Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martha In High Gear

Thanks to an ill-conceived plan involving this:
which Andy swears was the most masculine-looking kitty harness at the pet store, we had a very frustrated kitty who ended up spending the morning in kitty time-out:

giving me some prime Martha time. A little addition to the stair landing:
and I redid the stair decorations, which don't photograph well but look really nice. I need to attach a few bows, but I think it's nice.Speaking of bows, I tried out a few on some light fixturesand liked the effect so much that the dining room chandelier got a little attention.I liked the bows better, but I don't have any more bows and I don't know how to make that type of bow (and was being way too lazy to look them up).

The stockings are up,the banister is decorated,and it looks like this will last at least one more year:
It's a centerpiece I won a few years ago, and every year I take it out and glue whatever came off back onto it. So far nothing has happened that a little hot glue can't fix.

Theo did forgive me by afternoon, but Callisto has gone into hiding. I think she's afraid we'll stick a big cast on her as well, so today I found her here:
Can't see her? Try in between the pillows:It's the Kitty-Protection Program. Glad she doesn't know about the kitty enema. She might have moved out entirely....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sort of Martha-ing

I don't know. I don't actually watch her show, but I have a hard time picturing Martha nursing a cat in a cast:After tonight we'll be down to two medications, so that's exciting, but I just don't feel very Martha-like saran-wrapping a cat's cast before he pees. Maybe I should be using colored saran wrap?

I did get our Christmas tree up and decorated:

though this year I decided to do a very non-Martha tree and I used the tinsel-type garlands like the ones I grew up with. No ribbons or beads or anything exotic this year. Just simple and festive, and I'm quite pleased with it so far, though it needs a few gifts under it to look truly Christmas-y.

I did get a bit ambitious with the entryway:
and those bows are handmade and everything. Well, I bought the ribbon--let's not get crazy here--but I did tie them myself. Granted, they look better at this distance than they do up close, but we don't have any 10-foot-tall friends, so that's okay.

Tomorrow the stockings go up!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Little Useful Information We Didn't Have 24 Hours Ago

Around midnight, we came across some information that no one had thought to share with us previously, so as a public service, I thought I'd share:

1. A cat recovering from surgery will be given drugs. These drugs might cause kitty constipation.

2. Feeding a cat a little pumpkin puree"soften" things up a bit and prevent this particular problem. (Which would have put yesterday's pumpkin pie in a whole new light, but that's another story)

3. A vet clinic isn't likely to mention this fact when you take your cat home.

4. A constipated kitty in a leg cast is one of the most pitiable creatures ever--especially on his way to the vet clinic at midnight for a date with a tiny rubber hose.

5. Do not joke about your cat's total humiliation--it might tempt the kitty gods to make his life even worse.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Martha Is Nursing A Cat

Theo, our youngest cat, came home from the hospital yesterday after surgery on a broken leg
and his first day home has been a bit of a full-time project. His cast, which is quite festive,is about twice as long as his leg would normally be when moving, so he tends to go in circles. The vet said to keep him quiet and confined, which is a very easy thing to do when you have an entire arsenal of drugs at your disposal. It's quite a different thing in a normal home. We constructed a cage for him which basically kept him confined, upset, and flinging himself around all night. Out of desperation, I finally let him out and have just stayed in our bedroom with him to keep him from trying to jump on things, and that has worked as well as can be expected. He still hides a lot and thinks he can outrun the cast, and I have to help him with the litterbox and put plastic wrap over his cast so he doesn't wet on it, so there hasn't been much Martha-ing today.

He'll have this cast on for 9 more days, then I'm really hoping for something a bit smaller. 6 weeks of a cat in a cast--should be interesting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 25

Now that I have shared my cold with my loving spouse, we're a rather pathetic tea-drinking, soup-slurping lot around here today. I know the sneezing, coughing, clogged nose thing is all a part of my body's immune system fighting the cold germ, but what I really want to know is, "Are we winning???" Four days into the campaign--it doesn't feel like it.

