Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Peace, Out for a Fortnight

Getting geared up for the big road trip with the husband and kiddos. We're going to Jekyll Island, Georgia, for a week with the rest of ma famille. This will be my last post for at least a couple of weeks, because I'm about to start packing in earnest (leaving in a bit over 48 hours). It will take us two days to drive down, we'll stay a week, and then there are the two days back up, and--boy--that's a lotta driving and time away from home!

This may be the big mistake of the summer, but I'm not taking my laptop. I'm not even taking a hard copy my novel-in-progress. I will take a notebook and some pens and pencils, but I'm not expecting anything to make its way to the paper unless the brownies also do fiction. (Did anyone else's Brownie Handbook have the story of the brownies who came in to the cobbler's workshop at night and helped him finish up his shoemaking? Or clean up his mess? Or something? They've probably edited that one out in favor of some story about more realistic role models like Audrey Hepburn or Serena Williams. Did I say realistic? I digress...)

So I'm not planning on doing any writing at the beach. Reading? Yes.

I'm taking Julia Spencer-Fleming's In the Bleak Midwinter, Michael Connelly's The Closers, Allison Brennan's The Prey, and Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried. Lord knows, what with my plans to tour the historic district, go horseback riding, bicycle with D, cook, eat, and shop, I may not have any time to read. Yes, there's always that lolling on the beach thing. I've heard that's very relaxing for people who aren't chasing a 14mo perpetual motion machine and an almost 3yo imp. Most likely, the books will be devoured on the ride to and fro, and in bed late at night.

Gotta go lay out the kids' outfits, so I guess this is goodbye for a bit. I will say to you, as my parents used to tell me when they left me to my own devices, "Keep your nose clean."

I never really understood it. Is it snot-related?

p.s. The dogs weren't invited, sadly. So they will be relocated to a deluxe compound with heated floors and four-legged neighbors whose butts they can sniff with abandon. Hmmm--maybe that's what it means.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Food Love

This is one of my favorite products. You add milk and butter, and--voilá--something a hell of a lot better than your typical bland Alfredo sauce. It is tangy (has blue cheese in the mix) and garlicky to boot. So now you know why I am sorry to report that my #*&($ supermarket hasn't carried it for months now. If I had a minute, I'd ask them what's up. As it is, I will just sulk. I tried Knorr's Alfredo sauce mix in its absence, and my mouth fell asleep in the middle of the meal. I hate the jarred Alfredos, too. I need something with some zip.

So while I'm complaining about food, my favorite baked beans are on sale this week, and my flavor is the only one they are out of. Standing in line for a rain check was out of the question today, sadly.

And because I am nothing if not loyal, I have to share one of my most favoritest products ever with you: Heart-Smart Bisquick (used to be called Low-Fat Bisquick). I use this stuff at least once a week for anything from "quiche" to cornbread to, yes, biscuits. There's not much it can't do--I can make you a three piece suit out of Bisquick if you give me enough lead time. Is it being Southern that makes me a devotée? Or just being addicted to baked goods? Someday I'll share my raspberry-apricot cream cheese Danish recipe with you. It's from the '70s and thus for full-fat Bisquick, but I've made it with Neufchatel and low-fat Bisquick, and it is still teerifique.

In case you were wondering, these three will never appear together at dinner chez moi. Maybe the beans and the Bisquick in some proximity, but the McCormick mix? Naaaa. I have some standards.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend

Why is Mother's Day singular possessive? Isn't it a day for all mothers? It's not my mother's day. It is also my day, and a day for lots of otherses' motherses. I will stop this now, and go on to give you some highlights of my nice weekend.

Saturday I went to Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Really an excellent exhibit chronicling his looooong career, explaining his personal symbology, and--new to me--showing how wonderfully he fit(s) into the Surrealist movement of the 30s and 40s. We saw the Dali exhibit at the PMofA last spring, and the connections I was making as I viewed this one were stunning.

