Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tacos or Pizza

1. Tacos or pizza? I asked my seminary kids this morning and we were split evenly. But for the record: it's tacos. Tacos 4-Ever!

2. My mom got me tickets to a ukulele concert for Christmas. Specifically, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.  Did you even know there was a thing? I didn't and I actually go to ukulele play-alongs. Although, admittedly I know very little about the ukulele world. And it is a world, believe me. You go to just one of these play-alongs and you learn really fast just how much people can talk about ukuleles (A LOT!). But anyway, this concert. Mom was sick so she couldn't come with me (major bummer) but Lindsay was a good substitute. And you guys, it was super fun. I mean, who knew. They were insanely talented and very funny and played all sorts of genres. Notably, Psycho Killer, the theme from Shaft, and maybe one of the best covers of Heard It Through the Grapevine. Slam dunk, Mom!

3.  Camille moved away to Utah. UTAH! (shaking fist! ) Land of People I Love Who Have Abandoned Their Senses and Their Family. Why?! WHY!!!!!??? Well, she got a great job, that's why. And I'm happy for her and my other turncoat family members who get to enjoy her. But I'm trying to figure out how I can send the whole state of Utah one of those glitter bombs.

4. Can you imagine anything worse than getting one of those glitter bombs? It seems like if you were in a prank war with someone a glitter bomb would escalate things pretty quickly. You're putting rubber spiders on pillows and Jell-o powder in the shower head and it's all fun and games. And then someone sends a glitter bomb and the next thing you know there's an anvil over the doorway.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dory Mae

It was already a great night. I had spent the evening sitting around a bonfire at the beach with some of my favorite people. We watched the moon set, we ate tacos, we laughed, we were entertained by this 20 year old Australian kid who invited himself to join in on our fun and then told us the most fantastic tales of his run-ins with the law on his drive across the country, including 3 days in a jail in Denver (Us: "Why'd you come here?" Him: "California. It's the dream.") I could not have asked for more of the night.

And then I got home and there was a package sitting on the table...
 
FROM RUBY ST. GERMAINE!!!
 
 
You'll recall she recently ran off to a horse ranch in Montana.  Inside was this:
 
 
Meet Dory Mae Clemson, former rodeo queen of 1999. Oh, she had been a star. But time wore on and she got a job working the morning shift at the truck stop. One night she sat across the table from her long time boyfriend Cal, watching him eat yet another plate of pot roast, and she just knew in her heart that he would never marry her. Sure, he had proposed 5 years ago at the oil refinery's company picnic (she has a ring that I think she's going to pawn soon) but he never wanted to talk about setting the date. He always had some excuse, the house wasn't ready, they didn't have enough money, he had to bail his good for nothing brother out of prison again. She loved him, but not enough to stay. So she put on her best dress and dolled herself up and left.
 
Tomorrow Dory Mae will join me in my car and we'll see what kind of adventures she can have.
 
 
(I have no idea who sent this but I love you with all of my heart!)
 
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Acts of Patriotism and Other Things

1. Instead of watching the State of the Union address I watched an episode of The West Wing. That, my fellow Americans, if Patriotism.  (Sure, I have since read the text* but watching it gives me angina. All that clapping, you know.) Other acts of patriotism I have performed this week:  eating a corndog, my annual reading of the I Have a Dream speech, unfollowing several people on Facebook for putting up ugly political rants. America!!

2.  I woke up in a crabby mood this morning. Don't you just hate it when that happens? What exactly did my subconscious do in the middle of the night to put me in such a funk? Run out of hot chocolate? Too many articles about war? These are things that put me in funks in my waking hours, but who knows what my subconscious is up to. Anyway, I was crabby, and there's nothing worse than trying to teach seminary when you're crabby. So imagine my relief when the kid in charge of picking a hymn for us to sing chose The Day Dawn is Breaking. You just can't feel bad when you're singing that song. The verses plow along at a sharp pace and then you get to that chorus, "Beau-ti-ful DAAAAAAAY of peace and rest." Most of the kids had never heard the song before but we never let that stop us. I just sing loud and they do a good job of following along and by the third or fourth verse they have it. It was a total turn around for me.

3.  You know this actor. He's been in everything but you probably don't know his name. I didn't. But he died last week and he wrote his own obituary and I thought it was lovely enough to share with you. I think writing your own obituary would be a very interesting exercise.

4. Just look at this drawing of David Bowie's hair through the years.


Isn't it magnificent? You can buy it here and hang it in your bathroom, as I would do.

