Friday, March 07, 2008

The Very Attractive Cindy McCain; Helen Keller ROCKS; and More! (Friday Round-Up)

Field Trip to the Health Department ... Oops! Seems you have to have an appointment to get a tetanus shot at the health department. So I was turned away until today. TURNED AWAY FROM THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT. Word to the wise: Tetanus shots are only $5 at the health department. Heavens! I paid more for the gas that got me there. This is a BARGAIN. There's so much to see and learn, really. In the short time that I was there Thursday, I learned that 3x6=18, that "today is Thursday" (twice) and that grown-ups still play pat-a-cake/handjive/shake-shake/whatever that playground game is called. With each other. In the lobby. No children needed. In the lawn beside the parking lot, which is shared with the county mental health center, I visited with three "clients" enjoying their soft drinks and smoking cigarettes. We talked about the unseasonably warm weather. I didn't catch their names. Shot didn't hurt; I can step on rusty nails all weekend, if I want.

Helen Keller ROCKS ... Some kids love Miley Cyrus; others, the HSM cast. In our house, it's all about Helen Keller. So imagine our glee when this photo of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller surfaced and was publicized Wednesday evening. Two little girls gathered around like they were watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. One has a special shelf devoted to All Things Helen and occasionally tosses rose petals on the paperback books, magnets and Alabama quarters. She kisses her fingers then slaps the shelf as she leaves for school each morning. HSM's popularity will almost certainly fade, but Helen lives on. (Anne Sullivan rocks, too.)

Junior Super Tuesday ... Makes no sense. You can't be a little super, or eve
n junior super. Either you're super or you're not. And Tuesday wasn't that super. Neither was John McCain's speech. I think I dozed off. No, I'm sure I did. His wife is very attractive. I wonder if she ever speaks. I wonder many things about her. So here's the research, gathered from

Before his tour of duty in Vietnam, McCain had married a model from Philadelphia, Carol Shepp. While he was imprisoned, she was in an auto wreck, thrown through her car's windshield and left seriously injured... (edited here for unsavory content that doesn't really matter) met Cindy Lou Hensley, whose father owned Hensley & Co., a Phoenix-based liquor company that is the nation's second largest Anheuser-Busch distributor. (Editor's Note: Kegger at the White House!) McCain and Shepp were divorced in 1980, and he married Cindy the following month. In 1981 McCain left the Navy, signing his discharge papers the same day he buried his father at Arlington National Cemetery (Editor's Note: That is very sad), and the newlywed McCains settled in her home state of Arizona, where he went to work for his father-in-law at Hensley & Co. Months later, when Congressman John J. Rhodes announced his retirement, McCain quit the brewery business and ran for Congress. After two terms in the House, he ran for Senate in 1986... you know the rest ... Oh, one more thing -- the McCains adopted Bridget (now 15) during a mercy mission trip to Bangladesh. And another: Cindy had a stroke almost four years ago. She completely recovered. I hope I look like that if I have a stroke.

Party on, dudes ... The Medieval Feast is an annual celebration of all things medieval. But without the mead. Or the grog. Or whatever might make it more enticing. Fourth-graders dress in medieval garb, but the really weird thing is, SO DO THE PARENTS. For some, this is the equivalent of the senior prom. For the rest of us, can't say. Plan A was to dress as plague victims. Skin lesions. Bloodshot eyes. Mild amount of physical decay. When I asked for clarification on just how the plague manifested itself when at its worst, the teacher told me, "Oh, it was bad. People went FAST," snapping her fingers in the air. I said, "Well! We can play dead by the second course and head home!" Slight disapproval. Plan B: Dress as Bill and Ted and go on an Excellent Adventure in surfer shorts and hightops and arrive in our cardboard telephone booth/time machine. Again, slight disapproval. So we rented a gown and a monk costume. I think I have to wear the gown. It's very beautiful, by the way.

Have a delightful weekend...

"Be excellent to each other." - Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tetanus: A Primer...and a Warning

A tetanus shot? Say wha?

I say this with a quivering lip: I will be spending my morning at the health department. With the pregnant teenagers. With the under-insured. With other people who need tetanus shots and are too cheap/broke to go anywhere else. Like myself.

