Monday, November 7, 2016

The Impact of The Breakfast Club on the Presidential Election

Photo courtesy of IMDB

There was a joke in the Breakfast Club about the nerdy Anthony Michael Hall character having a fake ID so he could vote. I always thought that was hilarious and a wildly improbable Hollywood character reveal... that is until I met my daughter.

This year, my daughter is 17 and she is buzzing with anxiety about the fact that she is a few months shy of being able to vote in this year's election.  She wants so badly to be able to have her voice heard in what has turned out to be the one of the craziest, most polarizing presidential races of our history. I know there have been plenty of ugly races before, but with the constant blare of social media and the 24X7 news cycle to fan the fires of acrimony, it feels far worse than any political race of recent memory.  It is in her face and her hands are tied.  I wish I had her passion and conviction.

I must admit that I am somewhat ostrich-like politically.  Everything about politics and politicians rubs me the wrong way.  I am embarrassed by the very notion of political grandstanding (hell, I can't even answer the "tell me a little about yourself" question on a job interview without breaking out in a rash) I feel physical pain when someone publicly insults someone else and the saddest part of all of it is that the good of the people gets lost in the sauce and overshadowed by self-serving rhetoric.

This is the very reason that I have spent the majority of my last 25 years in a corporate job, bristling at the behavior of my coworkers.  In my great distaste for political behavior, I find myself adrift in a sea of people who shamelessly embrace it.  Not to sound too Pollyanna, but can't we just do our jobs and let the actions speak for themselves?  Apparently, the answer is no. Vomit.

That said, I will make absolutely sure that I vote in this election, as seeing the importance of it through the eyes of someone that I care about reveals the privilege and gravity of doing it.  Mind you, this is through the eyes of someone who asked for a copy of the NY State Penal Code for Christmas, so I understand that there is a little bit of a personality slant to that, but it is still a meaningful reminder.  I hope that everyone has someone in their life that reminds them of the importance of taking a big hit of Peptol Bismol (for race induced diarrhea, of course) and heading to the polls. Hopefully the discomfort will be over soon.

And what of that girl who wants so badly to vote this year?  Well, I am going to lock up my license
and hide the keys to the car and try to restrain her until 2020.  At that point, she should be well on her way toward a degree in criminal justice and I could not be more proud...that is, unless she decides to be a politician, then I am going to need a Peptol Bismol IV drip.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Chicken Walks into a Butcher Shop...

I'll admit it, I get a little intimidated when I go into the butcher shop.  If there is one thing that I know absolutely nothing about, it's meat butchery.  On the very few times that I tried to joint up chicken wings or separate a thigh from a drumstick, it has been nothing shy of disastrous.  I end up with flesh that is shredded at the edges like Christmas tinsel.  I can take apart and dice a bell pepper with the best of them, but when it comes to knife skills in the meat world, I get a failing grade every time.

Everything about the process inside the butcher shop is about mastery,  from the confident way they handle the different cuts to the understanding of which cut to use for what purpose to the blindingly fast use of a knife. So, like the puffer fish of the deep, I puff up my chest and stride in with a Dirty Harry swagger, as to not tip the professionals off to my lack of understanding or skill.  Think Billy Crystal in Analyze This, but with meat.

I confidently approach the counter and tell the butcher that I would like a pound and a half of ground sirloin and a pound of ground chuck.  I am sure the butcher is scratching his head over this odd ratio, but he is kind enough not to ask.  I don't want to have to tell him that I do this out of laziness because if I use all chuck in my chili, it takes too long to skim the extra fat off the top, so I mix in something leaner.

"Anything else?" he asks.  I momentarily seize up as I had not thought past the pot of chili.  "Yes", I blurt out trying to mask the hesitation brought about by my utter lack of preparedness, "I will take a whole organic chicken, cut up". It was the first thing I could think of and I believe that I have managed to convince him that I had planned all along to make chicken.  I laugh on the inside, believing that I have not tipped my hand (clearly a pair of twos) and exposed the fact that I had no clue what else I wanted, that is until he decides to throw math into the conversation.  If I have one Achilles Heel weaker than my knowledge of butchery, it's my knowledge of math.

"Do you want that chicken cut in eight pieces?" he asked.  The look that came over my face was probably something approximating abject fear and constipation as the thought of meat math was binding up my brain.  I started to do an inventory of chicken parts in my head, which is the meat math equivalent of counting on your fingers "Two breasts plus two wings plus two drums plus two thighs equals eight".  Then as if to provide a haughty "Go ahead, make my day" type response, I tell him, "No, make it ten.  I want to split the breasts across the middle so that all the pieces are the same size, and they cook evenly".

He slowly took two steps back from the counter and I could see the mental meat math that he was now doing in his head. Of course, he solved the problem quickly and turned to the butcher block and started hacking up the chicken, and everything was right with the world.  I stood there listening to the solid "thwack, thwack,thwack" of his cleaver against the bird on the board.  I moved toward the register, ready to pay and take the spoils of my chicken victory when he held up the backbone of the bird and asked me if I wanted it.  Shit! How did we end up with an eleventh piece?  Defeated by vertebrae!  I looked down at my shoes and mumbled, "You can keep it" then I paid him and quietly slunk out the door, more Cowardly Lion than Dirty Harry.  Maybe next time I'll make a list.

