Nov 27, 2009

Too Easy

My primary reason for purchasing the BigEasy No Oil Turkey Cooker was to free up some much needed space in my oven.  Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is challenging.  It's no easy feat to get 15 things prepared and on the table at the same time.  Figuring out how to shuffle food in and out of the oven around the turkey is an annual routine.   When I heard about this cooker thing I thought maybe I had found the answer to this problem.  The no oil thing sold me on it.  A big vat of super heated oil just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.  

My secondary reason for purchasing this cooker was to get the husband to cook the bird.  I heard about this cooker from one of the guys at work.  He went on and on about how juicy the turkey is and how he uses it to cook other things all year long.  This was a guy bragging about cooking the Holiday turkey.  Men love to cook meat so long as it's not in a kitchen.  It's a caveman thing.  I figured it was worth a shot.

I found one of these contraptions on sale, made the purchase and brought it home.  My husband was skeptical.  My sister expressed fears that this radiant heat cooking might be cancer causing.  My daughter, the vegetarian, said a turkey lives a miserable life until it is slaughtered for our Holiday meal and it doesn't really matter how we cook it since we shouldn't be eating it anyway.  (Spoil sport).

The cooker sat in the living room for 4 days.  Yesterday morning, when he couldn't put it off any longer, he cracked it open and assembled it.  There were pieces and parts strewn across the living room floor.  He grumbled a little but I know he loves that sort of thing.  When he was done the assembled cooker innards and turkey basket were placed on my kitchen counter.  He informed me that I had to oil the thing up generously to make for easier cleanup and easy removal of the turkey.  I could tell from the tone in his voice he was thinking "I done my part now you do yours."   He almost figured out my ulterior motive when I cracked a tiny smile at that.

Since I was busy preparing the other holiday dinner delectables I ignored the cooker.  "I'll just oil this thing up for you." he said after waiting for an hour or so.   I thanked him, careful to keep my back turned so the tell tale evil smile would be hidden.    I did help out when it came time to put the bird in the basket.  But that's only because I didn't want salmonella spread all over my kitchen.

As the bird was cooking he would check on it periodically.  Our family members were invited to check out the new bird cooking gizmo.   The bird was done in an amazingly short 2 1/2 hours.  I helped him (notice who the helper is) get the bird onto the plate.  It was a beautiful golden, crispy brown.  Bonus, it tasted delicious.  It was truly the moistest turkey I have ever eaten.

If I hadn't sealed the deal by then the adulation of the dinner guests was the final nail in the coffin.  I was careful to say the "The turkey was all Jim's doing."   Luckily for me he doesn't read my blog and I know I can count on my sister and daughter to not tell him how he was played.  Next year, I predict he will be itching to get at that bird.  That was too easy.

Nov 19, 2009

The Good Old Days (puff) (puff)

MSN has informed me that today is the “Great American Smokeout”. I would argue that the “real” Great American Smokeout is at my father’s house every other Saturday when he and his cronies get together to play poker. It’s loads of fun to play poker with them but if you’re bothered by second hand smoke you should steer clear. A two block radius would be best.

It used to be worse. A few years ago six of the seven regular players smoked. These days it’s down to three out of seven. My husband and I are two of the ex-smokers. We both quit a little over two years ago.

The Great American Smokeout doesn’t make me want to extol the virtues of being a non-smoker. It just reminds me how much I miss smoking. I loved smoking. Nothing compares to the first drag off of a cigarette. Light it up, inhale deeply and exhale the smoke along with a satisfied sigh. It was like a reward. (Yes, I know it was that insidious little drug nicotine that made it so nice, but there’s no arguing that it WAS nice, drug induced or not.) It also kept me 20 pounds lighter than I currently am, with no effort on my part. I’m all about effortless.  (I'd love to lay the other 20 additional pounds at the doorstep of my quitting but that just wouldn't be fair since I had those before I quit.)

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves... If you loved it so much why’d you quit? The biggest reason was the constant grief I got from my children. I didn’t like looking weak in their eyes. I also hated feeling like a rat looking for a hole to crawl into every time I tried to light up in public. It was an expensive habit and was getting more expensive every year. I had a bad smoker’s cough that I wasn’t able to get rid of. Friends and family said they could find me in a crowd just by listening for my cough. Combine all these things with watching my mother-in-law die from emphysema and it was enough to make me quit.

