In Which Cooper Fulfills His Destiny

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Gentle Reader,

Today was pretty much a continuation of yesterday, only instead of soup, I had a sandwich.  I was in bed by 6:30.  (Of course, now I am awake at 2:30.  But I had IMPORTANT THINGS TO TELL YOU.)

After my sandwich, I wanted to play with The Sir because it’s not fair to him that I feel like death on a stale cracker and am ticked off at society for all the “having to wear real clothes to work” bit.  (If society felt like I do, they’d be A-Okay with jammies.  And fuzzy socks.  And real kleenex would be available every ten feet.)  So I sat on the couch and stared at My Boy.  He immediately proceeded to root around in his toy box for exactly the right toy, and he came up with his squeaky dragon, and put it in my hands.  Usually, a game of “tug” ensues.  But today, Cooper looked at the dragon, looked at me, and looked at the dragon, as if to say, “Well, THROW IT, WOMAN!!”

I threw it.

Normally, Cooper either looks at the thrown object, and then looks back at me, as if to say, “Well, if you want the darn thing so bad, you shouldn’t have thrown it.  Now go get it, and DON’T THROW IT THIS TIME.”, or, he goes and gets the object and takes it back to his dog bed to play with it.

Retrieving is NOT The Boy’s strongest gift.

Cody, on the other hand, got the retrieving gene for the entire litter.  Anything is a potential projectile for him.  And he will chase it lo unto the ends of the earth.  At the old house, when we were sick of throwing something for him (we’re not heartless, it’s just tiring to throw something 7,395 times for Cody and have him NOT GET TIRED, AT ALL…), it would “accidentally” get tossed into the pool.  (Neither of our boys got the “enjoys being in the water, even when it’s freezing outside” gene that most other Labradors get.)  Cody would stand at the side of the pool, somewhat patiently, waiting for the ball to drift back to the edge so he could retrieve it.  If the ball took too long, he’d race around to the other side of the pool and bark at the ball.  A proven technique if ever there was.

Sometimes, Cooper gets in on the retrieving game with Cody.  Only, Cooper doesn’t play right.  We’ll throw the ball, and Cody will tear off after it, Cooper jogging behind him (jogging is about as fast as Cooper gets…).  After Cody gets the ball, Cooper seems to think that the game turns into a defensive game, wherein Cooper tries to prevent Cody from getting back to us with the ball.  Cody is a simple, SIMPLE boy.  (But sweet, very, VERY sweet.)  He loves his brudder, he loves his ball, he loves his people.  That pretty much sums up his knowledge.  (Frankly, if one has to have a limited body of knowledge, that’s a pretty good set.  We should all be so lucky.)  And when Cooper just DOESN’T PLAY RIGHT, the expression of confusion and heartbreak on Cody’s face is hilarious.  Cody is unfamiliar with the “frustration” emotion.  He knows he loves his brudder, and he loves the ball (which he has), and his brudder is JUST.  NOT.  DOING.  IT.  RIGHT.  It’s hilarious.  And sad.

Longest aside ever.  Anyway, Cooper doesn’t “do” retrieving.

So tonight, he placed the dragon in my hands, looked at me like, “THROW IT, WOMAN.”, so I did.  And Cooper jogged after it.

AND BROUGHT IT BACK TO ME!  RIGHT BACK TO ME!  No interim distractions, no stopping to squeak on the dragon on his dog bed for ten minutes before bringing it back to me, he saw the item thrown, he chased it down, and BROUGHT IT BACK TO ME.

Twice.

It only took seven years.  I’m a proud Labrador person tonight, people.

Goodnight,

Wordie

Soup, A Love Story

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Gentle Readers,

Before we begin, a brief shout-out to the 4th floor water cooler.  Water cooler, I don’t know how you get your water so cold without turning it into ice, but I love you for it.  Other coolers are content to fulfill their name.  They cool.  Not you.  You CHILL.  And you felt so frosty on my throat today that I consumed 4 full water bottles of you.  You made my participation on the telephone today possible.  I don’t think that I can adequately describe the depth of my feeling for you, but maybe when I name my first child “Water Cooler” you’ll know that it is solely in your honor.

(Listen, if celebrities can name their children after facial hair, or laundry items or whatever, I can name my child Water Cooler after the thing that chilled the fire that was in my throat today.)

At any rate, this will be the second post about soup in as many days.  I’m still sick, and soup sounds fantastic.