Friday, October 14, 2016

All Hail the Queen

Life is mysterious and unexpected and sometimes it gives you wonderful things that you probably don't deserve.  In my life, one of my wonderful things was my dog Brownie.  Sainted would be the word that I would use to describe this mild mannered, tolerant, patient and sweet, breed-confused pup. The gumbo of dogs, she was a here-to-fore unheard of genetic combination of German Shepherd, Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever.  The physics of that union do not compute.  But that whacked out alchemy yielded one amazing canine.

She came to us 11 years ago, right after Hurricane Katrina.  Our intent was to adopt a Katrina dog, so we started combing the online adoption services for a rescue.  Though we could not find a suitable Katrina adoption, what we did find was a discarded lab puppy from Tennessee.  Brownie came from an area in Tennessee where purity of breed in your hunting dog mattered and if a wandering mutt got in your yard and knocked up your prized bitch, it was likely that the results of that one nighter would be left off at the night deposit of a local kill shelter, or worse.

Such was the fate of Brownie, or "Vanessa" as she had been named by the rescuers that got her out of the shelter and on to the adoption circuit.  By the time she shuttled up to NY in the back of an 18 wheeler stacked from floor to ceiling with cages and met us at the pickup point (a Target parking lot on an off ramp of the NY Thruway), she was 4 months old, covered in fleas and easily the most adorable thing I had ever seen.

There's no easy way to describe the way Brownie looked.  It was like someone had randomly screwed on parts, like a Mr. Potato Head assembled in the dark.  She had the soulful face of a lab, complete with expressive eyes, triangle shaped, flapped over ears and a black rubber ball of a nose.  From got weird.  Her body was contoured like a Shepherd's but elongated like a Basset's and with a medium length but plush and velvety coat.  At the rear end, she had these long, blonde tufts of undercoat that shot out from behind her like flames from a rocket, giving way to a long, fluffy, flared tail.  All of that sat on top of stubby, stout, Basset Hound legs. In short, she was a freak, but the cutest freak.

And so she came to live with us, where she proved that she had a temperament of gold.  How else could you explain her ability to tolerate a curmudgeonly cat, a couple of kids, an endless revolving door of friends and family and eventually, a neurotic and needy Great Dane/Hound mix named Buzz.  To say that she tolerated us is not a fair assessment at all.  She loved this ridiculous, rag-tag mix of species beyond what we probably deserved and in return, we loved her back.  And though it is cliche to say, it is so very true to say to know her was to love her.

So, sometimes life gives you wonderful things that you probably don't deserve and sometimes it gives you a festering shit-pile that you also don't deserve.  Life gave Brownie cancer and she most certainly did not deserve that.  The best that we can hope for is that the 11 years that we gave her since she came up on that doggie transport from Tennessee were as precious to her as they were to us and that the crazy mixed up life we brought her into gave her the same joy we got as we watched her crazy, mixed up body jump in the pool, run up the hill in the back yard and sleep on the couch like it was her job.

All hail the queen...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Where Food and Love Intertwine

I put up a post at my sister-blog, The Pedestrian Palate.  This one is not a recipe, but a story of how food and love can intersect.  Not my usual snarky fare...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sicily. Your Mother Just Won't Understand

When I told my mom that we were going back to Italy for another visit, she gave an exasperated sigh, said okay and basically hung up the phone on me. I get it, she doesn't get it.  However, she does not have to get it.  She stopped paying for my vacations somewhere south of my 18th birthday.

In spite of my protestations to my mother about the fact that this trip was going to be different, that we were going to Sicily first for a few days to see the country that my maternal grandmother and my husband's paternal grandparents all came from, my mother still assumed that it was a re-do of trips gone by.  But to suggest that Sicily is the same as the rest of Italy is not accurate. Not even close.

Siclily, like all regions of Italy, is very much a place unto itself.  A place with its own jumbled up culture, language and wonderful people. It is a place that has been conquered more frequently than (insert the name of your loosest friend here), and as a result has influences in the food, architecure and culture from the Greeks, Romans, Arabians, Northern Afticans and Spanish (to name a few). Funny, I just realized that the previous sentence reads like my husband's 23 and me results...a topic for another day.

After 5 days in Sicly, we returned to our favorite place in the world - Rome.  Rome fits like an old leather glove, but as broken in and worn as it may be, it never loses its beauty.  Upon review of our pictures from both places, the stark contrast is clear.  Sicily is earthy and the people are expressive and there seem to be few rules.  I have selected some of my favorite pictures from the Sicily portion of the trip that most clearly illustrate the immense beauty and quirky nature of the Sicilian island.

There is so much more to see, so sorry mom, I have every intention of going back.

Walking the dog, Ortigia-style.

