Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Howardisms Part Two

To read the prequel to this, please see my previous blog, He's Not Proud, He's My Brother.

I’d hire a maid for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Turn my head when you’re weighed for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d eat something you made for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
I’d get a cat spayed for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Say you looked good in suede for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Listen to your tirade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)

By howard on Prove Your Love by Doing Something Meaningful to a... on 3/5/11

My brother and me (after I forgot to put sunscreen on my chest at the beach)

When you picture a "stereotypical cat lady", what do you see? A grandmotherly type, fat and frumpy, bra less perhaps, softly curled gray hair and a bit daft in the head. Let me see now. You are a grandmother. Your hair is curly and there are few gray hairs there. You have the potential to be a full-fledged cat lady. It's good to have goals.

By howard on Cat Ladies on 2/23/11

A woman wears her FMP's*, looks good, her rear sticks out, she can't walk very fast and her feet hurt, but the men come a running just like a tom cat. It sounds very romantic. In retrospect, I am sure Jay now realizes one of the early signs that you would become a cat breeder.

By howard on Thanksgiving Day Kittens on 12/8/10

My kids and husband are well-trained in reluctant cat holding. The cat is reluctant, or the kids and husband are reluctant? My guess is all of the above. For cats such as Bubba, the less brave may find that wrapping the cat in a towel or blanket to contain him may be a safer solution. Or dressing him stylishly as in your picture. Of course, with a name like Bubba, I would expect a nice, cold one with BBQ brisket would probably calm him down better than a towel.
By howard on Paws and Claws Part Two on 10/20/10

Clean the chimney!
Clean the chimney, step in time
Clean the chimney, step in time
Never need a reason, Never need a rhyme
Clean the chimney, step in time

Chop the woodpile!
Chop the woodpile, step in time
Chop the woodpile, step in time
Never need a reason, Never need a rhyme
Chop the woodpile, step in time

Write a story! Write a story, step in time
Write a story, step in time
Never need a reason, Never need a rhyme
Write a story, step in time

Admit you’re a grandma!
Admit you’re a grandma, step in time
Admit you’re a grandma, step in time
Never need a reason, Never need a rhyme
Admit you’re a grandma, step in time

By howard on The Mysterious Sandcastle on 10/5/10

…and my perpetually red, runny nose. Add that image to a girl who already had enormous buck teeth and you have a little Sharon. Let’s not forget little Sharon’s winning personality. A few tips for dealing with allergies I've learned over the years rather than moving to Arizona and living a life of misery without animals: Hey! My move to Arizona had nothing to do with allergies. Not only that but we have 2 vicious, man-eating parakeets and a cute, little, man-eating hamster living with us in Arizona.

By howard on Allergic to Cats? on 9/14/10

Given that Boom Boom had gotten up to 18 pounds, about a 5-pound gain, I was slightly disappointed, but have learned that just because a cat has lots of room for babies doesn't mean she'll fill up that space. This is not surprising. Studies have shown that cats make very poor home decorators.

By howard on Finn the Bonus Boy on 8/19/10

With apologies to John Denver: It'd hold three kids 'n' one hound dog and a chicken we stole from the pen Didn't get much sleep but we had a lot of fun in Jay's grandkids' tent

By howard on Camping 101 - Stay In The House on 7/8/10

Eek! Under all that fur Sassy is naked! I'm going to have to hide this blog from the kids! "Maybe if you shave yourself Mom, you won't look as fat either." Have you stopped shaving? If so, do you use one of those seam rippers to get rid of your mats? It would allow you to feel closer to your cats to have that shared experience.

By howard on Fat and Sassy No More on 7/6/10

I threatened the chickens with the fryer for slacking off, but they just laughed at me. This surly behavior is the reason why chickens don't get animal agents for media exposure like the cats do. Is it any wonder KFC used Colonel Sanders as their spokesman instead of a chicken? I had also intended to dispute the false statement made on Animal Planet that if a cat has an "M" on its forehead, it's a Maine Coon, but I forgot in my nervousness. There is a whole branch of Animal Planet-endorsed cat vendors selling cats as Maine Coons, after applying an "M" with a permanent marker to a feline forehead, that breathed a sigh of relief.

