Friday, December 29, 2006

A cat took a nap in my lap

D and I discovered a burger joint in Brooklyn, DuMont Burger, which serves a delectable chickpea burger on a brioche bun with tzatziki sauce. We're willing to make the trek to another borough for it. Another attraction: a nearby bookstore that I like not so much for its pulpy, kitschy selection, but for its plump, sweet cat.

The cat is grey with black stripes and has a soft, ample midsection. It is very cozy. The last two times I made its acquaintance, it was sleeping on (a) a chair and (b) a stack of books. This time, it was awake and prowling. I put down my pink Strand tote bag to pat it, and it promptly curled up on the bag. I patted it some more and then it stepped off the bag, climbed onto my lap (I was sitting cross-legged on the floor) and fell asleep there. It was so warm and comforting. I was sorry that I'm allergic to cats because this one was so delightful.

Eventually we had to go; I carefully unfolded one leg, then the other, and the cat curled up between my knees. We finally left, but not after much patting and some piteous meows from the cat. I have no doubt it is well-loved and cared for :)

However, the cat left its scent on my mittens, and a dog I patted later barked at me (after sniffing the mittens)! D says I need two pairs of mittens. This remains to be seen, though, because I patted another dog who was just fine with it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Some jokes for you

A man walked into a bar with his dog. "My dog can talk," he told the bartender.
"No, he can't," said the bartender.
"Yes, he can."
"Prove it to me," said the bartender.
The man asked his dog, "What lies on top of a house?"
"Rff," said the dog ("roof").
"Any dog can do that," said the bartender.
"Ok, I'll ask him another question. Who was the greatest baseball player of all time?"
"Rff," repeated the dog ("Ruth").
The bartender was not impressed. He threw them out of the bar. On the way home, the dog tilted its head, and asked its owner: "Maguire?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What should you do with a blue whale?
Cheer him up.

~~~~~~~~

What is the most musical bone?
A trombone!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Yumminess

My mother gave me Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers, and I think it may be the best Moosewood cookbook yet. Each recipe is beautifully illustrated and easy. Some reviewers trashed it on Amazon - they were upset that no caloric value was listed - but do you really want to know that, anyway? Whenever they do that, I find myself skimming over the more fattening recipes, and possibly missing out.

Anyway:

Spinach Cheese Burritos

5 tortillas (7 or 8 inches)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
10 oz baby spinach
1 tsp coriander
1 generous pinch nutmeg
1 small slice of cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
2 c sharp cheddar cheese
1 T canola oil

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the tortillas on a baking sheet (it's ok if they overlap) and place them in the oven for a few minutes, so they won't crack when you roll them.

Saute the garlic and scallions in the oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in the nutmeg, coriander, cheddar cheese and cream cheese. Take off the heat.

Prepare the tortillas by placing a scoop of filling on the lower half of each tortilla, rolling it up and folding the edges over. Place the tortillas seam side down in an oiled 9 X 13 pan. Spray the burritos lightly with oil. Cover with foil and cook for 20-25 minutes (15 minutes if you have a fast oven).

D received several ducks: a floating one with a glass in his back, a small orange one and a little one with a magnetic croquet...if you put it in the tub and wave the croquet, it will follow you...like an imprinted duck. My nephew also made us a snowman and penguin out of crafty bits and pieces.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Travels

