slurred her hatred for the big W and informed me that she was from Marin....."iiss hard when you come fro where I come from. iiss not easssy to shop in those shhtores." I swear I felt a bit of her spit hit my face. No longer was this scene reminiscent of "Sideways"....I was getting a definite "Barfly" feel. Any moment Mickey Rourke was going to saddled down beside me.

It may have been my first and last Friday night tasting......

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stop the Insanity!!!

Will this trainwreck ever burn out??????

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"And how would you like your anus prepared?"

Last night I watched one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Let me start with a little background on Mr. Bourdain. Currently, he is the executive chef of Brasserie Les Halles and rose to fame after penning the tell all book, Kitchen Confidential. For those of us in the culinary world, it was a must read page turner. Anthony exposed all the dirty little secrets of kitchens from the most respected restaurants to the neighborhood dives. What I love most about Tony is his sarcastic wit and his love of all things culinary.

In addition to his chef duties, he hosts a show on the Travel Channel. We get to experience travel through Tony and his belief that one should be a traveler, not a tourist. This means that our man may find himself in some very odd places eating some very scary things.

This week he ventured to Namibia (yes, that Namibia where Brangelina took center stage awaiting the birth of their daughter, Shilo). The show started out simply enough with Anthony at a mussel farm and eating some street food, but soon enough, he had join the bushmen to experience the hunt and preparation of their dietary staples.

At first, the bushmen lead Tony to an ostrich egg find. Okay, that seems rather harmless.....that's until you find out how it is prepared. The bushmen then cracked the egg into the dirt and remnants of a previous fire. They then covered the egg in additional dirt and soot to allow the egg to cook in the heat of the bush. After what seemed like an eternity, they handed Tony a pile of the egg. Just imagine dropping your IHOP omelet in the dirt...

Considering that this is what the bushmen survive on, Tony had no choice but to be gracious as he quietly picked out dirt clods and ash from his "Ostrich Omelet". After "brunch" Tony was then led on a warthog hunting expedition...

For some reason, images of the meal to follow were not added to the show's website....I wonder why??? After slaughtering and cooking every conceivable part of the hog, they offered Tony the delicacy of the beast. You guessed it! Warthog Anus....YUM! If you have a squeamish stomach you may not want to read any further.....

Apparently, if the anus is full, it is more of a delicacy and this warthog was packing. I have to hand it to Tony, not only did he take a bite, he finished his portion and complimented the chef. WHOA! I remember when he was in Iceland and had deemed a dish of putrid aged cured fish as the worst thing that he has ever eaten. I suspect that this opinion has changed and rightfully so. Tony believes that in order to truly travel in a foreign country, you must be fearless in your willingness to experience all that is offered. Never more, has this belief been put to the test.

Now, I ask you....some of us are willing to kiss some ass, but how many of us are prepared to eat it?????

Sunday, January 21, 2007

School Assembly or Dildo Party?

So, one of the ladies at work hosted a "Passion Party" at her home. Some of us were there to pick up a few things and some of us were there to get our drink on and giggle every time someone used the word "penis". I fell into the later category. It seems the older I get, the more invitations I receive to these events..... I consider it cheap entertainment...alcohol and sex talk.

For those who know me, it should not come as any shock that I was a bit disappointed when I found out that there would not be any alcoholic beverages provided. Let me get this straight....you actually expect us to pass around various creams, gels, lubricants, dildos and vibrators at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon while sober.... WHAT???!!!!

Due to my alcohol deprived hostile attitude, I fell into the "misbehaving" group. We stood in the back of the room and every time we cracked a joke or laughed amongst ourselves, people would whip around and give us the evil eye. I was immediately transported back to high school. During school assemblies, I would sit at the top of the bleachers with my friends and crack jokes... We were always given "the eye" and a quick, "shh!!".
At some point during the dildo party, someone even told us to behave. Why do we have to behave at a dildo party??? I mean, isn't that the whole point...misbehaving? Exactly how is it that someone can be uptight while voluntarily holding a green vibrator in one hand and a jar of Nipple Nibblers in the other hand???? Eventually, the three of us gave up trying to behave and amused ourselves......