A few summers ago, I went to study abroad in Moscow, Russia.  I have no idea why I felt so compelled, but I simply HAD to go over there and study.  I’m glad I did.  I really enjoyed the country and my time there.  This was my home:

I still have no idea what floor we actually lived on-because you pressed the second button in the elevator (which was marked “7”) the thing beeped twice as it was ascending, and then we entered our one room (BUT WITH AN EN SUITE BATHROOM AND CLOTHES WASHER!!!!   Very important, and totally worth paying extra for…) apartment which as #47something.  So.  We lived there, it was the most expensive housing I have EVER had in my life.  And I have no clue what floor our apartment was on.  It served our purposes well.

It was just a few subway stops away from this:

And this:

And so many other things that I was honored and humbled to be able to see.  (A HUGE marvel is the Moscow subway system, because oh, the bazillions of people it moves quickly and efficiently every year,  and the cars are clean and the people are quiet!  And the stations?  Beautifully decorated.  No photography was allowed, however.)

Anyway, (cultural generalization coming here-but no offense is intended…) two things that really struck me about Russian food (okay, three things):

1.  So much of it was around the subway stations-bread and sausage and baked awesomeness that smelled AMAZING and was clearly geared toward the morning commuters and also my backside.  I enjoyed the bounty of Russia’s baked goods.  I can still smell them.  I can still feel the plastic baggies, warm in my hand.  Sigh.

2.  The juices!  OH!  The juices.  Walls of juice-such variety!  Cherry, watermelon, pear, blackberry, stuff we don’t have here.  Sensational!  All of them.  And they had this warm beverage called “compote” which is like a warm, watered down version of what we southerners would consider compote.  Served hot.  Delicious!  Like fruit tea with bits!  Mmmmm.

3.  Soup.  Lots of soup.  It’s where I learned that I liked borscht.  (Hot borscht, not cold.)  (But that rule is true of all soup for me-I just DO NOT GET the concept of cold soup.)  Soup was a huge presence in canteen lines, cafeterias, and sit down restaurants.  I’m pretty sure it was a huge portion of the grocery stores, too, but not reading the alphabet very well, I was timid in my grocery store.  Anyway, there was one soup that I could NOT get enough of.  I’d eat it anywhere if I saw it on the menu.  (Or, rather, if D or C or M or V or N or D or the many other people on our program read that it was on the menu.)  Anyway-I’ll post a recipe here, but with a caveat.  I have never made this recipe.  But it looks like it will make the soup that still lives in my dreams.

It’s a meat soup called “Harcho”, and while my lamb aversion is well-known, I’m willing to make the sacrifice here.

(Recipe from “The Food and Cooking of Russia” by Elena Makhonko)

2 and 1/2 lb chunky pieces breast or shoulder lamb, on the bone

6 1/2 c. water

3 large onions

1/2 mild chili (I’m not sure what this is…I’d probably put in a pinch of crushed red pepper and call it a day)

5 garlic cloves

2 tomatoes (need I say that you really need to use VERY fresh summer tomatoes?  and that if it isn’t summer, you should use canned, instead of pasty/waxy grocery store tomatoes?)

4-5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

4-5 tbsp long grain rice (really-it’s not a main star ingredient…)

4-5 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt

3-4 tbsp cilantro, chopped for garnish.  (I NEVER saw this, and cilantro and I don’t necessarily get along, so I’m omitting this.)

And then it says plum sauce which is another recipe, but suggests that fresh plums would be nice, too.  I had neither, but a little sweetness would be pretty good with this recipe, so I endorse this garnish decision.

Directions:

1.  Put the meat in a large pan, add the water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Skim the surface, cover with a lid and simmer for 50-60 minutes, until the meat is just tender.

2.  Meanwhile roughly chop the onions.  Remove the seeds from the chili.  Finely chop the garlic.  Slice the tomatoes into wedges.

3.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.  Add the tomato puree and the tomatoes and fry, stirring all the time, for a further 1 minute.

4.  Add the onion mixture, rice, parsley, chili and garlic to the meat.  Season with salt to taste and cook for a further 20-25 minutes.

5.  To serve divide the meat between four soup bowls, pour the soup on top, and sprinkle with cilantro to garnish.  Accompany the soup with the plum sauce.

Anyway, I’m going to reload the cold meds, drain a lot more ice water (I couldn’t figure out how to disconnect the 4th floor water cooler to bring home with me tonight), and eat some (not Harcho) soup and go to bed.  I’d say I’d sleep peacefully, but I’m on water bottle # 7, and eating soup, so I’m pretty sure my sleep will be routinely interrupted.

