Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Atrocious Alliteration and Random Recipes

When I wrote last, I told you a tale of my entrancement with Harry Potter, and how I've funneled that fanatical fascination by reading books about the Harry Potter series. One of the books I am reading right now is Repotting Harry Potter. This knowledgeable narrative is interesting and informative and has enlightened me about many a matter, most importantly a fatal flaw of mine, one that involves my wacky writing ways. For those who have read the heroic Harry Potter tales, particularly the Chamber of Secrets, you know of a character called Gilderoy Lockhart. The author of Repotting,
James W. Thomas, noticeably notes Lockhart's love of alliteration and even goes as far to say that, "[Lockhart] is more than fond of foolish and frivolous alliteration." Upon reading this my face reddens and embarrassment is the emotion that engulfs me. At once,
I am appalled by the atrocious amount of alliteration and balderdash that has bombarded the bulk of my blogs. I am abruptly attacked with angst and begin to agonize over my ability to give up this gabble, nevertheless I know my claptrap must be canned, or at very least dumbed down. My brain must break from blogging. So rather, than rattle on and ruffle you with these ragged ramblings and random redundancies, I will roll out some recipes, which are made-up by me and entrusted to you for your enjoyment and entertainment!

SUMPTUOUS SANGRIA (VIRGIN VERSION IN VIOLET)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle fruit wine, such as black raspberry
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup brandy or grand marnier
  • 2-3 oranges, washed and sliced into rounds
  • 6 oz black berries, fresh or frozen
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda

Directions

In a large pitcher or bowl, mix together the first five ingredients. Float slices of orange, blackberries, and maraschino cherries in the mixture. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. You can add the soda when you first make it, or wait until before serving if you want it to be a bit fizzy.

For virgin sangria, you can substitute BOTH wines for one-half gallon of your favorite juice, preferably a grape and berry combination such as 100% cranberry-grape juice, and substitute both the orange juice concentrate AND both liquors (triple sec and brandy) for 2 cups of regular orange juice (using OJ concentrate with the juice may make the flavor too strong and two sweet). Follow the rest of the directions as written and enjoy.

GARLICKY GUAC

Ingredients

  • Pulp from 2 ripe avocados, 1 pit reserved and skins and other pit discarded
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of your favorite salsa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon


Directions

Place all ingredients (except the pit) in a small food processor and blend until smooth, stopping the food processor and scraping down the sides as needed. When done, scrape the guacamole into a container to store, place the reserved pit in the center to help keep it from browning, and cover the container. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days. The surface of the guacamole may still brown a bit, especially if exposed to the air for a long period of time, but it's still good to eat.

So as you receive these recipes, my blogging break begins. I have no intention of abandoning my abstract abode as I have numerous notions at the hilt. I shall be back before you know it. I expect you to enjoy my kitchen creations while I take respite from writing to read more rigorously, as reading is what inspires me to write. Perhaps the next time I put this 'pen to the paper', I will no longer plow you with this poppycock prattle.


So, as I bid you adieu for a week or two with the hope of returning anew, may my addiction to alliteration be forever askew with these tongue twisting blessings I give to you,

Amber

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Potting of Pride and Prejudice

The summer of 2009, it was a summer unlike any other. Unknown universes were unveiled and magical mysteries unfolded. The allurement of alchemy overrode the angst of war, loss, and grief. Rapt with revelations on this encouraging experience, fresh friendships were formed and romances were resisted, relinquished, and reignited. I fell in love without ever betraying my beloved or abandoning my abode. It was a gem of a journey and an escapade of emotions . . . yet my defiant discrimination almost averted this apex of all adventures and slapped away its sway on my soul.

I had my Pride; I ignored the peer pressure attempting to erode my Prejudice. I originally snubbed my friends' supplications and was determined to never allow such novel nonsense into my life. Yielding to its youthful objective and cutesy pop culture was not an option; I chose to keep such childish chronicles out of my existence. My rigorous rejection, however, was unfounded, idle, and misguided. I was suffering from the sickness known as PRUBON by refusing to peruse the pages of this story I selectively slighted, and had I not indulged in the insightful influence of my friends, I would not be telling this tale to you today.

I was never inspired to write before being introduced to the charismatic characters in the previously implied plot. Without my fumbling attempt at fiction, I would never have been confident enough to accept the encouragement of a friend, the one who induced me to ink out these essays. Writing was not an art I ever had any desire to do. Until now, never did I have so many intrinsic ideas burst in my brain, finding me on a frantic search for paper and a pen to jot them down, leaving me with numerous notes throughout the many nooks of my house, where they remained until I picked a time like now to sit down and translate my musings into these black and white quirky quips. Without the alluded anonymous author's astounding ability to flood one's spirit with such stories and to create the ultimate art in written word, it was unlikely that I would have ever clicked the keyboard to eke out this Webwork of a Wacky Woman.

