Tuesday, July 26, 2011

See my soapbox? I'm a-climbin' on it!


Why is it that a host/hostess at a restaurant thinks a woman, reasonably well-dressed and by herself, wants to sit in the bar for lunch?

It happened again today at a Mexican restaurant. I walk in at 12:35 and know what I want, a chicken fajita salad. I'd had one there two weeks ago and it was good and just the right amount so I was back for a repeat performance. And the host turns to his left and escorts me to the bar! The empty bar!

Now the dining room is basically empty. With the exception of the waitstaff who are all in black, I'm the best dressed person there! I'm not in jeans or cut-offs. I'm not trailing toddlers or kids with cell phone games. It's just me!

Two weeks ago, I'd said I'd rather sit elsewhere. Today, I got a bit miffed.

"Why," I asked him, "do all hosts think a woman by herself wants to sit in the bar?" I'm afraid my voice escalated a bit.

He took a step back and had no answer but to ask where I DID want to sit.

I looked at the 80% empty dining room. Anywhere else, I told him.

Pick a table, he said.

So I did.

The initial service was a bit slow and I contemplated that he'd warned the waitstaff off the bitch at my table. But one showed up, I ordered, was served promptly, and I left a generous tip. I was gone by 1:00 PM.

This is not an isolated experience. So if you're reading this and you're a host/hostess at a restaurant, feel free to comment and tell me why this continues to happen.

In the meantime, I'm going back in a couple weeks. Let's see if he remembers.

Rant over.

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Monday, July 25, 2011


We spent this hot three-day-weekend in Oklahoma City. One would wonder about our sanity of trading hot--home--for hotter--there, but there was method in our madness.

Several months ago I read in the Wall Street Journal about an exhibit that would be at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art this summer called Passages. It was a multimedia presentation on the history of the Bible, from early Jewish Torahs and traditions through the modern Bible renditions. There were 30,000 artifacts. Formally, it is known as The Green Collection for the Hobby Lobby-founder family which amassed it and will be the core of an international, non-sectarian museum of the Bible.

Armed with an iPod for commentary, we began our tour at 10 AM on Sunday morning. Three hours later, we found we were skimming because there was just so much! An ideal visit, as I've recommended to a friend who wants to go, is to eat an early lunch at the excellent Museum Cafe, then be prepared to spend 4-5 hours.

Torahs, a piece of the Dead Sea Scroll, ancient texts, Bibles in English predating the King James, a first edition King James, animatronic displays, the opportunity to try your hand at copying texts with real ink and a quill... I don't know where to stop except to say if you've an opportunity to see Passages, you'd be remiss in not doing so.

I'm not sure where the exhibit travels next. If memory serves correctly--and sometimes it does--I think the exhibit goes to New York next. Those lucky people.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why July 16 sticks in my mind, of The Story of Snowball

Today's date kept rattling around in my brain this morning until I remembered why: July 16, 1960, I think, my mother got a call from the train depot in Dallas. Basically, it was "Lady, come get your stinkin' cat!" and it wasn't just a figure of speech.

My mother and my dad's sister Pauline had tried to one-up each other two weeks previously when we were in Pennsylvania for one of Daddy's high school reunions. Mother, a great cat lover, had admired a long-haired black tom cat with a white spot on his chest. He was semi-wild, a barn cat, disposable I'm sure to my aunt. If you can catch him, Mother had challenged, send him to me.

One cat crated on the train. I still remember the pink "straw" in the bottom of the crate. We installed him in the one-car garage with the gravel/dirt floor and left the screen door open to the house so he could get to know our two brother kittens, born April 4, that year. It took a couple of weeks before Mother felt comfortable letting him into the house. By that time they'd all made friends through the door. Snowball--my color-blind dad's joke and the only reason he said we could keep him (what were we going to do otherwise but I don't think that was brought up)--was more than half-grown and took the kittens under his paternal (snipped out of him immediately btw) paw and would regularly give them a good washing.