A while ago, Amtrak called and asked if I wanted to be part of a focus group. I would be paid $100 to talk about my experiences with Amtrak...during dinner hour! Nah. But when we took the train today, it occurred to me that they could use a yoga car. The car would have no seats, and lots of floor space for mats. Of course, they will never do this because they could pack the car with people instead and make a profit. But I think they should! Once I tried doing yoga in the aisle (on a different trip) and a well-intentioned girl asked, "Are you lookin' for somethin'?" So now I'm too self-conscious.

On today's trip, the conductor kept announcing, "Claire Kirby, this is your stop. Get off now," and repeating that with different names. I didn't know they had a reminder service. They did have a number of elderly people on the train who may have asked to be reminded. One of them, a woman behind us, struck up a conversation with D. "Do you smoke?" she asked, out of nowhere. (He doesn't.)

When we got off the train, my niece and nephew came running to greet us. They were both wearing Santa hats. Then my brother drove us all home. Emotions ran high when I asked my nephew if he had a girlfriend. He's in love with a girl, J, and they have discussed commitment and having children. They want to name their daughter Alexandra. The problem is, J can't date till she's sixteen, and they're currently nine. So my nephew is going to wait for her. Romantic, no?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sampson

Tonight I met the lovely Sampson, a butterscotch-colored pug. He lives with my writing friend, K, and is very charming.

K and I had dinner at a Thai resto and talked about the writing life, etc. She was working overnight shifts on a Good Samaritan hotline, but she quit because most of the people calling were perverted instead of depressed. Which reminded me of the movie theater pervert, all those years ago:

Me (college kid in the box office): Hello?

Pervert (man with intense, whispery voice): Hi. I'd like to see The Lion King. What is it rated?

Me: G.

Pervert: Do they say bad words in The Lion King?

Me: ? No.

Pervert (breathing heavily now): Do they say FUCK in The Lion King?

Me: Um, no. Bye!

Anyway, back to 2006. I was going to take a picture of Sampson, but I forgot my batteries, and K offered some, but my camera is a diva and insists upon fully charged batteries, freshly cut roses and bowls full of red M&Ms. Maybe I can get a picture of him next time. He enjoyed licking the camera, anyway.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas wisdom

I was shopping at Whole Foods (I'm making saag paneer with tofu, a good opportunity to use the asafetida and garam masala waiting in my cabinet) and they were piping in Christmas music. Guy Cashier swoops in and sings, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." Girl Cashiers shake their heads, ask him what's wrong with him (but they're laughing).

Guy Cashier (with dignity): Nothing is wrong with me. My inner child is alive. That's what keeps old people going.

Girl Cashiers: ?

Guy Cashier (warming to his theme): My grandmother, she goes bungee-jumping on her birthday.

Me: How old is she?

Guy Cashier: 65.

So Merry Christmas, and remember to go bungee jumping on your birthday...it'll keep you young. (I'm not going to take this advice -- too much of a scaredy-cat -- but it seems sound.)

List of bests

This is so end-of-the-year-y, but I thought y'all might like to get some recommendations. Also...at the bottom...my thoughts on Justin Timberlake and cupcakes (2 separate streams of thought ;)

Books


Model Student
by Robin Hazelwood

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi

Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik

Pug Hill by Alison Pace

Mommies Who Drink by Brett Paesel

