Gosh, I Wish I Had the Internet at My House

I love nothing more than paying BellSouth for DSL only to have it work as well as me standing in my shower shouting and calling that being in contact with the outside world.

Whoever has the wireless network “Lemmings in Leiderhosen,” I swear, I don’t want to steal from you, all perched on the edge of my bed trying very hard to get and maintain a strong signal from you, but your network, as spotty as it is, is more reliable than the cord plugged into the back of my computer.

Anyway, the Professor took me bra shopping and today my folks are coming back through on their way home from the recalcitrant brother’s, so hopefully I can entice them into going to Target with me.

My first order of business is to start sleeping better.  I think I may have inadvertently hit on the solution to that yesterday.  We didn’t have any Diet Dr. Pepper in the house and so I didn’t have one in the morning and yesterday morning was the first time in a week I wasn’t falling asleep sitting up before lunch.  I had one at lunch, which was okay, and a Diet Coke with dinner.  By seven, I felt like I could sleep if I just nestled into the couch a little, but I wasn’t nodding off.

I’m not going to do anything ridiculous like completely stopping the use of caffeine completely.  I mean, good god, a girl’s got to function in this world.  But last night was one of the most restful sleeps I’ve had since I got sick back in November, so I’m willing to reduce my intake if it means being up all day and sleeping all night.

 Then I’m going to do some dishes and fold some laundry and hopefully, by then, the parents will be here.

Not to change the subject completely, but I’m concerned about how long I’m going to be able to maintain this connection and I just want to get everything out there while I can.

As fall-out from the whole “Transpeople want to rape you in the bathroom” episode, some folks have stopped blogging.  I just want to say to that, it doesn’t work.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, if you make people uncomfortable, you make a lousy hostage.  As much as they might bother to make some mention of how sad it is that you’re gone and how they certainly didn’t mean to scare you off, they kind of did want your silence, your acquiescence.  And because of that, at the end of the day, your absence lets them off the hook.

I’m sorry to bring up Sean Combs again, because the more I see of him on my TV the more I think he’s somehow part nit-wit, part genius and the nit-wit is winning, but “I ain’t nobody’s hero, but I want to be heard” is, I think, the defining sentiment of the internet age.  Does anything sum up so succinctly what we’re doing here?

It’s true that Combs goes on to say that he wants to be heard on Hot 97 and that he wants to make shit-tons of money; so it’s true that he immediately undermines the most political thing he’s ever said in his life; but it’s still true that he’s saying something profound in spite of the rest of the song.

You don’t have to be the hero, you just have to be heard.

It’s not my business, but I wish you’d reconsider. 

The Good, The Bad, The Somewhere-in-Between

The Good

–I found my Christmas money out on the kitchen table.

Magniloquence has a blog!  And you should read it.

The Bad

–After work, a concerned co-worker told me she thought I might benefit from anti-depressants.

The Somewhere-in-Between

–I have no marketable skills.

–I suspect I’ve sucked at every job I’ve ever had.

–I have nothing I’d want to do all day except blog and, as far as I can tell, there’s not a big market for my mad blogging skills.

–I have suspected for a while that I suck at my current job.  I now suspect that my boss thinks I suck at my job.  You’d think the fact that we’re both in agreement would ease my soul some, but really, it makes me angry and afraid.

–I have half a mind to sit on the couch and cry all evening, but if I do that, who will go get groceries?

Oh, brave internets, ease my soul.  Tell me something that will make me laugh and forget my cares.

Games Recommended by the Folks at Aunt B.’s

1.  “Tony Hawk’s Project 8”–As I have discerned from watching the Butcher, if you like cussing a lot and having to get up and pace around the room and throwing your new Nerf Playstation controller on the ground dramatically and if you also like to stay up until five in the morning, this is the game for you.

2.  “Tear Up Cardboard (or Paper, Whichever)”–The perennial favorite of the orange cat, this involves, simply enough, finding some cardboard or some paper on the floor (or pushing either item on the floor when no one is looking) and proceeding to tear it up.  If you can destroy it before getting tossed outside, you win.  If you lose the cardboard or the paper to one of the bald apes you live with, pee on the bathmat to get even.  You win again!