Snowball soon took his barn ways to running the neighborhood. He regularly spent the night in the dog house next door, back in the corner so the dog could bar the door from the wind and cold. He ate at every house on the block. He had landed in the lap of cat-luxury and he was smart enough to know it.

He died my senior year in high school. I can't remember why. But I'll never forget Snowball.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Mint Jelly

I've never made mint jelly, but this year I have a preponderance of mint and no plums, my usual fruit of choice to "jelly-up" for the library's annual fall sale. Therefore, I searched the internet and found a recipe at food.com I thought I could do and started in.

The recipe would only make 4 half-pints (who could possibly want more?) but would take 1 1/2 cups of packed mint leaves. That's a lot, let me tell you. I steeped them and drained them per the recipe. Had to buy green food coloring, for while I would have been quite happy to make a clear jelly, the resulting mint-infusion was somewhere between yellow and dirty-green. A few drops of food coloring fixed that.

I had bought a new Ball product, Flex-Batch Pectin, the low/no sugar variety since I prefer a jelly spread rather than a stiff jelly. I caught myself from starting the process just as I realized that the recipe I was using called for the real pectin.

Oops! A quick reading of the pectin instructions showed I had the proper amount of that. I reduced the sugar to 3 cups from 4 and began. It was setting up before I had it out of the pan!

I got the 4 jars but there is not a strong mint taste. How is mint jelly supposed to taste? I suppose I thought it would taste as minty as toothpaste, or at least as good as my kitchen smelled.

Next up? Wine jelly.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So what do you say to that?

I am far too often caught at a loss for words. Perhaps being a writer and used to editing has been the cause of this. However, editing aside, in this latest episode, I still haven't thought of a proper biting response although a friend of mine did.

I'm at Walmart, selecting green bananas. I like to buy them green, let them ripen at home. I've no interest in making a steady supply of banana bread from overly ripe fruit. In fact, since I've been using the Debbie Meyer Green Bags, I've only lost one or two bananas to overripeness. A good track record indeed.

So I have my green bananas in my cart. Approaching me--and I knew he was headed for me the instant I saw him--is an older man, stooped, wizened, in need of a shave. He has a few groceries in hand and comes for me like a heat-seeking missile. I did know, didn't I, he asked, that green bananas contain water?

I suppose the implication is that green bananas weigh more, therefore cost more, and how foolish could I be?

Well, I didn't know what to say. He obviously expected an answer. Finally, after a five second lapse in which I should have thought of something pithy, I just said, "I don't care."

That ended it and he moved on, but my friend suggested that should it happen again, I tell him that were I his age, I wouldn't buy green bananas either, on the off-chance that I wouldn't live to see them ripen.

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Monday, July 04, 2011

The fisher among us

Having survived the grandest grandkids--and they, us--I can report that we accomplished most of the items on our list with the exception of two: we didn't walk to the park, or even go for that matter, and we didn't dig our own worms.

Which is the subject of this post: fishing, in general and Jack, in particular.

My mother-in-law loves to fish and is quite good at it, as was her father, and my brother-in-law Scott. Son Matt has the gift. The rest of us fall in the okay-category and I'm probably worse than that, but Saturday morning we found this next generation's champion, two-and-a-half-year-old Jack.

It's as if the fish were lining up to get a bite of the worm on his cane pole. Before granddad could get Emily's hook baited with a worm, Jack and I had let one get away and landed two catfish! We were in catch-and-release mode, so the fish were fairly safe, even if they did garner a sore throat from hook removal. By the time Emily had her pole in the water, Jack had brought in three perch!

Emily finally landed her own perch with granddad's help and we found ourselves out of store-bought worms. Jack, finding this enterprise to be too easy and declaring himself hungry (one should always eat ALL of one's breakfast before going on a fishing expedition and I didn't have the sense God gave most grandmothers to pack snacks), we gathered our poles and went back to the truck.

But we've found our fisherman.

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