I have continued with the Martha on a Budget holiday decorating, though with several rest periods involved. Who knew decorating was exhausting?

For the centerpieces for our wedding, my friends graciously assembled 30 of these on the day of the wedding:
I think each of them weighed in at about $10 each, and have now been reused for my parents' anniversary party, several holidays around here, and have now been slightly rearranged to be stairway decorations:
I'll actually add some greenery later when the other boxes come out of storage, and none of them match as I was trying different ideas for each one (and the curls of spare bits of wrapping paper really turned out surprisingly well--I'll get a closeup for tomorrow).

There's sort of a landing partway up the staircase, so I wrapped up another box (the trick is to only wrap what is visible and recycle--the bow is from 2 years ago), and I think I'll add some small ones around it.

Tonight the decoration boxes come out of the garage and the Vicks comes out of the medicine cabinet!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally - A Little Martha Action

I have slept the majority of the weekend and the cold is still hanging in there, but I feel less rotten today, which is something. Our youngest cat, Theo, is going in for surgery tonight to repair a damaged leg, and worrying about him seems to have negated the effects of Nyquil, so I started on Christmas decorating today.

For above the new armoire in our bedroom, some decorative packages:
I think I got a little over-exuberant with that gold bow, but at least it's festive. I thought the white bow turned out really well:
The center is a very cheap plastic button I had left over from something, but I really like how it looks. This is called Martha on a budget decorating.

Earlier this year I found some red towels on clearance, so I did a little machine embroidery & decorative stitching and voila:
I think I'd make the design bigger next time, but for this one I was pleased just to figure out how to embroider on terry cloth.

And the fun stuff:
Wrapping up gifts for the nieces & nephews, which are mostly without bows because they all have to be shipped & bows never survive the United States Postal Service.

Tomorrow: more decorating and learning to deal with a cat in a cast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Do You Think Martha Ever Gets Colds?

Martha wanna-bes definitely get colds. I've had 24 hours straight with Nyquil and still don't feel great, but at least I've slept through most of it. One new thing I have learned however: Half-doses of Nyquil may function as a hallucinogen.

More tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

IT'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of silly ecards, but my all time favorite one is back this year. You have to see this.

(Good heavens--three posts in one day--am I caught up yet?)

Coping With a Hostile Ex Wife, Part Six

NOTE: I am not an attorney, psychologist, counselor or therapist. These are simply my suggestions and thoughts having dealt with a bitter ex-wife for the last 3 years.

With the holiday season approaching & the economy tanking, I'm noticing more and more searches on dealing with a hostile ex wife. Lack of money does bring out the worst in people--as often do the holidays. So, for what it's worth, some idea that might help you survive the holidays.

1. Do not let the guilt of divorce lead you to be a bad parent. Too often divorced parents try to buy the child's affection, or buy things to interfere with the other parent. When we bought Andy's son a train set as a gift, the ex immediately had to buy the exact same one for him to have at her house. Children do not need 20 presents at Christmas. It can be really tempting to buy elaborate gifts out of guilt, but have you ever enjoyed being around a spoiled child? Doesn't the word "brat" spring to mind? Don't turn your own child into one. You are trying to raise a decent human being, not win a popularity contest.

2. You are not obligated to spend Christmas with people who make you unhappy. You have one person attached to your life who is horrible and mean--you don't need to accept any others. We were recently traveling on a commuter train, and all the talk of the holidays was not about the excitement or parties or even money--it was about family problems and obligations and not wanting to have to see certain relatives. If your family get-togethers are stressful or unpleasant, don't go. Being biologically linked to someone doesn't guarantee that you're going to like him or her.

