Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monumental Frabjous Blog Day

Can a person be proud, grateful, amazed, sheepish,  tickled, embarrassed, pumped up  and humble all at the same time? 

It seems one can because that is how I feel on this amazing day which happens to be :

         *          the one year anniversary of my timid and feeble entry into the blog world


       *            the day I acquired my 100th follower

I am too overcome by emotion(s) to blog today.  The only words in my vast vocabulary which come to mind are

Thank you All so much..........I love you dearly...........
      and aw shucks........

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Failure Too Monumental to Bear

Horrors, horrors !  I thought I had learned to accept the occasional failure with wry humor and grace, but really, this is too much.

The awful truth is........My thanksgiving cookery efforts turned out to be so vile that I can hardly believe that I was the one who perpetrated that inedible mess.  And yet, the cats can neither chop, mince, slice nor reach the stove controls (nor, in truth, would they be bothered to do so even if they could) and, since there is no one else here, I guess I must accept the  blame.  Sigh.  Like that wonderful guy, Pres. Harry Truman, said....long  before most of you were born,....."The buck stops here."

I have been making turkeys and dressing and cranberry relish for more years than......well.....than most people.......during good times and bad, weathering Thanksgivings tinged with both depression and ecstasy, and somehow things always turned out OK. (not always delectable and to die for but generally somewhat yummy)  So where did I go so wrong?  I can only assume that it happened  because I attempted to be flexible and try doing a few things differently.  (This must prove that it is indeed better to be immovable, stubborn as a mule and totally resistant to change........see, I always knew those self-help gurus were full of crap).

Anyway, many moons ago, a little while after man had discovered fire, I decided to try one of those "cook-in-the-bag" methods to make my turkey, and it turned out tasting like a stewed creature, hardly recognizable as a roasted turkey, though I must grudgingly admit it was certainly moist as promised....sort of like a soup chicken. Ugh. (Don't misunderstand.......it is fine for a soup chicken to taste like a soup chicken, but not for a supposedly roasted turkey.)    It ended up  being the basis for lots of enchilada casseroles, pierogies, turkey salads and feasts for the neighborhood cats whose mothers had obviously not ruined their taste buds by providing them with the real thing at an early age.  I cannot tell you what could have possessed me to decide to try it again after such a definite disaster......but then, I cannot always explain my actions, even to myself.  I figured that if I used the Bag method for the first 2 hours and then removed it and allowed the creature to roast in a normal fashion and brown and crisp up nicely for the last hour it might come out both moist and tasty.  Faulty logic.  My ingenious thinking managed to produce a turkey that not only tasted stewed but was so dry it stuck to the roof of one's mouth like peanut butter.    No amount of applying the juice from the bottom of the pan seemed to help much but I figured that at least the cats would have a feast for weeks.

Faulty logic again.  My own spoiled- rotten cats obviously felt sorry for me and humored me by eating some of it while it was fresh out of the oven and liberally ladled with juice.  But, the second day  they looked at me as if I were a crazy person and at the plates of turkey as if I were trying to poison them and demanded their canned cat food.  And this morning I received the unkindest blow of all.  When I awoke and went out to the porch buffet to take in what normally are empty dishes licked clean by stray kitties and possums I found, to my utter horror and shame, the hardened lumps of minced turkey virtually untouched.  So lovingly offered.....so cruelly rejected !

To make this tragedy even worse,  I ruined the stuffing that I normally make which is so delicious that I usually prefer it to the turkey itself.  Having tasted a wonderful stuffing made by a friend last year which contained sausage and mushrooms I decided to include those additions to my plain seasoned bread, onion, celery recipe and threw in some wild rice for good measure hoping to create a masterpiece.  I could hardly  believe it when it came out tasting like nothing much on the fabulous scale and highly revolting on the "don't ever make this again" side.  Instead of putting containers of this into the freezer for future delectation I dumped it into the garbage this morning.......some things obviously cannot be saved.  Sob.

However, I think the piece de resistance to this whole horror story is the fact that the fresh cranberry-orange orange relish that I usually make also came out  barely edible because the orange that I used was oddly sour and I put in too much sugar trying to compensate for this flaw.  However, God was good to me in this case.....no slurs or rebuffs to be bravely borne.......the jar slipped out of my hands as I was putting it into the frig and festooned the entire kitchen floor with glass and cranberry colored sugared fruit and it only took me about an hour to gather it all up and wash to floor 17 times to get rid of the stickiness.  I must assume that Escoffier personally oversaw the imposition of this punishment on me for having committed such a crime in the name of a culinary effort.  At least I did not have to personally empty the jar into the garbage........it ended up there without my having to overcome my usual reluctance to waste food.

