Sunday, May 15, 2011

Breakfast for supper

In the past few months several members of my family have embraced a low-carb lifestyle. My daughter Kim and I, both single, have teamed up to try new recipes for dinner twice a week. We take turns with the cooking, and, with a couple of notable exceptions, we've been pleased to learn that we can eat quite well without the sugars and starches we'd always craved.

Eating this way does require a little more effort. Cooking flavorful recipes is more difficult and time consuming than driving half a mile to pick up a burger and fries, and eating more fresh foods means shopping more frequently. So far it's been worth the extra effort.

Sometimes, though, I just don't want to give that much thought to what I'm going to eat. That happened one night recently when Kim and I had a dinner/TV night planned and I wasn't in the mood to cook.  "Would you be okay with something simple tonight, like bacon and eggs or an omelet?" I asked.

"Sure," Kim said, "but if you want breakfast, I do really good breakfasts. Would you let me cook breakfast for you?"

That night I learned to raise my expectations. Kim's breakfast was so spectacular I had to take a picture of it:

Crab cakes on a bed of fresh, steamed spinach,
topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, with a side of fresh fruit.

This meal was delicious. It also clearly demonstrated why Kim's creativity has taken her to higher levels than I've ever attained: I think in bacon and eggs; she thinks in crab cakes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger is free!

Keep reminding me:  Blogger is free.

I'd complain about the fact that yesterday's post disappeared until a short while ago, but I can't, because Blogger is free.

I'd gripe about the fact that the comments I left on other people's posts yesterday have vanished, but Blogger is free, so I can't ask for my money back.

The old adage, "You get what you pay for," doesn't apply in this case; Blogger doesn't cost me a dime. I've used it for over five years now, and this was only the second big glitch I've encountered. Yes, there's been the occasional time when one Blogger feature or another has acted "peculiar" for a day or two, but for the most part, it's been dependable, reliable, right there when I've needed it.

That's more than I can say about myself when it comes to blogging. Who fritters away her computer time playing Mah Jongg or Bejeweled? Who gives up trying to write because her dog has just rolled his tennis ball under her desk for the seventh time in ten minutes? Who has days when she "just isn't into it"? That would be me.

Blogger is "into it" way more than 99 percent of the time. And did I mention that Blogger is free?

So I won't complain. Although I did have a few unkind thoughts for a while there.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


The days between this post and the last one have flown by on the wings of everyday errands and mundane activities, but those days also contained a couple of special events:

Revisiting the past:
In the '80s and '90s I worked for 17 years for a company founded by the father of Alison, whose blog, Inspired Work of Self-Indulgence, was the first one I ever read. In fact, I found her blog in a Google search for her father's name in 2005, after a couple of former co-workers had called to let me know of his death. It was Alison's open, honest writing that inspired me to begin writing a blog of my own, although it took me nearly a year to gather the courage to try it.

Alison's father was an inspirational leader, loved and respected by all who knew him. The Louisiana branch of the company he founded is still very active, and once a year, near the founder's birthday, he is honored posthumously by a celebration in memory of the exceptional human being that he was.

This year Alison invited me to go with her. I was hesitant at first, reluctant to crash the party of people I hadn't seen in nearly 14 years, but Alison assured me I'd be welcome.

And, when the hour arrived, I felt welcome. There were still people there who had worked there when I did, and it felt like a homecoming to be in their midst again. There were big smiles, hugs, and plenty of old stories retold to new laughter.

I enjoyed spending time with Alison (who didn't stress out about the dog hair Butch got on her pants), and appreciate her invitation and encouragement to accompany her to this event. It was a special occasion I'll remember for a long time.

Mother's Day:
In what has become a family tradition over the past few years, we celebrated Mother's Day at my daughter Kelli's house, feasting on boiled crawfish and basking in a whole lot of love. I don't know if Kim and Kelli realize that just having them in my life makes me feel special every day and that Mother's Day, for me, is more meaningful only because it makes me stop and reflect on how rich they have made my life.

When our family gathers, when I'm able to sit back and watch the interactions of my children, grandchildren, their assorted spouses, and that one small great-grandson, my heart feels so full that I think it might burst. They're kind to each other. They crack jokes, but not mean ones, and they have each other's backs. They're good people, and I'm so, so proud of them.

The genealogist in me can't resist pointing out that there were four generations of family members at our Mother's Day gathering this year, including three generations of mothers. More than I love delving into the history of our ancestors, and I do love that, I love watching our family expand, watching people I loved in their infancy grow up, create full lives for themselves as adults, and, in some cases, have babies of their own. The sense of continuity thrills me.

One young family member is currently pregnant with her first child. She and her husband have decided they don't want to know the sex of the baby until it's born, and the announcement of that decision prompted me to send her a link to a beautiful song that fits their situation. You can hear it on YouTube here:
Marc Cohn - The Things We've Handed Down.