Tanya has found some goodies......

As did I and....


Eventually, we headed out to dinner and some much needed "cocktails"... after sharing our cock tales. Destination....BJ's Brewhouse (I can't seem to get away from the double entendres... ). After dinner, it was off to the Limelight where things started to loosen up....

The infamous "White Russian"

Michelle and Dena are starting to feel NO pain

Did someone tell Tanya she's cut off???

...I've got nothing, I have no idea what is going on in this picture
Eventually, we all start to realize that some pictures may be incriminating.....

We have not include these lovely ladies names to protect their identities...

We are now doing our best to shield ourselves from the paparazzi for fear that we may be featured on TMZ.com....

Perhaps we should suggest throwing the next dildo party at the Limelight......

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lamb...the other cute meat

The other day I grilled a butterflied leg of lamb for dinner. I served it with sweet potato fries and buttered French green beans. I take my lamb very seriously and take great pleasure in its preparation. I usually make a paste of Kalamata olives, lemon zest, fruity olive oil, fresh garlic, rosemary, dried figs, cherry preserves and port. If time allows, I marinate the lamb for several hours and bring it to room temperature just before placing it on the grill. After it has been grilled to a perfect medium rare, we must exercise great restraint as we allow the meat to rest for a full 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. It is so excruciating to wait as the smell travels throughout the house and we satisfy ourselves with wine until the 20 minutes are up. It is truly one of our favorite meals.

So, I ran into an acquaintance at the market and we got to talking about what the other had for dinner, what the other was making for dinner.... Since we had just enjoyed the lamb the previous night, I rattled off my menu but was stopped mid-dish.

"You eat lamb? But they're so cute." As I listen to her "cute" commentary, I was getting the sense that this conversation was not going well.

"Yes, we love lamb." In my head, I started to picture adorable lambs adorning baby blankets and nursery motifs. I almost felt like a monster.

"I just don't think that I can eat something knowing that at one time it was such an adorable animal."

I needed to defend my tastes.... "You eat chicken, right?"

" Yeah, chicken, fish, some pork and beef...but mostly chicken and fish."

"So, let me get this straight...you don't eat cute animals. Therefore, chicken and fish...not so cute?"

"Well....no, I wouldn't say that, but I feel more comfortable staying away from lamb, veal, suckling pig, baby quail....you know" (The Cute Pack of the meat world)

"Isn't that some sort of discrimination? Don't you feel weird knowing that you are eating something based on looks? Does your husband know that you think this way????" I added a little laugh at the end to lighten things up, but I was totally serious.

The shallow eater shrugged her shoulders, giggled, made some excuse about being late and took off. Then a thought popped in my head.... baby quail. I haven't had baby quail in FOREVER. I immediately headed over to the butcher.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007



POSTED: 6:54 am PST January 17, 2007

Sex and fat don't mix, at least not for Chuang Chuang the panda.Zoo keepers said he is too overweight to mate.Now, Chuang Chuang is on a strict bamboo leaf diet at the Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand.Zoo officials hope the weight-loss regime will get Chuang Chuang in shape for making some panda whoopee. The zoo keepers said they also might try showing their animals some panda porn to get them in the mood.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I just don't like....confrontation

Over the years, I have dealt with a family situation that is less than ideal. And, for a long time, I wasn't aware that my family was any different than any other family. Under the age of 5, my world was confined to my immediate family and my exposure to the outside world was very limited. It wasn't until I was placed in the social situation of school, that I started to see different families and recognized that my family was very different. Although I love my parents, they made it extremely difficult to like them. My father has struggled, battling the bottle for as long as I can remember and my mother had no coping skills often relying on medication to escape. Things were very volatile in my household and being an only child made an already awful situation, worse. As a child, I was very shy and introverted spending my days with my nose in a book. I never struggled to be heard, I never demanded their attention, I never felt that I was worthy, and I never thought it mattered. Through all of this, the one skill I did develop was the ability to avoid confrontation...no matter what. Even if something was important to me, I found it easier to give in and give up. When things became unpleasant, I would search for peace never considering that I could fight back. After years of therapy and life, I have learned to stand strong, speak up and demand nothing less than what is best for me. However, even with all this progress, I still have issues with confrontation.