So what is the lesson this effing, bleeping, experience has taught me?  I am not sure, but I know one or two things.....tenks gott I did not try also that new pecan pie recipe.........and I am fucking thankful I do not have to eat my home cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for a whole week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Crazy Person Celebrates Thanksgiving 2010

It always strikes me as strange and quite sad that there should be one day in the year reserved for giving thanks for blessings received.

I know, I know......you are having to cope with that creepy Pollyanna Stearns again today, but in my old age I have developed a peculiar desire to express my enormous gratitude (aloud) every time I escape a disaster or have a good thing happen.  For instance I am not just paying lip service when I say. "Thank you God (*)" every time I trip but do NOT fall  down, each time I break a glass and no fragments fly into my good eye, whenever I am chopping veggies with my wicked looking cleaver (my favorite chopping tool) and I clip a corner of a fingernail but escape removing the first joint of the finger, etc., or on the more positive side, when I gaze awestruck out into the little hummingbird feeding area outside my kitchen window ( incidentally, that is where I slipped last March and broke my hip.....(**)) and see 6 or 8 of those incredible creatures zipping around like jet planes, fencing with each other and gobbling nectar within a few feet or inches from my fascinated gaze.  There is hardly anything I am NOT grateful for these days and I cannot help acknowledging it every damned minute.  It seems totally vile and insensitive not to. 

* ( When I say, "Thank you God" I am addressing not an ordinary  religious icon, but that ineffable spirit that permeates every tiny particle in the universe and keeps them from either crashing together or flying wildly apart (even faster than they are already doing that).)

** (When I fell and broke my hip I did NOT say,  "Thank you God"  but,  so help me, I realized     later how lucky I was that I did not hit my head on the bricks and end up a vegetable in a coma).  

So what does all of the above have to do with anything?......you may well ask since it obviously takes me forever to get to the effing point....... which is that I am not doing anything special in the way of giving thanks on Thanksgiving.  In fact, due to the onset of a spurt of insanity, I actually made my turkey, cranberries and stuffing yesterday since, for the first time ever, I had taken the turkey out of the freezer on Monday and it was nearly completely thawed in the frig.  What the hell, I told myself, if you do all the stuff today you can really relax and enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow, and so I did!

Today all I have to do is eat, feed all the neighborhood kitties with turkey and watch the NFL football game later, in total comfort.  It all makes me thankful that I am crazy enough to have done what I did.  And that's a fact!

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Defense of Cat Ladies, Very Old People, and (particularly) Very Old Cat Ladies

Oh, hell, you all know I have been a sad excuse for a blogger these past weeks (or is it months?) but, as I told my  beloved cousin, Jessica, at lunch today, sometimes the Flame of Life burns  brightly in me but occasionally it flickers a bit and causes me to rest quietly, nurture the spark and send out for more kindling.........which is where I have been lately.

However,  as it happens, I am not the only crazy Cat Lady on Califa Street..........I have a neighbor (let's call her Marge) who is even a bit older than my 83 years and is, if possible, even crazier than me when it comes to trying to save every critter on earth.  As of this writing she is the sole support of Emily (her own kitty), Blackie (her porch resident for nearly 20 years), Whiskas, a gorgeous tuxedo who has been deigning to grace us with his presence twice a day for going on 8 or 10 years, an unnamed new gray arrival, and Pookey whom we share custody of,  sort of, plus many more too numerous to mention over the years.  These so called strays who visit her carpeted garage or sheltered front porch several times daily are treated to fresh water, endless kitty kibble and impeccably fresh canned cat food daily and then there are the days when she rushes to our nearest supermarket to purchase the freshly roasted chickens offered up in their hot food section because, as she firmly believes and as we all know, cats cannot live on cat food alone.

Without digressing too much I must mention that she is also dogsitter for a neighbor whom we shall call J who is owned by a huge brown Lab named Jackson.  Perhaps I had better let Marge tell the rest of this story since I am not sure I can do proper justice to it in my enfeebled condition.