Everyone was getting married while we were in Ortigia. Brides a-pelnty. This one arrived in style.

Burrata in a cold tomato soup with croutons. Pure genius.

This was a fish called Spatula.  If we had seen it in its natural state prior to the artful presentation below, we might have thought twice.  What this chef did to that ugly creature was nothing short of magical. ( image of the toothy fellow here, if you dare - )

Grape hauling cart from the old days.  One side had scenes of drunks enjoying the fruits of their labor, the other had saints blessing the harvest.  I related more to the side shown.

It was about 2 weeks from harvest when we visited the Benanti Winery just outside of Catania and the grapes looked ready to burst. 
he winery sits on the slopes of Mt Etna and the volcanic soil produces the most amazing grapes.

Amazing meats and cheeses prepared for our tasting at Benanti.
The cheese with a dark rind on the end? Oven baked fresh ricotta. No words.

 We spent afternoons drinking wine here. Relaxing and beautiful.


We found this guy at 3400 ft elevation on a winding mountain road. He mean mugged us, but we didn't sweat him. We kept on truckin'.

The fountain of Diana in Piazza Archemide at night.

View from the streets of Chiaramonte Gulfi, high in the hills of Sicily.

The sea urchin is so plentiful in Ortigia that there are huge baskets of them hauled into the market every day. I couldn't help but think about the street value of these things in NY. 

Vespas and cats everywhere and usually together, for some reason.

Persimmon.  Never ate one, but it looks pretty.

Greek ruins all over the joint.

Anybody spot Uncle Jun?  He clocked us the entire time we were at that cafe. Must have thought we were there to steal his cornetto.

***These quirky pictures of Sicily are mine all mine and not to be re-published or used for any purpose without permission.***

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Remembering Spike

I was scrolling through my facebook page today.  I do this because sometimes I post things and forget, so like any self-regulating human being, I make sure that I did not drunk-post anything that I would regret.  Luckily, most of my drunk posts weigh in on the side of silly/stupid vs. embarrasing.  I am too hung up as a human being to go the embarrassing route. Both a blessing and a curse.
In any case, in this self-policing moment, I came across some pictures of our cat, who passed away two and a half years ago.  These days, we have two dogs, but back in the day, we had two dogs and a grey striped bundle of cattitude named Spike. There are times when, in my weakness, I consider getting another cat, but I just can't do it.  I feel like I have had perfection and that any other animal would be a let down.  Let me explain.

What you probably don't know about me is that I am what has been described by my sister-in-laws as a "laissez faire" parent.  Which in their lexicon, probably means I don't apply the proper level of Martial Law in the household. However, I feel that it is best that I choose my battles and trust my kids enough to give them just enough freedom to learn from their experiences, yet remain safe.  You say tomato, I say stuff a watermelon up your bum.  Same difference.

The same trust but verify parenting style came into play when parenting my cat Spike.  He was hipper and smarter than the room about 100% of the time.  A child of the streets, he was born outside, chose his owner and exercised a high degree of autonomy at an early age.  He was not about to be micro-managed by some fascist human trying to impose order on him. Who was I to tell him that he couldn't be an indoor/outdoor cat? He and I shared the same impression of litter boxes; uncouth and a hotbed of disease.  And of course, he's gotta be free to survey the flora and the fauna and occasionally make a kill.  When you don't have your testicles, you have to find other ways to assert your manliness...or so I'm told.

Spike was not a snuggler with his humans, but he cuddled with the dogs like nobody's business. If I got to apply a few lightly appreciated scratches behind the ears, I was over the moon. He forged an astonishingly affectionate relationship with his unhinged brother-dog Buzz, who really was the punishment that none of us ever deserved. Yet there was genuine sweetness and love between Spike and this lizard-brained dodo, in spite of his natural tendencies to chase and erradicate the smaller woodland creatures of the world.  And like all of us, Spike adored Brownie the Wonderdog, because only a half-crazed sociopath on crack and off his behavioral meds would dislike Brownie.

So, I stand by my no new cat rule because how many, cool, smart, independent yet loving, outdoor pooping, indoor sleeping, toast stealing, ukulele playing, dog snuggling, look both ways before crossing the street, cats are there in the universe?  I think one, and I had him.  For this laissez fair cat parent, the is no other but Spike the Hotness Monster.  Behold and appreciate...the cat, the myth, the legend - SPIKE!

This is Spike's badass look. It always reminded me of when Snoopy perched on top of a tree or is doghouse and looked like a vulture.

We call this pose "the roast". It's a more effective name when both feet are tucked under him, but he was not one to conform.

Buttered toast stealing a specialty.

Yes, he played the ukulele. You wanna make something of it?

Sharing nap space.  It was always a coup for the kids if they had multiple animals sleeping on their bed.

Yes, he is judging you. You're just going to have to deal with it.

Clearly, he feels that he can take a better photo. "Gimme that thing."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sharing a Super Deal To Italy

Let me say at the top, this is not a sponsored post.  I don't know anyone at Gate 1 Travel and they don't know me.  What I do know and what you probably know about me, is that I love Italy.  I always have my eye out for reasonable airfares and deals to get my American tucas on Italian soil.