Recently, a friend came to "confront" an issue. He is married to one of my best friends and has become a dear friend to me as well. His wife and I were friends for years and became very close following my separation and divorce from my husband. We were inseparable and took complete joy in each others company. I even introduced her to her husband. At the time, we had both met and fell in love with amazing men. As with any of us, when we fall in love and create a life with someone, our priorities shift and ultimately, things change. It would be impossible for us to retain the type of friendship we had before because we were both making room in our lives for others. I found myself continuing to call my friend but started to realize that I was calling more and she was calling less....based more on my perception and less on reality. To be honest, I came to the conclusion that she had less time and space for me in her life. I couldn't blame her, he made her so very happy and they wanted nothing less than to spend as much time with each other as possible. It was around this time that my mother's health took a turn for the worst and I found myself dealing with my father alcoholism as I tried to better the situation for my mother. Time started to pass and the communication between my friend and I became less and less frequent. I was slipping into old patterns and as more time passed, the more paralyzed I became to confront the situation between us. Eventually, I communicated mostly with her husband since he and I work together. I know someone was waiting to talk about the "pink elephant" in the room, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I feared the possible rejection...I missed her terribly and at a time in my life where our friendship could mean the difference between a good day and a bad day, I felt as though the time to say something had gone by and I could only blame myself.

It has been 3 years since the gulf started to spread and I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone to share a tidbit of gossip, a story, a laugh or even a good cry. Things have started to settle down again. After a long illness, my mother passed away last year and I can now focus on the things that I have procrastinated about. I still don't like confrontation, but I know that if someone is important enough to you, sometimes you have to stare down the beast. I don't want another day to go by with the knowledge that things could be different and that I did nothing to affect change. Of course, my confrontation of choice will most likely be a letter. Is it still confrontation if it's not done in person? I never said that I wouldn't "tweak" the idea of confrontation, did I?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Top Chef....Did I hear that correctly???

Last night on Top Chef, the final 6 contestants broke up into two teams to create a restaurant concept in an unfinished space, as well as a four course meal for 24 patrons. One team comprised of Sam, my personal favorite, Mike, a local boy to us here in Sacramento and finally, the evil Ilan, a rather immature fellow, opted for a rustic Italian concept. I was actually looking forward to seeing their recipes since I was such a Sam fan... But, they dropped the bomb of all bombs. As they listed off their various menu items, I was grateful for my Tivo.

"...and for dessert, we are serving Watermelon "Gnocchi" with Cabrales Blue Cheese and Asiago Cream" (which they "bruleed" before serving).

What? Did I hear that correctly? I played it again. Yes, I did hear that.... I could actually feel my stomach curdle. But, I had such faith in Sam, that I believed that he could pull it off. Up to this point, everything that he has made, I have wanted to eat. Then, I got a look at the final product. If you are at all squeamish please avert your eyes...

Innovation and creativity are the cornerstones of any great chef... (Ferran Adria is one of my favorite chefs) Food is one thing that is experienced with all five of our senses. But, with great power comes great responsibility, any chef worth their weight cannot stray from the most basic of rules.....bottom line, it has to taste good. I loved every ingredient in this dish; watermelon, blue cheese, asiago cream....but together??? And, I was really having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they bruleed it at the end. Does this mean that the watermelon was now.....warmish???? Luke warm watermelon and blue cheese? And to top it all off, they didn't serve any alcohol whatsoever... Normally, when confronted with something that doesn't taste good, I can usually count on wine, or beer to mask the flavors on my tongue.