"Well, Lois,  you know I love that Jackson and I am happy to bring him treats and fresh bones from the butcher and take him into my yard and  baby sit him whenever J finds it necessary, but sometimes I wonder about that boy.....I don't know how he manages to get the correct left and right shoes on his feet each morning and I worry about the fact that he is a husband and father as well as a dog and fish owner when he acts sometimes like he needs to be baby sat himself.

Now, I told you that he has given keys to both his Mother (who lives only 2 blocks away) and to me so we can take care of Jackson  (and the fish) when he and the family go on a little vacation and that has worked out just fine mostly, but yesterday was the absolute limit let me tell you.......(sigh).  Well, they went off on  vacation for 3 or 4 days (I do not understand how they can afford to take so much time off especially after the fortune they must have spent redoing the bathroom and painting the whole outside of the house and the new front door and all, but I guess that is none of my business....)  so his Mother called me and asked if I could feed Jackson this morning and she would come by later and give him his dinner and feed the fish, so of course I said yes and then after I hung up I remembered that when they put in the new front door they probably changed the locks and he never gave me a new key and she called me back a minute later about the same problem and we both wondered what we were going to do and I was so mad at J that I could have killed him then and there. (uttered in a smothered shriek)

Anyway, so I went next door into the back yard and gave the dog fresh water sure enough my key did not fit the new lock, but I noticed that they had installed a new doggy door in the back door and it was the super 3 XXX size so I figured maybe it would fit me and I managed to get down on my hands and knees and you know how hard that is for me what with my artheritis and the polymyalgia and all, and by gosh I managed to crawl thru and was able to get the dog food and shove it outside.  And then I realized that I couldn't get out head first  because the back steps were too steep going that way so I had to turn around and crawl out feet first and that darned dog just stood there and watched me the whole time like he thought I was out of my mind....which maybe I was.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you......while I was in there, just to be safe, I fed the fish with a couple of cubes of fish food in case we couldn't get back inside later.

So I filled his bowl and got him all fed and then I called J's mother back and told her what I had done and, can you believe it, when she came over that nite for the evening meal she did the same thing and managed to crawl in thru the doggy door just like I did...of course  she is a lot younger than me, but it is a good thing she has kept her girlish figure  because she was able to fit thru the hole too.  Well, Lois, I'd still like to kill that boy, but I think we did pretty damned well for a couple of old biddies.......what do you think ?" ........(proud as punch of course and rightly so).

Marge.......I think you were fantastic and I have only one other thing to say on the subject.

Dammit, I wish to hell you had called me so I could have watched it all.

Moral:    Don't ever underestimate the power of a determined  crazy old Cat Lady.

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Share a Real Treat

This is not intended to be a proper blog ..............(I do not consider any posting in which I do not offer at least 100 of my own words to be acceptable as a blog entry......that or a photo or a sketch at least).

I have just been pointed to a blog of such monumental wonderfulness that I am not only shamed by my own pitiful efforts in comparison, but I am at the same moment blown away by the profundity and exquisite style of the offering.  Of course,  the blog is by a professional journalist and writer and that makes me feel a little less defensive so it's OK.  

We can all go forth and glory in the blog of the wonderful film critic and human being, Roger Ebert.  Below is the post that had me fainting with joy, appreciation and admiration.  And the subject is one sure to be close to the heart of every blogger, I think........Loneliness.

       Go !


(Many thanks to Delia Lloyd of The Real Delia for this tip)

A Sin or Merely an Error In Judgment ?

What I am talking about is making promises that you are unable to keep.....I think I recently promised to have one of my cats write my blog for me on days when I was not up to doing so. 

Bad idea! 

It has become disgustingly obvious to me that my children cannot be counted on to blog for me when I am ensconced in the Rubber Room.  I made the rounds this morning,  whispering pleadingly into each furry ear,  and I might as well have been talking to the wall for all the good it did me.  All I got for my efforts was a view of  the usual furry long johns, private parts and waving tails departing with considerable haste up the garden path toward the south 40......... one set orange and white (Baskin), one tortoise shell (Winnie) and, the fuzziest ones, grey and white with a hint of beige (Gussie).  And not a meow of excuse or apology from any of the ungrateful wretches.  I know, I know, I have spoiled them rotten....it is my own fault.........what was it that guy Shakespeare said?   Something like, " How sharper than a serpent's tooth is a thankless child."  I can vouch for that.