3.  “Lick All Your Butthair Off, Just Like You Do Every Winter”–The weather has been so mild that the tiny cat really got a late start this year on the Lick All Your Butthair Off Season, but she’s ready now, and making up for lost time.  I can’t figure out what about this game is so compelling, but she seems very proud of the results.  I think the rules are clear enough from the title of the game.

4.  “Stomp the Cat”–This is one of those games that seems like it’s going to go poorly for the stompee, but ends up with the stomper bleeding (just as a warning to those of you who might be foolish enough to want to play this game at home).  If I can’t dissuade you, what you do is wait for a cat to enter the room and then pounce very near it, pounding your front paws as close to the cat as you think you can come without getting yelled at by one of the bald apes who act as the referees in the game.  If you actually hit the cat, you win.  Unless the cat gets really pissed off and smacks you back right on the paw and leaves you bleeding, then you kind of lose, except that you can get a lot of sympathy from the referee who didn’t see what happened, which means cuddling on the couch, so, you win that way, too.

5.  “Lose the Money Your Parents Gave You For Christmas”–This game sucks so much, I’m not sure why anyone would want to play it, and yet, here I am in the midst of a rousing round of it.  It’s got to be here in the house some place and I suspect that it’s probably less than three feet away from me as I type, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.  And I need it for new bras!  How is the boob freckle supposed to maintain its mysterious sway over you all if I don’t have good bras to showcase it?

Pleasure and the enthusiastic yes

Aw, damn, now you guys have me all overthinking who I link to and why.  Does Amanda at Pandagon really need me to link to her? Does linking to her legitimize some notion of a hierarchy of feminist bloggers–some of whom set the conversation that the rest of us take up?  And should I just link to what I want or is it necessary for me to add forty-seven caveats and three big disclaimers just for the sake of clarity?

Ha, it tickles me that you have me mulling over questions like this.  But I think I’m just going to mull, since I’m in no mental state to really think it through or make any grand pronouncements (though, if I can get some real sleep tonight, maybe tomorrow…).

But I did want to point out that Amanda has an excellent post that gets at, from another direction, one of my favorite topics, which is the importance of pleasure as a feminist goal and touchstone as we set further goals.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we just cannot underestimate the importance of pleasure as a guiding force.

What do we want?  Justice, equality, freedom, all that stuff.


Because it feels good.

Why are we so loathe to say that?  Somehow it’s okay to have as your goal the alleviation of suffering.  But I don’t want to just alleviate suffering; I want to lessen or eliminate the causes of suffering.  I want to feel good.  I want you to feel good.

I don’t just want to alleviate suffering.  I want to replace suffering with pleasure.

In order to do that, I have to know, in my soul, that I am worthy of having pleasure and that I have a right to expect it.

Amanda rightly notes that a lot of us have not yet let go of that old paradigm which “was supposed to work roughly like this—women trade sex, housework, fidelity, and child-rearing to a husband-boss who pays her by taking care of her and being faithful.”

And because, in the back of our minds, we still see sex as an important tool of negotiation between two unequal parties, this notion that sex is pleasurable and for pleasure and that consent, therefore, ought not to be the absence of a sufficiently “no”-like no, but the presence of an enthusiastic yes, is pretty damn hard for people to wrap their heads around.

Amanda again:  “The notion that sexual relationships could be built on desire and enthusiasm from both parties instead of a series of trade-offs between someone with power and someone without is more radical than I realize a lot of the time.”

True enough.  But it’s an important point, which is why I bring it up here again.

The Red Beard

I have never had a nickname, well, except B., which isn’t so much a nickname as a nick-letter. But no one looks at me and calls me Bubba or Stumpy or Crackerjack or Pooky or Martin Amis or whatever. I guess I just look like I have an adequate number of names to call me.

The Butcher, on the other hand, is sometimes called Trab or Wemoholotrab* or the Butcher or the Baby.

And now? Now the Butcher has the most fabulous red sideburns. And he could, if he wanted, have a great big red beard. It’s pretty funny because his head hair is brown and yet, his facial hair is red, red, red. So, if he wanted, he could pick up one pirate name or another.

I see that Barbarossa means ‘red beard.’ The Butcher Barbarossa would be a great pirate name, too!

