Wednesday, December 24, 2008

well, merry christmas people!
I've got so much to tell! It's been a flurry of activity, most of it holiday related, around these parts. I got my xmas letters all mailed away. I baked hella cookies.
I shopped and wrapped( at least for the the family I'll be seeing tomorrow--there's more shopping and wrapping to do after I get Friday's paycheck) Rebby and I had our early christmas dinner of lamb chops and scalloped potatoes and broccoli and cauliflower in cheese sauce. We decorated the silver tinsel tree. (there are pictures of it at flickr, but honestly it looks the same every year.) And then we opened presents! I got her season 3 of the Muppet Show, with Alice Cooper. And Radio Ethiopia and a book of Patti's poems. She got me a DVD of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds videos(featuring lots of delightful footage of my beloved Blixa, and lots of smart ass and self deprecating commentary from Nick and Mick) and....a new laptop! No joke. It's an Acer with a big ole enormous fancy screen and super fast processor and.....mah johngg titans installed in the game menu. I am completely addicted to it and have masted all the formations at least once. Anyway, the reason she got it for me is not for the mah johngg, but for the fast processor speed and more memory space. The ole Dell was just constantly freezing up and taking literally 8 minutes to start up and shut down every time. So it needs to be put out of it's misery, or at the least given a much diminished role of being the QS music and email computer. I am just starting to realize how crippled I was by my old old laptop. This one is tons lighter, and super duper fast! Whee.
Speaking of the QS, me and Pete held it down in the kitchen all day yesterday, and we listened to Shawn Watson's A Minute Pause on WRCT, like we do every Tuesday. It's our tradition. Anyhoo, Shawn ended his show yesterday with his Three Worst Christmas Songs of All Time. The #1 worst song is actually not a "holiday" song, but a conceptual art project to create the least wanted song of all time. If you are brave, and have 25 minutes of your life you don't mind losing, take a listen. It made the already surreal experience of being practically alone in the restaurant on a Tuesday afternoon even more surreal.
Shawn's penultimate bad Christmas song, Spike Jones' Nutcracker Suite, was really fantastic too. Even though the day thoroughly wore me out, it was a lovely time listening to this weird shit and eating cookies and ice cream.
Then I went to borders for some last minute presents, then out to Silky's for Christmas burgers and beers. Woo! Then last night I wrapped the presents while watching Nick Cave and friends. Lovely!
This morning I went to hang out with Jilly's cat and caught an episode of Top Chef. Once again I am so thankful NOT to have cable, as I would waste even more time than I do now zombie-ing out in front of the TV watching cooking shows. I'm sure this evening and tomorrow will hold plenty of that for me in Dormont.
OH snap! I forgot to mention the bike! We went to McKnight Road on Sunday for some shopping, and one of the stops was at the Goodwill to look for mason jars for Rebby's Rubs. (she makes bbq spice rubs for xmas presents every year. lucky folks!) We found some jars, and also THIS! I am so excited to finally have the bike I want. It's just my size, though the seat needs to be adjusted and the tires need air and probably some other basic brushing up too. But, $30! and, PURPLE! It was meant to be. Come on spring.
OK, I think that's about a recap. Hope you and yours have a warm and safe and happy and healthy holiday! I'll try to be more on top of the posting in 2009. Now that I have this zippy new machine it just might happen!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some Product Reviews, Some Uncharacteristic Football Musings, Some Stream of Consciousness Updates.

Normally I just spew stuff at you with uncensored abandon but today I feel like I want to catergorize a bit. You know, just to make things seem structured and predetermined. As if.
Anyhow, first the product reviews:

