Monday, September 30, 2013

A Chicken Tale ...

I don't know from whence the craving came, but a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted KFC Original Recipe chicken. Dark meat, always. White meat, bah.

Now, I know that there is nothing good for me in KFC Original Recipe, but another part of my brain didn't care.

So I did what I do when I want to talk myself out of something: I Googled.

Oh, Lord, the crap in KFC chicken. Never mind that fast-food chickens aren't exactly featured players in a William Carlos Williams poem, what happens after their nightmarish demise is no better. It's worse, actually. Chemical insult added to life-ending injury.

The poor chickens.

So, that day, I did not go to KFC.

Let's hear it for knowledge!

But then, the weekend before last, I was sick. And I was hungry. And I thought and thought and thought about what I wanted to eat. Nothing appealed to me, the way nothing appeals to anyone when they're sick.

But I knew I needed food. And there was not a chance in hell that I was going to be setting food into a grocery store, so my options were limited to foodstuffs I could procure without having to leave my car.

I ran through the fast-food gauntlet in my mind. Every town has a stretch that features damn near every fast-food option known to man, right?

And I settled on ... chicken strips and mashed potatoes.

I don't eat chicken strips. Because I am not 6. So why that's what my brain decided on, I couldn't tell you.

But I wanted chicken strips. And mashed potatoes and gravy. And I wanted to dip the chicken strips in the mashed potatoes and gravy.

In that moment, maybe I was 6 after all.

Well, there's really only one joint in town if your rhinovirused mind has decided on that menu.

So I got in my car and pointed it toward KFC.

There was no one in the drive-through so I pulled right up to the speaker.

Having no prior chicken-strip-buying knowledge, I asked if I could buy them by the piece.

I was informed that they came as 3-piece, 6-piece, or 12-piece orders.

Perfect.

A 3-piece, please.

Anything else?

A large mashed potatoes and gravy.

(I'd have prefered a medium size, but KFC doesn't offer a medium size, and the individual size would have been too sad.)

The man on the speaker said, "That'll be $9.69*."

I'm sorry?

He started to rattle off my order, in case he misunderstood, and I interruped to say, "No, the total?"

So he quoted the price for each item.

And I said, "Cancel my order, please," and drove away.

I get that fast food can be pricey. I'm paying for convenience. I'm paying for the priviledge of not having to infect a grocery store. I'm paying for the ability to stay in my car.

But nearly 10 bucks? For three chicken strips and a product that does not really deserve to be called mashed potatoes and gravy?

No.

I went to Wendy's and spent seven dollars instead. On a burger and fries and a root beer.

Root beer is good when you're sick. I don't know why.

* I may be misremembering the total slightly, but it was definitely nine dollars and the change was closer to 10 dollars than nine.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tick Tock, Tick Tock ...

So, how about those House GOP members, huh?

How about Senator Ted Cruz, whipping votes in the House – Psst! Senator! That's not your job! As cleverly denoted by the title "Senator," you work in the Senate, not the House – to pass a bill that defunds "Obamacare" even though Senator Harry Reid can't be any more clear than he's already been that any such bill will never move in the Senate?

And how about the "rally" the House GOP members had today on the steps of the Senate, trying to draw attention to the fact that the Senate wasn't in session to vote on the bill that Reid promised would not pass? There were 16 members on the steps. Or maybe 17. It was tricky to tell if there was a person standing behind the woman who was standing at the microphone. In any event, where were the other 215? Or 216, depending? If you're willing to shut down the government as part of your temper tantrum, GOPers, one would think you could make the effort of standing on some steps for a photo op. But no. That's too much effort, isn't it? As is, apparently, doing your jobs.

So here we are, on the brink of a government shutdown that will add to the deficit the GOP likes to pretend they care so much about. The deficit that, for those keeping score at home, will, by the end of this year, be about half of what it was when Obama took office.

And the Affordable Care Act health exchanges will open on Tuesday, as scheduled, even if the government is shut down. All of this breath-holding and non-filibuster-rambling and hair-on-fire-shrieking is literally for nothing on the "defund Obamacare" front, GOPers.

Though it's not all for naught. It is accomplishing something.

It's ...

... making your party a laughingstock, here and around the world.

... ensuring that the Republican party moves further into obscurity.

... and guaranteeing, damn near, that a Republican will not win the presidency for, oh, at least a generation or so. But probably longer. Because a whole lot of younger people are just starting to vote and they're well aware of the brinksmanship and they're going to remember for years and years and years which party made it harder for them to vote, made it harder for them to get a job, made it harder for them to have access to health care.

There's plenty more where that came from, but y'all get the gist.

The GOP doesn't seem to care that our troops won't get paid while the government is shut down.