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Movies

Capote

Failure to Launch

Clerks II

You, Me and Dupree

Borat

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been taking an informal blogger survey and it seems that most of you like Justin Timberlake, i.e., Roxanne, Bdogg, Poppy, Belle, and I think Liz has one foot in that camp, having found his latest video kinda yummy. (I haven't seen it, can't comment.)

I feel like the only two on the side of the Righteous are me and Carolyn.

Does no one remember the "wardrobe malfunction"? The ungentlemanly snicker when some interviewer commented on Britney's, um, virginity? (OK, it was probably hard to keep a straight face on that one.) The way he dated Jenna Dewan and Alyssa Milano at once, stringing them along until Cameron Diaz came along? His general shifty-eyed, sleazy look? The embarrassing songs and moves of 'N' Sync?

Okay, I think that is enough provocation for one entry. I am fully expecting the skies to rain down frogs now.

Also, there is a Burgers 'n' Cupcakes branch opening near me. They have a large, rotating, backlit cupcake above their awning. It is tacky but mesmerizing. If I ever have my camera with me (I am not much of a shutterbug), I will take a picture.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The holiday

So T and I went to see The Holiday today. We talked a bit about her boyfriend first. Things seem to be going really well. She did confide that she gets frustrated about the "little things." "When he blows his nose, it's more like a honk," she said, "and he always has his hand near his crotch."

(This reminded me of D's college roommate (I'll call him Buffin), whom I never met because I met D after college. D and Buffin were randomly matched, since it was freshman year. Buffin was a football player who liked his drink a bit too much. Once his friends had to call the paramedics. When he came to, he was throwing punches at the paramedics. He had to have his stomach pumped. Finally he said, referring to himself in the third person: "A lesser man might stop drinking after something like this, but not Buffin!" Oy. When I studied for the bar, we were told to put up a picture of someone unlikely who had passed the bar, to boost our confidence; we duly put up a picture of Buffin. It's down now.)

I liked The Holiday. I'm always charmed by the British habit of calling it a holiday, instead of a prosaic "vacation"; they also call L.A. Lotus Land, which I didn't know before. The characters weren't extraordinarily well developed, and the script was just serviceable, but I didn't have these thoughts until later. I like most Nancy Meyer movies (Something's Gotta Give, etc.) and this one was no exception. T gave it a B, while I gave it an A or A-. I don't think it would hold up to rewatching, but it was a fun, feel-good confection. And I liked the candy cane/gingerbread cinematography in London; Kate Winslet's house was so cozy. (I guess it was technically in Surrey.)

There was a subplot where Kate was going to dinner and working out with a 90-year-old man, and I was wincing a bit and expecting them to sleep together. Thankfully, they never did. He just taught her about empowerment, or as he called it, "gumption." Dustin Hoffman also had a cameo.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday thoughts

D and I tried to see The Good Shepherd tonight, but it doesn't come out until December 22. My enthusiasm is dampened by the fact that it's 3 hours long. But we'll probably see it anyway.

"Coupling," which used to show at 10 pm on Fridays (we managed to catch it once), seems to no longer be on. Tonight they had "Secrets for Aging Skin with Dr. Denese" (who should really not be spelling her name that way).

It's hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it's about 50 degrees outside and people are running around in shorts, but Sarah McLachlan's CD "Wintersong" is helping. It's really good.