*My favorite part:  " A better politics is one where we appeal to each other's basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than 'gotcha' moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people's daily lives." Preach it!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mac & Cheese for One

Some of you have asked for the single serving mac and cheese recipe.  Your joy is my joy:

(Remember that these are just guesses on the measurements but I think they're close)

Your favorite pasta, however much you want for a single serving
1 tsp butter
1 tsp flour
a pinch each of: salt, pepper, cayenne, and sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dry mustard (this is a preference thing. I like a lot of mustard but it can go off the rails fast.)
dash of worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup grated cheese

While my pasta is boiling I assemble all the stuff. Once you start making the sauce it moves really fast so I like to have everything ready. In a small pot I put the butter and flour and in a small bowl I put the salt, pepper, cayenne, sugar, and mustard. I get the cheese and milk measured out separately. At about 4 minutes before the pasta is done I turn the heat on low for the sauce. Whisk the butter and flour together as it cooks and let it bubble for about a minute. Add the spices and worcestershire sauce and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the milk, whisking until it thickens. Turn off the heat and add the cheese. By this point your pasta should be just about done. I just scoop it right into the sauce, draining it with a slotted spoon. It's ready to eat. I suppose you could pop this in a ramekin with some breadcrumbs if you prefer it baked, but I've never cared that much for it in that form. And why wait when you have cheesy goodness ready for you?

Well there you go. I feel like this recipe is a victory for mankind. Or, at the very least, single people the world over.

Non-related:  how do you say Worcestershire? I say wuss-ta-sure with the emphasis on wuss, but I've heard it a million different ways. Just curious.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stellar

Lindsay and I went to see Interstellar yesterday. It's very rare that I go to the movies these days. I just can't handle all the people and the popcorn chewing and the talking and the cell phones lighting up. But a Wednesday afternoon showing of a movie that has been out for months is ideal. I really wanted to see this in the theater because I think that's how grand movies should be watched. And holy cats is this movie grand! It blew my mind! I loved it. I loved its vastness and how epic it felt. I loved the science. I loved that it clearly had a lot of CGI in it but didn't feel like it at all. I loved all the big themes in it about our responsibility to our families and life on Earth as well as our responsibility to science and exploration and humanity. And I loved it despite only understanding about 65% of what was going on and despite both Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway being Oscar winning mumblers.  The whole thing felt like something new.

I was going to start in about how I've been thinking a lot lately about science and religion and how they come together. But that could turn into such a long post because I have a lot of thoughts on the subject. Maybe some day. So instead, because the movie was so much about space travel and what's out there, I'll just show you this picture of our giant neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy:


This is a close up of a much larger picture Hubble took of a section of the galaxy. And you're probably thinking, as I did, that it looks kind of grainy, like someone scattered sand over it. But that's not sand. It's stars. Each one of those itty bitty little pixels is a star. And what look like big stars in the picture are actually star clusters, some with hundreds of thousands of stars packed into just a few light years. You can read about it and see better pictures of it here. That's also the link to follow if you're looking for a good astronomy blog. You were looking for one, weren't you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Headliner of Our Hearts

I got a new car. Well, new to me. My parents got a new car on Christmas Eve (big red bow!) and sold their Camry to me. It's lovely but it is enormous. Having driven nothing but wee small cars my whole life this one feels like I'm maneuvering a Panzer tank through the streets of Upland. I'm getting used to it but sometimes I feel like I have to put a "wide load" banner across the back. Also, I miss my old car. She was the best little car any girl could have asked for. I got her after a few years with a car that had narcolepsy, it would just turn off while on the freeway and I'd have to put it in neutral and turn it back on all while going 70. While that's hilarious it was also really stressful. So getting my brand new little Echo was a dream. She never once turned off. I think I only took her into the shop three times. She was a real trooper.

And now for a tragic mystery. You all remember Ruby St. Germaine, scorned woman and former lounge singer who lived in the cup holder of my car. At one point I thought maybe she had a heroine problem. I didn't write about this at the time but several months ago I got into my car and Ruby was... well, um...without her head. She had somehow been decapitated. Her body was in the cup holder and her head was on the passenger side floor mat. It was a horrifying, to say the least. I shrieked, "Ruby!!" and scooped her up and placed her in the glove box and then promptly forgot her, which is just typical for her life, right. She absolutely cannot catch a break. Well, when it was time to clean out my car I put everything in my glove box into a large bag. I don't remember seeing Ruby's head or body. Last night when I finally went through the bag she was not in it. Ruby is gone! I don't know how this happened. I checked every inch of the car before turning it over and it was totally empty. But Ruby somehow vanished.