By howard on Kitty Spotlight on 6/14/10

What I notice is that when the chicken coop is in the sun, there are chickens outside. When the chicken coop is in the shade, there are no chickens outside. I attribute this phenomenon to these possible reasons:

a. Thanks to the shade, the chickens think it is night time all the time and are asleep.
b. The chickens are cool enough inside the coop to kick back and watch the finale of Lost on their big screen HGTV without sweating.
c. The chickens realize that they take better pictures without those awful shadows across their little chicken faces.
d. The chickens have become camera shy from being photographed so often for this Blog entry.
e. Green is a chicken's least favorite color. I know it is my least favorite color on chicken I eat, so why shouldn't it be for a chicken as well?

By howard on The Greening of Connecticut on 5/25/10

It's nice to see you have posted such a flattering picture of the birthday boy. He is rocking that bed head look. As for the recipe, the tradition involves cooking the cat with sprigs of thyme. That way, if you find the kitty being cooked you can rescue it just in thyme. Kelsey should be careful with her remarks though. It might kill her career as a chef. Beppe Bigazzi on the Italian cooking show La Prova del Cuoco, was dropped from the show after offering up a recipe for stewed cat.

By howard on Jay's Birthday Letter and a Recipe for Cat Stew on 5/17/10

As I sipped the plastic cup of champagne someone handed me, I looked at my handsome boy. I thought they gave the winner a bottle of milk. Was he jaded by all the attention? No, he humped his favorite blue fleece blanket then promptly laid down and fell asleep. He was probably exhausted from having to suck in his head to keep his ears aloft all day.

By howard on My Best Cat Show on 5/3/10

With names like Righty and Tighty, does this mean Lefty and Loosy will be among the names for the new chicks? I hope so. Then you could come visit the new chicks and say, "Loosy, I'm home!"

By howard on Eggprints on 3/23/10

Mother Nature hatches 50% boys whereas humans really only need about 10% to keep flock harmony and proper procreation going. The first time I read this I thought you were making some off-hand comment about the percentage of men who were necessary. However, allow me to be offended on behalf of male chickenkind.

By howard on Your Face on 3/15/10

Friday, February 24, 2012

He's Not Proud, He's My Brother

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I am the middle child from my parents’ first marriage, my birth sandwiched in-between my brother Paul and my sister Diana. We were raised as nerds with music lessons, good grades, braces, glasses, little athletic ability and the annoying tendency to turn everything we hear into a song (often from a Broadway musical).

Diana, Paul and me in 1979
My brother Paul, being two years older than I, led the way as the ultimate geek with his passion for comic books, Star Trek, high school musicals, marching band and stupid jokes. Paul studied books like 1001 Insults and Corny Jokes That Adolescents Repeat Until You Want to Strangle Them. One of Paul’s standard jokes is/was his play on words. For example, when he was about eleven he was asked to pour milk in the glasses in preparation for the family meal, he took off his Ernie Douglas-style glasses, set them on the dinner table with the lenses face down, and you guess it, poured milk in them.  Another favorite he never tired of was his response to a declaration.  If you said, "I'm hungry, " Paul invariably replied, "Hi Hungry.  I'm Paul." 

Paul is now a fifty-year-old family man living in Arizona. He has a good job as a computer programmer (of course), sings in the church choir and still collects comic books. Although Paul is an intellectual, he has kept his adolescent sense of humor and ability to act stupid without embarrassment.

Paul’s alter ego when he comments on my blog is “Howard”, a reference to Howard the Duck, some comic book character that I’m sure he’d be glad to expound upon.  When I first started writing this blog in 2009, I didn’t realize that Howard was my brother. I have a friend named Howard and assumed it was him when I read the following comment on my blog:

I was a teenager in the eighties. Being born in 1963 means you would turn 13 in 1976 and you would turn 20 (end of teenagery) in 1983. 3 of your 7 teenaged years were in the 1970s. However, your fashion understanding is not incorrect. The trend toward more conservative dress began in the late 1970s and continued to the mid-1980s, when the miniskirt reappeared.

