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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Beans With Tomato Rice

So, this one's a keeper....definitely. Exactly my kind of thing and what I like to stuff into my mouth. You'll want to try it. Make it your own. Be creative, use what you have on hand, dream a little. Like I always say, cooking is an art, not a science! Forget the precise measurements and all of that. Doesn't matter, you can't hurt it.

Pan 1....Tomato Rice: You'll cook as many servings of rice as you need for your group in one pot. I used Minute Brown Rice. I added a little Smart Balance Light to it and 1/2 small can of tomato paste.

Pan 2....: Saute chopped onion, baby carrot pieces, and red pepper pieces in olive oil until slightly tender. Add one can black beans (rinsed), one can garbanzo beans (rinsed), one can diced tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup of whole almonds. Toss in the other 1/2 small can of tomato paste from pan 1 above. I seasoned it up with a wide variety of spices: Chili powder, cayenne powder, garlic powder, fresh cracked black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, brown sugar. I didn't use them, but you could easily have added partially cooked chunks of sweet potato or yam into this....it would be a perfect fit. Other variations may include lentils, other types of beans, or vegetables. Or even dried apricots or other fruit.

Easy! It all comes together very quickly...this is definitely a less than 30 minute meal. Place a small bit of tomato rice in a bowl and top with a bit of the spicy bean and tomato mixture. Super yummy. Nice and spicy, warm, and sweet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Curse?

Do you suppose it's a curse? Bad luck? Just the way things go? Or even just part of life's cycles? My cousin's daughter died overnight. At close to age 40 with numerous children left behind. Of a drug overdose. It's one of her two children. My cousin is just slightly older than I am (and I remind her of that often). And her children are slightly younger than me. The girl has struggled for years. Children, boyfriends, a husband, all sorts of trouble. And, today, this. I can't imagine having one of your children die. Let alone in this insane way.

Our family is not perfect by any stretch. I think that the two biggest issues to befall our family are Multiple Sclerosis (five or six people have it) and alcoholism. Alcoholism has screwed up the lives of nearly every single one of our family members to some degree. We have folks in our family who have died from none other than alcohol-related issues....no other health issues whatsoever. We've had many parents outliving their children. Suicide, Lou Gehrig's Disease, cancers, heart attacks. They've all been a part of our lives.

I don't think it's unusual for families to have to face a myriad of issues. But the drugs and alcohol really seem to have a grip. I can count probably ten people right off the bat who struggle with it in my family. That's why I'm more pleased than punch to count my sister as my friend. Her story is long, sorted, belabored. But beautiful. And she's still alive and around to talk about it. And she will.

So, today, I wonder -- are there curses? Are there genetics that dictate the alcoholism and drug abuse? DNA evidence to support it? Is it geography or food or soil or weather than drive any of it? I hate these sorts of things. My sister was just saying to me that she's sort of nervous -- that my brother, she, and I are the only group of cousins in the family to not have befallen serious health issues. Are we fortunate? Or blessed? Or just drew the longest straw? I am thankful today. But these sorts of things always cast a strange glow across the face of our family.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week

A very busy week ensues. We're into Holy Week now -- so I'd prefer if you'd all refer to me as Your Royal Highness or something closely related. Lord or Princess, perhaps. I think it's only proper.

Today -- Took Mason for his six-month vaccinations and fecal poo-poo sample scrape. He loved that. Errands for the remainder of this steady-rain-blessed day. Did I mention the wind?

Tomorrow -- Another day off.

Wednesday -- Phoenix and back in the morning. Haircut in the afternoon with LoverBoy. We do lead one of the most titillating lives ever, I must say. Possible Yoga in the afternoon.

Thursday -- Orange County and back in the morning. Doctor visit in the afternoon to get all steroided up for my Albany, New York, visit next week. Nearly every single one of my buddies in Albany have cats ..... and I'm allergic. So, the doctor will shoot a steroid into me plus give me a short dosage of oral steroids to help with the allergies. I've also got my Allegra, nose spray, eye drops, and Benadryl lined up.

Friday -- Orange County and back in the morning. Possible yoga in the afternoon. Mason heads to his Aunt Melanie's after dinner to spend the night.

Saturday -- Working a trip to Austin, Texas. Yes, you should be scared.

Sunday -- Easter! Return from Austin at noon. I hope the Easter Bunny will have left me a basket or eggs or something. Afternoon will be spent packing and preparing for tomorrow's departure!