*Ha, it just occurred to me that that’s not right, but sounds cool.

I should just take it as a sign that it’d be okay if I went to bed early.

Random Things–The Sleeping Like Shit Edition

–I am sleeping like shit.  I’m tired in the day and wake up repeatedly through the night.  Last night was the first night in ages I’ve had three hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Unfortunately for the dog, those three hours came between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., so she did not get a walk.  This would not be so bad, except that I suspect my brain is so desperate to dream that I may be having waking dreams.  I’m giving it until after the holidays and if it doesn’t clear up, I’m going to the doctor.

–Lauren over at Faux Real is getting married.  I find weddings to be recklessly optimistic and utterly charming, no matter how terrible.  I know there are a lot of folks who think that no one should get married until everyone can, but I don’t think that’s effective hostage holding.  We should all follow our hearts and demand the right for others to follow theirs.

–When the Recovering Baptist cleaned my bathroom, we discovered that the only thing holding together the linoleum in my bathroom was the dirt.  Now it’s chipping away in places, showing the plywood underneath.  Will I forever only be able to afford to live in places with terrible bathrooms?

I had a dream that the Professor was helping me shop for houses and we looked at a place that had tile so beautiful throughout the house that the tile alone cost more than what I could get a mortgage for.

–I keep hearing these rumors about an economist at Vanderbilt who is doing a study on how many poor people there are in America, except that he wants to figure out not how many people are objectively poor, but how many people are barely getting by, regardless of income.  There’s some thought that most of us, in most income ranges, are trying to scrape by on the $100-200 a month that’s not going to rent/housepayments, car payments, and bills. I’ll be curious to see if that’s true.

We Go Bowling; My Mom Goes Dancing

You must imagine my mom, standing in the glare of the bowling alley’s lights, her slight shoulders sagging under the weight of a ball she’s not quite happy with, her pants not quite reaching the top of her Christmas socks.  She shuffles to the dotted line, looks back, and grins like she’s about to do something entirely foolish.

And then she lifts the ball in front of her, takes three surprisingly graceful steps towards the line and then she brings her arm back, a pause, it comes forward and then the ball rolls off her fingers, down the lane, and right into the pins.  Over and over again.

What the fuck?

When did my mom learn to bowl?  How come she’s never come bowling with us before?  When, we ask her, was the last time she’s even been bowling?

"Oh, I went with my dad."

Her dad’s been dead decades.

My mom hits spare after spare after spare and, after each one, she bends her arms at the elbows, grins, and shakes her butt, much to my dad’s chagrin and the Butcher’s and my delight.

Straight from the Tiny Cat Pants Test Kitchen

It’s really too bad that the Tiny Cat Pants test kitchen is in California while I am in Tennessee, but I guess it goes to show that for all the convenience of the modern internet age, there are some drawbacks.

Still, Magniloquence has put together some recipes that she found here and sent me pictures of the results. Here we have the Diva’s spice cookies and Peg’s shrimp and corn chowder and a birthday cake (not that we had any particular birthday cake recipe here, but I couldn’t let it pass unnoticed that Mag had had one).




My Parents Stay at a Fancy Hotel

My parents are staying at the hotel the Butcher works at, because he got them a nice discount (which means they’ll only be spending one night with us!).  Aside from the few nights my dad spent out at the Opryland Monstrosity, this is the nicest hotel my parents have ever stayed at.

As you might imagine, they are unimpressed.  For one, there’s no complimentary breakfast.  For another, they’d have to pay to park and make some decision about whether to use the valets.  You’d think that deciding whether to use the valets or just parking would not be a monumental problem, but y’all, instead of making it at all, they’ve had the Butcher bring them over to the hotel every night, drive their van back here, and bring it over to them in the morning.

Which, come to think about it, is a lot like having the valets park your car, but for free and your car is much further away.

Today they wanted me to get up and come over and have breakfast at McDonald’s with them.  I politely declined.  I recommended instead they try Bread and Company.  Neither of them drink coffee, but they were very concerned that it was going to be one of those places that charges five dollars for a cup of coffee*.