The thing that keeps me from starting again is not wanting to go through the battle of quitting again. I quit once before back in the 90’s. Then I got a new stressful job so I started smoking one or two a cigarettes a day just to calm down at the end of the day. In no time at all I was back to a pack a day. Then it took me eleven years to quit again.

For now I am content to be a non-smoker. But I have plans to take it up again when I’m in my 70's. By that time I’ll be retired and hope to be all sassy and “I’ don’t give a damn!” about everything. How can I play bingo and sit at the blackjack table without a cigarette in my hand? When I do take it up again I will buy my first pack on the Great American Smokeout day.   Just to mess with 'em.

Nov 17, 2009

You can't win, so don't try.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t please everybody. Once you truly embrace this truth you experience a whole new world. Suddenly you are free to do things based on what you think is best. Not controlled by what all the naysayers might say….. naysayers are always saying nay, it’s their job.

And naysayers are divided into at least two different camps. This is to ensure that no matter what course of action you take one of those camps will be rolling their eyes, tskking their tongues and just being very surly and disagreeable. Accept it, ignore them and move on with what needs to be done.

You know what else? Naysayers thrive on being the fly in the ointment. When you don't care, it de-motivates them. It's actually kind of fun to watch. Kind of like a balloon slowly losing it's air.

Nov 15, 2009

Retirement Plan

Even though it's horribly unoriginal, I'm thinking I may push for retirement in Florida.  That way I could be close to the cousins.  They came up from Florida for the wedding. Those of you who know me or who have read my blog know about “the cousins”. I can’t remember not knowing them or not being close to them. With the distance between Michigan and Florida I consider myself lucky to have that closeness.

The first memories I have of them are when I was five and I went to stay in Florida. It was 1967 and my mother had just delivered my sister and needed to have surgery to repair a heart valve. It’s hard to recover from heart surgery with a five year old running around so my aunt graciously agreed to take me in. She already had seven kids and must have thought one more wouldn’t make that big of a difference.

My sister was sent to stay with a couple who attended my mother’s church at that time. I later used this to my advantage, trying to convince her that she wasn’t really my sister. I explained that we had found her in a garbage can, asking why she thought there weren’t any baby pictures of her around. (I was a cruel big sister).

I have sketchy but vivid memories of my time in Florida. I remember walking to the school right down the road. I remember my kindergarten class was on the second floor. I remember having my first school Valentine’s party there. I remember the big open field with huge Georgia?? pines across the street from “the cousins’” house. I clearly remember a nightmare I had when I was staying with them. I was being chased by dinosaurs. In true horror movie fashion, I tripped and fell. I woke up in a cold sweat just as the ravenous dinosaurs were about to pounce.

I remember how awesome it felt to be part of that big, boisterous family, even if it was for just a short period of time. My experience up to that point had been that of an only child. I was precocious and I was used to being the center of attention. I had to make rapid adjustments in Florida. When I say the cousins I mean the girl cousins. I care about and have memories of good times with each of the four boys but it was the girls who took me in and made me feel part of the family.
I am close to all of "the cousins". But just as they are unique and different from each other, my relationship with each of them is different too.

Scarlet is the planner, the organizer and the leader. She is an eternal optimist and a can do type person. She is creative and imaginative. As the oldest of seven, she has perfected the mother hen stance. She is a pragmatist and a no nonsense person who tells you like it is. I admire Scarlet's drive and energy. I also feel a special kinship with her since each of us is the oldest.

Bonnie is the wild child and the free spirit. She is the originator of grand schemes that break with conformity. She is accepting of people as they are, valuing their strengths and weaknesses. Bonnie lived with my husband, kids and me for awhile during a failed attempt to become a Michigander. We all enjoyed it and were sad to see her go back to Florida. But we understood how strong family ties are. I feel free to be me when I am with Bonnie. To laugh, or cry and to say exactly what is on my mind.

