On the Ninth Day of Christmas

You know it’s getting cold when I start fantasizing about food. I become a glutton of comfort, googling recipes for soups and chili and (as I said in my last post) lasagna. And this year, my new thing: brunch. Since I work nights and weekends, seemingly interminably, it occurred to me that brunch might be the better way to host and exorcise my cooking demons. Bonus: you’re practically required to drink before 5pm when you have brunch.

“Brunch has been a Thing for ten years,” Joey told me from Brooklyn when I declared my 2013: Year of the Brunch intentions via Facebook message to the Ohio 5. I could almost hear his boredom. I could almost hear his eyes rolling. Joey is one of those people who is always snapping pictures of his food and posting them on social media. Which I only do very occasionally.

“I know it’s been ah Thing,” I told him. “But this year it’s my Thing. And don’t start telling me how passe’ I am, or it’s no brunch for you!”

I am collecting recipes from all over the place… instructions for strata (the plural of which, I’ve decided, should be “strata” – if it isn’t already), frittata (which is just fun to say), quiche, and my sub-obsession: savory cheesecake. I had a slice of one on the Disney cruise a year and a half ago, and zowee, was it unexpectedly delicious. Rock shrimp and caramelized onion.

Also? There is virtually no difference between strata, frittata and quiche. Mostly the divisions come in crust vs. no crust and method of prep (frittata is commonly cooked on the stovetop before being transferred to the oven).

Saturday I’m having my brother-in-law’s cousin and her boyfriend for my first brunch. I think I’ve settled on a veggie & sausage frittata; clementine, fennel & arugula salad; and pecan shortbread bars for that. Plus the obligatory mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Today I shall go to my Happy Place grocery store, which is 30 minutes from the house, and I shall stock up on a bunch of stuff I need/want in order to cook as I wish. It’s been a little while since I did this, indulged in a full day’s cooking (not baking). The plan for today is French onion soup, which takes four hours, and maybe one of the lasagna recipes. In between, I’ll be cleaning like crazy, because it’s been a while since I did that, too. And I just might have some classical music playing throughout.

You may think I’m a sucker for indulging my senses. You’d probably be right. But if they weren’t meant to be satisfied, we wouldn’t have them. The poor cavemen didn’t know what they were missing. Fortunately, we have evolved.

Question: do I have to get out of my warm, cozy lounging-around clothes to go to the store?

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

New Year’s Day is the eighth day of Christmas. Last year, against my better judgment, I made a list of things I had learned in 2011. This year, probably also against my better judgment, I’m making a list of things I’d like to learn in 2013. Not resolutions. Note: NOT resolutions. Just some stuff I’d like to know better at the end of 2013 than I do at the beginning of it.

For example, I would like to learn:

-How to make a really, truly good lasagna

-More arias by Puccini

-How to get paint out of carpet

-My own worth

-More about history

-How to bette recognize and truly let go of lost causes

-How to be a more effective and prolific advocate for crime victims

-How to paint the nails on my right hand as well as I paint the nails on my left hand

-How to let other people see me vulnerable (in non-blog form)

-What it means to be truly loved

-How to get red wine splatter off a white ceiling without repainting the whole damned thing

-What yet another country looks like, in person

-Where I left my step stool (seriously, how do you lose a step stool?)

-More about my new community and who lives in it

-What it would take to fix Congress… because just voting everyone out is both unrealistic and also probably actually a really, really bad idea

-To be more open to new things

-A new, really good soup recipe

-How to clean my house the way Mary Poppins cleaned Jane and Michael Banks’ room

-A magic trick that makes laundry fold itself

-To be more productive and feel more purposed

-Better ways to get and keep my back healthier

-More grace

-When to keep my mouth shut

-More about where I came from

Happy New Year, my very valued blog friends and readers. What would you like to learn in 2013?

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas, Congress surprised absolutely no one and managed to still work a win-win.

It was late afternoon when word came that the House would not vote on any deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The Senate went ahead with a vote in the wee hours of 2013. I don’t remember the movie well enough to know whether that makes the House Thelma or Louise, but what I do know is this: that move (or lack thereof) was totally expected. And not really because they wanted to stand their supposed high-ground. It was more because of posturing.

I know. It’s shocking.

Here’s the thing: by waiting to vote, the Republicans in the House, and particularly those who signed some sort of (tax-free!) soul-selling deal to Grover Norquist (who says it’s to the American people, but whatever), can remain avowed not to vote in favor of a tax increase. If the deal the Senate reached late last night contains tax increases, the House Republicans can vote on a re-jiggered deal that reduces the percentage by which those taxes are raised… thereby…

wait for it…

voting to…

… are you ready?

…”cut” taxes.

Semantics, really, but important ones to politicians. In the end, the Democrats will still get some of the new revenues they want, but the Republicans can still say they never voted to hike taxes. Even though essentially they will be voting to do so… but less. They can get away with the distinction because they would not have voted to avert the fiscal cliff by the deadline, thereby “officially” hiking taxes before they voted to retroactively reduce them.

Irritating, right? When there was so much at stake? But I think everyone used the term “fiscal cliff” exactly the way I just did: with quotation marks around it. These kinds of deadlines are always fungible, and almost never as dire as they’re built up to be. Congress made the law that the across-the-board spending cuts would trigger automatically to try to force themselves to do something. But anyone who’s been on a diet knows what that means. Nothing, in the end. You can tell yourself that if you eat a piece of chocolate, you have to work out for an extra half-hour, but will it really make a difference if you don’t? Probably not. Congress knew that all along. And even if they did make a deal well before the deadline, it was never fated to be anything so substantial that it would solve the problems we face financially.

Why is that? Because they’re awfully hard to solve. Back to the diet analogy: if you weigh 1,000 pounds, trying to get down to 200 seems pretty well impossible, doesn’t it? So you lose 20 and see how it goes.

Welcome to 2013.

The debate isn’t going to go away.  You’re going to keep hearing about the spending problems, the debt ceiling, the deficit and more. And it’s only partly because Congress isn’t willing to do the hard things required to get things seriously back on track. The other part is that getting seriously back on track is going to hurt. Everyone. A lot. And until we as the American people are willing to make some serious sacrifice – in Social Security, in Medicare, and in a lot of other areas – yes, including the incredibly bloated defense budget that has been a sacred cow for far too long – we’re going to keep peering over that cliff.

Happy New Year. Same as the Old Year. At least as far as federal funds are concerned.