3. Let others know what you're going through. Last year we had to made some very difficult decisions, and ones that were going to be hard for some people to accept. When explaining our decisions to some of the relatives, we actually sent an outline of everything we had tried to do over the last years--actually predating me & going back the full 5 years since the divorce--and simply attached a large sampling of the ex wife's abusive and spiteful emails and letters. In order to save face, Andy really hadn't ever been open about how bad the situation had gotten, though many of his family members suspected that it was much worse than he was letting on. It really helped to tear down some of the walls, though I think the shock of how nasty she actually has been was a bit overwhelming for some of them.

4. Consider giving Alec Baldwin's book as a gift. As a rule, I never read anything about celebrities because I think worshiping someone for being good at a job is a bit strange, but I did read this one and anyone who has gone through the hostile-ex drama will see his or her own story in it. He does have some great advice as well, and I think the more publicity there is about bad mothers & hostile ex wives will help blow apart the continuing stereotype that being a "mother" actually makes one a good parent.
5. Spend some quiet time unwinding and reflecting.
There are some things you'll just need to accept:

* Bad people exist and they often have children.

* In spite of everything you do, ultimately the child/children will have to decide for themselves what kind of person they want to be, and they may choose to be like the hostile ex. EVERYONE MAKES THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT WHO THEY CHOOSE TO BE AND EVERYONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERSON THEY CHOOSE TO BE.

* Just because someone chooses to always see themselves as a "victim" and feel sorry for his or herself, you are under no obligation to do so. My favorite sob story was the one about being "abandoned" by everyone. If you are hateful to others, no one will want to be around you. You're not being "abandonded." You are driving people away by being a mean & hateful person. That's a choice & there are consequences to all choices.

* Verbally or physically abusive people can be nice, but nice people are never verbally or physically abusive. Don't be misled by temporary niceness.

* You're going to be accused of darn near everything. Unjust accusations can be really overwhelming, but eventually you will get used to them and they may actually start to be sort of funny. Now I'm just waiting for one of us to be accused of the Kennedy assassination, nevermind that neither of us was even born yet.

* Your ex is not miserable because you divorced her. She's miserable because she has chosen to be. You have no obligation or responsibility to her.

* It is not illegal to be a bad parent. I struggled with this one for a long time, but it is not illegal to allow a 7-year-old child to play first-person shooter video games, or to sleep in the same bed with an 8-year-old, or refuse to allow play dates, or to serve only food high in sugar, or to take a child to video game arcades every day, or to have no rules or boundaries, . It might be pretty universally acknowledged to be spectacularly poor parenting, but it isn't illegal and there is nothing you can do about it. You will just have to live with it.

* You will need to decide for yourself how far you are willing to go. Do you want to battle it out no matter what? Is there a point where it might be in the child's best interest (and yours) to bow out? That's a decision only you can make, and no one wins either way. It can feel like a desperate situation, and suicide rates among divorced men are quite high & MANY men have contemplated suicide to get out of this kind of scenario. There are other options and having a child obligates you to pay child support, but it does NOT require you to be miserable.

* This will cost you a lot of money. Our legal system is set up very nicely to allow for legal harassment. Set up a savings account and put money aside every month for legal expenses or whatever else comes up. If you can afford it, put an attorney between you & the bitter ex. We have assumed that we'll both work a year or two past normal retirement to make up for all the expenses of having an attorney, but anything is better than having to deal with her nastiness and spite directly.

* You are responsible for your own happiness. Yes, this is a terrible thing to go through, but it is up to you whether it destroys your life or not. She's racking up legal and medical bills? Make a game of seeing how long you can go without buying anything new and HAVE FUN WITH IT. Learn vegetarian cooking to cut down on your grocery bills. When the spite and meanness get overwhelming, have some other divorced friends over and play Bitter Ex Bingo (suggested categories: types of false accusations, scenes at drop offs, hate mail, jealousy--whatever). Do not fixate on the situation, but find a way to cope. A bitter ex can take your money and can temporarily take your children, but kids are smart and they will probably figure things out one day. In the meantime, do not let it control your life.

