Friday, March 14, 2008

Enough of Spitzer; Oh, My Nose!; Jesus and Freaks (Friday Round-Up)

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way ... New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is not very smart. (I can't say any more than that. I'm tired of him and his cardboard wife standing at his side. "Where's MY $80,000?" I'd be asking. "What about ME? Do you know what I would have done with $80,000? Not this, buddy!")

Oh, my nose! Pass the meth, please ... Spring break is here, and so are the thousands of allergens that are invading my yard and home. I'll take warmer temperatures and sunnier skies ANY day, as long as I have my crystal meth, er, Advil Cold & Sinus. I just belly up to the bar in the pharmacy department, tell them I'll have the "regular," then sign my life away as my name is transcribed to an international database of potential meth users. And if you're an alert billboard reader, you will know that the anti-meth push is at fever-pitch. Too bad it's lost on the young people, like my 9-year-old, who thinks it's an ad to prevent chapped lips.

What would Jesus do? ... Well, probably not THIS. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church typically protest funerals of fallen soldiers. I'll not get into their theology or misguided political views here, but I do want to point out to those who may have been living under a rock this past week that members of this "church" protested the funeral of slain Auburn freshman Lauren Burk because of their hatred toward American colleges. Waiting for Westboro outside the synagogue in Marietta, Ga.: members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The PGR group is made up mostly of motorcycle enthusiasts, but the common denominator among its members is really very simple: They know how to do the decent thing. So they peacefully stand at memorials and funeral services, holding American flags, shielding the mourning family and friends from the disturbing sight of WBC protestors. (I believe Jesus would be on the PGR's side.) And here's the really cool part: Anyone can volunteer to be a Patriot Guard Rider. Check out You can even click on a link to find your state's leader. And when a memorial is held in your area, you, too, can do the decent thing. Way cool. And way decent.

Happy weekend ...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The OTHER Three-Hour Tour That Went Awry

Oh, this is SO Mary Ann.

Read on:

"Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, has been caught with marijuana in her car, after being stopped on the way home from her surprise birthday party. (Sur-PRISE!) The giggling castaway of the 1960s TV comedy was picked up swerving and repeatedly speeding up and slowing down as she drove home from her surprise 69th birthday party in Idaho. When the officer who pulled her over asked about a marijuana smell, Wells said she'd just given a ride to three hitchhikers and had dropped them off when they began smoking something..."

Who didn't see this one coming? Even at 69 years old, she's just as helpful and compassionate as she was back on the island, serving up homemade dishes, making her own curtains and zipping through the palm trees and huts in a halter top. Today, she has allegedly taken to helping the downtrodden and allowing them to smoke illegal substances in her car. Well, SOMEbody has to, I guess.

I remember seeing her on a talk show years and years ago, promoting her company that makes clothing for the disabled. A very Mary Ann thing to do. The line of clothing was/is called "Wishing Wells." If it still exists, good for her! If it doesn't, maybe she could spend her probationary sentence cranking out some Velcro closures and easy-fit gowns. It's a good cause, and she may have some time on her hands.

From her website,, the official "Gilligan's Island Dawn Wells Web Site," Wells writes: "Mary Ann could take anything from lobsters to coconuts and in a matter of minutes whip up a delicious South Seas banquet. That's a talent the two of us share, so with Mary Ann's Menus, I'll pass along treasured family recipes for you to enjoy in your own home.
Coconut Cream Pie, anyone?" That's Mary Ann for you! Give, give, give!

We all have favorite episodes of Gilligan's Island (mine was the castaways' performance of Hamlet, The Musical and their lyrical rendition of "To Be Or Not To Be"), but for you GI fans who might be curious, among Dawn Wells' favorite memories from the Island: "It was fun being hit on the head and imagining I was Ginger in one episode ("The Second Ginger Grant")."

I liked that one, too. Yep. Good times. Good TV.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Extreme Kitchen Makeover (Cooking With Amy)

Today is Wednesday, and that means only one thing: Cooking With Amy! Only, we won't be cooking. We'll be reminiscing and planning because I don't have a food element today. This photo was taken in my kitchen, which is on the brink of getting a redo. This large wall showcases the handiwork of Caprice, who took the time (and my beverages and my spaghetti) to paint these immortal words of J.R.R. Tolkien on this large wall at least five years ago: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

And unless I can find a painter who has the skill to paint the new color (a nice grey) around each letter and comma, these words will be painted over and replaced with another visual, or perhaps another quote, depending on Caprice's mood and the food and drink I have available.

I've gathered some possibilities:
• "If people take the trouble to cook, you should take the trouble to eat." —Robert Morley (the English actor who is described on as having a "portly frame, double chin and perpetual look of pop-eyed surprise"; I'll follow his guidance any day!)
• "He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise." —Henry David Thoreau (Say WHA? Muse or no muse, HDT spent WAY too much time skulking around Walden. He came out talking jibberish. Probably hungry for some chili and tater tots.)
• "In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires." —Benjamin Franklin (without whom we wouldn't have the Franklin stove or the electricity to power the microwave oven, George Foreman Grill, electric frying pan, Crock Pot and toaster. Thanks, big, fat Ben Franklin!)
• "There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." —Thomas Wolfe (who never married but did have a long-time affair with a married woman—figures)

So the story of the original mural goes ... all the menfolk went out of town and left us on our own with a bunch of girl-kids.
"What to do! What to do!"
"Let's paint my wall."
"Let's eat!"
We found a way to do both. While Caprice balanced on a stepladder and yelled at everyone to "knock it off!" because they were making too much noise, I served up a mighty fine meal of homemade spaghetti.

She took a break and helped herself to two of the most tremendous plates of food I've ever seen and then had the brass to say, "I don't really like that bacon spaghetti." Well, I don't really like your attitude, you piece of ...

