Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Conversation With Myself

This is a conversation that takes place inside a middle aged woman's head.  In this conversation, she is both antagonist and protagonist as she is arguing with different aspects of herself.  

16 Year Old Self:  OMG, look at these adorable 8 week old puppies that they have at the adoption center.  They are hound mixes, rescued from a high kill shelter in Georgia.  They are so cute and they need a good home.  You know, Brownie is really slowing down, she needs a pup to play with.

Late 40's Self:  The last time we spoke about this we agreed that there is already too much chaos in the house with all the friends in and out, the kid's crazy schedules, school, work, band practice.  Besides, we already have a dog and a cat that could use more of your attention.

16 Year Old Self:  I know, but just look at their little faces and their soulful eyes.  They will be sad if they don't get adopted.

Late 40's Self: DG, there are plenty of people out there that would love to adopt those puppies. I guarantee you they will all be gone by Memorial Day.

16 Year Old Self:  Can we at least go and visit them?  The ad says that families are welcome to come down and play with them, with no obligation to adopt.  I promise, I won't harass you to get one,  I just want to hold a couple.

Late 40's Self:  Ok, I will take you. But i'm telling you, we are not getting another dog!   And I don't want any trouble or whining from you when it's time to leave.

16 Year Old Self:  Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!  I promise, I won't try to change your mind.  I just want to hold them.

Late 40's Self:  You're damn right you're not changing my mind.  Ok, let's go.

Interior of a suburban pet adoption center.  The antagonist and protagonist are leaning over a gated corral of puppies.  There are eight of them and they are climbing over each other to get the attention of their visitors.  The women reach down into the cage and pull out an adorable floppy eared pup who promptly nestles his head on the woman's shoulder and immediately falls into a contented sleep.

Late 40's Self:  (to woman behind the counter at adoption center)   Do you take debit cards?


Meet Buzz the Magnificent:







Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Big Risk Big Reward

As a mother, there are certain cliches that, despite your best intentions, you know you'll end up saying..."Stop hitting your sister!"  "Don't touch that.", "Use your inside voice", etc.  However, nothing can prepare you for the day that something like this comes out of your mouth - "Who took a picture of their poop with my iPad?".  My expectation is that some will find this amusing and others will be repulsed.  If you are of the squeamish/easily repulsed variety, this story is not for you.  Check back in a few days for tamer material.  For the rest of you, particularly those that thrive on my humiliation, read on...

I am always yelling at my son for taking my iPad. He has a desktop and a laptop computer as well as an iPhone, so there really isn't a good reason for him to ever take my iPad. My expectation is that my ipad will be on the charger, where I left it, every morning when i get up.  My son, like most teenagers, feels that any items that exist within the confines of the property are fair game for his to use. Agree to disagree.

This morning I woke to find my iPad on its charger where I left it, which is where I like it. As we we were running out the door, I grabbed it and threw it in the computer case.  By 7:40 am we were in the air bound for Las Vegas and all was right with the world.

The five hour flight was as boring as a twelve pack of tube socks. The time was absolutely dragging as we watched crappy movies, ate crappy snacks and attempted to nap in that awkward, sideways head position.

Somewhere over Colorado, my husband pulled up the window shade and pointed out the Rocky Mountains.  They were covered in snow, with jagged peaks against a gorgeous blue sky.  We grabbed our iPhones and started snapping pictures. Then I spotted the iPad in the seat pocket in front of my husband and figured I would use that to take some pictures with this because with my middle aged eyes, I can see them better on the Ipad.

I picked up the Ipad and raised it to to window.  As I did so, my finger accidentally tapped the thumb nail in the corner and up came a picture.  It was a distressing picture and at first I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at.  I held the Ipad up in confusion as I inspected the image in front of me, all the while, displaying it to the 20 rows behind me. My husband looked over and immediately slapped the Ipad down toward the tray table, then he looked at me, looked back down at the Ipad and simply said my son's first name.   If ever there was a question about whether our son ate enough fiber, it was put to rest at that moment.

I spent the rest of the flight thinking about how to retaliate.  A conventional punishment would not suit this particular crime. This was an act of toilet terrorism and as such, needed a swift and creative counter-action.  I thought about printing out a couple of dozen copies and mailing them to him, but why incur all that postage cost?  I also considered pasting copies of it all over his room and in his bathroom, but to ruin his paint job, who suffers in the end?  Then it dawned on me, the answer was as clear as the water in Lake Mead below us...