Anyway,  before I retreat into the shelter I thought it only fair to report that the cortisone shot my surgeon injected into my gimpy knee seems to be working........Huzzah !  Only trouble is that now I am aware that the other knee is complaining bitterly ............I wonder if I should have asked for BOGO or 2 for the price of one?  I am still pondering my options but I feel I have bought some time to make the decision about whether to go for the knee replacement.  Meanwhile, it is lovely to not be hurting so much.

As for the Rubber Room......I have my Father to thank for inspiring the idea.  A man of enormous suppressed (and expressed)  rage and frustration, he could often be found hitting his head against the nearest wall.  When asked why he was doing this he would reply in a strangled voice, "Because it feels so good when I stop." 

I always say that many of the most important things I have learned in this life I owe to my Father.......at a very young age I found that my best course of action was usually to do the opposite of what Pappy did or suggested I do.  Consequently, the first time I had occasion to hit my head against the wall in rage and/or frustration I found out how much it really did hurt and decided immediately to develop a better way.  I found many less painful alternatives........cushioning the blows with a pillow between head and wall or floor worked well for much of my young life.  Then I discovered that symbolism had its uses and I could often vent my feelings by visualizing an act rather than actually performing it..........hence I could often be found in a sort of trance with a beatific smile on my face, eyes cast upward, while I envisioned (for instance) knocking Pappy to the ground with a vicious knee tackle and then simply beating HIS head repeatedly against the asphalt until I felt better. 

As you can see, a healthy imagination can save you thousands in psychiatric fees later in life, not to mention wear and tear on the cranium, fists, feet and other body parts.  Thus evolved the virtual Rubber Room where I go when I sense I have become a danger to the world in general or, more importantly, to myself.  Believe it or not, it usually works.  Or.....like they say about a dose of Chicken Soup for whatever ails you......."It couldn't hoit."

Now, you will have to excuse me while I retire to my padded cell and envision whirling a bunch of ungrateful, non-blogging cats around by their tails. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

89 things I Am Grateful For

All of You......that's who !

Reading your sweet, encouraging, sympathetic and sensitive  comments on my recent post describing my melancholic excuse for not blogging has touched me to the core of my being and made me realize again how lucky I am to have you all in my life.  It is mind boggling to realize that it only took me 83 years to have found as many as 89 incredible people whom I really love to talk to and listen to.....or rather, to have had 89 of you find me.........the word "miracle" is overused, but I can't think of another one as fitting.

To properly show my appreciation I have just come up with a possible  way of coping with those days when I am not fit for blogging and am out turning over rocks searching for my lost sense of humor...........I have had a brief consultation with Gussie, Winnie and Baskin and they have agreed (somewhat grudgingly) to take over for me when I am not fit for anything much less blogging.

I really do not know which of them, if any, has the talent to tattle on me, ramble on about practically nothing and keep you posted of what shenanigans I am up to when I have locked myself in my Rubber Room but we will undoubtedly find out.........won't we  ?  If they fail I will simply have to send them for lessons to the incomparable Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys).........I am sure you all know who I mean but, in case you have missed this delightful experience, run, do not walk, to the blogsite of one of my favorite bloggers and browse till you find one about Liza Bean :


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is 83 Too Old for A Replacement Knee or Should I Just Limp Quietly Into the Sunset?

Decisions, decisions.........oy, am I sick of making them........however, the alternative does not appeal  to me one bit so onward I go with Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe-ing it.

Actually, I made one decision over the weekend  that sort of made me feel liberated and almost blogworthy again.   After weeks of suffering I decided to consult my Wonderkind orthopedic surgeon who did such a great job on my hip about what he could offer me as a fix for the latest joint to cop-out. 

I was gimping and groaning around the garden trying to reposition all my pots for the winter and finally had to laugh at my less than gazelle-like state.........If I were limping because of my recently mended broken hip I figure it would be perfectly acceptable.........no one (not even I) would dare judge me harshly for that.  But nooooo, it's my partially reconstructed left knee that has decided to deconstruct and keeps threatening to deposit me on my tush or worse. And that worries me because I do not want to have to retake Broken Hip 101 .......I already got at A in that course and feel there is nothing more for me to learn on that subject.

So off I schlepped today to consult my hero the Surgeon .  After xrays were duly taken I was informed that the joint was in the grip of arthritis (so what joint in my bod isn't??) and had little cartiledge left to speak of.