* Your children and/or your ex wife may destroy any future marriages if you don't learn to cope with them, and they may hope to do so. Most marriages fail & second marriages are even more prone to do so. If you don't have appropriate boundaries with an ex and appropriate rules of behavior for a child, future relationships are probably doomed. Talk with other couples who have survived, go to counseling, commit to making your marriage work. We've been very lucky as working through all of this has actually made our relationship stronger, but it has taken a lot of work and a great deal of humor. We've finally become so immune to her hatefulness that several months ago we spontaneously started celebrating every time a new hassle with her turns up. I don't know if it was the thrill of having an attorney as a buffer or just the realization that we're obviously so happy & making her so jealous that now she's having to go out of her way to create problems, or her obvious desperation to be important to people who couldn't possibly care less about her--whatever it is, we might actually start to look forward to her dramas soon.

* This too shall pass. Every day, week, month, year that goes by takes you one step closer to being legally free of your hostile ex.

Month of Martha - Day 21

A forage at the local library turned up these
so my plan for yesterday was to actually sit down with this book
and plan a week of Martha meals. If you can't read the print on the cover, this book is called "Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook; Four Seasons of Great Menus to Make Every Day." Since it's November, I flipped to the "fall" menu, and the first menu I came across was:

steamed Brussels sprouts
mashed rutabagas
roasted rack of venison with pomegranate sauce
seared apples

I actually couldn't even identify a rutabaga, if truth be known, but I am very much game to try it if for no other reason than to be able to use the word rutabaga in a sentence every now and then, "I made the best rutabaga souffle the other night...." which is, of course a complete guess on my part as I'm not sure what one does with rutabaga except obviously mash them. Still, that sounds a great deal better than the Brussels sprouts. Anyone else forced to eat those things as a child? In all fairness, I have actually tried them as an adult and they were vastly better than the smelly, mushy things we were given as kids, but tolerating them & going out of my way to fix them are very different things.

And of course, who among my generation didn't see Bambi at a really young age? Eat Bambi? Are you kidding????? Do they even sell that in grocery stores, or did Martha go shoot her own?

Remember that "every day" part in the title? How about roast pheasant with grapes and walnuts? I did actually hit a pheasant with my car once, so I guess I know how I could actually obtain one, but that seems like a lot of extra effort and a tad more dependency on bad luck than my meals usually involve. How about "chunky cipolline tomato compote" or "fennel carpaccio with blood oranges and black olives?" I don't even know what those are.

Really, I do love to try new recipes, and have attempted many complicated or exotic dishes because they sounded good, so I don't have a problem with that. I run into a sticking problem with "great menus to make everyday," and that "quick cook" part. Sure, the actual cooking time might indeed be small, but if it takes me 3 weeks to SPECIAL ORDER ingredients, I don't think that really counts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Month of Martha - Failure Number One

Since I'm Martha-ing, I decided our home needed some color, and this fall I planted two mums in the front flower pots. Mums having always been described to me as "fall" plants, I thought this made sense.

Today is November 20, and here's one of the mums:In the store it actually even had flowers. I don't actually remember what color the flowers were, as they all promptly fell off, but I was theoretically going to have fall flowers.

What I have insteadare spring flowers. I took this picture today, and the petunias are going crazy. In fact, this is the best they've looked all year--and it's November 20, which is very much "fall" rather than "spring."

I even have something else coming up
Er, do I still get Martha points if I get the wrong flowers to come up? Do you think Martha ever has argumentative flowers?

Before Or After?

So, this week we were visiting several different friends on the east coast, which required flying through Chicago's Midway airport, and wehn I went in to the restroom, I was a bit overwhelmed by the actual stalls. These aren't even bathroom stalls--they're more like vaults. They go almost all the way to the floor:
and almost all the way to the ceiling, which is at like 9 feet tall.
So my question is, is this just sort of a new design thing, or is this the new Larry Craig bathroom stall model?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We're Alive!!!!!