We had visited an animal rescue center before we left for vacation.  Our middle aged dog seemed to be slowing down, so we wanted to get her a puppy to liven her up.  We found these adorable Hound mix pups and signed up to adopt one.  It would take a few days for the background check, so we could pick him up when we got back from Vegas.  When we got back and went to pick him up, the vet tech warned us that she thought the pup might be a Hound and Great Dane mix.  Guess who gets to be on poop patrol?
Game, set, match.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lawn-Guy-Land

Part of the joy of living on Long Island is proximity.  Proximity to New York City, proximity to miles and miles of sandy ocean shoreline and proximity to 3 major airports so that you can leave it.  Now, before the hate mail starts rolling in, let me set the record straight by saying I love Long Island, I would never even consider living somewhere else (with the exception of Rome).  But sometimes I have to get away from the cartoonishness that plagues us.

I believe that Long Island has fallen into a bit of reputational bad luck. We just don't have a whole lot of highly vocal, positive representation. There are 7.5 million people on Long Island. But if you were to ask the average American who they are familiar with that comes from Long Island, who immediately comes to mind for most people? Amy Fisher?  The Long Island Medium? Lindsey Lohan (You're welcome for that one TMZ)?

I can remember back when I was first starting my career, when I learned that I would have to deal with companies outside of New York, I panicked that I would sound like some gum snapping bimbo to them.  I spent hours and hours trying to shed my accent, practicing into a tape recorder to make sure that I pronounced my Rs and struck phrases like "Oh my gawd" from my vocabulary.  What I probably ended up with was a forced sounding Larchmont-lockjaw, like the one Martha Stewart has adopted (she's from Nutley, NJ. c'mon Martha, who do we think we're kidding?), but at least I didn't sound like this:

Photo Credit - Ticketmaster.com

Or this...






Last night my son and I had dinner at a cute little ice cream parlor on the North Shore of the island.  The sun was a brilliant hot pinkish-orange ball as it disappeared into the Long Island Sound, leaving a rainbow sherbet colored sky behind it.  I guess having people think I sound like a reject from the cast of the Long Island Lolita movie is a small price to pay for proximity to this.  Quick, hand me my teasing comb.



Friday, May 17, 2013

On Aging

I am sitting on the couch with a big, soft and cuddly silver tabby draped lovingly across my lap.  He is purring like the engine of a luxury car and he occasionally flares and kneads his claws in a state of contented bliss.  I take a sip of my warm, rich French Roast coffee and think "Holy shit! I better call the police! Someone has replaced my cat, body snatchers style and put in a replicant. "

To know Spike the Hotness Monster is to know the true independence of a cat.  The idiosyncratic, aloof behavior, the mousing like a madman,  the obsessive need for privacy.  Yes.  Privacy.  Do you know that in the 14 years that we have had this cat, I have seen him do his catly business exactly once. I can't say the same for my kids or my dog.

 As an aside, I can see why he would be protective of his technique.  Let me lay it out for you:

  • First he digs a hole.
  • Then he sticks his head in the hole to see if it is big enough.
  • He makes adjustments to the hole (i believe he is looking for a 2X diameter of his head here).
  • He carefully positions himself on the ledge of the hole, somewhat like Greg Louganis would set for a high dive.
  • He does his thing
  • He buries it with obsessive perfection, almost daring you to ever find the spot again. 
  • He saunters away and assumes nap position in a sunny spot.  Genius, really.
But in all the years that we have filled his bowl and let him in and out of the house, he has never been what you would call "cuddly".  When I personify him and imagine what his human form would be, I usually come up with a vision of a chain smoking European playboy in a slim fitting suit with a skinny black tie who never takes off his sunglasses and drives around in impossibly expensive sports car and never works, yet seems to always have a lot of money.  The European playboy has become my lap cat.

Over the past year we have seen a change in Spike.  The once lush and silvery grey coat now looks raggedy.    He often sits on a kitchen chair and stares at the ceiling, seemingly looking at something that isn't there until he falls asleep sitting up.  But most alarmingly of all, he seems to always want lovin'.  The only explanation that I can come to for this behavior is that he is in his twilight years.