By howard on Teenagers on 4/28/09

For the Howard I knew, I thought it kind of rude of him to correct me on my blog. So I clicked on the link for his name. It led to Howard Bunt’s Blog with a URL of Howtheduck.com http://howtheduck.blogspot.com/ Suddenly, a little bell went off in my head (ding, ding, ding!); Howard was really Paul! I knew my brother wrote a blog, but he had been very secretive about what it was called. I assumed that either he was not one to brag about himself or it was something pornographic.

So Dear Reader, I hope that when you read my blogs, you also read Howard’s comments. I admit, I will often throw in something intended to elicit a response from my brother. He still makes me laugh and I love to get comments on my blog (hint, hint). I recently started looking back over all the blog comments and thought selective words from Howard might be entertaining and worthy of its own blog post. I may have to do this in more than one part as I could only edit it down to seven pages of Howardisms. The links are there for reference if you’d like to read the whole blog for context. My words are in italics, Howard’s are not. I’ve started these from the most recent and moved backward.

Leader of the flock
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let's ask her.
Millie, is that Aslan's ring you're wearing?
Gee, it must be great egging with him.
Is he picking you up after coop today?
By the way, where'd you meet him?
I met him at the poultry show.
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That's when I fell for (the leader of the flock)
My folks were always putting him down (down, down)
They said he came from Eastern States Expositi-own (whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the Big E?)
They told me he was big
But I knew he liked to dig
That's why I fell for (the leader of the flock)

By howard on Size Does Matter - If You're a Chicken on 1/30/12

But life is not all about me; it’s really about the cats. Don't let the chickens hear you say that. They would be traumatized. I'm sure Jay already knows. ...in return I’ll try harder to keep your litter box clean on a regular basis. With as many cats as you have in your house, is this like a daily cleaning? Or more often than that? Speaking of diet, I don’t put food out on the counter just for you. Kindly refrain from licking the butter or stealing food as if I won’t notice. I don’t eat your food so don’t eat mine. Now here is advice for the whole family, not just the cats.

By howard on New Year’s Resolutions…for the Cats on 1/6/12

Kelsey, who normally spends most of her time in her room on her laptop pretending to be annoyed with all things parental, learned to come in our room after family game time and keep us up late with conversation and flatulent humor. I am suddenly filled with family pride to see the great traditions have made it into the younger generation.

By howard on Reflections on Hurricane Irene - Like Camping with... on 9/30/11

I think the problem was the Punnett Squares. Monohybrid and Dihybrid crosses are a lot sexier.

By howard on Educating the Educators on 7/6/11

She's too old to try to place now, but I have since promised myself that all future retiring queens will be placed into other homes. If only everyone had this practice. They have had such trouble with that in England and in the Netherlands. Oh wait! You're talking about cats. Sorry!

By howard on Sassy - Ten Years Later on 4/18/11

To be continued...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Try It! You'll Like It!

Growing up in the rural mountains of North Carolina, we ate Southern-style meals and had rules for eating. No, we didn’t have ‘possum, chittlins or pickled pig feet, so you can get those negative stereotypes out of your head right now. We did have vegetables that were overcooked, seasoned with fatback and lots of salt. Because my grandfather and my mother were into gardening, most of our one acre of downhill backyard was tilled, planted, weeded and harvested. Fresh veggies like kale, collard greens, tomatoes and rhubarb were featured on the dinner table, no matter how disgusting they appeared to the finicky eyes of my younger sister and me.

