23 March 2014

Hiatus: Yet Again

It's been a while.  I find myself typing that rather frequently here.  So much and so little has been going on.

The best news:  I have a new writing gig! Unpaid (as of yet), but a wonderful venue for me to sharpen my chops somewhere other than here.  People may even read it.

With that in mind, expect the content of this blog to shift more towards my personal life and the sort of topics that the general public would prefer to avoid.  Lucky you!  (Hope I haven't lost you yet; at least wait for my rambling glorification of the Deutsch Kurzhaar before you hightail it.)

Welcome back!


27 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 14: Food!

Food.  It's a topic that I could ramble on about endless and often do.  Writing about my favourite ingredients or sharing recipes with photos would be far too easy.  Instead I will write about some of the very best and very worst meals I have ever eaten.

The Good
Hands down, no question, the most incredible food I have ever glutted myself on was at Animal Restaurant in Los Angeles.  Imagine the most perfect buttermilk biscuit lovingly  with the most perfect sausage gravy with the sort of foie gras dreams are made of perched atop.  Of all the epicurean delights I have enjoyed, sublime enjoyment doesn't do it any justice whatsoever.  (Yes, I know that foie gras is cruel.  I do feel kinda guilty and unethical... until I take that first bite.   I simply cannot resist when given the opportunity to eat perfectly prepared foie gras.  Sad, but true.)

I would choose this over sex.  Always.  I think my heart rate is slightly elevated from relishing the memory of it.  If you've never eaten anything that mesmerizing you are really missing out.

The Bad
This is another easy one.  Raw (it rather has to be) jellyfish salad at a hole in the wall restaurant on the north side of the Chinatown mall in Chicago.  I cannot for the life of me recall the name of it, but I think it may have been "Spring World" or something to that effect.  The food was supposed to be rustic, from some far flung province in China and was directly across from the Chinese medicinal shop (which is the most foul smelling store I have ever entered) where I bought my teas, spicy squid jerky, and ginger in it's various forms (raw, candied, and pickled).

The salad itself was simple and composed of thinly sliced jellyfish and raw cabbage sprinkled with sesame seeds.  I don't know why I was surprised that jellyfish tasted like water flavoured Jell-o.  Obviously you cannot cook something that is between 95-98% water and what else could you expect it to taste like??  It may not have been quite as ghastly on a hot summer day, but I could not resist trying something so unusual on a cold November day.

The Ugly
Choosing which unfortunate meal to write about took longer than I expected.  Through the course of chatting with Yvonne the perfect candidate presented itself.

It was a mummy!

Okay, not literally mummy.  But it looked like one, sans rotting bandages and protective talismans.  However, it was supposed to be a whole, roasted rabbit and the guilty establishment is The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills, CA.  The description on the menu sounded divine: Rabbit roasted with olives  & an extra virgin olive oil garlic tomato sauce.  Yum!  I bet the served that sucker on a platter instead of a plate.  They did!  Sadly it looked like no rabbit I'd ever seen, dead or alive.  It was overcooked and inedible.  So I ordered another mojito and ate more bread dipped in their deservedly famous Bagna Calda (garlic cloves, oven-roasted in extra virgin olive oil & butter with a hint of

I could easily write a dozen haikus (or limeracks) to express my distaste for this sad bunny mummy, but instead I made a collage!  You're welcome.

Honorable Mentions:
Dharma Garden, the freshest and most exquisite Thai food ever created. - Chicago, IL
Hot Doug's,  Dubbed the "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium" it is overflowing with culinary magic.  You'll never thing of a sausage or hot dog the same way. - Chicago, IL
Zayna's Mediterranean,  I've been cooking and eating Middle Eastern food for over a decade; it is my comfort food.  Zayna's has the BEST falafel and walnut bakhlava I have ever eaten and their Arabic coffee is absolute perfection.  Also, they serve beer. - Tucson, AZ

Blog Challenge Day 13: Top Ten!

I love making lists!  Generally speaking I promptly forget or lose them, but I absolutely love writing them.

Today I am taking inspiration from Yvonne's Day 13 post.  However, I am not a fan of horror movies so instead my list will be simply composed of the ten movies that I love the most, regardless of era, off the top of my head and in no particular order (except for the first two, which are tied as my favourite movies EVER).

  1. Charade (1963, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn)
  2. The Thin Man (1934, starring Myrna Loy and William Powell)
  3. The Maltese Falcon (1941, starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor)
  4. The Women (1939, starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine)
  5. Bringing Up Baby (1938, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant)
  6. Grand Hotel (1932, starring Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, and Joan Crawford)
  7. You Can't Take It With You (1938, starring Jean Arthur, James Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore)
  8. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1938, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur)
  9. His Girl Friday (1940, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell)
  10. The Big Sleep (1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall)

There are many more, but it's quite obvious that I prefer movies from the 1930s-40s.  I find the writing, acting, and directing to be was superior to most modern film (although there are contemporary films that I have enjoyed).  I consider Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, and George Cuckor to be among the very best directors of the 20th century.

Blog Challenge Day 12: Recovery

This topic was yet another one that I had difficulty determining what I wanted to write about, until it occurred to me while talking to friends about my dog Lola's current health issues.

She was recently diagnosed as having demodex mange, which I had suspected.  Of the two types of mange demodex is not contagious and is an immune system disorder.  Lola's immune system is already very poor due to multiple, severe allergies.  The demodex symptoms (hair loss, itchy and very dry patches of skin, etc.) began to manifest shortly after I had to put Fox down a month ago.  Demedex is most often caused by extreme stress; I had no idea she had been so bonded to him but she did lay around and do almost nothing the first week after he passed.  But then, so did I.  Hair loss and itchiness isn't uncommon for her when her allergies flare up, but one patch turned into two and then four.  Prednisone didn't seem to help.  So off to the vet's for a skin scrape.