~~~~

The crossing buddy is a New York phenomenon. It is a friendship that is formed without words and lasts only a few minutes. Yet it serves an important purpose.

Walking is the best way to get around New York. Cabs take too long and eat up your cash. The subway is cheaper, but you have to wait for it, and half the time you end up sitting in someone's lap (not literally, but there's definitely thigh overlap).

But when you walk, you face the twin perils of bikes and cars. Bikes are much worse, but cars can take the corners hard.

So, when you cross the street, you fall in step with a crossing buddy. The more, the better. We all think the car is less likely to hit us, if there's an us instead of a me.

Thin, heavy, short or tall people of all ages and races can be peaceful crossing buddies. But I realized a woman and a shorter man are not the best combination. I had a crossing buddy who was shorter than me and the cars were not properly intimidated. I think they wanted to run us over anyway.

~~~~

Maybelline's Moisture Whip lipstick has been replaced by Moisture Extreme lipstick. The Moisture Extreme shade names are the same, but the hues are different. D cleverly went to eBay and bought some for me. So, Moisture Whip fans, you can head over there.

We heard about P's dinner with the Vogue editrix. She is no longer working at Vogue and she is dating (well, periodically, um, visiting) a guy who sounds like Trump II.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Strange tales

We had dinner with P last night. He's stopping in NYC between London and Ohio...he goes to film school in London. He came back looking thinner, more cosmopolitan and contact-lensed. The weight loss is apparently explained by the quality of convenience food...he says all the supermarkets are like Whole Foods, but cheaper. Not bad. The Londoners want everything organic and preservative-free and apparently the difference shows.

(Which reminds me - on a plane we were served "real cheese" and crackers. I remember thinking the Europeans would never label anything that way...they'd be horrified if it wasn't real.)

Anyway, P is always bursting with stories (he also explained what a dolly-grip is - someone who moves the camera around. Also, the director is seldom behind the camera; they just like to be photographed that way). He told us about a girl he is into, who has a boyfriend.

The Boyfriend is very rich and invited her to live with him and his parents while she goes to grad school in London. She gets a whole floor to herself, so she gets privacy and so on.

Anyway, she was in a black cab, which was hit by a double-decker bus. She and the driver were fine, though the car was totalled. Not wanting to hop into another cab to go home, she called the Boyfriend and asked him to send the driver.

The Boyfriend: No.

So the girl took a cab home and found the Boyfriend in a dark room, draped despondently over a table.

The Boyfriend: I do not love you enough to pick you up at the scene of an accident.

The girl: That's ok, it's not a big deal.

The Boyfriend: No. I realized that I am indifferent.

So the Boyfriend took off, not revealing his whereabouts, and she stayed there, having nowhere else to go, and had dinner with the parents.

Parents: How is the Boyfriend?

Girl: I don't know. We broke up.

Parents: Oh, really! Pass the peas.

She started receiving one-word postcards from the boyfriend, and it emerged that he was brooding at his parents' ski chalet in Vail.

Now they are back together.

Personally, I think P will end up with The Love of his Life, a Vogue editrix. They are getting together on Thursday. But I think it might not happen for many years. They will have a "silver wedding."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Strange dream time

I'm borrowing a leaf from Kitkat's book and recording a couple of my dreams from last night.

Dream #1: A certain someone who will remain nameless (not a blogger or family member) was yelling at me in an auditorium. She wanted me to sit in a certain section, while I wanted to sit in another. There was an impasse. Finally I slipped out of the auditorium, ostensibly to visit the restroom, and when I came back, she was gone. I sat where I wanted to sit.

Dream #2: I was at a restaurant with D and some other people (not anyone from real life, although one of them resembled a blogger, a little bit). I saw Diane Keaton at a nearby table and went over to chat. (In real life, if you see a celebrity in a restaurant, in NYC anyway, you never go over to talk to them. It's just not on.) Anyway, she was glad to see me, and we talked. She had a very young face though she was her current age. When I got back to my table, there was a fracas. The other people at the table were bent on stealing our stuff. We tackled them and sat back down to eat with them (?). The girl apologized profusely. I told her, "It's ok, people do all sorts of things, but try not to do it again." Then she explained she was in some kind of play in Middleton, MA, near where I grew up. She was playing a naked part and wanted to know if I wanted to trade off (i.e., she would play it some nights, I would play it the other nights). I told her I had to think about it.