Goodnight,

Wordie

Insert Post About Soup Here

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Gentle Reader,

I keep my promises.  I’m posting about soup.  Not the post that I wanted to write, because I have a cold and the meds have kind of messed my mind up and I can’t quite find the pictures I want to go with that post.  Hopefully the crazy amount of cold meds (label directions are really “jumping off points”, right?) will scare this into submission and the normal fantastic entertainment will return tomorrow with the real blog post about soup.  But tonight, I had a lobster bisque from the freezer.  Well, really, from Costco, into the trunk, and then into my freezer.  And then into my new pot (from Ikea-I thought that you didn’t have to buy things from Ikea after you hit 30 but then I up and and went to grad school and then opened my own business…and do part time work for a non-profit that has seen funding slashed to the, “Really, you should invent your own kind of currency-like wampum-because you are getting NONE OF OURS” level, so I’m learning to speak Swedish now and assemble forks and lightbulbs myself to save money) which replaced the fantastic stainless steel pot that lived through three decades of my parents marriage and then through my twenties (several moves) and grad school (three years of neglect) and then my early thirties and finally, I guess it had HAD ENOUGH, so one of its handles fell off.

I tried to use the Hoopty pot, but see, the problem is that you tend to heat liquids in pots.  And when you grabbed the Hoopty pot, you had to decide which thumb was going to get scalded in order to get a secure grip on the vessel carrying the boiling liquid.  So a replacement had to be found and apparently, they don’t sell All-Clad at Ikea.  (What we have here, people, is a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM.)

Mama, I’m putting you in the home tomorrow so that I can get at that collection…But I’ll bring in dinner from time to time.  Hot, with unscalded hands.  I call it a win/win sort of deal.

Anyway, the lobster bisque was tasty indeed, and very rich, so I think that it would be perfect to serve in small cups or mugs, along side a really nice roll (oooh!  like a pretzel roll!) and good butter (Kerrygold) and a nice salad (maybe with a grainy mustard vinaigrette?  Or a smooth dijon vinagrette?) and call it a lovely winter’s night’s dinner.  I didn’t have pretzel rolls or the motivation to whip up a vinaigrette, but the pot functioned nicely, heated evenly, and the soup was nice.  But my personal feeling on the matter is that just a big mug of really rich soup doesn’t make a meal.  Not that it doesn’t fill you up (I am) but you just need something else,  to cut the richness.  Oh well.

So-Costco lobster bisque.  Yum.  Go check it out.  (This post was in no way sought, suggested, paid-for, or promoted-by, Costco or your local lobsters.)

Goodnight-

Wordie

PS-Mama, I kid.  You know that, right?  Let’s not make any rash changes to the will, okay?

I Saw The Bunny!

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Gentle Readers,

Before we begin tonight’s selected topic, I noticed the bunny on the drive home.  “You know, that looks so much like the Spec’s bunny.”, I said to myself.  AND THEN I SAW THE SIGN NEXT TO THE BUNNY!!!!!!!!!  WE HAVE A SPEC’S, DALLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Praise Him from Whom all Blessings flow, indeed.

(For my non-Dallas readers, Spec’s is something of a Texas beverage-selling institution.  The owner has immaculate taste in wine and spirits, and this translates into excellence in his stores.)

And now to transition from that topic to a completely different, more important one…

Today was rough, folks.  I had to stand up, alone, in front of someone who had a good deal of authority over me, and admit that I made a mistake.  There were excuses and mitigating factors, but ultimately, the buck stopped with me, and I dropped it.

Nobody enjoys doing that.  I learned a lot, and will (PLEASE DEAR GOD) never make this particular mistake again (though I will make many others, and in fact, go ahead and reserve approximately twelve for me for tomorrow alone) and this experience today could have gone a lot worse.  But someone decided to show mercy on me, despite myself.  Thank you.  (Though I sincerely doubt that you read my blog.)

And so I’ve been thinking a lot today about the prayer of Thomas Merton.

(I write it here because perhaps you don’t have it memorized.  This also gives me the opportunity to remind you that I did not write this, Thomas Merton did, and he was a Trappist Monk from Kentucky and did lots of nice things like writing this prayer, but unfortunately does not have an official website to which I can link for you.  So in the name of completeness, if for some reason you still have doubts about my non-authorship of the below words, please Google, “Thomas Merton” and you can be certain.  Is that enough of a “these are not my words” disclaimer?  Again, Thomas Merton, people.  Thomas Merton.)