But the best was when they checked in, there was a bottle of vodka and some cranberry juice behind one of the chairs and my dad, who doesn’t drink, called the Butcher and made him come over and get rid of it a.) so the maids wouldn’t get in trouble for not seeing it and b.) so that no one would assume that my parents were drinkers.

Heaven forbid!





*Y’all may recall that we met the Shill and Tiny in a Starbucks, which was my parents first, and only, trip to one of those and they are still outraged about how much everything costs.

Giving the Park the Chance to Work Its Healing Powers on Everyone

I took my parents to the park this morning to walk the walk Mrs. Wigglebottom and I walk to soothe our souls and wear out our bodies.

There were a few blue jays and some cardinals, but otherwise, it was pretty cold and quiet.

I don’t know if it worked or not.  We’ll have to see.

We aren’t going to the funeral.  I’m not sure why.  We were going to talk about going but we never did and now we’re not.

I’m almost done talking about this, I promise.  I just need to move through it and leave myself some record of having moved through it. 

Grieving is like being dumped in the middle of a lake with no rescue coming.  You’ve just got to keep moving, slowly at first, but there’s no other way.  That’s how you get through it.  You start to move in the direction you need to go, even if your heart isn’t in it, even if you can’t remember why you need to go there.  You just keep moving.

So, that’s what I’m doing.  Just moving.

I’m Left Twisting in the Wind

A lot of folks I read have been coming to the conclusion that now is the time to stop linking to “I Blame the Patriarchy.”  In a recent thread, a few readers descended into froathing-at-the-mouth trans…beyond phobia, but let’s call it transphobia because I don’t know of a word that properly gets at the level of seething hatred being expressed towards transgendered people.  There was some contention that we “real” women should never be forced to go to the bathroom with those “fake” women and then this bizarre claim that transgenderism is just a way for men to infiltrate and ruin everything about womanhood (If you’re curious, Belledame has some links and a really thought-provoking discussion over at her place about it).

I think the complaint most folks have is not just that people would dare express unpopular ideas, but that those ideas are never challenged or even discussed by Twisty, the site’s owner, and so one doesn’t know if she agrees with those ideas or not.  And folks who are not transphobic, I think, don’t mind commenting at a site where some commenters are transphobic, but don’t want to continue to comment at and support the discussion at a site where the writer might be transphobic and unwilling to discuss it, and since unwilling to discuss it, unwilling to change.

It’s an interesting discussion for me to follow and one that gives me a lot of pause.  I won’t delink to someone just because I disagree with their commenters, because I don’t believe a person ought to be held responsible for their readers.  We have a lot of cantankerous discussions here and people say things that piss other people off.  Hell, I say things that piss you off and you have said some shit that’s made me so angry I wanted a door to slam in your face.

But I have never once felt like these conversations weren’t incredible.  Sometimes very, very difficult, but incredible.

Still, there are costs.  People who aren’t into fighting or who don’t feel like backing up their every claim with fourteen different scholarly sources stay silent.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t hold Twisty accountable for what’s said in her comments because I don’t want to be held accountable for the things said in my comments.  Each person must, in the end, bare responsibility for her choices.

And I’m also unsure how it gets decided that so-and-so is an important feminist blogger.  And once one’s a big important feminist blogger, how it is decided what things you’re held accountable for.  I think we have a tendency (humans, not feminists) to make rules for how folks ought to behave and hold them to those rules, without ever informing folks of those rules or even discovering if they consent to being governed by them.

I think a lot of this goes back to trying to figure out how to wield power effectively.  For so long, we’ve been fed some bullshit line about how our power comes from our willing submission to men and that women who want to or attempt to wield real power are bitches who’ve overstepped some important boundary and who need to be put back in their place.

I think we’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that this is not the case, but we’re still stuck in this rut of an idea that “power” equals “power over”–power that rules the group, not power that protects and trains the group to protect itself against outside threats.  There’s strength that keeps others weak and strength that helps others be strong.

It’s a simple truth and one we should know and one we have to be told time and time again.  We have to constantly choose which kind of strong we’re going to be–the strong that relies on others being weak or the strong that helps others be strong as well.  One will be exchange and one will be change.  Which are we working for?

I don’t want power over Twisty.