Then I went to the restroom and saw Diane Keaton again. I asked, "Have you seen Woody Allen lately?" [In real life, they are still friends, and one of my yoga students saw them together.] She said, "I knew you were going to ask me that! He sent me an email, and I never got back to him." She explained that he was mad about something to do with her adopted child (who was named Sam in the dream).

"That is the kind of thing he gets mad about," said D, when I told him.

In another part of Dream #2, which is more hazy, the girl from the play was standing on the side of a busy thoroughfare, across from me. It actually looked a bit like the road near Grimaldi's, a Brooklyn pizza joint. Anyway, it was choked with cars, and she yelled, "I hate trucks!" but she started to make her way across. I did, too, because it seemed like this would prevent her from being hit. (Dream logic.) In the end, everyone was fine.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The place

We went to The Place last night with DG. It really is a fabulous/groovy/yummy restaurant. D and I were both pleased with the decor. The walls were kind of cobblestone-y (I'm sure there's some technical term for this that interior decoration mavens will know) and the dining room was underground so it felt like you were eating in a charming little grotto.

I was surprised when DG commented favorably on the waiter's biceps. He said he envied them. Then the waiter said, "It's all genetic," though it emerged that he's a personal trainer as well. I also admired the short cap of hair one of the waitresses had, but both men urged me against cutting my hair. Plus I am a short hair virgin.

The food was very good, though in small portions. I had sweet potato ravioli and a frisee salad with candied pistachios and bits of apple. Then we all had dessert: DG had a chocolate cake sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, D had white chocolate mousse with raspberries, and I had the warm spiced Bartlett pear (whenever there is a pear on a menu, I gravitate toward it).

Fortunately/unfortunately, I had two glasses of Pinot Grigio. They didn't have my very favorite wine, Riesling, but I was in a wine-like mood.

(Tangent: I'm very stereotypically girly when it comes to drinks. The sweeter, the better. I remember I was in France once, visiting my roommate who was studying abroad that year, and she was friends with a British guy who spotted the (probably pink) drink I was carrying. "That's a bird's drink," he said with that authoritative British accent.)

So I had the Pinot Grigio, because I like white wine (no unsightly tooth stains, and doesn't feel as heavy in your tummy) and I read that PG is good for vegetarian food. Apparently Cabernet is good for red, bloody meat. FYI.

I like being tipsy; I feel more confident and colorful and articulate, but then, lying awake at 4 am, I thought:

"This is why I don't drink."

"Or, when I do, I stop at one."

I have to remember this next time.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Three things

I've been tagged by Irene!

3 things that scare me:
Upside down roller coasters
Super-dominant women
Blogger beta (do we have to change? Am I a Luddite?)

3 people who make me laugh:
D
My nephew
Carolyn
(these are not the only ones, of course)

3 things I love:
Books
Food
Being with friends/family

3 things I hate:
Driving, especially in unfamiliar areas
Confrontation
Danger

3 things I don't understand:
Calculus
Trigonometry
The rules for Yankee swap at my family Christmas party

3 things on my desk:
I don't have a desk, so I'll talk about my pocketbook instead.
Keys (with a "Hug a Dog" keychain from my sister)
Burt's Bees chapstick (though not the honey kind; I have been warned)
My wallet

3 things I'm doing right now:
See, is this a trick question? I'm doing the meme, of course. And drinking water. And typing.

3 things I want to do before I die:
Have a baby! Yes, the bug has bit.
Publish a novel.
Travel, I guess. I wouldn't mind going to London and Miami again. Or Italy, though D hates it.

3 things I can do:
Cook.
A headstand.
Type very fast with two fingers.

3 things I can't do:
A handstand without assistance.
Swim underwater without pinching my nose shut.
Run a marathon.

3 things I think you should listen to:
Billie Holiday.
Astrud Gilberto.
Madonna.

3 things you should never listen to:
Bush.
Annoying people.
Justin Timberlake.

3 things I'd like to learn:
Play the piano.
Maybe knitting, but wool is so itchy.
The Running Man (kidding).

3 favorite foods:
Indian.
Baked ziti (my recipe, with muenster instead of ricotta).
Spinach (I know, it's weird).

3 beverages I drink regularly:
Water
Almond milk (well, I cook my oatmeal in it).
I like the honey wine at Awash (local Ethiopian restaurant).

3 shows I watched as a kid:
Sesame Street
The Cosby Show (when I was 10)
Golden Girls (ditto)

3 people I'm tagging:
I will tag Belle, Jules and Roxanne, but it is not obligatory. And anyone who wants to should do it!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Daisy chain