So, the other day I was scrolling through the emense dumpheap of email that I get every day and a Gate 1 Email caught my eye.  I am too lazy to opt out of anything, so the quantity of promotional email that I get, fills my mailbox to the top about every week or so.

I have a friend at work who told me about the great rates that this Gate l had to Italy, so I have been monitoring it.  What I saw on this most recent email seemed too good to be true.  It had an offer for 8 days in Tuscany with hotel, airfare and rental car for $699 a person.  I re-read it half a dozen times because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Airfare to Italy from NY is generally around $1200.  That's airfare alone. With a lot of homework and shopping, you can get a flight for around $1000, and that takes a lot of work. $699 from soup to nuts? It just seems unbelievable.

So, this company had a trip to Tuscany that costs less than a trip to Florida.  The problem is, I can't go due to work and it is burning me up. It seems almost like a crime to miss out, so I am doing the best thing I can think of as an alternative and passing the information on to you.

Below, you will find both the link to the offer.
Link:The Deal

I hope that this helps someone discover Italy and fall in love with it like I did.  Ciao, bella!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bullets Over Long Island

I have an Uncle.  His name is Ronnie.  Ronnie is fabulously eccentric, but in the most endearing way. When I was a little girl, Ronnie was my constant companion.  Whenever he came over to visit the family, I thought he was there just for me.  I would run out the door before he could even reach the walkway, grab his hand, drag him back to his car and start barking orders at him.  Take me for ice cream!  Take me to the park!  Most adults would try to talk sense into a child and tell them "Maybe later, I want to see everyone" but not Ronnie.  He would just shake his head and laugh all the way back to the car and we would take off.

Some of my best childhood memories are centered around my adventures with Uncle Ronnie.  Ronnie taught me some important life lessons in extremely inappropriate ways.  For instance, Ronnie taught me how to drive.  He was a very patient and thorough teacher, explaining how to ease the gas and brake and not to take a bend in the road too sharply. Of course he taught me all of this when I was 7.  I would be tooling down the road, barely able to see over the wheel and people would catch a glimpse of the top of my pony tailed head and double-take, some even swerved off the road.

The same thing went for shooting.  He taught me many critical lessons about gun safety...while I was firing guns at the gun range.  I fired pistols and rifles so powerful that they knocked me back and bruised my shoulder.  I never did develop a love for guns, but I can can handle one if necessary.  I am the big winner when a carnival rolls into town. No really, you should see me go.  I win all the crappy stuffed animals. Life skills, man.

A lifelong gun collector, Ronnie amassed a stockpile of guns that would rival the average military base.  So when he became unable to live alone anymore, the issue of what to do about Ronnie's guns and the closet full of ammo that went along with them became a very real concern.  Ronnie was also a coin collector.  He had containers full of silver dollars and half dollars stacked in the closets in his house.  So here we were with the conundrum of what to do with all the coins and all the weaponry.

The first order of business was to get rid of the handguns while Ronnie's pistol license was still in force.  This should have been simple, except Ronnie's house was a certifiable disaster and his once laser sharp memory had started to haze over a bit and he could not recall exactly where the license was.  The fact that Ronnie's house was 45 miles away from where he currently lived compounded the problem of the missing license.   It took three separate 90 mile round trips to finally find the paperwork necessary to initiate the sale. On the third trip, the license was finally found.  On each of these trips, we started taking the coins out of the house.

In true Ronnie fashion, the coins were stashed all over the house in two pound Polly-O Ricotta containers and Breyer's Sherbet containers, so they were heavy and not exactly the most discreet thing to remove from the house.  At no point were we interested in having the neighbors come out to see us hauling weapons and money out of the house.  It took countless early morning and evening trips to empty the house of all his coins and guns.  We then we had to sort out the valuable ones and haul the remainder to the Coinstar machine to cash them in.  There were marathon sessions at the Coinstar machine with angry people in line behind us cursing us under their breath.  It was much easier to get rid of the guns.

I suppose that you could say that all went well with the process, except for the time that we discovered that one container of coins was actually a container of 44 Magnum bullets.  I opened the sherbet container expecting to see half dollars, instead it and it was loaded to the top with shiny copper and brass bullets.  My heart leaped out of my chest in a state of intense panic. I was already home. This meant I had to store them until I could make another 90 mile round trip to his house to return them.  I was in even more panic when I finally actually drove them back to his house, fearing that my car would get rear ended and the impact would engage all the primers and I would end up going out in a hail of bullets.  I have rejected a life of crime just to avoid that exact scenario.  Not sure how your obit would read in this situation - "Here lies DG, she didn't used to look like Swiss cheese".   Lucky for me we returned the ammo safely, no hail of bullets, no Swiss cheese.