Or that the EPA – the oh-so-despised-on-the-right EPA – will effectively have to shut its doors, even as the people of Colorado could really use the EPA's help in recovering from the massive flooding there recently. There's a whole lot of contaminated water to deal with but the agency that can offer assistance will be shut down because the GOP refuses to accept that the Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law, was upheld by the conservative United States Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by voters last year, who elected, by a large margin the man who was campaigning on implementing the ACA.

Voters rejected the man who said that he would repeal "Obamacare" on the first day of his administration.

It speaks volumes about how dysfunctional conservative politics have become in this country that shutting down the United States governement is the good option facing us in the coming weeks.

The notion that our country might default on its debts is almost too much to comprehend.

And yet here we are, comprehending it. As best we can. Considering that nobody really knows just how catastrophic it will be, how destablizing it will be to the global economy, because no one has ever been insane enough to actually force it to happen.

But that's today's GOP, the party that refuses to accept that the country does not want it to be the party in power. The party that will hold a virtual gun to the planet and threaten to impose chaos if it does not get its way.

Hey, Republicans? You want to enact your agenda?

Win an election.

Not that that's likely to happen again in my lifetime on the presidential level.

So how about stepping aside and letting the grown ups govern, since you're too busy kicking and screaming becaues you're not getting your way?

The country will appreciate it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ode To Fall, Again ...

I posted this last year. But my feelings for fall have not changed. If anything, they grow stronger every year.

I do not call it autumn. "Autumn" is formal. And I am the furthest thing from formal.

Which is why I love fall.

There is nothing formal about fall. Fall is sweaters and jeans, maybe a scarf. Fall is pumpkins and leaves and the world winding down for winter. My part of the world, anyway. Fall is simmering stew and baking bread and red wine and candlelight as the days grow shorter. Books and blankets and fireplace embers. Seriously, what's not to love?

I would live most of my life in fall if I could, if the earth would cooperate and segment itself into seasons. I would move to fall and rarely leave.

Let me know if you need me to come over and rake leaves with you. I'll be happy to help. Afterward, we can drink warm cider. I'll bring scones.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ah, Crap ...

I am sick.

I rarely get sick.

Because I am fastidious about hand-washing and am an overzealous user of hand sanitizer.

Also, I work from home most of the time, where there is zero chance that a co-worker will pass along some nasty bug.

But the past six working days were spent in a client's office, where selected people were sneezing and coughing and otherwise relating that their children were sick and they were trying to ward off illnesses.

Well, that didn't work.

I specifically remember looking at the glass of water on my desk and wondering what might have settled in it as my officemates expelled.

I specifically stood up and walked into the kitchen and washed my glass with hot, soapy water and refilled it before I continued drinking.

I suspect that that did not do much good.

So I've been doing my best to ward off the sickness with the powers of my mind – "I will not get sick, I will not get sick, I will not get sick ..." – but, yeah, that didn't work.

Yesterday, post-shower, pre-leaving for work, I had that hit-by-a-truck sensation come over me. But I went in. I was filling in for someoone. I couldn't very well leave the office in the position of needing to find someone to fill in for the person who was filling in. And I felt mostly OK as they day wore on.

I fell asleep before 9 p.m. last night, but I chalked that up to a general sleep deficit.

And this morning I woke up feeling mostly OK so I went for a walk. Though I wasn't too far into it when my head said, "What the hell are you doing?" Woo, a bit woozy. But just a bit.

So I kept going and accomplished what I set out to do and then made it home and vowed to spend the day inside.

This lovely, sunny, mildly temperatured, last-day-of-summer day.

My head started to get stuffier as the day wore on.

I pondered downing a couple of spoonfuls of Dijon.

That would do the trick.

Later, I realized that I couldn't breathe through half of my nose.

"Nothing sexier than a mouth-breathing sick woman. Men are lining up outside," I tweeted.

And then I thought I should go and get some food.

So I got in the car and pointed it toward the Chinese joint. And then decided I didn't want Chinese. But I figured I should have something so I drove around until I decided that no, in fact, I did not want anything. Nothing appealed to me in any real way. I did briefly ponder Subway, which I almost never eat, but I don't trust the smell of the place near my home. I don't know if the smell is the result of cleaning product or a body buried beneath the floor, but the one time I was in there, it worried me that it didn't smell sandwich-y or baking-bread-y or neutral, it smelled off.

And even with my stuffy nose, I am disinclined to patronize places that smell.

So here I sit, crumpled (unused) tissue on the arm of the chair – which I removed from the pocket of my fleece jacket, lest I wash the fleece jacket and forget the tissue, and open up the washer to find my clothes flecked with white – and thinking, "I am now the woman who stashes tissues in her clothing."

Can a housecoat be far behind?

Maybe leather-soled slippers that can also function as shoes?

Moth balls. I should probably pick up some moth balls.

And Epsom salts. And I don't even know what Epsom salts do.

But I feel like I should have them.