Thankfully, Sam was spared and our local boy, Michael was sent packing. My hope is that Sam took a lesson from the lashing he received from the judges table and we NEVER have to see a monstrosity like that dish ever again.....

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

One crab, two crab, three crab, four...

Last night I decided to answer my craving for crab. The local Nugget Market had whole dungeness crab on sale, so I headed over after work. I love this store.... I usually head immediately down the cheese aisle. You've got to love a store that has a full time cheese expert waiting to meet your every cheese need. I picked up some Argentine Parmesan and Manchego. Since I needed time to marinate my steak (Surf and Turf was the goal) I decided to get a move on and pick up my crab. As I approached the fish counter, I saw a group of women waiting to be served. All but one were patiently waiting their turn. We had a beast in the pack.... (anyone remember Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid?)

In an over exaggerated manner, she shifted her rather substantial girth from one leg, then the other, rattled her keys quite loudly, tapped her perfectly manicured nail on the handle of her grocery cart and then sighed for the benefit of the gentleman behind the fish counter. Finally, she could no longer be satisfied with her passive aggressive body language and decided to verbalize her frustration. "Excuuuse me. Isn't there someone else that can help us? Or, do you mean to tell me that you are the only one working here?" I must give credit to our fish steward. He was apologetic and kindly explained that his co-worker was on a lunch break and he would help us all as quickly as possible. The beast would not be tamed... "What? Who the hell goes on a lunch break at 5:00 in the evening?" I wanted to answer her question...."Those not fortunate enough to have a 9-5 job", but I was afraid. She was double my size and in a piss-poor mood. It was the first time that I was gratefully for not being a size 2. Finally, the fish steward waited on the beast. She wanted four crab, oh yeah, "And I would like them cracked and cleaned" I could actually see his face grimace as he had to informed her that this would be an additional $2.00 a pound for the crack and clean. I swear I heard the beast snarl.... "The other man that works here did it for me and didn't charge me. Are you new or something?" (I have been going to this market for the better part of two years....this guy was definitely NOT new) Again, he apologized but explained that this is what they charged for the service. She looked to the rest of us for support.... We all became completely enthralled with the ground, the ceiling, the salami display. Don't make eye contact...you may turn to stone. Once she realized that her attack was not gaining her any allies, the switch flipped and she slapped the phoniest smile on her mug and graciously said, "Oh, no problem, I will crack and clean them at home". Telepathically I was sending a message to the fish steward...quick, wrap up the crab and send the beast on her way...don't even think of asking her if she would like anything else...please, I beg of you. After he handed her the crabs, her voice went through a metamorphosis. In a syrupy sweet beauty pageant voice she said, "Thank you so much and have a wonderful evening". However, she didn't quite pull it off...she ended her sentence with just the barest touch of sarcasm and then walked away. As I watched the distance between us and the beast became larger and larger, I started to sing a song in my head, "One crab, two crab, three crab, four, say a loving goodbye to the miserable whore"

Monday, January 8, 2007

Assume: Making an Ass out of just you....

Recently, I have come to suspect that I may be intolerant to gluten. So, I have had to make some major changes to my diet....no more of my favorite cereal in the morning, no quick muffin or scone or bagel... You get the picture. So, I headed down to the cafeteria for some breakfast. While they were cooking my order, I collected my condiments: ketchup, salt, and pepper. After I had dropped the salt packet into my bag, the operator of the cafeteria walked up to me and in a very loud voice so EVERYONE can hear said, "You know, those cost money." I was shocked. Did he assume and then accuse me of giving myself the five finger discount for a few packets of ketchup???? I whirled around and said, "No shit, that's why I am buying something!" I was pissed. And do you think that he apologized for labeling me a thief in front of eveyone? Hell no. He practically ran to the back of the kitchen. The cooks, my fellow co-workers, and anyone else in the vicinity looked in awe at what just happened. Now my eggs and hash browns were tainted with false accusations.... If I hadn't been starving I would have told him where to put my breakfast order. I love Mondays.....
Does she not own a mirror????