Now a days, it's me that picks Ronnie up to go on adventures, and he's the one who shouts the orders at me - "Turn down the air-conditioning!" "Take me to my house to get my coins !" "Turn off the radio!" .  I just shake my head and laugh all the way to the car and we take off.  Just like the good old days.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

You're Gonna Chew that Bubble Gum and You're Gonna Like It!

It all started very innocently.  Just another hum drum breakfast in the grey, dismal corporate cafeteria. The same breakfast run that I made every day.  I did not vary from my usual routine of - grab roll, split, insert in toaster, get "to go" box, put several pats of butter in box, grab plastic knife, return to toaster, retrieve roll and place in box. But on retrieval of the go to box, something stopped me in my tracks. I did something that I never do; I noticed the song playing on the giant 1990's style boom box that was sitting in the corner by the coffee machine. It is playing every morning, but I don't pay attention.  It is set to the generic, local top 40 station, which I completely ignore as I loathe the bland bland, repetitive songs that it spits out like so much chewed bubblegum.  It's just not my thing.

But this morning was different.  This morning I noticed the music.  This morning, it hit me in the gut like a shot delivered with the ferocity of an off his meds Mike Tyson. As I crossed the cafeteria to pay, I felt the warm sting of tears in my eyes. What in the name of all that is good and evil was happening to me? Then I stopped, took a breath and searched for this song in the creaky old rolodex of my mind (for those of you born before 1970, here's a picture of a rolodex).  It took a second, but once the correct synapses had fired, I realized that the last time that I heard that song, I was in Italy.

There is something about walking a cobblestone street, floating in and out of different boutiques and shops, where they all seem to be playing the same station.  You hear a snippet of a song in the coffee shop, step into the quiet of the street and the pick the song back up in the leather store a few seconds further. This was one of the songs that was playing in heavy rotation on Italian radio back in December when we were in Italy.

I recognized the song, it took me back to a place, it stirred an emotion, but I had no idea who recorded it.  Like most catchy pop songs, it had a frequently repeated refrain, in order to bore into your head like a demonic ear worm that sets up housekeeping for the long haul.  I went back to my desk and googled the refrain, and there like a bleached blonde, tattooed horseman of the apocalypse was the Biebs. WTF?

To paraphrase Verbal Kint, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing an unwitting old woman that she was a Bieber fan. Not to say that Italy is the devil, far from it. But as if to put a bold underline beneath its intoxicating charm, it has romanced me into liking something that by its very existence and attitude I am vehemently against.  Pretty neat trick.  

I almost lost my positive feeling for the song when I viewed the above video, which is basically a Bieber soft core porn, produced for the benefit of Calvin Klein (many shameless underwear plugs). One view of it provided a clear confirmation that I will stay on the Bieber-hater train, at least while I have my eyes open.  But when I hear this song and close my eyes, I am wandering the streets of Sorrento at Christmas time and I forget all about Biebs and his Calvins and go back to the place that I love the most, and it brings a little tear to my eye.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dog Appreciation...or Something Like It

I am sure that you have (not ever) wondered why I don't do more doggie appreciation posts.  I had done many kitty appreciation posts in the past (here, here, here), but we also have two canine inhabitants in our house and I haven't written much about them.  Now before this devolves into some sort of cat-person vs. dog-person debate, let me say that I am Switzerland on that topic. I love em' both and do not discriminate.  As a matter of fact, allow me to paraphrase Dr. King when I say; I look to a day when dogs and cats will not be judged by their species, but by the content of their character.
And there in, lies the rub.  At least one of my dogs is an asshole.

Meet Buzz
...lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye.

Buzz came into our lives three years ago after a trip to Las Vegas (aka, the root of all bad decisions). I am fairly convinced that six days in Vegas was about four too many as I came home with a brain so addled with food and drink (and drink and drink and drink) that I actually thought that getting a puppy was a good idea.  We went directly from the airport to the adoption center.  My noggin was so fogged over that I didn't even flinch when they mentioned that the pudgy little puppy that was sitting in my lap might be part Great Dane.  Nope, stripped of my better judgment and desperately in need of an Advil, I signed the adoption papers and brought home what grew into 55 pounds of anxiety wrapped in a blanket of crazy named Buzz.

Our primary concern upon bringing home Buzz was how our QCR (Queen Canine in Residence) Brownie,was going to take to the new addition. But that fear was completely misguided, because Brownie makes Mother Theresa look like Regina George.  Brownie, who made a best friend out of our cat, Spike the Hotness Monster, who offered him regular nuzzle snuggles and happily shared the napping spot in the ray of sunlight that hit the living room rug in the late morning was NOT going to be our problem.  Silly humans.

Meet Saint Brownie, our cat loving Shepherd, Basset, Lab Mix.

Ain't nothin' like a little inter-species lovin'. Brownie and the Hotness Monster mid-snuggle.

The real cause for concern was Buzz's mouth almighty. Like a toddler, Buzz was experiencing the world through the sense of taste.  But unlike a toddler, he did not grow out of the phase when he reached adolesence, rather he upped his game and moved on to the hard stuff.  Below is an example of how he chewed a metal "Beware of Dog" sign, as if to put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. Pretty sure he is part goat.