I know that of all the domestic pets, cats are usually graced with the longest lifespan, so its not like I think we need to start singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" any time soon.   But I do believe that the Hotness Monster has gone into retirement and in his head and he is reclining poolside in the Riviera in a speedo that only he could pull off, flirting with the waitress that brings his refreshments and never taking off his sunglasses.  And that's OK.

On the kitchen chair where he ponders the universe

Up close and personal





Sunday, May 12, 2013

Biga the Mother Sponge

I got up at the ass crack of dawn today.  Not because I wanted to, I just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  Maybe it was excitement over what was growing in my kitchen.  I was growing a sponge.

A sponge is a starter that is used in bread baking.  The Italians call it a biga, which, of course is much nicer than sponge because everything sounds better in Italian.   Interestingly enough, it is also called a mother sponge.  This got me thinking about how much bread baking and motherhood have in common.

Baking bread requires time and care, kneading and shaping, rising and proofing.  There are a lot of steps and it is definitely a learn as you go process.  With a little luck and a lot of tending to, you will end up with something wonderful that was worth all the labor and sweat.

I have never fancied myself a particularly skillful baker when it came to yeast doughs nor a very traditional mother when it came to child rearing.  Yet, as my loaves proof and my kids grow, I have found that I am happy with the results that I am getting.  I guess everything gets better with practice and while I might have given more thought to my failures, upon reflection, there are many successes to celebrate.

I hope all of you take the time today to appreciate what the fruits of your labor and to honor your moms.  May your little honey buns treat you well.

XO -Diary

P.S. If you are interested in a pretty easy and reliable Semolina Bread Recipe (per the pics below), go here:
http://food.eagletribune.com/recipe-video/Homemade-Semolina-Bread.html

The Mother Sponge

The Dough Ball (pre-rise)
 First Rise
 Shaped Loaf After the Second Rise
All things considered, a pretty respectable result


Friday, May 10, 2013

Cattoman

I bought an ottoman .  Not just an average ottoman, but a kicky lime green ottoman with a floral pattern.  It sits right in the front entrance hall.  As the first thing I see when I walk I the door, it is there to make me happy with its jaunty punch of color.  It replaces an old white wood, white fabric bench that was both dated and dingy thanks to  a constant film of cat hair.  I would vacuum the bench weekly, only to have the gray haze of cat hair  return in a couple of days.  I got tired of looking at it and even more tired of cleaning it, so I got a new one. I got it for me, to make me happy when I walk in the door.  However, not all family members agree who this is for. . .


Are you getting the vibe of ownership and entitlement from him?  It seems to say "F you and your silly little tufted bench. This bitch is mine and you are powerless to do anything about it."


 He forgets that he's old and that I am much bigger than him.  And I forget what a soft spot I have in my heart for his hairy and very crotchety old self.   He wins.  As usual.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Like a bad penny. . .

Hello there!  Some of you may remember me.  I used to go by the handle "Diary of a Mad Bathroom".

A little over a year ago, I was sailing through some rather choppy waters, personally and professionally.  I did not have the focus, time or sense of humor left to keep my blog going, so I folded up my tent and I retreated.

The funny thing was, I did not retreat for long.  The siren call of blogging was singing my name from a distant shore.  Unfortunately at that time, I had so much bitterness and stress, that I thought I needed to change my message and provide an outlet for others that were going through similar experiences.  This bitterness gave birth to my first ill-conceived attempt at blog re-entry:

The Only Water Cooler in Hell

Maybe it wasn't entirely ill conceived.  There are certainly plenty of people that have had miserable work experiences, who need a place to rant about it. I think I just burnt out fast because I was working from a place of negativity. Oh, and I was supposedly running it anonymously. Surprise! It's me (like you didn't know).

That didn't last very long.

Then I decided that I would start a food related blog.

The Pedestrian Palate

Over the years I had posted plenty of pictures and stories about my cooking and baking exploits on Diary of a Mad Bathroom.   So why not a food blog?  But again, the single threaded topic burnt me out quickly because there is so much more that I have to say than "hey I just baked some yummy brownies". Blech. Boring.

So here I am, back like a bad penny, hoping to tap back into all that I loved about blogging.  I can't wait to see what the blogging community has to offer, who's still around and who suffered from a similar identity crisis to mine.  Just this one post and I already feel better.   I hope the PTA didn't exhale, because I am back in the saddle and ready to start targeting their most heinous, bitchy and judgmental members. Warning - A Vera Bradley Bag and a luxury SUV is the same as a target to me.  Duck bitches!