“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

I wasn’t alone up there this afternoon, after all.  I still have no idea where my career is going, where it will wind up, and if I’ll still have any remaining shreds of sanity when I get there, but I don’t think I’m alone.  And that’s a pretty good thing.  (And y’all can read that on multiple levels.  😉

Late Breaking News:  A large portion of my world has suffered a terrible loss today, and while I am not as directly impacted as some, I know that they would appreciate your prayers and thoughts tonight, folks.  The entire Maurer School of Law family would.

Goodnight, Gentle Reader, Thank you for being with me and making me un-alone.

Wordie

Thursday Tidbits

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Gentle Readers,

I have to dash, but I wanted to share two photos with you.  I know that we are LABRADOR PEOPLE, not cat people, but the cat really is pretty funny most of the time (except when she’s being mean, which is the vast majority of the time…) and she poses so well.  Cats are “stiller” than Boy Labradors, and thus make easier photography subjects.  (My strategy for the boys is to wait until they are sleeping.  Easier that way.)

Y’all, we didn’t take a picture of her when she first fell down our chimney because despite feeding her and loving on her, mama didn’t think we had actually gotten ourselves a “free” cat.  So I guess she didn’t want to bond.  And the blog was still new, so I hadn’t figured out that the mundane needed photographing.

But this little girl was the size of a stick of butter, HAD A TICK ON HER EYE (I still can’t type that without getting teary, it must have hurt so much!), and was dull, listless, and basically starving.

But now-look!  SHINY, bright, alert, big(ger), and completely in charge.  It’s amazing what food, love, and two lifesaving surgeries within two weeks will do for a girl.

(Mama, like OJ and his search for the “real killer”, is still “looking for the cat’s real owner”.)

What you don’t see here is that she has a bed FIVE INCHES AWAY.  Soft, fuzzy, warm bed.  And homegirl is asleep on some binder clips and notepaper.  This photo is proof that she is NOT SMARTER than The Boys who know that sofas and big beds make excellent napping spots.  And, in the summer, the spot on the floor where the sunlight comes in through the window.  Good Boys.

Goodnight,

Wordie

I was INSPIRED…

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Gentle Readers,

EDITED TO ADD:  P and I have found what we believe is, indeed, PAGEANT HEAVEN.  I present to you, Miss Iowa:  The Early Years

She DID INDEED need that whole DARN stage.

There are certain things in my life that, well, I’m just darn proud to have as my heritage.  And since today, I need to work on my gratitude and contentment skills (someone needs herself a little bit of an attitude adjustment) I think I’ll post some videos that fill my heart and my soul with cocoa, hugs, fuzzy socks, pictures of babies dressed up as angels, pictures of toddlers kissing each other, Snoopy AND Ziggy cartoons, and all sorts of other nice things.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  Most of the inspiration for this post came from BooMama, who is hilarious and also Southern.  (I am half Southern, half Texan…yes, there is a difference…and I can be proud of both of my heritages…)  The Miss America Pageant was this weekend, AND I MISSED IT.  But the best part about BooMama is that she collects only the choicest moments from the pageant, and she shares them. She’s sort of the Miss America YouTube Archivist.  (Please, put that on your resume.  The world needs you.)  The rest of the inspiration from this post came from the thing that every little girl in Texas wants to be when she grows up, even after she has already grown up and discovered carbs.  And then the final part of the inspiration came from where it always comes from, The Labs.

So  Part One-Pageant Goodness:

I.  Am.  Mesmerized.  And proud.  People, we are free.  And it is because people sacrifice to keep us free.  To realize dreams.  To blog.  And were it not for BooMama and her dream, and her blog, I would have missed this video.  Thank you.

God bless hairspray.  And cheek definer.  And this gal has earned honors in BOTH.

It combines everything that is so special about pageants.  Unusual talents.  Pretty girls.  Pink.  Pom poms.  I will confess to being VERY NERVOUS for her top, though, for her entire performance.

(For the record, BooMama had TWO ventriloquists in her “Miss America Top 5”, but those acts FREAK ME OUT and give me bad dreams, so I’m not including them.  For your fill of hairsprayed ventriloquism, please jaunt on over to her blog, and ye shall not be disappointed.  But don’t go until after you’ve finished reading my blog.  Which was inspired by her blog.  Life is a circle.)

(Pageant ventriloquists, please do not think I am dismissing your talent.  It just frightens me.)