I am forever grateful that I have stopped saying no to this highly suggested saga and find it odd that I've ever refused to read this recommendation, because if you have read Words Like Violence, you know of my affinity for fiction and that reading is the one avocation I adore the above any other. It's the one that has been with me the longest and the one that has kept me afloat above all other hobbies. It is thanks to this aforementioned unnamed narrative and its novelist that I am reminded why I hold no deeper affection for any other pastime. Reading is something that takes me to another place, lets me live vicariously though others lives, yet allows me to remain on my couch with my cup of tea in my home where I'm at ease, and no narrative has led me on such an enjoyable excursion as the tale about which I've been telling you. It bears all the effects elaborated above and more. I've become so besotted with this beloved set of books of which I am about to bestow to you, that I have not found any fiction to satisfy me since. I've been on a quest to cure my addiction to this mysterious story since finishing its final pages, but have been unsuccessful at quenching my thirst. This only rain I have received in this drought is a myriad of mediocre fiction and some literary supplements to guide me on my second passage through my favorite fantasy known as Harry Potter.

As I putter through the process of Repotting Harry Potter, I need to give gratitude to its author James W. Thomas, who is now accompanying me on my repeat ride of the infamous HP. It is thanks to him that I know I have been afflicted with ailment of "Presumptive Reader Unworthiness Based on Non-reading", otherwise known as PRUBON. It is he to whom I amplify appreciation for uncovering the elements I have missed on my original excursion and exemplifying exactly why I have come to love this notorious narrative first place. As I have hurried through the pages to see the next sequence of events on my first passage, I become fanatical about Rowling's fiction, and thanks to Thomas I become shamelessly smitten with her smartness on my second. J.K. Rowling's talent to craft characters with such care, giving them distinctively different prolific personalities is beyond extraordinary, and her attention to the finer facts is flabbergasting, only leaving me thirsty for more . . . wondering what genius and inspiration beguiles such brilliance.

I am mesmerized by what her muse may be, and as such have been led to Harry Potter's Bookshelf by John Granger. It is an anecdote about the books and authors that potentially encourage Rowling's writing ways. It is here that I find out Jane Austen and her entire collection of chronicles is amongst Rowling's favorites, and that HP has many parallels to said plots. Austen is another author whose books have found me ill with PRUBON and leave me with no choice but cure this condition which has left me bereft of such brilliance. I do what I must and dive head first into Austen's most popular plot we know as Pride and Prejudice, a book that never would have been pleasing placed between my paws if it wasn't for Rowling and her tremendous talent. After finishing this fiction, I find it to be deliciously delightful, and almost as intriguing as HP itself. Sadly though, my hunger is still not satiated, so my quest commences once again to read more books I once rejected and to never allow such PRUBONic sickness reenter my system again. Wuthering Heights, here I come.

So if you have rejected the recommendations of a respected comrade, I implore you to Pot away the Pride and Prejudice that keeps you from a particular plot . . . put your presumptions aside. You can't possibly deem a narrative non-readable and unworthy if you haven't even touched its tale to be told, and if you never give it a shot you'll never know where you'll end up on the other side.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Vital Village

It was 4pm; I knew that Jon would NOT be walking through the door in 15 minutes; he would be home late today. Today of all days, I thought to myself . . . I was utterly exhausted. Thanks to the events of the afternoon, lying on my bed for a moment after my desperately desired shower (which took place five hours following my workout) was a luxury I longed for, but should have ignored. The kids piercingly playing downstairs pounded in my ears. I needed to check on them, but the deliberation of the day made me feel like lead, immobile and heavy laden, unable to deal with the definite defiance I would encounter upon descending the stairs. I allowed myself to fall backward and let the softness of the mattress catch my collapse. In that instance I pondered the life of a single parent, something I usually avoided addressing . . . and I hated every glimpse I was granted. My heart began to race as I imagined day in and day out being like this, with no one to give me respite and reprieve, a life without leisure. I reflected on how much I underappreciated my indulgences – my free time, my quiet time, my sleep time – time that would be overtly opulent if I was doing this alone. I thought about those parents with no partner, or with a partner who doesn't help, and then I thought about my life as such . . . no blogging, no girls' night out, and no cute crocheted scarves I made myself. I knew the effect of such an existence: life on loony lane.