1)Instead Menstrual Cups.
I found myself "going on" while out and about one day, and not at all sure what my menstrual supply cupboard held back home. So I stopped in the drugstore to examine my options. Normally I just head straight for the OB, but this time the Instead caught my eye. I was feeling pretty experimental so I thought I'd give it a shot. Besides, I'd recently been thinking about how tampons are all kinds of carbon-footprinty, so maybe this rubber cup thingy would be a less resource intensive option? It seemed to make sense.
I didn't take a good look at the box till I got home, where I found that the manufacturers consider each cup to be a one time only item. You are supposed to be able to wear one for 12 hours, so a box of 14 is a one week supply. I sat there on the toilet trying to puzzle this out, and eventually just called bullshit on it. I can only assume that the manufacturers of the Instead are trying to avoid a lawsuit by telling you not to rinse and reinsert these puppies, because I suppose if someone got dirty fingers all over it and did not clean it off thoroughly and put it back in and got an infection, they could somehow be liable. In our litigious society, anyways. So I tore open the first purple package and popped the first one in. Calling on my long ago experience with the diaphragm, it was super easy for me to get it in the right spot. That first day was kind of amazing, because I felt all regular "down there" instead of the vaguely "stuffed up" feeling a tampon sometimes can give. Plus (and this is a huge, grossout preventing plus) no soggy string hanging around down there. At the risk of sharing a bit too much (stick with me ladies!) I really hate it when I've just changed the tampon and all of a sudden I have to pee, and then I have to make the decision to either go for a few hours with a pee sodden string hanging out of my hooha, or change the tampon again. Agony, I tells ya. So that was a definite bonus--being able to pee without considering the feminine hygiene consequences. Since it was the first light day, I went the whole twelve hours without having to think about the cup, and then when the 12th hour came, I just gave it a good rinse and popped it back in. My fingers did get bloody. I did watch my blood swish down the sink. I did have crazy hippie fantasies of collecting it and using it for plant food, but I'm not quite in that place right now (especially not in the winter time.) I felt super good about the whole thing, and overnight was also a pleasant, leak free time.
The next day (my heaviest) I had to go to work, where the sinks are outside of the toilet rooms. Uh oh. This proved a little tricky, and I did end up having to toss the second one in the trash after a couple hours since I didn't want to accidentally subject any customers to the sight of me rinsing my bloody cup in the sink. I did however have to wash my bloody hands, and luckily no one was around when I did that.
So the second heavy day I did experience some leakage, so I had to double up with a pad, and I ended up going through three cups in that twelve hours. So I'm no longer saving any resources and also, it's kind of a pain in the ass. I was reminded of my olden hippie days when I actually used the menstrual sponge for a while. Luckily I was working at the hippie co-op at the time, where you could reach the sink from the toilet and it was all good. But when I was out in public somewhere in a regular toilet stall kind of a place, things could get really dicey. I think I gave up on the sponge when I stopped working at the co-op for just that reason.
So anyhow, as the days went on it became a habit, and I think I ended up using 10 of the 14 cups in the box. I also ended up thinking a lot about getting one of those Diva things that are meant to be reused for years, but that would definitely necessitate public rinsing. Or maybe I could use the Diva thing at home and Insteads for at work? From a carbon footprint point of view, are the Insteads really better than tampons? I definitely feel much better about the Instead than a tampon from a personal health point of view. But I don't like the idea of throwing all that plastic in the trash. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the Insteads can't be recycled. I'll do some more research and get back to ya.

2)Buffy (the Backside Slayer)
I've been having some bad dry skin problems this cold season. Perhaps the thing that skeeves me out more even than the damp tampon string is when my dry skin sticks to socks or tights. Horrible it is. So I went on a mission. First I tried Caress Exotic Cream Oil Infused Body Wash in Moroccan. It smells good, and it's got a very sexy purple bottle, and it's oh so creamy in the shower, but pretty much the minute you get out of the shower you can forget it. Also, laden with chemicals. Avoid.
Fortunately, LUSH had opened a tiny little storelet in the downtown Macy's, and Jennie and I had a patty melt date at the Tic Toc restaurant. So I went in there and had the most unpleasant shopping experience I've ever had in a LUSH, for these reasons: a)it was really warm in there, and I was shopping in my outside gear; b)it's reeeeaaaaallllyyy small, and there were several people trying to move around; c)the ladies who were working are new (obivously) and so don't have the unbridled enthusiasm of your usual LUSH salesperson; d)there was some kind of register/credit card malfunction in the line ahead of me, which meant that I had to stand in line for about 10 minutes with my body bar literally melting in my hands. (I hadn't put it in a little bag because I thought it was going to be an in and out scenario. Eventually the other person working in the storelet brought a bag for me.)
Ok, so the store portion of my Buffy experience was pretty lame by LUSH standards, but once I got that puppy in the shower it all just "melted" (ha! ha!) away. I felt a little weird about roughly scrubbing my poor dry skin with what felt like grains of sand, but when I got out of the shower I was SMOOTH AS SILK. And still am, 24 or so hours later. I love it. I should warn you that it will make your bath mat slippy, so be careful (and rinse it off when you are done showering) But overall, this is a hearty endorsement. Huzzah for Buffy (the Backside Slayer.)!