I am heading to the Great Outdoors for a weekend event sponsored by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), and among the requirements to participate is immunity from tetanus. And this begs a couple of questions: How many rusty nails will I be exposed to? How many fishing hooks will threaten my eyelids? Am I in real danger? Which is worse -- the shot or tetanus? Well, that depends. What exactly is tetanus?

According to Tetanus occurs when a wound is not properly cleaned and the germ is trapped in the wound and cut off from oxygen. Typically this would be a puncture wound where the skin would close up quickly leaving infection underneath as with a rusty nail. Wounds that bleed will never result in tetanus because the tetanus bacillus is anaerobic. Information taken from the insert from the pharmaceutical company who manufactures the drug states, “This is primarily a disease of older adults.” Newborns typically are not in danger of being punctured by a rusty nail. Neonatal Tetanus occurs among babies born under unhygienic conditions.
The following information is written by Dr. Sherri Tennpenny:
Tetanus is a disease caused by the Gram -- positive bacterium Clostridium tetani (see photo -- looks like day-glo Good & Plenty candies) that exists in soil as a spore. High concentrations can be present if the soil has been contaminated with animal or human feces. In the presence of anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions, the spores can germinate and release a potent neurotoxin, called tetanospasmin, into the bloodstream. Dirty, deep puncture wounds that are contaminated with soil are at greatest risk for infection. Wounds that are gangrenous, or injuries caused by frostbite, crush injuries, and burns are also at increased risk.

Whoa! Shouldn't someone clean up the soil? Maybe tell people to use the bathroom instead of the woods? What the hay kind of weekend am I in for? A tetanus-free one, for sure!

(Dirty soil and all, I couldn't live anywhere else. And a little shameless promotion here: Look for my article about all the cool things I will have learned this weekend, the ADCNR and Alabama's Great Outdoors in Thicket this fall.)

Read more about tetanus shots and other events of the past week in Friday Round-Up. On Friday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Well, Well, Well ... How 'Bout THEM Cookies?!

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, March 26, 1992

Today is Wednesday, where we feature Cooking With Amy. So in honor of yesterday's election returns, let's take a stroll down Memory Lane, shall we?

Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and the following excerpt from an article published in The New York Times, July 15, 1992 reminds us how Hillary got to where she is today. Mmm-mmm good!

Hillary Clinton says she has been baking chocolate chip cookies since she and her brothers competed to see who could produce the largest on Christmas. "My mother wanted to keep us out of my father's hair while he put up the Christmas tree," she recalled. "We usually got sick eating them and couldn't eat Christmas dinner." (Editor's Note: This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of this recipe.)

Years afterward, she continued to bake them with her daughter, Chelsea. And now she is in a bake-off with Barbara Bush that Family Circle magazine was inspired to sponsor shortly after Mrs. Clinton's remark about not wanting to "stay home and bake cookies" when her husband was elected Governor of Arkansas. The contest pits Mrs. Clinton's version, made with oatmeal and shortening, against Mrs. Bush's, made without oatmeal but with butter. The public has been invited to vote, so Mrs. Clinton is giving her cookies a jump start at the convention this week. On Monday, she told an audience of Congressional wives at a tea given in her honor by Doris Matsui, wife of Representative Robert T. Matsui of California, the Democratic Party treasurer, that while she hadn't sought a competition, she was going all out to win. "Join with me in the first real effort of the election year," she said. "Try my cookies. I hope you like them, but like good Democrats vote for them anyway." Family Circle said that Margot Perot, wife of Ross Perot, had been invited to submit a cookie recipe but had not responded. "My feeling was that she orders in," said Jacqueline Leo, the magazine's editor in chief. The cookies at the tea were baked by Powell Weeks, who cooks for one of Mrs. Clinton's friends, Norma Asnes. Other friends have been asked to bake them, too. "My friends all over the United States are bringing them by the carload," she said. "We're passing them out all over." (Editor's Note: Hints of a political bribe.)

But her friends' cookies cannot be passed out at Madison Square Garden because of health regulations about food made in unapproved kitchens. (Editor's Note: Uh-oh!) And so, stacks of the cookies are being prepared by Soutine Bakery -- 6,000 were delivered on Monday and a few hundred more yesterday. "I can vouch for my friends' kitchens," she said, "but I can understand that the health department doesn't know about the kitchens they come from. I want people to vote for my cookies. It's a matter of honor." (Editor's Note: Never heard "honor" defined quite that way. Hmmm...)

Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Total time: 20 minutes

Vegetable oil for baking sheets
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.
2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda on waxed paper.
3. Beat together shortening, sugars and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.
5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 7 1/2 dozen cookies.

Nutrition analysis per cookie: 67 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium, 1 gram protein, 9 grams carbohydrate.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What Should Hillary Do Today?

"A Day of Reckoning." Oh, but I do love a good caption! And that was the one that ran beneath the AP photo of Hillary as she schmoozed the good people of Houston before she jetted off to some exotic spot in Columbus, Ohio to plant herself in front of the TV to watch election returns tonight.

Reckon what she'll eat? Cheese-stuffed pizza? Reckon what she'll wear? Sleep pants and a Hillary in '08 t-shirt?

After a Barry Manilow concert a few years ago, my friend Kelly and I stayed in our seats while everyone departed for their minivans. We watched the roadies (yes, I assume Barry Manilow calls them "roadies") dismantle the stage and the clean-up crew sweep the cups and the paper that the rowdy Fanilows left behind. All we could do was imagine what it was like to be Barry Manilow right then, at that very moment.

"Where do you think he is right now?"
"Who is he talking to?"
"Will he stop for a cheeseburger?"
"Did he make another costume change before getting on the plane? The bus? The taxi?"

It seemed unfathomable that Barry Manilow was an actual person who wasn't always on stage and writing the songs that all the young girls sing. To imagine him being NORMAL when out of our spotlight was really, really weird.

Because today is so pivotal for Hillary, I've found myself thinking a lot about what she might be up to, or what she'll do while in Columbus tonight and tomorrow morning, especially if things don't go her way. According to's entry about Columbus, the world is her oyster! She can kick up her sensible, medium-high heels and take advantage of some of the city's biggest bargains:

1. Ride COTA. If Hillary were a college student, she could do this free. But because she may be nearing the end of her presidential candidacy, her free rides may be numbered. The good news: A cool $1.50 will get her to all KINDS of places throughout the Columbus area on this public transit system.
2. Statehouse Tour. The nice people of Ohio will let Hillary do this on her own, or she can join in a group tour. I like to think she would go it alone. She's that kind of girl.
3. Columbus Museum of Art Free Sundays. The way this reads, I think it means no admission is charged on Sundays. Or, it could mean that Sundays are free of art. But the hyphen is missing, so it likely is inviting the public to tour the CMA free of charge. Maybe Hillary can stick around through the weekend.
4. Main Library. Hillary could probably stand to catch up on a little light reading. Here's a recommendation: I am currently reading Haven Kimmel's The Used World, which is not at all light, but very well-written and an escape from what might be bothering Hillary in her own world.
5. Metro Parks. She can jog, climb a tree, check out the vending machines. Whatever floats her boat.
6. Hit the Shopping Malls. "Columbus has lots of malls!" according to
7. Short North Gallery Hop. A monthly showcase of artistic shops in this neighborhood may help Hillary relieve some stress and perhaps land her a new piece for her New York home.
8. Hangout at Bookstores. Maybe grab a latte.
9. Stretch Your Legs on the Oval. My money says they're not talking about the Oval Office. And as I read along, I learn that the Oval is the heart of the OSU campus. Like a quad, I guess. Much has been said about Hillary's short legs over the years, so I'll not make matters worse here. Her dogs have got to be tired after all these campaign stumps. Wait. I said I wouldn't say anything about her legs.
10. View the Upper Arlington Mansions. Like a tour of homes. You ride the COTA and see the exteriors of the city's most historic homes.

If this is the end of the road for Hillary, God bless her. As someone who doesn't give a whit about this election, I can honestly say, "Well, that's a shame." And if it is the end of the road, she's probably thinking the same thing. In her sleep pants. Eating pizza. And ice cream. From the carton. Watching Super Nanny. Draped in a crocheted afghan. Wearing a banana clip in her bangs. Wondering where to hang that piece of art she bought in Columbus, Ohio. Rolling her eyes and telling Bill to "knock it off, why don't you?"

Coming soon: Why is Amy getting a tetanus shot? Why is she renting a Renaissance-looking gown? How Super was Tuesday? Read about these and more in Friday Round-Up. On Friday.