On this very day for which I was speaking, I made the following post on my facebook status update, "[I am] starting to think that losing my mind is imminent and that my kids are collaborating to ensure it happens." This is at 12:30pm, three-and-a-half hours before the aforementioned reflection. Yes, it had been one of those days . . . a day I had to spank both my children (something at one time I swore I would never do), a day I sent them both to their respective rooms and made them stay there for far too long, a day that I sounded like the bellowing banshee from hell, and a day where sending the kids to boarding school was looking rather lovely. After Aidan almost escaped our motor vehicle in motion making my heart hesitate before its next beat, and Emie refused to poo on the potty leaving me to stare at the walls of our bathroom for a seemingly endless amount of time, I began to envy the mother who got to leave the house for work and perhaps took a piss whenever she liked, and I could no longer imagine missing my adoring angels once they were in school. I was reminded of my humanity and affronted with the admonition that superwoman did not define me in the least – and damn it all – this selfish musing mommy needs all the help she can get!

I love the expression, "it takes a village," because it's entirely accurate. I refuse to be one of those mom-warriors who proclaim to do it all, because I don't. Without the help I get from Jon, family, and friends, I would be a never-ending nonsensical nutto. I know this because I briefly go berserk when denied the occasion to do the things I want and love. It's in times like these that I am resentful of my kids' clean plates when mine is full of cold food still waiting to be devoured. These are the moments that make me remember if it wasn't for my hubby and hobbies, I would crawl into a hole and decline to come out. It is in these instances that I become the one who writes the blogs containing the raving, ranting, and whining before you. Yet, in spite of all this, I stand by a statement in a previous blog post: staying home with my kids is not a bad gig . . . most days aren't this agitating. Nevertheless, without the village of support I eagerly accept at every turn, I would no doubt want to trade in this profession for post outside my abode.

So after about 2 or 3 minutes of these meandering meditations, I reminded myself of my good fortune and bumped my bushed bum off the bed. I endured the entreaties about eating soon and placed a pot of water on the stove. I refilled the kids' plates with a second helping of spaghetti before I finished my first, and gave Jon a grin of gratitude when he walked through the door. I sighed as my stress began to cease, my help was home and everything in the world started to seem sound once more.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Questionable Quirk

I have a secret . . . . Oh all right, not really a secret, rather something that I have not directly disclosed about myself. I'm sure you've surmised by now that I have a lot of bad habits, and upon reading my blog you may have had the infrequent occasion to observe my penchant for this particular practice. Despite that this is something I strive to refrain from revealing here, there have been a few instances where I've divulged this egregious element in these black and white expressions of my essence. It is something I often execute in everyday life, so much so that I am often unaware of this iniquitous idiosyncrasy occurring – until . . . one of my kids demonstrates the said shortcoming of which I speak.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was sitting in my family room, probably browsing the internet (which I do far too much mind you), when Aidan reminded me of my above-alluded disparaging defect. Bloody hell, I thought to myself, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I stopped what I was doing and I looked at this innocent boy who returned my gaze with a smile before going back to drawing his pretty picture on the Magnadoodle, obviously unaware of his misstep. I took a breath, contemplating how I was going to handle this, wondering if I should press forward with punishment. I knew what I wanted to do, and that letting it go was the preferred path. I mean, how could I expect him to know any better when he observed my mistake many times? I was caught between the old cliché, "a rock and a hard place," trying to decide whether or not to do what I wished, or what society says is necessary. I took another breath, wishing I could tell society to sod off!

Ah yes, so here it is, the art of cursing – my potential propensity for potty-mouth . . . there is nothing like shouting the f-bomb after stubbing my toe, or saying "Damn!" when amused by something a friend has said to me. Swearing is something that has never been censored from my life; both of my parents have done it quite frequently in my presence (although ironically less frequently now than in my childhood), and as such speaking like a sailor is an art I began misusing around age 10. Having never been properly educated on the where's and why's for such explicative expressions, I have additionally never been good at censoring myself and reserving such swears for their appropriate use. Yes you have read that right, APPROPRIATE USE . . . . At this statement you may be starting to consider my sanity, pondering the possibility that I am barking mad for thinking there is ever such an occasion for such foul fair, but before you click the red x on the top right hand corner of your internet browser, deeming me dingy no doubt, I implore you to bear with me for a bit longer while I make my case in point. I present you with an example:

A phrase that most of us use on a regular basis is "have a nice day!" This old adage is typically what one says when intending to wish someone else a great afternoon, so to speak. It's considerate, genuine, and polite when it's used in this form. However, this ancient idiom is also something one (such as myself) may use when a telemarketer refuses listen to one's pleas . . . , "No, I do not want the latest edition Good Grammar and How to Use It! HAVE A NICE DAY! [CLICK]" In the latter instance, this often used expression is certainly not polite, nor is it any way genuinely wishing the telemarketer to have a blissful afternoon, and in the end one may have well just said, "PISS OFF," because that is certainly what one meant.