And these.  Are you clocking the size of that foot?  Almost as big as his cinder block of a head.

And, more importantly, the jiggly grey matter inside of his mammoth cabeza.  Dysfunction junction.

And then there's this. No words, really.

So let's summarize up what we have shown in pictures -

1) Jaws of death -  He has the grazing habits of a mountain goat.  He chews tin cans, paper plates, mulch, shoes (particularly likes stinky sneaker insoles) pens, pencils and glass.  Yeah, he chews glass and anything else he can steal.  Which is really the heart of the matter. Like Jimmy Conway in 'Goodfellas', what Buzzy really loves to do, what he really loves to do is steal.

2) Meat Hooks - Giant paws plus a penchant for digging makes for a backyard that looks like a minefield.  And god forbid he paws you with one of his huge mitts, you end up black and blue. It's like going eight rounds with Clubber Lang.

3) Fear and Anxiety - A candidate for doggy Prozac if ever there was one, Buzz is afraid of EVERYTHING.  He won't go outside in the morning unless Brownie is by his side.  He stands at the open back door shivering, eyes darting to and fro for fear that monsters like the wind and squirrels and leaves might attack at any moment. A hot cup of crazy.

So, you might wonder why, after three years of paying to replace my kid's friends shoes, iPhones, gloves, scarves and other possessions that Buzz interpreted as snack food, why we still have him.
I don't have a lot of good answers around that question.  Except that my husband loves him.  Really has a soft spot for him, which is both sweet AND scary in its intensity.  I mean, I love him too, but he gets on my last nerve because he hogs my side of the bed and he always brings disorder to any place that is clean and he eats our shoes and he does this weird thing when he's tired where he shows you his crotch (see above). I mean, ew, who does that?  

When I really stop and think about it, it comes down to 10%.  Because while Buzz spends about 90% of his waking hours in the creation of chaos, he is the first to greet you at the door with a desperate outpouring of love and relief that you are home and when he slows down for the night, he is snugly and affectionate and ridiculously sweet. That 10% keeps me going and keeps me sane as I shovel up the kitchen garbage for the third time today or drive off to the shoemaker to have new heels put on my favorite boots.  I guess 10% is enough when its 10% of pure love. Or maybe I'm the asshole.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Office Archetypes

As I am about to reach my 10th anniversary with the company that currently employs me and with greater than 10 years at my prior company long behind me, I am acutely aware that every office has their archetypes and that recognizing and navigating them is about 75% of my effort in any work day.

I will list a few of these archetypes here.  See if you can recognize them.  Better yet, see if you recognize yourself in them.  Note: These archetypes cross both genders.  But for naming purposes only, they are defined as male or female.

EGO MAN - Ego Man is usually a tyrannical bully, if in a position of power.  If Ego Man is simply a coworker, he will be the worst coworker you ever had.  As a boss, he leads by fear and intimidation, keeping the weak and huddled masses that work for him, constantly churning out widgets with perfection and precision.  Every minor imperfection in the widgets is called out publicly as the only thing that keeps the minions in line is a public display of his disdain.  He tolerates no mistake as it will reflect poorly on him and his beloved departmental metrics.  He will cut and slash all personnel that run afoul of his demands.

HAPLESS HENRIETTA - Hapless Henrietta is the downtrodden serf of the department.  She is mousy and does not stand up for herself, which makes her easy prey for EGO MAN, who will run over her with the bus, back it up and do it again, just to make sure she is sufficiently covered in tire marks.  Hapless Henrietta approaches you tentatively and timidly as she has had so many brutal encounters with Ego Man that she is like a shell shocked war veteran. She trembles visibly when asked to speak in meetings and usually talks to the table when she does speak.

NICE GUY EDDIE - Nice Guy Eddie can't say no. He is so vested in smoothing out the jagged dynamic caused by Ego Man that he always says "yes" as a peacekeeping method.  As a result, Nice Guy Eddie is overwhelmed and under-appreciated.  He has double or sometimes triple the workload of his coworkers because people come to him as a path to least resistance to getting things done.  He makes it easy on everyone but himself.  Nice Guy Eddie is usually lost to burn out and ends up leaving corporate america and taking a job scooping Italian Ices.

FAVORITE SON - This guy is usually a manager.  He has many children, but the only one you hear about is his sports star son. He lives vicariously through this superstar, following him around the country, sharing every shred of coverage that he gets in the paper and peppering the staff with stories of the spectacular athletic prowess that the child showed at an early age.  Every encounter/question that you have with Favorite Son is answered with an extremely unhelpful sports analogy.  Because he can only value one thing at a time, he will have one favorite employee as well.  It is likely that the favorite employee will be the one that makes his job easier, leaving more time to talk about sports and his little superstar.

Recognize any of these?  I suspect you do. And it is likely that you see yourself in one of these types. I don't want to tip my hand but I might know a little something about one that rhymes with Shmyshe Pie Shreddie, but I'll leave a little mystery there.