Before I moved to New York, I never experienced a dog park. My dog had no truck with other dogs (dating from the day a furry torpedo shot out of its house and bit her; it was a Welsh corgi, but still) and there are no dog runs in suburban MA (to my knowledge).

Anyway, D and I often have lunch at Red Bamboo, a vegetarian mecca that offers up faux chicken Parmesan and grilled soy chicken salad (grilled over open coals; fabulous). Nearby is Washington Square Park, with a special enclosed run for small dogs. A sign on the door warns against various things, including people without dogs, but I slip in anyway.

Today I went there after lunch (D had a doctor's appointment) and visited with the wee dogs. One was Jack (wearing a sweatshirt that said WAGWEAR 2). Another was Frank, a delicate soul in a knit sweater. "He likes you better than the other dogs," his owner observed, before firing off questions: "Do you have a dog?" "I used to." "Are you going to get another?"

The dogs gathered around me got a bit rowdy, and then one humped the other, and then a third one humped that one, all in a row so it was like a daisy-chain of humping. One of the owners said, "Jack, you don't want to do that. Oh, I guess you do want to do that. They're competing for your affection," he told me.

Sounds nicer than establishing dominance :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From the mouths of babes

My niece and nephew (well, they are hardly "babes", I suppose; my niece is eleven, and my nephew is eight) said a lot of interesting things this weekend. So I figured I'd memorialize them here.

To start with, they are both fascinated by our vegetarianism. We are peppered with questions every time we go home. My nephew, B, wrote in an essay for school: "I like Thanksgiving because you get to see people you don't usually see, like my Aunt Bearette and Uncle D. They are both vegetarians. They adopted two turkeys." His teacher crossed that out and wrote something to the effect of "They bought two turkeys for Thanksgiving," and B crossed that out.

So B likes to ask why we became vegetarian. For D, it was when he was 16, at summer camp. For me, I was 21, shopping for dinner, and realized I didn't want to cook with slabs of raw meat. (Plus, I honestly don't like fish, and the only meat I'd been into for a while was chicken, though as a twelve-year-old on her growth spurt I ingested a lot of Big Macs.) So it was an easy decision for me.

B: Did you want to marry a vegetarian?
Me: Well, it wasn't a goal of mine, but it worked out well.
B: So you met someone you really loved, and he was vegetarian.
Me: Would you marry a vegetarian?
B: Maybe.

When I repeated this to the others, he said, "I wouldn't mind."

Later, in the pool, he said, "Nice bikini," but in an admiring-fashion-choices way, not a prurient way. He has lots of little girlfriends and goes to beading parties, so my brother has said he expects to go to B's commitment ceremony in Vermont one day. But I don't think so. That boy's hands used to roam like Bill Clinton's! He was always patting your butt after a hug (but again, in a kind of reassuring way. He seems to have outgrown it, though).

Then he asked, as I was lounging in the hot tub, "Would you like a shoulder massage?"

Me: Sure. Does H [my niece/his sister] get one?
B (kneading my shoulders): No, because you're my aunt and you're nice. She's my sister and she's evil.

!

B also asked D, "When do you start to grow stubble?", indicating the little hairs pushing out of D's face.

D: Why?
B: Because I don't want to be surprised. I want to be prepared.

I guess my niece, at eleven, does not say as many kid-like things. She is, in fact, more like an adult. When I forgot my bathing suit and had to drive back to get it, she said, "That is unbelievable." However, she did tell us, "You guys are good parents" (after I directed B to put his sneakers on, now). And when we got lost driving from the pool to the mall (they were going to church there--remember, I have not lived there in many years), H calmly directed me, saying, "I want you to turn left at this light," etc.

I think she should be running a small company. D says she should run a large company, but I know she would prudently start small.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Adventures in flying/Massachusetts

So we just got back from Massachusetts. We had a nice time at the party. The food was good and the Yankee swap was tame. I noticed my niece did not participate, though she did call out people's numbers. D ended up drawing the 101 Margaritas book that we bought, and although some people said, "That's a keeper," no one took it. So we have many margarita recipes; each one has either a salt shaker with a check mark or a salt shaker with a line through it.

I really like flying to Boston. It only takes an hour. And they feed you. Curiously, they made me surrender my toothpaste, but allowed me to keep my razor. I guess they want you to be able to defend yourself in case there are crazies on the plane.

I also patted a bomb-sniffing dog. I could tell how nice it was, and the security officer was saying that the dog is best friends with a 10-year-old girl. Finally I got close to the dog and it wagged its tail and licked my hand. It also engaged in some recreational sniffing.