It is for this reason I believe that it's not the cursing that is wrong, but the purpose behind it. If you are using it to direct ill feelings toward someone or something else, then that is when its usage is definitely inappropriate, something of which I'm guilty of more often than I would like to admit. Saying the cursing equivalent of crap after being incorrect is directed at no one other than myself however, and therefore considered perfectly acceptable, in my humble opinion anyway.

So after hearing Aidan use a "four-letter word" for the first time . . . okay, the first time in a few years . . . I pondered, as I had many times before, about where the idiotic idea of curse words came from in the first place, and why do I have the bleeding responsibility of making sure my kids don't say these sodding senseless taboos? I mean, you think it would be more appropriate to teach my children the suitable use of such assumed slander rather than just telling them not to do it, which in turn could inevitably cause them run off to school and say them to their friends, because as you and I both know, it's always so much fun to do something that is forbidden, is it not? Coincidentally, Susan Sarandon talked about this very subject on David Letterman once years ago. I hoped find the interesting interview on YouTube for all to see, but alas no luck. I cannot recount the discussion for you word by word, but what I may never forget is Ms. Sarandon telling Mr. Letterman that she had recently given her six-year-old son (at the time) a leisurely lesson on the proper usage of the infamous f-word, and that he is indeed allowed to use it in the house if used in the proper sense (such as when stubbing a toe). I was intrigued as I continued to listen to her rationale and I thought she was genius in her decision, hoping that one day I too could teach my kids when and where it was appropriate to utter such unmentionables.

Now, fast forward several years from said interview; I am in a similar situation to Susan. I have a six-year-old son who has just iterated something I say all the time, but if he says it in school, I have no celebrity status to explain myself out of the sticky situation. Despite my deeming his treatment of the word extremely appropriate, I allow the correction of this off kilter conduct to commence. "Aidan," I say as calmly as possible, "can you please tell me what you just said?" He looks up at me again, this time with confusion on his face. "Damn," he answers honestly, but quickly adds, "I didn't know mommy. I didn't know I couldn't say it." I think about how his frustration with the mistake he has made in his drawing, and consider that I would likely have delivered the same dialect in his circumstance. Bugger, I think to myself, as I want to applaud him for using the word correctly, but then I do what I need to do to protect my child from earning a ticket straight to the principal's office one day. "It is okay honey," I begin consolingly; "I know mommy says it too, but it's a grown-up word, and kids aren't supposed to use it. You can get in trouble if you use that word in school, so please don't say it again." He nods, letting me know he understands and goes back to his work. I, on the other hand, grunt in frustration, knowing that one day when he can discern the difference, I plan to let him know that the occasional swearing slip-up in our house for the appropriate reason is okay with me now and then, and perhaps he may in turn have far better censoring sensibilities than I ever have had on such swearing.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Left or Right: Determining Long Lasting Life

This morning I open my internet explorer as I usually do, and my home page pops up, as it always does . . . . It's www.msn.com, which is often my source of news and attention-grabbing articles. Today, upon viewing MSN's slideshow of links, I observe something that is rather disheartening. According to said slideshow, I have a certain characteristic that may be hazardous to my health. After clicking the link and reading the words on the screen I learn that this very trait of which the article is speaking may ensure my life is shorter than the average person's. "What is this infamous feature?" you may ask. "Does it affect me?" Well maybe, it affects 10% of the population. This distinguishing attribute being referenced is not the upper digestive Crohn's Disease for which I have been diagnosed (and have been in remission from for 3.5 of the 4 years since the diagnosis), nor is it that I'm prone to stress and anxiety. No my fellow readers, it is not because of either of these things. The reason – now wait for it . . . is of all things – the fact that I'm left handed. Upon finishing this offbeat article some thoughts certainly slip into my head and, "You've got to be shitting me!" is among the least of them. Can This Be Right? INDEED!