The only satisfaction that I take from this is knowing that Ego Man probably has a mircropenis and and likes to wear diapers and be humiliated in the bedroom.  A chronic bed wetter, his overbearing mother probably aired his dirty sheets to humiliate him out of pissing the bed.  This only extended his problem past childhood and kept...ok, Dr. Diary could go on all day analyzing and theorizing, but I wont.  I could.  But I won't.  I could do a character assassination of epic proportions here, but as a Shmyshe Pie Shreddie, I'm just gonna let it go.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oh Where Oh Where Have My Freaky Keywords Gone

Back in the day, I used to be able to look at analytics to see what kind of bent-freak searches drove people to my blog.  It was a damn carnival ride I tell ya, and I got many laughs and many posts out of it. Who could forget this moldy oldie from yesteryear?

Nowadays, I do not get this stat, save for an occasional mention at the bottom of blogger's own baked-in statistics page.  When I do have this information, my heart leaps with glee, proving that I need a hobby really badly.  Today was such a day. I had a single keyword search in my list.  ONE keyword search, but admittedly, it was a good one.

Today I found this:

Thank you Blogger Stats for restoring my faith in the fact that this is a freak nation and that there are legitimate nutballs out there.  Better yet, thank you for proving that my efforts at keyword labeling are still bringing the heat.  I can't wait to tag this post and see what it brings.  Blogger, you made my day...and I can't ever say that, should take the same joy from that comment that I did from the above.

I can go to work happy.  Again, not something I EVER say. It's the little things...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Taking a Guided Tour in Rome

We took a food tour in Rome and it was fantastic.  For a tour description and pictures, take a look over here -

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Image Courtesy of Tri-State Surgical

I have been clumsy my entire life.  If there is a better word than clumsy for my complete lack of physical grace, I don't know what it is. It just fits.  It paints the right picture. It has a succinctness and brevity that I do not. It's just dead-on-balls accurate. It's also the reason that I spent last night in the Emergency Room.

But, before we share our most recent exploits, let's look at some past 'beauts that cannot be ignored:

- I have broken a toe the morning of at least 50% of every party I have ever thrown.  Usually in the course of cleaning the house, I will impale a toe on the metal opening of the vacuum hose, walk into an immovable object or fail to lift my foot high enough to get it over the edge of the tub.  The tub wall alone has probably broken my ring finger toe (is that even a thing?) five or six times. As a result, my toes look like a lumpy, wavy collection of peanuts in the shell from all the breaks and heals. Pretty. 

- I fell out of a moving car once. to leave it at that. 

- I have a trick ankle that gives out on the slightest unevenness in the pavement.  I once stepped on a pea sized pebble crossing Broadway and 46th street and my ankle just quit.  I face planted in the road and the contents of my purse skittered into oncoming traffic. Since it was NYC, people just walked over me like a human throw rug.  The same trick ankle downed me in front of Tompkins Square park, where an uneven section of sidewalk threw me down onto my knees, ripping my jeans and my knee and sending blood streaming down into my boot.  Luckily, clumsy was hanging out with boozy that night and I didn't feel the wound until the AM.  I slayed some Concrete Blond at Karaoke that night (Sing Sing, I am STILL sorry), in front of one drunk old lady and a Russian immigrant with an ABBA fetish.

But last night's gaffe was truly spectacular.  One of those couldn't repeat it if you tried tricks that you wish someone was recording.  It lays out like this...

I had just sat down in the living room after dinner with a couple of Milano cookies (mmmmm, Milano) and a glass of milk.  I was about to go in on those cookies when I shifted in my seat and managed to spill milk down the front of my shirt.  I got up to head toward the kitchen for some paper towels and my destructed jeans (the kind with the pre-ripped slashes and strings in them) caught on the corner of the end table and pulled it over.  The amber glass urn that was sitting on top of the table went sailing in the air, crashed, and a big hunk of it came down on top of my foot.  I thought it was the table hitting my foot, but when my sock filled with blood, I realized I'd been cut.  

Five hours in the Emergency Room and five stitches later, I left the hospital.  Not in terrible pain or even terrible embarrassment.  That's the funny thing about being clumsy. At some point you lose your shame. It's similar in child birth.  Initially you want a drape over your lap, but after your seventeenth internal exam amidst the sharp kick of labor pains, you'll let the janitor give you an exam if it will help get the baby out.  So, hobbled and humbled, I got my first set of emergency room stitches.  Let's just hope that I don't catch them on something when I go to the city this weekend.  That would be embarrassing.

Friday, February 26, 2016

They Love Me in Russia!

Much like the way the French loved Jerry Lewis, it seems the country formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic also loves me.  Side note here; these folks could take a lesson in name brevity from Prince.  Verbose naming aside, I must say that I am tickled by this sudden interest in my blog. Na zdorov'ye comrades!

But why?  Let's examine the evidence.  