I don’t want to be able to dictate how she runs her site or what she does there.  And shoot, if only for bringing the term “empowerful”  into people’s minds, she deserves some kind of award.

But I also don’t think that means that everything that happens at “I Blame the Patriarchy” is above reproach or beyond comment.

So, what recourse is left for a person who’s complained but doesn’t feel like their complaints have even been heard, let alone taken into consideration?  All you can do is delink, I guess.

I love Twisty because she’s wickedly funny and she makes me think about things I normally don’t think about in ways I normally don’t think about them.  I also understand the criticism that her comments become either a long series of folks telling her how brilliant she is or bizarre tangents, like the transphobic one, that are left unaddressed by the site’s proprietor.  And I often think that many of her commenters are not as smart as they think they are.  (But then again, who is?)

And I do feel like she’s very influential in introducing certain types of difficult critiques into the feminist blogosphere.

But yeah, I wonder.

Today, Twisty has a post about a comment the head of RAINN made about male rape victims:

When someone goes through it, the effects can be devastating, especially if you’re male.

She makes some snarky comment in the post title about how, if you’re a woman, you just kind of expect that it’s coming and then links to the news article in which Lynn Parrish was quoted.

But it seems to me implied in the above-quote and clear in the context of the article that Parrish is not talking about the rape itself, but the whole process of reporting a rape.  And it seems clear to me that reporting a rape can be devastating for anyone, but is especially difficult if you’re male.  How can that be controversial?

Being raped sucks and the process of reporting it and then prosecuting it is its own kind of hell.  We all know that.  But at least we acknowledge (however half-heartedly) that women get raped; we have victims’ advocates who are trained to help women through the process; there are support groups full of other women; there are whole and apparent networks of help that women can access.

To whom does a man turn?

And isn’t such turning to made more difficult by our cultural expectations of what being a man means?

And yet, the thread quickly turns into calls for writing RAINN in protest of Parrish’s comments, and worse, into mocking male rape victims.

There are a million useful feminist insights to be made about the fact that it’s harder for men to get through the whole “after rape” process, insights about our culture, about our narratives about manliness, about how rape functions as an act of violence that is intended to punish and ruin the victim in some way, and so on and so on.

“They don’t even have vaginas, so how can they really be raped?” is not one of them.

In fact, I find it so offensive that I feel like taking some action, but again, I can’t figure out what kind of action to take.

Merry Christmas!

The chicken noodle soup smells fantastic.  Hopefully folks will overlook the fact that I forgot to actually procure some noodles.  I’m going to throw in some macaroni and call it good.

The recalcitrant brother is doing laundry.

The Butcher is doing laundry.

I wish I could accurately describe how funny this is, listening to them fighting over the dryer.

I wonder what we’re going to do for lunch, too.  I didn’t really plan on anything.

Mom and Dad are on their way.  That should be fun.  We got them the weirdest, crappiest presents ever.  Not on purpose, but somehow we flaked.  Still, maybe the massive number of presents will outweigh their strangeness.

I hope all y’all are having a lovely day.

“And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe”

When the Butcher came home yesterday, he asked, “Were you crying on the phone when you told me about our cousin? Why would you cry for him?”

I was, but I denied it.

The Butcher has no love lost.  I don’t blame him.  The Butcher’s whole life, my cousin has been borrowing from death a few dollars at a time.  I remember, though, when he was young and healthy and strong, when he could grab the edge of my grandma’s porch roof and lift himself on two strong arms to take a look and see what balls or Frisbees were stuck up there.

He was not the oldest cousin, but he was the oldest male cousin, and in my family, that mattered.

Like the rest of us, he could sell anything.  He could make you feel special and noticed.  He made you feel like something, anything, was about to happen.

Those weren’t skills he developed in order to be a con artist; he was a good con artist because we all have those skills.

When my grandma died, he was in rehab yet again, and so none of us expected him at the funeral.  And yet, there he was, going from table to table at the dinner afterwards, asking the youngest cousins if he could borrow their car keys just for a second, just to go out and have some space to collect his head.

Bless their hearts, we didn’t warn them–because there are just some things you don’t talk about, don’t put it in writing, don’t say it out loud, just pretend like it’ll be different than how it is–and so each of them lost all the change in their cars.  To him.  He stole what he could find from his own family.