When my grandparents ate Sunday dinner with us, we heard a lot of comments like, "Eat your vegetables. They’re home grown, fresh from the garden," "Much better than store-bought" and my personal favorite, "Sharon, eat the stewed tomatoes or you will hurt Granddaddy’s feelings.” Stewed tomatoes was one of our grandfather’s specialty dishes. "It looks like vomit," I whined, wishing the dog was allowed in the house so I could slip him my food under the table.

My mother required that we at least try everything on the table, no matter how repulsive we found it. I would take a small bite of collards or some such green thing, make a face and swallow. Sometimes I’d hide the food in my napkin or under my plate. My sister and I were skinny little kids. Our older brother was what you’d call a “good little eater” and not so little.

I remember one week it seemed like Mom served cauliflower every night. Regular broccoli was gross enough, but WHITE broccoli had to be a mutation of some sort. Still, I tried it with chocolate pudding being the reward for my compliance. Oh, the inhumanity of my pain and suffering just to earn dessert!

The next evening, there it was again. Was there any wonder why there was cauliflower left over? I dutifully took a bite and went on to my applesauce chaser.

Third night, I realized I was actually eating cauliflower and it wasn’t so bad. I looked at Mom suspiciously. Did she do this on purpose? Serving a vile vegetable so often that my taste buds were numb to the intrusion? Or maybe she was right; some foods just need to be given a chance without consideration of how they appear.

Now that I cook for a finicky child of my own, as well as my husband’s grandchildren when they visit, I find myself quoting my mother. “Kelsey, if you don’t eat your food, you’ll hurt my feelings.” Like a typical teenager, hurting her mother’s feelings is a constant game. Score one for the kid.

The same teenager was also diagnosed last summer with Celiac Disease, an auto-immune disorder of the small intestine that reacts to gluten, a product naturally found in wheat, barley, rye and many prepared foods. The challenge of creating meals that will not only be gluten free, but also appealing to Kelsey, is daunting. Kelsey, like her mother, already wouldn’t eat red meat even before being diagnosed with Celiac. She also doesn’t like any seafood. That leaves us with chicken. Ironic that we have a flock of 15 backyard chickens as pets.

Although it’s gotten easier for me to “de-gluten” any recipe, I will typically spend an hour-and-a-half preparing our dinner from scratch to ensure that it’s not contaminated with gluten from prepared products. My husband Jay and I usually love the food (we are no longer skinny kids) and Kelsey often turns her overly critical little nose up, claiming to be full. That’s when I pull out the “You’ll hurt my feelings” and “Take a least one bite” quotes.

The other night we had Jay’s grandchildren, Amanda and Ben, stay over. Amanda is ten, polite, and a good little eater. Ben is seven, outspoken, and picky about his food. I planned to use the only meat I had left in the fridge, two packages of ground turkey, to make naturally gluten free Shephard’s pie for supper. I had already used up the russet potatoes earlier in the week, but decided that I should try it with the sweet potatoes I had sitting around. Why not make a sweet Shephard’s Pie?

I served the Shephard’s Pie with the orange-colored mashed potatoes on top. Kelsey and Ben were pretty vocal with their disapproval when they saw it. Kelsey claims she hates sweet potatoes even though I’ve seen her eat them many times. The only reason she likes Shephard’s Pie is the mashed potatoes on top, she whined. She was no longer hungry. Ben loudly claimed that it looked gross. Actually, since Ben has a hard time pronouncing his R’s, it was “gwoss.” He was twice denied his demands for a hotdog substitute. Amanda stared and said nothing.

Jay chastised Ben for being so rude and I lamented about how long I’d been cooking only to have people complain. In the end, they were all hungry and had to give it a try as I’d made nothing else for supper. Jay and I smiled at each other as each disbeliever was converted with the first bite and cleaned their plates.

The kids prefer Shephard’s Pie with sweet potatoes now. Ben must have eaten five helpings by himself. Kelsey decided she was hungry enough to take thirds. Amanda complimented me on the meal. Like I said, Amanda is the polite one of the group. The orange Shephard’s Pie was a huge hit.

This one is for you, Mom.

Me with my sister, mother and brother in 1979