Monday -- Depart for Albany for a week with some of the world's greatest people! If you're in the Albany area, make sure you mark Saturday, April 10 on your calendar. My friends Don & George are hosting a party beginning at 3pm that day -- food, fun, frolic, beverages. Let me know if you're coming!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I've always known it. In spite of the laughing, and pointing, and joking behind my back. I'm quite average. And this proves it. So, you....what about you? Average? Lesser? Greater? Reminds me of my growing up and experimentation escapades.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Never Thought I'd Be

Never thought I'd be the guy whining, moaning and retching on and on about not having the motivation to get to the gym. But, clearly, I am that guy. What in the world is it that provides some people with the built-in, intrinsic, motivation to get there every single day of their GD lives? While others will never see the inside of one. And others relegate themselves to a life of mediocrity somewhere in the middle. I enjoy it. I hate going. I love it. I don't want to go. God, I'm a wishy-washy freak. One thing is that my work life is nothing but structured, most of it down to the precise minute, while at work. Always on time, wearing a watch, cannot be late, etc. And that makes me far more protective of my down time and days off. I refuse to have them structured or so chucker block full of activities that I can't even enjoy my free time. I refuse. Who knows about the internal, hard-wired motivation, or lack thereof?

It reached 72 degrees in our car this afternoon. That's the highest for this year so far. A perfectly amazing first day of Spring! And, here in Portland at least, people sort of go nuts on days like this. I mean, the flip flops and shorts are out, shirts are off, ice cream joints have lines out the door, and even the drivers seem to be focusing on everything except their driving.

I will be in Albany, New York, from April 5-12. I've got some plans for visiting with several friends there. If you're in the area, my buddies Don and George have graciously agreed to host a big old get-together beginning at 3pm on Saturday, April 10, at their home in Westerlo, NY. You are invited.....Be there or be square!

My mind has been a little bugged lately about the weirdness of the relationship with a couple of friends. We work together. We used to be friends on Facebook. In his words, we're now simply "Casual Acquaintances. But it just hasn't been the same. Nothing really happened......no particular fight or event or disagreement. I see the guy at work and always say hi. But the other day, I stuck my hand out to shake his and say hi and he walked right on by. Cold. Chilly. Brr. I hate those sorts of things. On the other hand, I really must say that I am not indebted to any relationship that requires me to be a certain way, or say certain things, or be in certain activities, or or or or....... I am simply much more casual than that and life is far too short to walk on eggshells. I just have no idea what happened. And that sucks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Edie Needs Is a Little Love and Care

Excuse me, as many of you know, I'm a sucker for many things. Many things bring me to tears in spite of my hard, crusty exterior and overly opinionated personality. My buddy Archerr posted the most amazing video today. If you're a dog or pet owner, you'll need a copious amount of tissues. And our Mason is a Maltese-Poodle, quite similar to Edie in the video. Just goes to show us that second chances are necessary. Exceptions should not be rare. Overlooking what may be obvious is horribly essential. Everybody needs a little love and care.

Remnants of My Desk Clean Out

Please list three things that you are thankful for this year:

1. My unconditionally accepting partner.

2. Visit with my sister for the first time since her sobriety.

3. Good job with health insurance and benefits.

Please keep this to remind yourself each day of how much we have to be thankful for.

The above was written Thanksgiving 2002 or 2003 when we had dinner at my in-law's home. Playing into my typical "be thankful" sort of attitude thing, I had printed off little pieces of paper for each person to fill out just prior to dinner and then we were going to go around the table and each of us read our own at dinner time. And this was my list. I just found it today while going through an extensive desk clean out. I think I'll keep the little piece of paper. It's a good reminder.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mish Mash, I Was Takin' A Bath.....

** Albany, New York, is my planned vacation destination for April 5-12. I have so many friends in the area and it will be nice to see them. If you're there and would like to schedule lunch, dinner, coffee or anything else, be sure to let me know. I'm hoping to be able to put a BBQ/party together for Saturday, April 10 in hopes of seeing as many people as possible.

** There are days that I wish that I could have friends all to myself. As much as I love having mutual friends, it seems that every person that I know seems to suddenly become friends of friends of friends. Sometimes I wanna go where nobody knows your name.....la la la la la. Not complaining here, just wishing that 100% of my life wasn't open to every single other person in the entire world.

** I think I'm headed downtown today to check out Powell's City of Books. It's always a show-stopper for any book lover.....it purports to be the largest bookstore West of the Mississippi River or some other nonsense. It's huge. And I need to pick up Babycakes -- the next in the Tales of the City series that I'm working my way through.

** I'm so thankful for a job that allows me as much flexibility as it does. I'm frequently reminded of how fortunate I am in this world.

** LoverBoy and I headed out into our own little mecca last night for dinner at The Blue Olive. One of our neighborhood's little gems.

** Our buddy Stephan from New York state is coming for a little visit at the end of April....we can't wait!

** Mason has been doing a much better job at being a two-year-old pooch. He is learning to walk right next to our sides when we venture out without pulling on his leash and trying to run all over the place. And he's learning that just because we see another person or dog it doesn't mean that we can jump up on them demanding attention. He has, however, been doing some sort of minor trembling from time to time. I'm not sure it's anything to be concerned about. Nothing like a full-blown seizure. But just occasionally gets a little weirded out and seems to shake a bit.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

To Speak or Not to Speak

UPDATE: Some readers have drawn the conclusion that this post may be about my own relationship with LoverBoy. They couldn't be more wrong. All is quite well in our home. It's a quite general topic for discussion.