We're tired, but alive. No actual Martha-ing, but I have ENORMOUS plans for tomorrow......

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Month of Martha - To The Other Extreme

So obviously I decided not to take menus from the Good Housekeeping library book--which had nothing whatsoever to do with Andy's threats of divorce over any gelled meats in our home--but when I received the weekly email from and their "quick and easy" "everyday" dinners, I thought I was in luck.

The recipes may indeed be pretty fast to make, but it would take me at least 2 days to drive to a store that sells these ingredients. I do at least know what tsatsiki is, but as anyone who has ever visited Idaho will tell you, we're a little lacking in ethnic diversity & ethnic foods. Fresh clams, even if I were willing to eat them, have to be special ordered as there are a few states in the union that aren't actually on the ocean. And all of THAT is setting aside that their weekly shopping lists would cost almost our entire grocery budget.

I will have to remember to stop scoffing at those fish sticks--if I do decide to try a week of the Epicurious menues, that's about all we'll be able to afford for the next 3 weeks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 11.....and then some.....

A quick update:

* We have purchased a pressure canner so I may can low-acid foods like soup and vegetable stock. We will be taking bets on whether or not our kitchen ends up with a new skylight.

* Soup Night was thankfully not enhanced with a live vermin floor show.

* I have finally located my old refrigerator magnets, and had forgotten that I had combined several sets including "tabloid headlines" and "pickup lines," and we have been spending an embarrassing amount of time creating pickup lines for each other involving moonlight and aliens.
* We have planted flower bulbs, and feel pretty confident that we got the tulips and crocuses (croci?) in correctly, but we couldn't figure out which end of the anemone bulbs were which, so we may have sideways flowers in the spring:* Even though I have all sorts of free time, I still can't keep up with the list of projects I dream up for myself.

* So far I have not been even slightly tempted by Martha's cookie recipes of the day, but Andy can still dream.

* The Social Season has officially begun, and last week's marathon is about to be dwarfed by Extreme Socializing Week! I would be pitching this to Fox as a "reality TV" idea, but then I'd probably have to take back all the things I've said about their "news" service, so there goes that idea. It does mean that blog posts may be a bit spotty for the next few days, but one can NEVER have too many friends--even if it might be smarter to spread things out a little....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 10 - Soup Night!

Tonight was the monthly Soup Night, which means today was spent making two soups and setting up the house for the monthly soiree. I serve 2 soups--both of which are homemade--but I have been known to use broth from a can and that strange refrigerated bouillon goo, so I don't think I'm scoring many Martha points there. We did use the new napkins I made--definitely Martha points for that--but the hot apple cider was from concentrate--definitely NO Martha points there. Tonight's soup selections were spicy peanut (there being no way for me to resist a soup made with peanut butter), and a roasted garlic and leak soup. Both were fabulous, but the spicy peanut was the clear favorite. Now the big questions: DOES MARTHA BELIEVE IN LEFTOVERS?????

And tomorrow we'll be playing a rousing game of "Clean Up the Kitchen." Not a life highlight or anything, but it certainly still beats the daylight out of a normal job in this economy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 9

Last night we had a friend over for dinner, which seems quite Martha-like, even if the angel hair pasta was from a box--gasp!

This harmless looking little animal
decided our book discussion was a tad dull and brought in a live mouse to liven up the party. Not only do mice slide around pretty well on hardwood floors, Theo can actually throw them about 2 feet into the air. Luckily, no one was actually hit--but then we can all move pretty quickly when so motivated.

I'll bet Martha hasn't had to deal with THAT one!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 8

I love the idea of being on sabbatical! That's it exactly!

So, in my best Martha impression--which stinks so far, but I'm working on it--I'm trying to plan menus ahead of time. Those who have been to dinner in my home will find that especially funny as I regularly make things up as I go along and have been known to have to convert what was going to be a breakfast entree into Italian meatball sandwiches. But I don't believe anything is impossible. Improbable, yes, but not impossible. I might actually be able to do this.