  • Admittedly, I am something of a vodka hoarder/consumer.  My freezer currently holds five bottles of the stuff, none of it however is from the Russian Federation. 
  •  I am not a hand-crafter of balalaikas, borscht, blini or any other product that begins with the letter B. 
  • Caviar makes me skeeve so hard that I might start speaking Russian spontaneously.  If you despise a prized foodstuff of any country, it is generally not a popularity winner.  My hatred for the Balut Egg is clearly behind my limited readership in Southeast Asia. Duh.
  • I have no Russian bloodline but my children do, by way of my mother in law.  However, that bloodline is so diluted by an abundance of Sicilian that even the mainland Italians don't like us. I can't see their 1/8th heritage being a big winner.

So why the sudden jump in my Russian readership? The answer to these questions is often found deep in the belly of the Blogger Analytics tool.  

According to the Blogger Analytics tool, Russia appears to be kicking the USA's ass in readership.

Interestingly enough, Google Analytics does not agree with this statistic over the same time period. Zero readers from Russia.

The answer to the question has only become more murky upon investigation.  There is only one solution to this riddle and that is to ignore it and try to figure out why someone was referred to my site by an Indian Fetish Porn site.  More vodka! This may take a while.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cancer Prevention and Endorsement Prevention

You know me.  You know me well, because if you are visiting this blog, you have probably been around since 2009 when I first started. We don't like to brag about our 0% growth, but hey, if you've got it, flaunt it (I'll wait while you self-soothe your jealousy with a glass of Pinot Grigio.  Better? Let's continue).

So if you know me, you know that I am seldom serious in this space.  But even goofballs with very little to say about life beyond hating the PTA, loving poop jokes, possessed of a personal tendency to both whine and drink wine are impacted by cancer.  Almost everyone is touched by cancer, either personally, or via the ones they love. There is nothing funny about cancer, it flat-out sucks.  And because I have lost two aunts that I adored to the disease and because my father fought skin cancer, my best friend fought breast cancer and my sister in law is currently in a battle with brain cancer, I did something that I have never before and may never again do...I responded to an email solicitation to post about something.  Granted, this was not the usual request to post about how much I like a particular brand of canned soup (I don't) or about how fantabulously a particular brand of bladder leak pads work (they don't...I mean, I suppose or guess they don't...whatever), this was about cancer.  But then I dug a little further...

Turns out that the party that solicited me was a law firm that handles environmental cancer litigation cases.  I understand that we need organizations to help people fight for recovery after an avoidable catastrophic illness takes away their life or quality of life, but I cannot plug for a law firm or any other business.  That goes against everything that this blog stands for, which is pretty much nothing...or at least nothing that has to do with commerce.  How else can you explain my complete lack of sponsorship or popularity? So rather than shill for their organization, I am going to thank them for making me aware that it is indeed cancer prevention month and I will point you to the organization that has all of the information around cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society.

February is cancer prevention month and there are some things that we all can do (yes, I am pointedly addressing this to myself) to help move the odds in our favor, by way of prevention.  The basic list is provided below, but do yourself a favor and visit the American Cancer Society website for an abundance of information.  While your're there, you can even make a donation if you like.  I did and will continue to do so without solicitation.

  • Don't smoke
  • Moderate alcohol use
  • Get regular exercise
  • Use sunscreen
  • Get regular exams/screenings
  • *Eat the rainbow

*Hey, Cheech and Chong, this does not refer to the use of psychadellics. It refers to fruits and vegetables.

All my love and best wishes for your health and the health of those you love. XOXO

- Diary

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rescuing a Cake in Distress

Watch me try to MacGuyver my home-made version of a cake wreck over here.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How to Ride Out the Storm

Well, they were right.  No, they were wrong.  Our weather people actually UNDER-estimated the snowfall.  That's a first.  Most of the models predicted 6-12" of snow.  A number that made me say "Hah!".  The number sounded like a mere sprinkle in comparison to the hefty dumpage we had gotten in recent years past - 18" 24", significant snow that hung around in dirty piles for weeks post-storm. What's the big whoop about 6-12 inches?

No matter, I was ready.  I had shopped well.  I planned for Sangria, Chili, Pasta Fagioli, Chianti, Mac and Cheese, Whispering Angel Rose (my absolute fave), Queso Dip, Orvietto Classico, Stuffed French Toast, Prosecco, Calzones and oh, did I mention that I had wine?

Go ahead Mother Nature.  Crap your glittery white sprinkles all over us.  We were ready. We have wine.

Me and my big mouth.  I threw down the gauntlet and mother nature answered in spades.  30" of the fluffy, white celestial detritus fell. Still, I was ready.  I was pissed.  But I was ready.

A toasty Calzone with Parmesean Crust as a pre-amble to the snow.

A little Whispering Angel as the snow started to fall.

The morning after the big snowfall.  Looking out over about 30" of accumulated snow.

The snowblower cut more of a trench than a path.

The snow fairies left me a Donnie Darko bunny in the front shrubbery.

Crystal blue skies of the morning after the blizzard.

A post-snow plow brunch of stuffed French Toast and thick cut bacon.