Oh, wait! There is a food element to this post after all! Here's the recipe for ...

That Bacon Spaghetti

(serves a freakin' ARMY)

bacon (doesn't matter how many slices; maybe 6? 8?; keep the grease; you'll see why in a minute)
fresh mushrooms, sliced
onion, diced
hamburger meat (OR, for you vegans out there, use those vegetable meatless crumbles; nobody has to know; my own FAMILY doesn't know that I used this substitution last time; until now)
canned tomatoes (like, maybe, two of those huge cans? these can be stewed, whole or diced; I don't really care what you use)
tomato puree (a small can will do; my mother insists this is the secret ingredient; don't know how, since it's available in most major supermarkets)
1-2 T. sugar
salt (you decide how much)
pepper (you get to decide again)

I don't get bogged down in measurements or quantity, so you shouldn't either. Make as much or as little as you want. Just cook the hamburger meat (or fake meat) in a separate pan. If you use real meat, DON'T DRAIN IT. You'll kill off all the grease, which serves as a digestive lubricant. This is another of my mother's "secret" tips to perfect spaghetti -- keep the grease. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato puree (but don't tell anyone!) and the sugar.

In a frying pan, fry the bacon. Take the cooked bacon out to drain. (Don't know why; you're about to dump a boatload of grease into the sauce, so a few drops of grease from the actual bacon shouldn't make a difference.) Turn the remaining bacon grease down to "low," and add the diced onions and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are transparent. Then dump the whole darn thing into the sauce mix. Crumble the bacon, and toss the pieces into the sauce. Cook until it looks like sauce.

Somewhere in there, you should be making your pasta. As much or as little as you want. Mmm-mmmm good....

Footnote: Please note the added feature over to the left, My Filthy House. Every couple of days, I will exhibit a different piece of evidence of the filth and disarray that is my home. I promise not to stage anything, but will capture only actual problems that go unnoticed by the people I live with.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This Weekend at Camp...

"If you have no regrets, then you haven't lived." I now have fewer regrets. I have shot rifles, thrown weapons and eaten like I didn't care. And I can't blame any of it on hormones.

BOW is (sigh) over. And I am very sad. It was camp-meets-retreat-meets-outdoors education-meets-recreation-meets-"stretch yourself, why don't you?" And just for kicks, God threw in a little SNOW in ALABAMA Saturday morning.

Some women have been attending this event for YEARS and have their own guns, knives, bows and arrows and more. I want to be one of them. And maybe in a couple of years, I will be. For now, all I know is this: Hang with about 200 women for a weekend, and you learn that we all bring a little something to the table. While sitting on the banks of the pond Sunday morning, a fellow angler explained to me what it means to "haul pulp" and how they make toilet paper and napkins at the paper mill. I helped define "garden home." We all learned something. A win/win.

A Fish Tale

This is not the bait. This is the first catch of the day and would have been enough to feed a family of ... one. Of one 5-year-old who doesn't like fish and who is told, "Eat two bites, or you can't have dessert. It's BRAIN food." Still, a catch is a catch. I didn't want to go to the trouble of finding a taxidermist and a space on my office wall, so I threw him back to swim with his family.

For you fellow anglers who might be curious as to how I caught this award-winning bass, I'll tell you that I used a standard rod and reel and a real live worm. Worked like a charm. I hope it works for you, too.

Let's Shoot a Gun!
What I couldn't master with knives and tomahawks (they went above, around and
even under the target), I more than made up for with rifles -- semiautomatics, muzzleloaders, flint and bolt-action. Look just between my hands in the picture, and you'll see smoke. Too cool. No animals were mistreated or killed in the making of this picture. Just shot a hole in a piece of paper, that's all. You might be interested to know that I also had gun powder on my hands (before and after the gloves). I washed before lunch so that I wouldn't suffer lead poisoning and be rendered illiterate.

Hey, What's Shakin' at the Craft Hut?
OK, there was no craft hut. But there was a room where you could try your hand at fashioning your own fishing lures before heading out for a morning of fishing. And just an arm's length away was a bucket of beads and doo-dads! I made this necklace. And my jealous friend, Kellie, walked by while on her way to Backyard Wildlife and ordered one for herself. I attached a metal clasp to her necklace so that she can hang a pair of nail clippers, a name badge at the hospital, or perhaps her keys. Whatever suits her fancy.

A little how-to: The cord is made of hemp (not that kind of hemp), and I cut a length of about 28 inches. Then I strung the selected beads, careful to make the design symmetrical, so as not to upset the OCD balance. After I finished stringing the beads and metal doo-dads, I tied the ends into a simple double-knot. And then I put it around my neck. Voila! An addition to my jewelry collection! (Mine also has the metal hook action in the middle so that I, too, can fasten anything that I need to keep up with. I don't generally wear a name badge, but I could add a library card or perhaps a grocery store discount card.) Estimated time of completion: Less than five minutes.

And a footnote ...
This blog is now the big 4-0! I may have signed up with Blogger back in August '06, but I didn't start posting until late '07. And in that short time, I've cranked out 40 posts. In fact, you are reading No. 40. Throughout its short lifetime, it has had a facelift, a few mid-life crises and more than its share of mighty bouts with self-esteem issues. But 40 is the new 30, as they say. Whatever that means. And because blogging is, for most of us, a NON-PAYING GIG, this is a volunteer position-- a volunteer position that often takes time away from the PAYING GIGS and the looming deadlines that ensure a paycheck. So, if you're reading this, thank you.

In related news, if you found this blog at, a hearty thank you! It doesn't increase my pay, my book deals or anything else except my ranking and maybe my self-esteem. And if you're a chick, you know that's pretty cool.

Have an awesome Monday....