As if it would be enough.  Whatever paltry amount they had in their cars.

He was a great con artist.

It was hard on my uncle, the phone calls from some new pastor at some new church trying to talk my uncle into… well, into giving my cousin access to my family again, though the new pastors at the new churches didn’t know that.  They thought they were mending hearts, rebuilding bridges.  They took my cousin at his word and set out to fix the problems he told them he had.

Which were all lies, or half-lies, designed, of course, to give him one more shot at both the money to keep using and the hope that this time he really could clean up.

Jesus says that no one can serve two masters.

I’m certain my cousin died trying.  I think both things were true–that he desperately wanted to clean up and that he never had the least intention of cleaning up.  I think he didn’t like what using drugs was doing to his life, but he never fell out of love with doing them.  And I think he thought that there would be some way that he could find a way of continuing to do drug without them ruining his life.  I don’t think he ever gave up on that.

I am sitting here tonight thinking of a conversation I had with my dad a year or so ago.  He’d just talked to my cousin on the phone, my cousin had called him begging for money and my dad was so upset because he’d refused to give it to him.  Even though it was the right thing, the only thing, to do.

You hold out hope.

That’s the problem.

You hold out hope that this time it’s really him on the phone, really him standing before you really asking for help, and that the help he wants is the help he needs.  If all it takes is money, then let us find a way to throw money at you.

But it never is him, not really.  It’s the monster that needs fed, putting on the corpse of your loved one to tug at your heart one more time.  The wolf in boy’s skin.

I don’t know that we’ll go to the funeral.  It’s not just the weather or the distance or the time of year.

It’s the sound of handcuffs clicking into place against the Butcher’s wrists.  Or the muffled cry that sat in the back of our throats when the recalcitrant brother disappeared for six brimstoned weeks and we were certain, though we never spoke it out loud, that the oldest nephew’s family would find him dead some place and call us and tell us to come bring our boy home.

It’s the way, even now, I can’t look either of them in the eye very long, especially the recalcitrant brother.  If there’s something lupine and evil lurking there, I can’t bear to see it.

I would rather hold out my own foolish hope, that we are luckier, that we’ve escaped the full brunt of that family trait.

But all you can do is hope.  You can’t put any faith in it.  I don’t think.

Whitman, in my favorite poem, says, “I have said that the soul is not more than the body, / and I have said that the body is not more than the soul, / And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is, / And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral dressed in his shroud.”  A second later, he says, “And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe, / and I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”

On my best days, I read Whitman and just want to call someone up and speak him out loud to them; there’s such good truth in there. 

And there are other days, when I want to curl up next to him, his big white beard spread across us both, and ask him how an object as soft as each of us, as frail and fucked up and prone to messes, can be a hub for the wheel’d universe and not be crushed under the weight?

The Dirty Underbelly of Veganism

Yesterday was just weird.  We tried to improve it by going over to Kate O.’s birthday/Christmas/Chaunaka/Solstice/etc. party.

There were carollers and mulled apple cider and Chris and Amanda and Scott and the Butcher in his funky jacket and it was such a nice time, as opposed to the sadness of the rest of the day, that I just finally felt like I could relax and that things would be okay, which meant that I was falling asleep on the couch by about 10 o’clock.

Sorry, Kate!

Oh, but I learned two interesting tid-bits of information.

1.  Being vegan did not stop Kate from eating a Labrador.  Granted, it was a Labrador cookie, but still.  It’s a wicked side to veganism that I had been unaware of.

2.  Our friend, Scott, claims to have a three-foot penis, which lead to a very sad conversation about how hard it is to find a girl with a three-foot vagina.

I wonder if Kate could write Scott a song called “The Three-Foot Penis Blue”?

Anyway, I’m up early trying to convince the recalcitrant brother to go sleep in the Butcher’s room, because Plimco and Dr. J should be here shortly, but instead he wants to chat about coffee and our cousin and whether we can get up there for the funeral.

But Plimco and Dr. J!  And I made little hats for toes!