Diana is silently strong. She is willing to sacrifice for others without hesitation. Other people do that to be the martyr or to get sympathy. She just does it because that's who she is. You don't notice it. Diana feels every emotion deeply. She loves nature and animals and is always up for a physical or mental challenge. Diana is comfortable with silence. Not many people are. I admire Diana's strength. When I was young I wanted to be just like her.

Every time I see them it's like no time at all has passed since the last time. We have that special brand of fun that comes from being family and friends at the same time. Thanks so much you guys for coming. The help you gave is much appreciated but, more importantly, your presence made it special because each of you is special. 

Nov 9, 2009

Home of the Brave

If it weren’t for my aversion to heat, humidity and most seafood, I would move to New Orleans just so I could cast a vote for Representative Joseph Cao. He was the lone Republican voice casting a vote for much needed health care reform in this country. His reason for voting with the President in the face of outright threats from his party was simple. It’s what was best for his district.

"I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents," Representative Cao said. Amen brother!  You see, he comes from New Orleans, where skyrocketing healthcare costs are just one more problem heaped on his constituents, along with high unemployment and their continuing struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

This was done despite this very real threat from Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee. “So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you,”

Wow, you’ve got to love the simplicity of it, an elected official who believes his sole purpose is to represent the interests of his constituents. He voted the way a majority of his constituents wanted him to vote. Representative Cao may be onto something here. If only the other members of Congress were less apt to follow their party’s marching orders and instead followed their consciences.

I'm not naive.  I will grant you that when Representative Cao cast his vote he was most certainly considering his ability to be re-elected.  His next run for office won't be against a federally indicted incumbent. But it still took guts. Will he actually suffer consequences from the Republican party? Some, but when it comes right down to it they need him in New Orleans, a predominantly African American and Democratic district, as much as he needs them. Leave it to a recent immigrant to show us what being an American is really about, standing up for your principles regardless of the consequences.

See post below for some wedding pics.    It's a bonus two post day here at WAATGBNT.

Long Overdue

The three weeks since the wedding have flown by.  Here are some wedding pics, as promised.

Here they are at the Law Quad of University of Michigan.  This is an architecturally beautiful place and it has significance for them because they met at school.

Lots of Bubbles

My handsome son.

Dancing with her father, who cried more that day than I did.

A little bit of "Souljuh Boy" but Miss Erica always ended up leaning the wrong way.  That's my two nieces she is dancing with.

Rehearsal Dinner:  Me and my husaband on the left and the groom's parents on the right.  Awesome people.  It was like we were destined to be family.

Family photo.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Handsome Groomsmen.

Happy Ending!

Nov 3, 2009


It’s a German word but it translates pretty well. It’s the itch to go somewhere new, somewhere different than you’ve been before. You can try to explain human migration through the ages as the need to find food and shelter. But ask yourselves, who was it that struck out there into the unknown? It wasn’t the homebodies. It was the adventurers.

I have spent eighteen of the last fifty five hours in a car, traveling with two of my Japanese co-workers. Japanese pop music as a back drop for nearly the whole trip. We did have a brief respite with a Beatles CD. (Thank you, loveable, mop top Liverpool boys for your world-wide appeal.)

I amused myself by playing with my new phone, doing some Sudoku puzzles and a little bit of reading. But the majority of my time was spent staring out the window. We drove through several states that I rarely visit. Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Your mind sharpens when you see and experience new things. You try to take in all the details. So many questions pop into your head.

During her recent visit I teased my cousin Scarlett for taking a dozen or so pictures of Canadian Geese. They are so commonplace in my world that I just don’t register how beautiful and unique they are. As a resident of the Sunshine state, Scarlett rarely has seen autumn leaves.  She asked me in what order the colors change. I hesitated. Not only had I never thought about it, I wasn’t able to answer because I had paid so little attention to something witnessed every year of my life that I honestly couldn’t say for sure. (It’s yellow/red to orange/brown by the way.)

I think wanderlust is ingrained in the American mentality. Don’t most of us come from a long line of wanderers? Whether it was the Native Americans crossing that long ago land bridge or the immigrants that started coming hundreds of years ago and continue to come to this day. We aren’t afraid to wander into the unknown and see what’s what.