It seems there were still  several options:

1.  Just suffer.    (feh !)
2.  Cortisone shot to relieve pain and mega-knee brace (yuk)
3.  Knee replacement surgery , excruciating rehab and 6 months recovery period.  (aaarrrrrggh)

Number 1 I rejected with disdainful expression and curled lip.    (I could do that without a doctor's advice)

Number 2 I half rejected....hated the mega brace part but found the cortisone shot somewhat appealing

Number 3 had been my favorite going in, but I now was not sure about the sound of the rehab and 6 months of big time pain in the recovery process.

However, the part that did me in was when this formerly brilliant, handsome Jewish Doctah suddenly transformed himself into a nerdy nogoodnick  by turning a beady eye on me and saying, "I don't know if the knee replacement is worth it........after all, you are 83 years old......"

Naturally  I gave him my most penetrating, turning-strong-men-to-stone  Medusa stare and reminded him that I was 82 1/2 years old when I graduated Cum Laude (sp?) from Broken Hip 101, but I ended up opting for just a cortisone shot and the name of the top surgeon for knee replacements for me to ponder.

Now, everyone knows that for anyone with even a drop of Jewish blood, the Doctor is next to God of course.  But,  I must confess, when I left this doctor's office the pedestal on which I had placed him had shrunken considerably.  I am not quite sure, but I think I was grievously insulted...... I am considering suing for malpractice, slander and possibly even non-sexual harrassment......

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It 's Been A Dark and Stormy Night......

Hi, my darlings...........I have made yet another unsettling discovery about myself.......sob.

I am nothing but no-good Fair Weather Blogger. (As opposed, for instance, to being a Foul Weather Friend.....my pals know that I may not always be available to them when things are going well for them, but if they stumble into a pot hole or a chasm that is the time they can count on me.)

It seems that I cannot write.....period.....without my sense of humor and, horror of horrors, I seem to have misplaced or lost that most precious item somewhere in the last several months.  I have been blaming my resistance to writing on a strange melancholy or some kind of depressed state, but I realized today that the problem is neither of those things.  It is simply my skewed view of things that I have lost.

All my life I have been able to see something to giggle about in even the worst situations or at least been able to invent something.    For instance, at my cousin Lew's funeral several years ago a bizarre situation arose.  My beloved cousin, Rabbi Avi Bruce would not or could not relinquish his belief that it is the duty of the family to fill the grave.......totally.  (this may be an acceptable practice while there are a gaggle of strong armed young relations still around, but at this point we have lost all such.)  When the prime Mourners, Lew's children and their families, departed after the ceremony along with the non-relatives, that left only a few of us in our 60's thru 70's with the task.  Rabbi Avi (nephew) and niece Debra both with bad backs), her hubby, Steve (always willing even if not totally physically  able) and  cousin Lois (near 80 and losing muscle mightily with each passing second) to do the shoveling......does anyone know how many shovels of earth it takes to fill a grave hole????? ..  at least a gazillion, I can tell you.

I pooped out less than half way but those other stalwart, loyal, awesome if bedraggled members of my family finished the whole job while the grave diggers, whose job it really is, loitered around and shuffled their feet in amazement, probably laughing inside and wondering what could be possessing these insane non-union shovellers.   As I stood gasping and trying to keep from falling down in exhaustion I must admit that I had to swallow a giggle at the strange spectacle.   It was an Edward Gorey moment to perfection.  Well, folks, if it were happening today I could never have managed to find that giggle.

(To extend the family weirdness even further, I have to confess that I picked  and hid in my pocket a foot sized rock  which now resides on my kitchen windowsill with the label "Blumenthal Rock"...........I now feel that my entire family is always with me whenever I chop veggies or do the dishes.)

I must also confess that, now all of a sudden,  nothing seems funny anymore and my imagination has failed me  at digging out (you should excuse the expression)  laughable stuff). 

So there is my weakness and my dilemma exposed.  If I can't find the funny bits I can't write,  hence my absence from Blogland.  Hopefully, all is not lost.......I am feeding the plant like crazy by indulging in chocolate at  every provocation and I think I feel the stirrings of some new roots of funny-bone developing.  Let us all pray (and while you are at it, please pray that my chocolate cure does not result in another 5 lbs.......