I am a southpaw and proud of it. Yes, being a lefty has many inconveniences in a righty world . . . . I get ink on my left hand when I write, and I've had to adjust to using scissors with my opposite hand. It's annoying when I go to sign for the credit card and the pen is attached on the right side, the chain securing it barely long enough to sign with my preferred paw. Using a spiral notebook properly is something I have never been able to do, and upon starting baton twirling lessons in my youth, my need to acclimate makes itself obvious. Conforming to society's handedness is something I've become used to over the years though, and I feel I have done it well. In fact, my baton twirling skills have become good enough over time for me to make the majorette squad for three years in a row in high school, and twirling with my left-hand is just as awkward as it is for everyone else who is 'normal'.

So, I cannot see how any of the above mentioned annoyances can shorten my life, and since I do not use power tools, as the article suggests, I suppose I have nothing to fear. I am so aggravated after reading the author's findings that I want to exclaim, "Talk to the left, 'cause you ain't right!" All 90's slang aside, I need to give props to the author of the article, who has written it to pay homage to his two left-handed daughters; he seems to share the same amount of cynicism as I do on the matter at hand (no pun intended). Thus my aggravation is not directed at him, rather the right-handed harebrained boneheads whose idea it is to study such rubbish in the first place. What a misuse of time and money that is assuredly much better spent on finding the cure for Crohn's, ensuring the longer life I need to prove this wasted research wrong. In short, I have a hard time buying into the idea that one's handedness has anything to do with one's life expectancy. When scientists haven't even found the gene that causes hand preference, how can they possibly presume the life length of a lefty? This musing mother deems the aforementioned hypothesis preposterous, but I'll let you decide for yourselves on the matter . . . at hand. J

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Critical Catharsis

Add some sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what good food is made of; a dash of care and some salt to spare to ensure my taste buds will love. But the soda's not right and the chocolate's not light, so the creation does not rise. Into the trash it goes unabashed, but at least it's not onto my thighs. I get a new spoon, a new bowl, a new goal, and this time it will be right. I mix and I stir without being deterred, the result is my tongue's delight . . . .

The needle plunges between two strands of thread, takes hold, and tugs back through the trail it has taken. A loop has been made, progress appears plausible. The strand wraps itself around the hook that offsets slipping and makes another passage through the filaments. A single stitch is complete, a stitch in the chasm I slip into slowly if the aperture is left in place. The longer the gorge is gaping, the further I fall, and the probability of crawling back to the surface seems staggering. So I press onward, allowing the process to repeat, ensuring the stitches seam the stretch of the slit. Progress seems solid. This pursuit is practically complete – that is until it happens, the inevitable . . . a mistake, an error, a sin if you must, and the stitches are unseamed, ending up further behind than where I have first begun. Relentlessly, the process repeats, and new stitches are made once again, suturing the split in my soul.

The fingers pound away; the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pure genius appear before my eyes. I can't believe that something I've never done for pleasure before, and in fact once dreaded, is coming to me so easily. The words flow flawlessly to the page and I am pleased past pleasure. Who knew I've had this in me all these years. I put it to rest for the evening and upon my return I am revolted. How could I ever have deemed this prose passable, let alone pure genius? I'm embarrassed, no mortified. Whatever makes me think I have the talent for such tricks? Why am I wasting my time on the seven or so ideas I've started and have been unable to complete? I know I've gone mad; I'm beyond mental . . . . The fingers are relentless though; they return to their pounding undaunted.

No one is more critical of my adored avocations and the respective presentation of these leisurely pursuits than me. I am constantly unsure of my performance in the aforesaid arts, and nothing boosts my self-belief more than being praised on a product I've produced from these pastimes, because I have a penchant to be paramount in every task I choose to tackle and I blossom upon the prospect of being the best. I often opt for the path to perfection, which is viewed by some as a disparaging part of my personality. Nonetheless, when I have a perpetual passion for something, I am powerless to release it until I deem it mastered. I constantly question my conquest of such precision and wonder why I hold onto the assumed unattainability, but then I ponder what pleases me when the cake is crumbling, and it's hooking onto these hankerings that bestow the baptism my soul seeks. Clutching onto the craving to accomplish the ideal is the very thing that dissuades me from drifting downward. As much as my sanity requires religious routine, my soul forces me to fulfill my fervor. Baking is beneficial for averting aggravating anxiety, crocheting calms the concerns that constantly cloud my thoughts, and writing is way to release the woes that warp my wits. The process of each one of these is critical catharsis for my spirit and support for my soul. This blog empowers me to write away my worries and enjoy the essence of my existence. So in the end I must say thank you to all who frequent my frivolous features of feeling, and for allowing my funky therapy to invade your thoughts. I appreciate more than words can say.