Lola is already feeling better from her medicated baths (which decrease the itchiness and inflammation in addition to helping prevent infection from the open skin).  She's also receiving antibiotics and her usual allergy pills.  I'm adding more fruits, veggies, and herbal supplements to her food to help her immune system fight back.

I can say a lot about Lola, but one thing that she is through and through is a fighter.  She was on death's door when I got her from the shelter at 7 months old; emaciated, wouldn't eat, and had pneumonia.  There was a good chance she wouldn't have survived, but she did.  

Thankfully demodex is easily treated and not at all life threatening when caught at such an early stage.  Even with her poor immune system, she has the love and prayers of so many people who care about her.  I can already see how much that is helping her.  She knows and she is grateful.

24 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 11 - Confessions

I feel like I've already written about this, although perhaps it was prior to this writing challenge.  Short term memory isn't always my strong suit.

There isn't much that embarrasses me, which doesn't give me a whole lot to confess.  As anyone who knows me well or has read my blog for a while knows, I am very open about my life.  Personal relationships stay personal, but that's about it.  I attempt not to over-share, but am not always successful.

Hmm.  Okay.  Here goes my attempt at confessing things that don't bother me at all, but may bother others.  Does that count?  Hope so, because it's going to have to.

- Even if Fox hadn't gotten sick with cancer, I had no plans whatsoever to neuter him.  He didn't have papers and wasn't show dog material even if he was; he absolutely had field potential and that is what he was bred for.  Elhew through and through.  I am an extremely responsible dog owner and he had very, very few undesirable behaviors that seem to be expected of intact male.  I put the time and effort into training him, which included manners in the house, with my dogs, and with dogs in public.  His only negative trait is that he was very dominant toward males dogs (especially intact males, for obvious reasons) visiting our house and if he was challenged he would initiate a fight.  In public he had no interest in intact males or any other dogs.  He was all about meeting people and getting as much attention & love as possible.  Fox was a total love sponge.  Also, balls don't bother me.  Even when a dog has gigantic like his that probably made some human males feel unendowed.  Not my problem, dudes.

- One time I spilled some cold coffee on Gatsby's head and never bothered to clean it up.  Does this make me a terrible dog owner?  It's not like you could see it on his solid liver head anyway.

I can't really think of anything else, so this will have to suffice.

Onto Day 12's topic!

Blog Challenge Day 10: Memory

The first memory I had planned to write about was one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.  It also makes me sound like an egotistical, arrogant jerk.  In a nutshell, my first day of kindergarten I cried the whole way there.  Typical.  The teacher, who was used to this for obvious reasons, tried to calm me down by telling me all the fun stuff we'd be learning that year.  Which were all things I already knew.  This was the day I realized that many of the people around me are pretty dumb.

Hey, I sound a bit like a jerk anyway.  Oh, well.  Let's proceed to my second choice of topic.

Just over a year ago I began a running program called "Couch to 5K."  I was overweight, depressed (the dosage of meds I was on were 1/8 of what I take now, so basically they did almost nothing), and I had a dog who was going nuts because he didn't have enough opportunities to really burn off some energy.

I only followed the program for 5 or 6 weeks which was when the running times drastically increased and my asthma because a real problem.  So I began to run as much or as little as I felt like and at whatever speed didn't cause a severe asthma attack or cause pain in my left knee which isn't horrible, but isn't great either.

Admittedly there were times that I wouldn't run for a couple of months or so, then I would take it up again.  Each time I was further along stamina-wise, which was encouraging because I wasn't starting from scratch.  Last autumn I sprained my ankle and had to take 6 weeks off.  It was horribly frustrating, but I sucked it up, gained 12 pounds, and was very cranky.  Within a month of running I'd lost the weight again just in time for Foxtrot (my English pointer) to be diagnosed with terminal hemangiosarcoma.  I still ran, but only twice a week most of the time.  When I had to put him down exactly a month ago I didn't run for about two weeks.

But new running shoes, new ear buds (the sort that don't fall out of your ears), an armband for my iPhone, and Gatsby's impatience got me back out on the trails.  I was surprised at how easily I picked it back up again; I was more or less where I was a month prior.

Now Gats and I are back to running every other day which has over time become something we absolutely love doing together.

Yesterday the thought popped into my head while running that I bet I could run a 5k now!  That has been a goal of mine since I began running, when a two minutes jog had me out of breath.

The epiphany that immediately followed that was, "wait a minute, a 5k is only 3.1 miles!  I do that every other day!"  It is one of the best feelings in the world to not even realize how far you've come and then have it hit you like a ton of bricks!  I was so amazed and proud of myself.

So, who is down for running a 5k??  We can just run our own if there aren't any coming up in Tucson in the near future!  :)

23 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 9: Made With Love

Spicy PB&J Mini-quesadilla.
(Because I ran out of bread and really wanted a grilled PB&J.)

Made with: extra crunchy peanut butter, organic blackberry preserves, 
sriracha, & locally made fajita sized flour tortillas.


Blog Challenge Day 8: Honesty

Honestly I have put off writing this blog post deliberately because I'm unsure about how I want to approach the topic.

Is honestly a good thing?  Most of the time, but not always.

E.G. "Does my butt look fat in this?"  Never say "yes," even if it's true.  The correct answer is, "that really isn't your best colour" and then you suggest something more flattering.

I know I have a big booty.  I don't need confirmation.  Just tell me to wear the flowered dress that has a built-in girdle.  I like that dress.  I will probably listen to your advice.  (For once.)

Hey... I guess I did writing about honesty, albeit accidentally.  And butts.  While referencing my own.