Unplanned Things Happening Today

1.  Mrs. Wigglebottom is getting a bath.  She smells.

2.  I’m cleaning the tub again (because the dog is getting a bath).

3.  The recalcitrant brother is coming.

4.  I’m wrapping presents (so that the recalcitrant brother doesn’t see what he’s getting).

Crazy day, anyway.  Off to the park.

He Died How He Lived

My cousin, who you may recall, had just come out of a year-long substance abuse program at Thanksgiving and got a big write-up in the paper which pissed me off to no end, did what you’d expect last night.

He overdosed and died, leaving his body for his daughter to find.

I feel kind of like a wreck about this.  Not for him.  Who didn’t see this coming?

But for my uncle, who took him in and raised him like a son and who supported every half-assed attempt he made to get clean. 

And for my mom and dad, who kept him every summer from the time they were married until the recalcitrant brother was born and who loved him.

And for his brother and sisters.  I cannot imagine the pain of losing one of my brothers.  It’d be like losing a chunk of my heart.

But especially for his kids.  Especially for his daughter, who had to find him like that. And for whom Christmas time will always be when their dad killed himself and they had to find him.

They deserved better than that.

Peg’s Shrimp Corn Chowder

Spicy Shrimp Chowder

7 cups homemade or canned vegetable broth (If I don’t have homemade, I use the Better Than Bouillon concentrated base)

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells reserved (I cut the shrimp in half)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled & diced

3 ribs celery, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 to 1 finely minced jalapeno, or to taste

1 tablespoon ground coriander (can be omitted if you don’t have it)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 tsp. cayenne (or substitute a few dashes of hot sauce)

Salt (sea or kosher) & freshly ground black pepper (hold off a bit on the salt if you are using a commercial broth)

2 medium baking potatoes, peeled & diced fairly small

5 plum tomatoes diced (in the winter I use grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters)

1 10 oz. package frozen corn, or 1 11 oz. can, drained

1 cup cream or half-and-half (I use fat-free half-and half)

Chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Heat broth to simmer in a large saucepan. Add shrimp shells (reserve shrimp in fridge); simmer 10-15 minutes.

2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot; add onion, carrots, celery, jalapeno and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. (You want your vegetables in about a medium dice, not too big.) Add vegetable broth, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and heat to a boil. Add potatoes, tomatoes and corn. Reduce to a slow simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.

3. Transfer a third of the vegetables to a food processor or blender, puree. (I just leave it in the pot and use an immersion blender for 10-15 seconds. Leave most of it slightly chunky; you want some texture.) Return puree to pan, add half-and-half and shrimp. Cook over low heat until the shrimp just turn pink, about 1 minute. Do not boil or shrimp will turn tough.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve in the biggest, prettiest bowls you have.

Yields 10 main-course servings. (The original calorie count from the paper has a serving at only 175 calories, and that is using cream, so using the fat-free half-and-half makes it come in at even less! Or use half 1/2 & 1/2 and a bit of real cream, whatever.)    

I got the original recipe from the Chicago Tribune about 7 years ago, and have adapted it a bit over the years to this version. I serve it with a pinot grigio (a sauvignon blanc would go well too) and some good crusty bread.


Dang, Peg, that sounds delicious.  Thanks.

Feed My Family

I’m thinking of feeding my family a hearty chicken noodle soup as our Christmas dinner.

I’ve got a recipe but it seems to consist solely of chicken, carrots, onions, and noodles.

But I’m open to better suggestions.

The Recovering Baptist Saves the Day!

The Recovering Baptist came over and cleaned my bathroom, swept my steps and my landing, and somehow made cleaning the kitchen not suck so bad.

She is magic.

It was amazing. I think she really likes to do that stuff.  And it looks good and it smells good.

I did my first bed interview with her, which turned out pretty funny, but not in the on-purpose way.  The dog insisted on laying between us like a piece of wood between unmarried settlers.

If I can get it uploaded to YouTube, I’ll post it tonight.  We discuss the Refugee Baptist and Sista Smiff, so good times.  Also, you’ll see the dog lick the cat, which is certainly something I’d never seen before.

Next, I hope to get Miss Plimco.  And maybe, someday, Blake, with his great big cute eyes.

And his cold conservative heart.

I tease.

I bet I could talk B-Dub into it, though, and boy do I have some questions for him.