Now for the uncharacteristic football content:
1)Jerome Bettis. I just happened to click on the TV this morning to the Bettis Playbook, which is where the sports reporter dude from channel 11 interviews Jerome about some Steelers thing that happened that week. This week he was asked about Willie Parker's blabbing to the media about how he doesn't think the offensive game is effective these days, what with the long throws down the field instead of the short yardage grabs of old. (watch me write like I know shit about football! woo!)
So anyhow, Jerome basically said that while he agrees with Willie's assessment of the lack of effectiveness of the new offensive plan, he believes Willie should have discussed his concerns with the offensive coach and head coach to try to make changes, rather than bring it to the media forcing coach Tomlin to make strong statements to back up his decisions, and pretty much making Parker out to look like a complainer. This is the second time I've seen the Bettis Playbook by accident, and the first time was when Hines Ward was getting all kinds of fined for "excessive celebrating" or whatever it was they called it. At that point Bettis made the same kind of well reasoned, diplomatic statements that made me think oh wouldn't he make a great secretary of state or something. Or even just a systems consultant. Wouldn't it be great if Jerome Bettis came to the Quiet Storm to talk to all the staff members about how their actions affect other people? Maybe they would listen to Jerome Bettis.
Ok, that's maybe getting a little too personal. Let's just say that I continue to love Jerome Bettis.
On a related football note, I have developed something of a low level crush on wacky place kicker, #3 Jeff Reed. I developed this crush just before Thanksgiving when I saw a little fluff piece on the news asking all the Steelers what their favorite Thanksgiving side dish was. I can't remember what he said (I *think* it was candied sweet potatoes, but I'm absolutely not sure. I know Hines Ward said green bean casserole) but what got me was the fact that his hair was all sticking out and he looked like Wolverine. Hee hee. So I was doing a little internet research and when his hair is not sticking out, he looks like a lughead, so try to ignore those pictures. Look at the ones where he looks like Wolverine. Also, he really is a weirdo, apparently, and ya gotta love that. He knows all the words to Fergie's "Glamorous." And plus, he's a solid bet because he is pretty much always going to be responsible for a few points per game. You can't say that about any other players, not even Big "Drink Like A Champion" Ben.

Ok, I think I'll save the general update for later. Time to get out there to the farmer's market and get some eggs before they're all gone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ok, let's do this before my feeble brain loses all recollection. I did manage to keep the wine to a minimum this year so I think I can remember pretty much the whole thing.
It was really nice to have rebby at home this year for the first time in a long time. As I may have mentioned, she bagged herself a turkey this year, and determined that she would wrap it in bacon and smoke it in the smoker outside. I also got a heritage turkey, just in case 1)we had a bunch of people, or 2)the wild turkey was just too weird. Neither of those two things ended up happening, but I was still plenty glad to have lots of turkey to go around.
So anyway, we got up and had breakfast (I think---gah, I guess I am getting fuzzy already!) and then started in on the prep. I had done a bunch of pre cooking the day/night before, so there was mostly a bunch of clean up and putting things together to be done. I was in the kitchen, and rebby was given the task of tidying up the rest of the house before the guests started arriving at about 1pm. But, time inched closer and I couldn't find her. What was she doing? Turns out she was proudly/adorably mounting her turkey feathers on a board to hang up on the trophy wall above the bar. She finally got them hung the way she liked, with plenty of time to get all the chores done. Of course.
Jeff and Lisa, my favorite Thanksgiving pals, came over around 2pm. They brought some seriously boozy pennsylvania dutch eggnog, a case of saranac beer, and some pumpkin pasta. Oh, and extra silverware, and Stan. Yay! Oh! And also, Forbidden Zone, which we never did get around to watching, unfortunately. We all milled around and ate snacks---cheeseball, roasted pumpkin seeds, french onion dip with carrots, black bean dip, shrimp cocktail. Took a lot of pictures and drank a bunch of wine and beers. Rebby started up the smoker and got the party started in the back yard. Not long after that, the family arrived: Shannon and Tristan, Kyle and Brady and Stacy and then Dad. The kids immediately ran to the back yard and rebby got a fire started in the chiminea. They were fascinated. Dad mostly hung out in the kitchen with me and watched me cook. It was fun! My turkey had gone in the oven at around noon---rebby put hers on the grill at around 3pm. It was a smoky business!
I'm just gonna spill out the rest of the menu stream of consciousness style, as I remember it: horseradish-buttermilk mashed potatoes; turkey gravy; roasted sweet potatoes with apples and maple syrup; brussels sprouts with apples, onions, and cider-mustard glaze; alton brown's green bean casserole (with cheater fried onions from TJs on top!); cornbread stuffing; chestnut stuffing; the ubiquitous crescent rolls (done in the adult style of actual crescent roll shape); smoky greens with turnips; spicy black eyed peas; vegan cornbread; bourbon pumpkin pie; apple cinnamon cake; cranberry apple cobbler; two kinds of turkey; and lots and lots of beer and wine and coffee and eggnog and cider and I think more than one shot of whiskey. By the time the dinner was on the table, we had me, rebby, jeff, lisa, colin and his friend (can't remember her name! ack), tait, dad, and leslie. It was lovely and we all found spots in the front room and ate two and three plates full. Yay! Lots of fun conversation and then so quiet you could hear a pin drop as we all fell into the traditional food coma. After a while some of us adjourned into the tv room where Urgh a Music War started, and then some other folks stopped over to bring their holiday greetings. I made it all the way through Urgh, but boy was I whooped by the time it was done! Everyone shuffled off by about 10:30pm, and we did the barest of clean ups and then went snuggly to bed. Nice holiday memories!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I was all set to write an upbeat post getting all up to date on the past week, and then I read this. Now all I want to do is put on her records and curl up in a ball with a bottle of wine. RIP.
At least I got to see her perform live a few years ago at the 3 Rivers Arts Festival. That is still one of my most memorable concerts ever.