I suppose this is a fitting end to a tragic life. She had a few good years in the limelight but for the most part it was a downward spiral of bad choices and too many splashes hot chocolate on her satin dress. I like to think that she's packed up and moved on, maybe to a quieter life on a horse ranch in Montana. She's left her broken dreams and tarnished memories behind in the cup holder.

Farewell, old gal. You'll always be the headliner of our hearts.




Thursday, January 8, 2015

Move it along, sister!

There are fewer things in life that fill me with more internal rage then people who make it difficult for those behind them in a checkout line. Which is such a silly thing to get annoyed at except that I do every single time. If you live in a society then you have to be a team player when it comes to things like checkout lines and merging onto the freeway. I try so hard to keep it inside though because I don't want to be one of those people who make a situation worse by my bad attitude. But there's a lot going on in my head. It goes something like this:

I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT AFTER WAITING IN LINE FOR AN ENTIRE ICE AGE AND SEEING HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE STANDING BEHIND YOU AND KNOWING EXACTLY HOW THE CHECK OUT PROCESS WORKS THAT YOU ARE ONLY JUST NOW PULLING OUT A STACK OF COUPONS AND DECIDING WHICH PAPER PRODUCTS YOU ARE GOING TO BE PURCHASING WITH THEM!!!! STOP TALKING TO THE CHECKER!!!!! AND WHY ISN'T YOUR WALLET OUT?!?! WHY HAVEN'T YOU SWIPED YOUR CARD?!?! YOU CAN SWIPE IT ANYTIME THROUGHOUT THE TRANSACTION!!!!!  YOU ARE RUINING ALL OF OUR LIIIIIIVVVVVEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!
This is the exact scene that played out yesterday at Target, where I swear it must have been Free Everything Day because I have never in my life seen so many people there. And I am at Target a lot. We all had to wait two lifetimes to get through the check out. And yet the woman at the head of my line decided that that very moment was the one that she was going to become the coupon queen. After everything had been scanned. With, I'm not kidding you, 9 people behind her. 

So ten minutes later when, after changing her mind on buying that 50 pack of paper plates no fewer than three times and the checker had finally totaled everything up and she swiped her card, she said, "Ooh, I wanted gum," and she reached for it, I said just slightly under my breath, "Are we in a jokeland right now?" and the lady between us gave her a look that said, "You better pray I don't follow you out into the parking lot," and the people behind us looked like they were about to pull clubs and brass knuckles out of their coat pockets. She stopped mid-reach, grabbed her bags, and left.

This was a small victory for the common man.

I recounted this experience to Katie later that night and said that instead of an express lane they should have a complicated lane for people who are going to take forever. But then she correctly said that those people who would need it never have a clue that they do.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What would Vidal Sassoon think of my hair care?

Last night I started a post about my one and only hair tip - put your dry shampoo in the night before. But then about an hour ago I caught a glimpse of my hair and thought, what sane person would take a hair tip from me. Because my hair, it's flat like unto a pancake today. Yesterday I had a great hair day, this despite a pack of wild four year olds deciding to play Vidal Sassoon on it. I was an emergency sub for the 4 year old class at church and the combination of a new time, a new classroom, and a new teacher put the kids on Level Whirlwind. So after a brief lesson and a long trip to the bathroom we ended up sitting on the floor in the classroom and they took turns "styling" my hair. And yet, still, after all that, it looked pretty sensational. But today, nope. I guess I'll take every other day. That's fine.

Lots of people go a few days between hair washing. And I imagine it has more to do with maintaining a healthy scalp and manageable hair. I think there is also some witchcraft going on there because I've never been able to stretch it longer than two days before it starts looking like a wet mop. But I go the distance because my primary goal in life is to not have to do my hair. It's not like it's difficult to do. It's just the amount of time it takes to blow dry and straighten...well, I could be sleeping, okay. If it didn't make me feel like I've lost all hope I would wear a ponytail every single day. Additionally, besides really loving gray hair, I think one of the secondary reasons for deciding to not do anything about the few that are sprouting from my head is that I cannot fathom dying my hair every few weeks. It just would not happen. I can see myself looking in the mirror at my two inch roots and saying, "Eh. I think I can a few more weeks."