I especially enjoyed seeing the local scenery in Wyeth's works (he spent much of his life about twenty minutes from my house). But try not to think of him as a painter of quaint landscapes. For me, the exhibit was kind of like my "rediscovery" of Robert Frost. Yes, I knew his poems were inscribed into the American psyche. But I figured they were all convenient captions to Currier and Ives prints (nevermind the historic disconnect!). But NO. Once I was ready to revisit them (in graduate school), I realized these were deeper, darker poems than anyone had cared to point out to me before. Same holds true for the masterpieces of Andrew Wyeth. Yes, it's a pair of fishing boots. Quaint Maine lobster hokum, right? But NO. It's a portrait of Wyeth's friend and local ne'er-do-well, Walt Anderson. It's a portrait of his friend, but it's just his boots. The same way the painting of two doors is a portrait of his neighbors Alvaro and Christina Olson (the blind subject of Christina's World--probably his most famous work).

I've rambled enough about the exhibit. Obviously, I thought it was great. So if you're in the area, please take a peek.

That was Saturday. So how was my Mother's'es' Day on Sunday? Just wonderful. D let me sleep in. He supplied the family with my beloved Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. He watched the kids when I wanted to go poke around at the nursery and the hardware store. We worked in the yard. We took a walk. We played. We got takeout for dinner. IT WAS FANTASTIC. It's why I got into the business, friends: 'Cause one day a year, they let you do whatever the hell you want. ;)

N was all about donuts at breakfast. We stopped him at one and a half, but that didn't mean he couldn't keep asking, right? When we told him that breakfast was over and he needed to quit asking for more donuts and go play with his sister, he replied, "Can I play with a donut?" I almost let him, just for being so damned entertaining.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Home Alone. But Not.

So my husband is sitting next to an empty seat at Don Giovanni and I'm stuck here listening to the decidedly anti-classical wailings of "Daaaaaddy, Daaaaaady, Daaaaady" from my son's bedroom. I've been trying to put him to bed for the last hour and a half with no success. I'd dearly like to be in that empty seat, wearing the outfit I had to take off two hours ago when it became obvious the babysitter was a no-show. She called an hour after she was due with profuse and tearful apologies as she sped to our house. I told her to turn around--that I had sent D so at least one of us could be on time and see the whole thing--and that she was forgiven. It sucks that she's just a typical forgetful seventeen year old, cause I totally want to scream at someone, but she doesn't deserve my wrath. She feels bad enough already.

sigh. Had been looking forward to this show for months. The current aria chez moi is "'Ant more water. 'Ant more water. 'Ant more water, Mom." He's kind of got a rhythm going.

Going to be a sucky night.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Date Night Report

And a grand Friday night it was, my friends. The weekend started off with a gigantic bang when D and I, starstruck and gape-jawed in the third row of the DuPont Theatre, beheld Joyce Carol Oates and Salman Rushdie for nearly two hours. My fellow blogger Lisa Coutant interviewed me about the evening, and you can find my answers to her questions here. Thanks, Lisa, for giving me a spot on your entertaining and informative blog.

While you can read the highlights of the panel discussion on Lisa's blog, the rest of the evening was not without merit, as I shall describe forthwith. I decided on a whim that we should have a drink at a restaurant bar, something we have done too seldom since starting our little family almost three years ago. Did I say "too seldom?" I meant "never." So, we capped the brilliant date with champagne martinis* and a chocolate lava souffle at Deep Blue Bar and Grill, while listening to live music and occasionally checking on what we astutely predicted would become a nip-slip of epic proportions. The victim was not I, thank goodness, but a well-endowed blonde across the bar whose right breast for ten minutes doggedly worked itself free from its tiny triangular bond.

And on that illuminating note, I shall end my recounting. Would that all spousal date nights were so entertaining.

*"Martini" is a term that is these days bandied about far too much for my liking, especially when certain drinks so labelled have as little resemblence to the actual article as Jessica Simpson does to Grace Kelly. But I am happy to report that a champagne martini turned out to be not such a bad thing. Delightful, in fact.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Belated Thank You to Mr. Philly

Duane Swierczynski is a successful editor-in-chief, blogger, and author of many works of fiction and nonfiction--his latest is THE WHEELMAN, so go buy it. He's also a great ambassador for the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. I'd like to give a public shout-out to Duane for recommendations on parking and dinner in Chinatown. We met some out-of-town friends there a few weeks ago and tremendously enjoyed our repast at the Malaysian eatery, Penang. After fattening ourselves up on squid, duck, shrimp, and vegetables that were sauced, noodled, riced, and pancaked every which way but NOT, we waddled down to Walnut Street and finished out the evening with some local brews at Moriarty's.