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Things That Make You Go Hmmm......

Are my eyes deceiving me or is Jane Fonda copping a feel on La Lohan (aka Fire Crotch)???

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Are you in line????

Exactly how clueless are people???? I decided to head downstairs to the cafeteria to get something to drink. After I made my selection, I stood in line with my chosen drink and money in hand. It was at this time that I felt a tap on my shoulder and a woman asked, "Are you in line?" I responded with a "Yep" and turned back around.

Are you kidding me? What was your first clue? A line of people? Me standing in the line of people with drink and money in hand? I should have looked at her as if she had offended me and said, "Uhm, no.... I usually come down here around lunchtime, carry around juice and cash and then get behind other people while enjoying the atmosphere of my lovely government office cafeteria."

In another classic moment....I was recently downtown and had just parked my car near the Starbucks. Lucky me, there were still 20 minutes left on my parking meter so I started to rush inside to get my coffee. In mid-stride, a woman stopped me and asked, "Are all the parking spots metered? I just needed to run in here for a moment". I wanted to laugh but realized that she was being quite sincere. In my head I was thinking, does she actually believe that the city has a few parking spots here and there that aren't metered just in case you have to run in somewhere just for a moment? I confirmed the bad news and left her to process the information as I headed in for my coffee. Priceless....

I just love people, they never cease to amaze me.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Feelin' the Love at the Trader Joe's

I must say that after years of working in the customer service industry, I give a lot of leeway to those in the "line of battle". I even pride myself on being one of those customers that goes out of my way to make things easier. So, when I run into someone that is so obvious in their contempt of my utter existence I find myself being rather unsympathetic.....

As is customary in our home, on the first of the month we make a b-line to Trader Joe's to stock up. I love Trader Joe's, but the place is always packed, so I have to plan my visit at just the right time. We headed over after 6:00 pm hoping it would be on the slow side.... Since we had depleted our house of all food, we had quite a full cart. The place was busy but not slammed. I wheeled my cart over to the checkout and Craig headed over to the GNC a few doors down. When I looked up at the checker, he seemed annoyed that I was in his line. Now, I know that I had alot of items in my cart, but what is the difference between ringing up my very large purchase and ringing up many small purchases? Each item still needs to be scanned, each item still needs to be bagged.

As if his apparent annoyance wasn't enough communication, he decided to verbalize his frustration to me as well. "Wow, I guess I won't have to ask you if you found everything that you needed...." I felt the other people in line stare at me and then watched them as they headed to other lines. Now it was just me and Mr. Sensitivity. Every time someone would enter the stand, he would say "You're better off going to another line, this could take a while." Now, I was getting embarrassed and mad. But somehow, I found myself apologizing for making my HUMONGOUS purchase. "Yeah, we haven't been to the store lately with all the holiday festivities...." He responded first with silence and then with a heavy sigh. I then tried the empathetic approach. " I bet you guys are glad that the holidays are over, it such a madhouse in here around Christmas and New Years." To which he responds, " I haven't really noticed the difference, it feels just as busy to me"(long stare in my direction). It was at this point that I decided to stand my ground. By way of his body language, he was hoping that I would take pity on him and start assisting with the bagging of my groceries. I just let the counter get deeper and deeper with all my purchases, rummaged in my purse for chapstick, picked lint off of my shirt and finally leaned my elbow on the check writing counter carefully cupping my chin in my hand as he very indelicately bagged my groceries. It was about this time that Craig had returned and remarked that he thought I would be done checking out. "Yeah, me too...." I replied and then shot a very large grin toward the direction of Mr. Sensitivity. Was my sarcasm lost on him? I guess I will never know...

After he was done bagging I handed him the cash, $121.06 which included a hundred dollar bill. Again, another sigh as he held up the bill to the light to check its authenticity. Finally, he handed me the receipt and we were on are way..... "Happy New Year" I cheerfully said as I headed toward the door. I think we were both happy to be done with each other. Just as we left the store, I heard the next customer in line respond to his hello with, "I hate that you guys always stop carrying the things that I buy. I have half a mind to stop shopping here....." I didn't get to hear the rest of her tirade, but I felt a little satisfaction in knowing that my BIG purchase was looking pretty good after all.....