I decided to check to see what the library had in menu planning and came across this:

Good Housekeeping published this "Menus For a Whole Year of Dinners," and I grew up browsing the recipe section of my mother's Good Housekeeping magazines, and I have memories of some spectacular stuff. I should maybe have noticed that this book was published about the time I was born, but I am never bothered by details.

Sometime before I learned to read, there might have been a little theme-shifting at Good Housekeeping. I remember recipes for baked Alaska, fabulous roast turkeys, wonderful sandwiches--what we got with this book:

* fish sticks with tomato sauce
*Mexican liver
* Frankfurters "garni," which turns out to be hot dogs cooked in beef gravy
* "man-style" baked eggs (no idea)
* deviled-tongue salad
* creamed dried beef on toast points
* jellied ham loaf, which seems to be for those who just can't get enough of that jelly-covered meat we now call "Spam"
* peanut-butter ham steak, which involves coating ham with corn syrup, broiling it, then topping it with peanut butter. ??????????
* lettuce with dried-beef dressing
* luncheon meat mozzarella (picture eggplant Parmesan but with bologna)
* cheese-topped beet mold

On a TOTALLY unrelated topic, does anyone know if divorces skyrocketed around1972-73? Just curious.

I'm going to keep the book around for another week or so just to frighten Andy, and I think it will make a fabulous conversation piece during Monday's Soup Night. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 7

So aside from hoping the Month of Martha would spur me on to some sort of organizing frenzy (which it hasn't), one of the reasons for picking this particular project is that like so many Americans, I am out of a job. Actually, only sort of--I have several offers I can take at any time so that's a big difference I would guess. I have refrained from saying anything about it because most people's immediate response would be sympathy or to worry about us, but it has really been a pretty positive thing. Since I was in capital equipment sales, we could see the slowdown back in January & had enough warning time to adjust spending, save like maniacs, and by the time it finally happened at the end of September, it was almost a relief. I parted on good terms with my former employers and have received several calls and emails from my clients. Not that I wouldn't technically have preferred a strong economy and a great year in sales, but things are all still good at Chateau Sutton-Goar.

My background is in sales and/or charity fundraising, and since either field right now would be a fast track to alcoholism, we've decided that me taking some time off isn't such a bad idea. For starters, we still haven't fully unpacked from the move-in almost 2 1/2 years ago, and we're still hopeful of finding the bathroom scale. We also need to do something about the landscaping--which was so poorly done that just taking care of it costs about twice what it should. Then there's painting, finally unpacking wedding gifts, the upcoming holiday--so far I've been working longer hours than I did while I was "working."

The surprising thing so far is how much we're both enjoying this. It's been over a month, now, and we've had more time together, we've been able to spend more time with friends, our weekends are not as rushed, we're eating healthier (and for a lot less money), and we're not as rushed all the time.

Now, since I was born in the 70s, I am a child of the feminist movement. I was raised to be able to change a tire, weld, cook, drive heavy equipment, do simple electrical repair, and be completely independent of men in general--to the great regret of a few former boyfriends. It was hard enough to come to terms with the idea that Andy made more money than I did. To even think about being a "traditional" wife is extremely difficult--and if that were truly my only choice in life, as it would have been in the not-so-distant past, I'd probably be knocking back a couple martinis every morning to get through the day. However, in a temporary "let's see what it was actually like" sort of idea, it might be fun to take things a little slower and spend more time together and with friends.

So, I continue to Martha!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 6

We've been having furnace problems (read: have had no heat for 2 days), so I actually came very close to making Martha's cookie of the day just to have an excuse to turn the oven on, but they were raisin bars today and while I actually do like raisins, I can't stand them IN anything. Truth be told, I bet Martha didn't actually bake cookies today either.