Yeah, so is there a limit to what you/we/me/us/anybody should expect from our husbands/wives/ partners/whoever when it comes to us permitting them to "be themselves" or them allowing us to "be ourselves"? What do you think?

I mean, you'll find that I'm pretty open minded when allowing others to have their own thought patterns and ideas....even if I don't agree with you. I may very well play devil's advocate -- and choose the other side -- even if I really do agree with you! I love to stir the pot and ask lots of questions. And I'm totally for allowing each of us to choose our own roads in life and make our own decisions.

But what if we're headed toward the deep end of the pool? What if we're being rude to someone? What if we are actually (gasp!) WRONG? What if we are truly making a poor decision -- financially, in a relationship, work related, life choices sort of thing. I'm not talking about which restaurant to scoot into for dinner. I'm talking about whether you, or me, would say to our life partner "Hey, I don't think you're making a very good decision -- I wouldn't do that if I were you." Yikes. And, hey now, what if alcohol or drugs are involved? How about domestic violence? What if you steal something? Would you think it okay if your partner spoke up about it? I mean, in this 2010 day and age of allowing everybody to fend for themselves, let it be, don't make waves, and all of that.....what do you think about when you see somebody headed toward WrongVille? What happens when someone is so focused (or not focused) and headed, truly, toward a cliff of no return. What happens when relationships are destroyed or career choices are ruined? Is it okay to say nothing to your partner and just chalk it up to "They'll have to make their own decisions." Meanwhile, the other partner just stands there. Doing nothing. Watching. It just feels weird sometimes. On both sides of the issue. What happens when you honestly disagree with your partner? Do you speak up? Or do you allow them to fail. To make poor decisions. To be rude to someone else. To take a financial jump into the abyss. To not do the positive, healthy thing. At which point do we speak up? At which point do we butt out?

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Harshest of Reminders

What is it about some situations in life that happen in split seconds. Without notice. Absent anticipation. What is it about spotting an LifePack Emergency Defibrillator AED holder on the wall.....unlocked and empty. Commotion with that gut-wrenching quietness all at the same time. You know something has happened but you're afraid to ask. Piles of police, airline personnel, TSA employees......all waiting in near silence for the coroner to arrive.

It happened today...just moments ago.....as I arrived in Seattle from Denver. Walking along, happy as ever, just another day in paradise. Until I reach Gate C2M in Seattle. And behind the C2M boarding podium -- you know, that walkway area where thousands of travelers walk, tramp, their way to aircraft each year -- I see a horribly young mother and father kneeling on the ground around their dead baby. One and one half years old. Trying to get back home to Montana after a hospital stay in Seattle. The baby was sick. CPR did nothing.

But to die here? Precisely in the boarding area of its flight home? I just wasn't ready for that. The police took the empty baby seat and diaper bag with them. The AED lay nearby.

And then, the mother -- she clutched her child wrapped in its blanket and was escorted down the back stairway. To another life, without her child.

I am reminded today. Of a whole lot of things. I guess I'll go to Chicago now.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

World Class Figure Skating

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I want no comments from the peanut section. In addition, I guess this is as good of a time as any to present to you a couple of blasts from my past. The first picture is me getting all dolled up for a Halloween party....taken by my newfound friend Roy. The second picture was also taken by my friend Roy on my 20th birthday -- my friends captured me in my bathrobe and we had a party to put my teenage years to rest. . Aren't you as thankful as I am for those blasts from our pasts who dig up such artifacts?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Who Knows What ??

Who knows what about you? If I ask your best friend, will they know your favorite color or soft drink? How about which kind of car you drive? Does your husband/wife/partner/whoever know how to order your coffee for you? Or if you'd like to spend your vacation in a big, vibrant city as opposed to a cabin in the mountains....does anybody know your preferences? How about whether you like to cook or not? Does anybody know that you'd prefer to go commando rather than wear expensive underwear? Does How about the fact that you may ride a bike the majority of your life and leave the car at home. And, god forbid, that you'd prefer sweaty dudes to those who doll themselves up with deodorant and body sprays and such? Does anybody know that about you? If you're the sort of guy, like me, who likes to shed his clothes at the beach, do people around you know that? Can you rely on your friends to order lunch for you -- do they know whether you'd prefer a vegetarian dish or extra sauce on the side or if you don't want any beans with your Mexican combination meal? Do your friends know that you'd prefer a quiet time at home with friends rather than head out at 10pm for a night of drinking and dancing? Red or white? Would your buddy know which color of wine to order for you if you weren't in the room? Or which movie you'd choose? It's funny sometimes. But occasionally the people closest to us know the least. It's weird what information we share with others, even those we may be in a relationship with. It's not good nor bad. Neither moral or amoral. It doesn't have to be one way or the other. You aren't required to tell everyone in the world about your choices and preferences. But some do. Over and over. And some never do.....their lips are sealed nearly all of the time. Just an oddity of the human experience. That's all.