Some days I consider my stance on hair maintenance and am tempted to think that maybe I've given up. But instead I choose to think that I'm just demonstrating the confidence it takes to willingly accept the bad hair day in favor of an extra hour of sleep. What do I care if my hair is flat.

But I'm not kidding about the dry shampoo tip. And also, when was the last time you even thought about Vidal Sassoon?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Throw some potatoes in a pan...

Here is a title of an article that recently came through on a cooking e-mail I subscribe to:  "Make the perfect hash browns without a recipe." Wait just one hot second. What sad soul needs a recipe for hash browns in the first place?! Hash browns are literally the easiest thing you can make after toast. (Aside: a piece of toast very nearly burned down my entire apartment last week, but that was a toaster malfunction, not a cooking malfunction.) You guys, there are people in this world who are like, "I'd love some hash browns right now but I just don't know how to make them."  Does this blow your mind? Having read the article I think what they actually meant was, "Here are some tips to make better hash browns because you already know the mechanics of it and are not a total dum dum  in the kitchen." Who wants hash browns now?

While we're on the topic of cooking, I think I have successfully perfected the recipe for a single serving homemade mac and cheese. I love mac and cheese, Katie does not. So it's not like I can make a whole pan of it. Plus I don't like left over mac and cheese because it turns into a mushy, greasy mess when you reheat it. So I've had to become resourceful and shrink down a recipe for the cheese sauce to just one serving. I'm talking minuscule amounts of everything. It's delicious, folks. And it's fast. I can get it done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Which was perfect for last night because I was so very cold that the idea of waiting for soup to simmer was unbearable. And look, I know it's not -7, or whatever else you living in the Arctic North are dealing with but you have to admit that we Southern Californians are suffering a little when the road to San Diego is backed up because of SNOW!

Still more cooking: I made butter chicken the other night and it was just alright. Which makes that my second attempt at an Indian dish with only middling success. So now I'm convinced that Indian is one of those ethnic foods that is better ordered then made. I'll admit I had this thought as I was paying $7 for garam masala when there was a perfectly good Indian restaurant right next door that would sell me chicken tikka masala for just a few bucks more. We live, we learn, we have barely used spice jars in our cupboards.

Happy New Years, you beautiful people!! Treat yourself right.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crime Scene Investigation

My friend Jen needed to get out of the house so Katie, Heather, Cindy and I took her up to Griffith Observatory on Saturday. I would just about say that if you're visiting this fair city and you're going to see just one thing, this should be it. The building is spectacular, the views are incredible, at night they point the telescope at some beautiful celestial object, it's free, and it's all about outer space. If the parking weren't an abysmal nightmare it would be perfect. We attempted to get up the hill but the line of cars was so long that we turned around and parked down at the entrance to Griffith Park and took the shuttle up. 

It was so beautiful up there. We saw the Tesla coil fire up, learned about why Pluto isn't a planet anymore (I'm not as broken up about this as you might think. You're still a great little icy object, Pluto. Don't get down about it.), and stood on the parapet and marveled at how lovely the city looked. And it was so clear we could practically see the buffalo roaming on Catalina Island (non-locals: that's very far away and we get a lot of coastal fog that normally blocks the view. And yes, there are actual buffalo up there, left over from a film shoot long ago.)

And now we have come to the part of the story that is REALLY INTRIGUING! As I mentioned we took the shuttle up but the line to take the shuttle down was so long that we decided to walk. It was a lovely day and it's just a little more than a mile downhill, easy. We all commented on how there were no cars coming up the road and how odd it seemed that on such a busy day and just a few hours before sunset the traffic had stopped. Then just before we got to our car we passed by a public bathroom at the entrance of the park and noticed that there was a small crowd of people and police tape around the building. 

And then we saw the dead body. Yep, there was a dead body, covered, to our relief, but dead just the same. He was a tall man and his poor feet were sticking out from under the sheet. There was no ambulance, only a couple of police cars so it had to have just happened. The small crowd looked to be mostly curious teenagers and no one seemed particularly distraught which makes me think he was alone. There didn't seem to be any blood. Oh Knights of Columbus, if there had been blood....Was he homeless? A hiker enjoying the sunshine? Was he murdered? Did he have a bad heart? I can't stop thinking about him. I still don't know what happened. And I'm not sure I ever will because I learned the hard way that you should never google "dead body found in Griffith Park." Yeesh!

We drove out past the long line of cars trying to get in, none of them knowing that the police had blocked the road. But how do you let dozens of carloads of people know that the first 5 minutes of Law & Order is going on up ahead?