Tonight I did finish 4 satin table runners I've been working on--and without a pattern, which I think should get me double Martha points. I realize if Martha had made them she probably would have woven her own fabric & spun her own thread and everything, but we can't all be Domestic Goddesses. After the last two days, I'm happy with "poor little mortal with a working furnace."

It's all a matter of perspective......

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 5

Since it's the Month of Martha, I actually went to the Martha Stewart website and signed up for her "cookie of the day," "craft of the day," and "organizing tip of the day" email newsletters--obviously mostly for my own amusement as the cookies I made last week are the first ones I've made since we sold my house almost 3 years ago. Cookie of the day! I crack myself up.

Anyone know of a "Ways-to-make-oatmeal-palatable" tip of the day newsletter?

What An Amazing Night!

Across the world people have heard about the large voter turnouts in America--for both candidates. After all the voter apathy throughout my lifetime, the excitement over the election literally gave me goosebumps. We had two great candidates and voters on both side were voting FOR something, not against something. What a great moment for us!

I am thrilled about Obama. So much of our economy is about how people feel, and like him or hate him, he has energized this country in a way I've never seen. By including all 50 states in his campaign, he really made us all feel part of something. And he propelled himself into the white house by working directly with the VOTERS, not the Democratic Party, so he owes them nothing. I love that.

That America, 143 years after the Civil War and 43 years after the Civil Rights Movement, now has a black president--and that people of all races voted for him--is inspiring. May we finally realize that skin color has as little to do with a person's worth as freckles or crooked teeth.

I also think John McCain has done more for this country than many of us realize. When Lyndon Johnson championed the Civil Rights Amendment, he specifically stated it had to be done by a southern Democrat--pretty much because they were the ones doing most of the discriminating. In many ways the Republican party has long been the party of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) men, so for John McCain to pick a woman as his running mate in spite of the possibility that it would cost him votes was a huge step for women.

I also admire Senator McCain immensely for not allowing his campaign to be about racism. He might have won, but it would have torn this nation apart. Instead, he made sure his campaign stayed away from race as an issue. I think he showed a tremendous amount of integrity and leadership, and even a sense of doing what is best for the country over himself. Maybe he's read John Locke or Rousseau? At any rate, I think he's shown the country that real statesman exist.

Kudos to BOTH candidates.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow is Election Day

We have not yet reached the 100th anniversary of women being given the right to vote in the United States. It was a hard fight, and for any women who might think they are too busy to vote or that their votes won't matter, take a moment to read this.

Month of Martha - Day 3

So, tonight we were going to have Eye of Round with Bearnaise Sauce. What we ended up having--because I didn't think to check to see if we still had vermouth and only discovered we didn't after the roast was already out of the oven--was plain roast beef. Not bad, but really really plain. Martha would not have approved. Still, I was rather proud of myself for not producing a lump of shoe leather. I don't do much in the "Sunday Roast" sort of cooking, so anything this side of edible is an accomplishment.

My side dish did much better--not requiring vermouth at all, either for cooking or for eating. I live in Idaho and Idaho is known for its potatoes. I've never been overly fond of potatoes having encountered them mostly boiled into mush and topped with gravy (seriously unhealthy), cut up and deep fried (seriously unhealthy), and baked (not unhealthy until enough stuff is added to make them taste good), but now that I'm Marthaing, I decided I should embrace my Idaho roots....or I guess Idaho tubers.

In a wild frenzy of experimentation, I scrubbed a large potato, then microwaved it 2 minutes while I cut up onion, garlic, cabbage (stick with me here), and spinach then shredded the potato and tossed everything into a casserole dish with a mixture of fat-free sour cream, sea salt, water, and a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese. Then I covered it and slid it into the oven along with the roast when it had 20-30 minutes left to go. We thought it was quite fabulous, though to do over again I'd microwave the potato for a couple extra minutes. Still, Martha might have approved of it--even if the cheese wasn't imported and I didn't use exotic potatoes or involve parsley in any way, shape, or form.