And maybe a shower cap. To protect my hairdos that I will start getting once a week, sitting under dryers alongside women named Harriet and Dot, we with our identical wash-and-dry sets. But first, I'll need hair the color of a lot of fishing line.

I'm not quite there yet.

And, thankfully, I have no idea where to buy a housecoat.

Though I bet they're pretty comfortable.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Really, Jayson? Really? Quickie Edition ...

Hey, you wanna buy a vintage life preserver?

That'll be $195.

Vintage Life Preserver – $195

A bargain, really, by Jayson standards.

Now, you wanna buy a framed vintage life preserver?

That'll be $1,495.

Vintage Framed Life Preserver – $1,495

That's some damn expensive framing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Au Cheval ...

I'd been meaning to go, since the first time I laid eyes on a photo. The interior is exactly what I love: small and dark and simple and aged and worn.

And how could I not fall in love with a restaurant whose signature dish is a fried-bologna sandwich?

You can't get less pretentious than a fried-bologna sandwich. Even if the bologna is house-made. Which it is at Au Cheval.

So I'd been meaning to go and had walked past it and looked in longingly.

But Friday night was the night.

You know you're in for something worthwhile when there's a 45-minute wait for a table at 5:30 p.m.

Doreen and I were shown to a table tucked away in the corner, though "tucked" is a bit of a misnomer, as the space is really too small for anything to be tucked anywhere. Then again, maybe everything is tucked everywhere.

In any event, it was cozy. And quite dark. Lighting from overhead shone a plate-sized circle of light onto the table. A spotlight, as it were. Appropriately so. Au Cheval's food deserves it.

Our server was patient and stepped away while we decided on drinks.

I opted for a glass of Barbera.

She asked to see my ID.

"You're joking, right?"

"No, it's our policy."

"If the person looks like they might be younger than what?" I asked, while retrieving my license.

She looked at it and handed it back.

"You're aging very well," she said.

Thank you, woman who wanted to see where I live.

(Later, at Doreen's, I looked in the mirror and laughed. "I don't care how damn dark a restaurant is, there's not a chance in hell that I might be younger than 21." The next day, on the phone with a client: "She was hitting on you," he said. "I know she was hitting on me," I said. "But it was still ridiculous.")

Anyhoo, the food.

We opted for the fried-bologna sandwich, because how could we not? And also the griddled bratwurst with smashed potatoes and roasted-garlic gravy. And French fries.

The sandwich arrived first, piled with bologna like the best-looking pastrami sandwich you've ever seen. It was impaled with two wooden skewers. I cut between them and put half of the sandwich on Doreen's plate. The bun was brioche, I believe, and the warm, thinly sliced bologna was accompanied by a Dijonnaise. You know my love of all things Dijon. Heaven.

The bratwurst arrived and took its place in the spotlight. I cut it into bite-size pieces for us so we could share it from the plate. The texture of the bratwurst was almost silken. That was some finely ground pork. Or was it veal? Perhaps a combinaion.

And then the fries arrived, in a paper cone in a shiny tumbler and accompanied by aioli. The fries were out-of-the-fryer hot and perfectly seasoned. And the aioli had just enough garlic. Oh my.

We were celebrating Doreen's birthday, so she asked for a dessert menu. Our server listed our choices: root-beer float (house-made root beer, of course); Black Dog gelato, including a vanilla-malt option that, someday, I will have to try; and the dessert that Doreen chose, which may have a name that I did not hear, but which is a towering napoleon of impossibly ethereal puff pastry baked to well past golden brown and graced with layers of vanilla pastry cream and then split at the table with one swift, confident stroke of a knife.

You should go. Be prepared to wait. But gaze at these images in the meantime. I took the liberty of adding the photo mosaic from the site but you can see them better on Au Cheval's home.

Photo credit: Au Cheval

Good Times, September Edition ...

The September cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog features Big Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies. Or, as Angelo refers to them: the perfect fall road-trip cookie. He is quite right about that.


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Must-See TV ...

Weird, weird week.

Unpleasantness arrived in several forms, but I was pleased to be able to make my brain make note of the good things, the silver linings, the flip sides.

Not the least of which was that being up for two nights gave me the opportunity to binge on "The Bridge," which had stacked up on my DVR. I'd seen the pilot and was intrigued enough to keep watching ... at some point.

And this was the week.

I like consuming shows in big blocks. I was kind of pissed, actually, when I finished this week's episode and realized that I now have to wait until next week to watch it again.

It's worth your time. Good writing. Interesting characters. Twists you don't see coming.

I was completely hooked on "The Americans," so good on FX for following up with another must-see show.

The broadcast networks might want to pay attention to what's happening on cable, once and for all.

Or not. Whatever.

I don't watch much broadcast TV anymore.

Which is a problem for broadcast TV. But not for me.