I am so in love.....with my dogs

I generally get weird looks from people when I subject them to stories regarding my dogs.... I tell them what funny thing they did during dinner, how well they behaved on a long car ride or what sweet thing they did to get me out of bed to start the day. Normally I am met with questions like, "You took your dogs to the bike store and they let them in? Your dogs sleep on your bed?" Don't these people realized that I look at them the same way when I have to listen to their ridiculous stories about their children???????

Polly Perfect Parent says, "Skilor and Ohwen (notice the unique spelling...how are they ever going to find a keychain with their name on it at The Happiest Place on Earth?) are both taking Spanish classes from a tutor. They are doing so well that they are able to communicate with Consuela (the housekeeper) to prepare their afternoon snacks" I am sure that Consuela is just loving the fact that these six year old twins are giving her orders....

"Oh, and Kelan our 9 month old has just starting an infant self actualization class" Now, I was under the impression that little boys were quite capable of self actualization without the need to be taught. Has anyone ever given a bath to a little boy that has just discovered his own one-eyed snake???

So on and on these stories go. Society tells me that I should not be annoyed, that these are stories about the future leaders of our country, that it is against nature that as a woman, I am not the least bit interested in hearing about any of this. Although these stories are sweet, funny and at times, annoying....we are forgetting the next step in the evolutionary process....adolescence.

The other stories I hear about children are not told but rather overheard, no more boasting from Polly Perfect Parent anymore..... When I first started my office job, I would hear women all around me conducting small battles in their cubicles with their children over the phone. "No, you cannot go to the mall. Because I said so. I don't even know this Myles. Have I met his parents? We have had this discussion before and if I come home and your friends are hanging out and your homework isn't being done, you are grounded again. Well, you can hate me if you want, but when you live under my roof, you live by my rules. That's right, and when you're eighteen you can move out, support yourself and do whatever you want, but you have two more years to go and you can live them tough or you can live them right. It is totally up to you. I am not going to discuss this anymore. I am at work and I don't have time for this. "

Where were all those sweet stories? They were few and far between. Now I heard how many different counselors they had dragged their children to see. How they had to go to two parent/teacher conferences within the last month, etc etc. Again, I listen, but now I feel an internal smirk. You see, my children, my dogs, have never caused this kind of stress in my life. They love me no matter how I look, what I am wearing, how poor or rich I am, or how much or how little time I spend with them. They never hold it against me when I scold them. They never talk back, call me at inappropriate times or make me cry. Actually, I can cry buckets around them and they will just cuddle a little closer, a little tighter and lick my tears off of my face. I am completely in love with them because they give so much more than they take. Please don't think I am some kind of child hater. I am not. I am however, not buying into the fact that I have to love children and the idea of children just because society says that I should. So, in a world where I must tolerate people's choices to have children, I would really like the same in return. In this perfect, tolerant world, the next time I adopt a dog, I will have friends and family throw me a puppy shower. It seems perfectly fair to me.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

Well, we had a very low key New Year's. I have been feeling a bit under the weather and had just catered a champagne tasting the night before for 40+ people, so my energy was definitely running on empty. Craig was kind enough to pick up something for dinner to ring in the new year. We had buffalo tri tip and Caesar salad....yum! Of course, we had yummy bubbly and when adding bubbly to a holiday, it always brings on a dog humiliation photo session....ta da!

After dinner and humiliation, we had dessert, lemon curd mousse with fresh raspberries and toasted pistachios. Unfortunately, we were subjected to some questionable television New Year's Eve talent. I am still not sure who the "Jersey Boys" are....

We made it to just midnight and tucked ourselves into bed. I know, totally boring, but it was just what I needed.

Happy New Year to All!!