On to Day 4!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Month of Martha - Day 2

So, in my best Martha Mode, I got up this morning and made the bed, made coffee--grinding the beans, of course, but admittedly not by hand--then after a brief trip to the gym I was ready to tackle the garlic.

First I dug up one of the sunnier beds
realizing a little late that a swimming workout is not necessarily the best forerunner to an afternoon of shoveling, then I dug out the first compost "harvest" from our compost bin,
adding a few shovelfuls of dirt from the bed where the sugar peas were this year (peas are a legume and put nitrogen back in the soil when they grow, which is really good for most other plants), and with the help of Gardening Kitty
who loves gardening but is deathly afraid of the wheel barrow, I mixed up the soil, then planted 5 or 6 rows of garlic.
A smarter person would have counted. We have Susanville--a softneck having a flavor with "real character"--on the farthest side, then somewhere in the middle it transitions to Polish White--an old world artichoke softneck with a "real punchy taste." I have no idea what any of that means. The big claim to fame for these is that The Garlic Store swears they are easy to grow--and they were one of the few varieties they still had in stock. I have no idea what "real character" tastes like, but I'm guessing garlic with a "real punchy taste" can be translated into "causing dragon breath."

The directions say to cover the garlic bed with 4 inches of mulch,
which was finally enough incentive to rake the front lawn. Somehow I doubt Martha rakes her own lawn, but I can't be exact--I don't have a state-sponsored ankle bracelet, either.

All the yardwork wore out my compatriot,
but I made cookies!
With real butter & sugar and everything. Andy almost fainted from the shock.

By dinner time, my Martha Mojo was running low...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Month of Martha

It's November 1 and time for a new project.

November (and since it's the holiday season, this will flow into December), it's The Month of Martha (as in Martha Stewart). Not that I'm actually going to scrounge up the tv antenna so I can start watching her show or anything--let's not get crazy here--but we've lived in this house for 2 years, and it's time to start settling in, maybe hang a few things on the wall, fix an insane amount of food to celebrate a holiday or two, and if I'm feeling really brave I'll attempt some Christmas cookies--the last attempt having produced one cookie the size & shape of the cookie sheet. I haven't yet decided if I'll attempt a little Martha-inspired insider trading--is it still illegal if you don't make any money at it?

In my first Martha Moment, this arrived today:
It's garlic planting stock. I guess in order to get roots going, garlic needs to be in the ground before it freezes, so we'll be planting it tomorrow. We have two varieties that are supposed to tolerate cold winters and be very easy to grow--and thus more humiliating to kill. We'll see what happens.


Um, I didn't actually get to Adam Smith. In fact, out of the 900 pages of my "Making of Society" book, I read 194 pages. After almost 200 pages, I feel like I didn't actually learn anything--I feel like I "unlearned," which probably isn't even a word, but is the most accurate way to explain. I don't know exactly what I believed about the nature of man and/or society, but whatever I did believe, it's all been challenged. I think the questions I'm left with are:

* Are people as a whole capable of goodness?

* When we put people in jail, what are we trying to accomplish?

* Can mankind ever reach a state where we are content and not looking for a group to hate?

* Can any amount of education prevent mob mentality?

* If so many people believe that our government is corrupt and that no politician will fulfill their campaign promises, why haven't we done anything about it--like voting them out?

* Are people as a whole better or worse than they were 1000 years ago? 500?

Since the book is just getting into economics and more modern thought, I am going to continue to read it, but I think I'll drop down to one essay a week. I still want to get back to the other book of essays, The Sex Problem in Modern Society. There's an essay in there entitled, "Birth Control or War." Personally, I can't really see the relationship, but the point of this whole experiment is to learn. I'll keep you posted on that one!

Now I'm going to read something light & simple and not challenging at all--I feel like my brain needs a bit of a vacation. Ha! Maybe that means I should watch TV.....:)

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...