Or, if you'd rather read the words than listen to them, here are the lyrics:

The Things We've Handed Down
by Marc Cohn

Don't know much about you 
Don't know who you are 
We've been doing fine without you 
But we could only go so far 
Don't know why you chose us 
Were you watching from above 
Is there someone there that knows us 
Said we'd give you all our love 

Will you laugh just like your mother 
Will you sigh like your old man 
Will some things skip a generation 
Like I've heard they often can 
Are you a poet or a dancer 
A devil or a clown 
Or a strange new combination of 
The things we've handed down 

I wonder who you'll look like 
Will your hair fall down and curl 
Will you be a mama's boy 
Or daddy's little girl 
Will you be a sad reminder 
Of what's been lost along the way 
Maybe you can help me find her 
In the things you do and say 

And these things that we have given you 
They are not so easily found 
But you can thank us later 
For the things we've handed down 

You may not always be so grateful 
For the way that you were made 
Some feature of your father's 
That you'd gladly sell or trade 
And one day you may look at us 
And say that you were cursed 
But over time that line has been 
Extremely well rehearsed 
By our fathers and their fathers 
In some old and distant town 
From places no one here remembers 
Come the things we've handed down 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Recap and regroup

The last half of April has been a whirlwind of activity. The international news has been all about the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, followed closely by reports of protests and counter-protests in the Middle East. The top news stories related to America have been divided almost equally between the massive destruction caused by tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi and the fact that Donald Trump bullied President Obama and the State of Hawaii into producing the long form of the president's birth certificate.

Things have been pretty busy in this small patch of Louisiana, too, and in order to regroup, move on, and restore a semi-regular flow of blog posts, I first need to catch up by recapping a few recent blog-worthy events:

The Graduate:
On April 16th Levi completed a six-week course in obedience training. He was a quick learner. He demonstrated a superior ability to understand and follow commands. The last class session was devoted to testing all the commands he had been taught, and he aced the test. The boy was a whiz kid while class was in session.

At home he understands the commands without difficulty, but each time he hears one, he gets a look in his eye as if he's trying to decide whether or not he really has to comply. Let's just say he follows the  commands when he's in the mood. Or unless there's something more interesting going on, such as a squirrel in the neighbor's yard. Or a leaf moving in the driveway. To reach perfection he needs a little more work.  I, on the other hand, need a lot more.

Two weeks ago today I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with two friends -- an old one and a new one -- from Texas. The "old" friend (who is considerably younger than I am) is Annette, who recently began blogging at Writing My Novel. It's been nearly 14 years since we've seen each other, and it was a joy to be in her warm presence again.

The new friend is Leah, whom I found delightful and hope to see again soon. Leah and Annette were in Baton Rouge to find Leah a place to live. She's accepted a new job at LSU and will be moving here soon.

We had a wonderful visit despite its being dominated by unruly dogs. The ladies had come bearing a non-stuffed fake squirrel that did a fairly good job of distracting Levi, though even a distracted Levi disperses a lot of energy into a room. And Butch, he who regularly sleeps 20 hours a day, appointed himself host of the event. He stayed awake and present in a big way for most of the visit. He seemed to believe Annette and Leah had come specifically to spend time with him, and I'd never in a million years tell him otherwise.

Celebrating Easter:
All my grandchildren are adults now, and two of them are married. Because they've grown up in a "blended" family, they're used to splitting holidays between two sets of parents, and now in-laws have been thrown into the mix. That's why our family Easter celebration was held on Saturday this year.

Kelli and Troy (my younger daughter and her husband) hosted the bunch of us at a poolside barbecue. The weather was perfect: warm enough to swim, cool enough to be comfortable outside in the shade of a large umbrella.

Kelli and Troy are both good cooks, and I, being a non-swimmer but a good eater, parked myself under the above umbrella and over the sausage that was the first thing to come off the grill.

Everything I ate was delicious. I stuffed myself on sausage, brisket, and a little bit of chicken, cheated on my low-carb diet to have some baked beans, and told myself that that little cheat wasn't too bad in light of the fact that I resisted the potato salad and the scrumptious-looking dessert.

I took 294 photos that day -- most of which I won't show you out of respect for all the adults in bathing suits in those photos. My great-grandson, Owen, however, is only 13 months old. Since he doesn't yet understand that he has a right to object, I'll share a few pictures of him. He was the unanimously proclaimed star of the day anyway, so it only seems fitting to focus on him.

Don't worry; that's a swim diaper.

Safe and happy in his daddy's arms.

Angelic...and very, very curious.

In summary:
I realize there's not much in this post that's new to those of you who are Facebook friends,  but it's important to me to record events like these on the blog. It will be here, not Facebook, that I'll come to relive these days when they've long since passed. Facebook feels to me like a quick, public shout-out. This blog feels like home.