Monthly Archives: November 2007

The end of the semester is in sight!

And I’m way too busy to post.

BUT — what search engine terms brought folks to this blog in the past few days?  “Fluffy hound dogs” and “Chalky phlegm”!

BTW, you can sing those words to Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence”:

Hello Darkness my old friend…

Fluffy hound dogs chalky phlegm….

Now, just try getting that tune out of your head!

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Well. It seems I’ve gone feral.

Feral — that’s the opposite of domesticated, right?Well I’m there, or almost. Soon as I learn to scratch my ear with my hind foot, I’m all set.

I have never been a fancy cook. But I could turn out a casserole or lasagna or pot of soup or, occasionally, a baked ham, for the enjoyment of my then-husband and our friends. I also baked cakes, cookies (ex-hubby LOVES cookies), or cobbler from scratch.

And then, I got divorced.

Over the past 7 years, I’ve been cooking for myself less and less and eating more and more cereal, frozen pizza, canned soup, spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, raw veggies, and fresh fruit. Some weeks, I only have to wash dishes once because I’ve used so few of them. However, this week I needed to bake a batch of cookies for my friend Mark. He recently built a cat door onto the basement window for me, and last year when he did some work around my house, we developed a baked-goods-based economy. So new cat door = 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, I bought the chips and skipped home to be domestic. That’s where things went very, very wrong. First, I couldn’t remember how long the last two eggs had been in my fridge. But they didn’t smell, so I threw them in. Then, as I was measuring out the flour, I noticed a few bugs….live, wormy little bugs in the flour, which has been in my cupboard for, well, forever. Now, I do know a few things about flour and bugs — the eggs come in the flour, right in the package, because they are as tiny as flour grains and can’t be sifted out. The thing is, we usually use the flour before they hatch (sticking the flour in the freezer works, too). And I also know that our hardy forebearers simply sifted the inevitable bugs out of the flour and so, being both cheap and broke, that’s what I did. I do want it noted that I would have been perfectly comfortable eating the resulting cookies. But then, as we are finding out, I’m practically feral.

If the idea of feeding my friend the handyman buggy cookies bothers you, don’t despair and keep reading. After sifting the flour, I had just barely enough for the recipe. The cookie batter was very liquid, like pancake batter,* so I decided to bake it up as a pan cookie. I poured the batter into a greased pan, stuck it in a 375* oven, cleaned up the kitchen,** and settled down at the kitchen table to grade papers. After about 15 minutes, I smelled something burning. Somehow, the oven dial had gotten turned all the way to broil. The pan of cookies had risen about 2 inches, fallen in the middle, and was now charred black.

So, on Monday I confessed my cookie sins to my buddy Kathy, Mark’s wife, and asked her to bring me two duck eggs on Tuesday. Kathy and Mark keep their own ducks and often give me fresh eggs, since I usually just need one or two. This morning, two enormous duck eggs sat on my desk, wedged into a regular cardboard chicken egg carton. I would just run to the store after work, buy some chocolate chips and flour, zip home, and cookie goodness would ensue. Except I got all the way to my car in the parking lot and realized I’d left the eggs in my office. I ran back in, grabbed the eggs, and promptly dropped one.

Kathy was standing right there when I dropped the egg. She looked at the mess, looked at me, and said, “for dinner on Thursday, you just bring the ice.” Our two student workers may still be laughing.

I took my remaining duck egg, went to the store, and bought a box of brownie mix. It seems I can still follow directions and stir, because a pan of lovely, correctly baked, bug-free, not really homemade brownies are sitting on my counter. I am not counting this a success, however, until they are safely in Mark’s possession.

And now, I need to go have a flea dip and then run around and mark some territory. Being feral — it’s the new yoga.

*could this be due to old eggs?

**I may be feral, but I’m clean

Peace on the Prairie

There are few sights more pathetic than a white, midwestern pastor trying to evoke call-and-response from a largely African American and Latino crowd.

The poor man couldn’t get an amen.

So he said “amen” himself every time he paused for breath, but the crowd didn’t seem to be feeling it.  Luckily, we’d felt plenty of other good, sincere, amen-worthy stuff during the cold, windy hour on the Storm Lake courthouse lawn.

Saturday, BVU’s diversity group held a peace gathering in response to the local KKK’s threat to picket former Mexican president Vincente Fox’s appearance in late October. The KKK didn’t follow through with the picket threat because our local KKK is one man who, between his threat and Fox’s speaking date, was arrested in another state on outstanding warrants. I believe the group had planned to have their gathering earlier, but canceled when the KKK dude didn’t show. However, many of our students felt a very legitimate fear at the very idea of KKK activity in Storm Lake, and the peace rally went forward as a way to name, own, and refute that fear.

It was a small gathering, no more than 20 or 30 people, including just two or three faculty members. The pastor’s wife spoke first (she got plenty of amens), followed by two of our Latina students, both of whom gave great talks (one quite rhetorically sophisticated, says the teacher in me). Then a student worship-dance group performed (they call their group by its acronym, D.I.M.E.S. — I’m not sure they fully thought out the whole money changers in the temple thing), and a student gospel choir sang a capella, also quite good. Another student soloed “We are the World,” and the head of the campus diversity department gave a truly impassioned speech that made my eyes tear up.

The hour ended with the begging-for-an-amen pastor (I believe he runs our local mega-church, but I’m not sure). I may have been the only one in the crowd who saw the humor in his performance; I can’t tell because, even protesting, midwesterners are so darn polite. It’s also possible that his performance (that’s it — it felt like a performance) just grated on me. At any rate, it was a satisfactory meeting, if a little more Jesus-y than I had expected, and I hope both the participants and the onlookers felt comfort and peace.

I can’t do this….

Maybe having four legs would help.

Check out these jump-roping dogs (double Dutch, even). Especially the little dog at the end — amazing! And they seem to be having so much fun.

Speaking of the little dog at the end, how cute are those pink-dyed ears and tail? Violet is so, so lucky that she’s all silvery-black, or I’d be breaking out the hair color!