BooMama has this as her #5.  And here’s where we part opinions.  This is number one for me.  Because first of all, THREE BATONS.  It’s ALWAYS A GOOD DECISION to have batons in a pageant.  It’s straight up old-school, capped-teeth, super-glue on the booty, spherical hair pageant glory.  And it has fallen out of favor in recent years.  And that is tragic.  Secondly, this is a 2008 pageant talent.  So while her fellow contestants stood there and recited chemistry textbooks in Latin, or sang operas composed specifically FOR THEM, or played original compositions on instruments they invented themselves, girlfriend brought the pageant back.  Back from the far reaches of “scholarship contest”, back to her true roots.   Bravo, dear sister, bravo.

Part Two-Rangerettes

The videos need no commentary.  They just make my little heart swell.  And I will say that I would give EVERY SINGLE HOUR of my higher education, ALL of my degrees, ALL of my professional certifications, to have attended and kicked with the Kilgore Junior College Rangerettes.  (The sound you just heard?  My parents collapsing, and every single female in my profession dying a little inside.)  (I don’t care.  I stand by my statement.  Glue my hat on and let me at the tooth whitener.)

Part Three-Labradors

This is from one of my favorite blogs.  Gardenfork.  Please go support the blog-he’s awesome.  And the Labs are sensational.

And finally (you thought it wasn’t going to end, did you?)…

I confess, I have NO IDEA where this came from except that my cousin Laura posted it on my Facebook, and I have squealed and clapped and been happy ever since.  It captures the very essence of The Lab.

And now that I have burned your retinas…

Goodnight,

Wordie

The Post With No Name

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Gentle Readers,

I have spent the last five minutes trying to think of a title for this little post.  It should please you that I have spent an equal amount of time thinking of content for this little post.  All in all, I’d say you’re in for a little literary treat this evening!

So since my ear infection is being treated with antibiotics that I am pretty darn sure are banned in all but Chechnya and steroids that have ruined what I am certain would have been truly Olympic sporting chances , I’ve been out of commission.  The antibiotics have made me feel groggy, exhausted, foggy-headed, and have had other side effects that shall not be discussed on this pleasant blog.  The steroids have made me able to consume a super-sonic double cheeseburger with extra pickles and extra mustard and a large tator tots and a large cherry coke, and still now I am eyeing a chocolate frog that my friend Catherine sent me from their recent trip to Harry Potter World.  I just hope that this froggie, like his movie counterpart, shall find a window and hop away from me, because nobody needs to consume the number of calories I have just inhaled as if in some sort of eating competition.  (I also got a Godric Gryffindor in my Chocolate Frog Box.  Apparently they come with trading cards-just like in the movie!)

So all in all, we’ve been in status quo here at the World’s Smallest Apartment.  This weekend, I was tired of January and All The Gray, and bought myself a new set of sheets in a cheery spring green polka dot pattern and some lovely yellow pillowcases.  I felt better even before I got them on the bed.  I will say that these sheets (Springmaid for Target) are very soft and crisp, too.  Love.

Today, after I got done with my “must do” work, I had a few hours left in the day.  Because when you are groggy and not thinking clearly is known as the best time to try and broaden your intellectual horizons, I spent a few hours this afternoon listening to some CLE on Appellate Procedure.  Nope, still not my forte.  But, I listened to them and took notes so I never have to listen to them again!  Yay!  If I ever feel the need to be baffled, I can just flip to my handy notebook!

And then since The Sir has been a GEM through this entire ear episode, despite my being utterly boring, I took him on a little field trip to Sonic to get the aforementioned Feast For Seven For One.  And since he is nothing if not charming, he also got his own burger (he always gets his own burger, it’s his secret to maintaining his girlish figure…).

The Report from the Ranch is that despite the exhaustion of patrolling her empire, Scout the Ranch Cat/Trained Killer is resting comfortably.

Poor girl, her life is JUST SO HARD.

(And why won’t she let me pet that fuzzy tummy?????  It’s just begging to be petted…but OH, the scratching and hissing that ensues.)  (I’ve started scratching and hissing back.  I’m afraid that she missed the point and thinks we’re having a conversation.)

Goodnight,

Wordie

PS-“30 Rock”.  Can we discuss?  Did I miss something?  Or was it really, REALLY that bad?  I was truly amazed by the ability of the show to sustain such levels of unfunny for 21 whole minutes.  I must be missing out on something, right?  Someone enlighten me, please.  Was this some sort of experimental television that went over my head?