I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

7/30/2005

Associations

I have been limping for two days because of an slight injury to the joint of my left big toe. It aches constantly, but it really becomes painful when I walk and of course, I limp to keep my weight off it. I've noticed that the limp is different when the toe is injured, than if it were any other part of the foot. I tend to list inward and I have to work consciously to maintain balance. The oddness of my walk reminded me of something that I already knew and it kept working around in my mind until I was able to remember what was in there.

In the book of Judges in the Bible, there is a story of the defeat of a king of the Canaanites and the Perizzites by Judah and Simeon. The king's army was defeated and then verse 6 and 7 go like this--

But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died. Judges 1:6-7

When I first read this years ago, I thought it was a peculiar punishment for an enemy and being me, I had to find out why they did it. As it turns out, it was a logical, if crude, way of keeping your enemies from being able to fight again.
These were days of spears and arrows, of knives and axes and without a thumb, a man couldn't effectively use any of these things. But what my mind had been trying to remember was the part about the toes. The big toes were cut off because without them, a human being can't run or even walk very fast. I am having to work to just keep my balance. So to cut off the thumbs and big toes off of your enemies was a way of being certain that they won't fight against you again. In Chp 26, Book II of Montaigne's Essays, he also makes mention that Athenians used the tactic of cutting off thumbs of other mariners so they couldn't sail or use oars. The Romans exempted men from fighting who didn't have thumbs because they couldn't use weapons.


So once I was able to remember this , the nagging in my mind stopped. The information itself is useless, unless I end up in a position of having to make sure my enemies can't run or use a spear anymore, but I was pleased that I could make the connection between my peculiar limp and the somewhat trivial information I learned years ago, that what I had put into memory was still there and accessible with only a moderate effort.

7/25/2005

Stating the Obvious

I was doing some research on "appropriate use of force", when I came upon this gem--
Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet-Chinese proverb
After I quit laughing, I thought about this quote-- "We have now sunk to the depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." - George Orwell

Since the proverb is an old Chinese one, seems that although George gets the credit for verbalizing the thought, he was still a little behind the curve on this one.

7/24/2005

Rosemary Foccacia Bread

A favorite of my family is Rosemary Foccacia Bread. We have it most often in the fall and winter when we eat a lot of stews and soups. It is also good with spaghetti. I'm fortunate in that a member of my church gave me a small rosemary plant about seven years ago and it has thrived so well that there are now 5 large bushes in my yard. It is evergreen year round, so I always have fresh rosemary available.

Rosemary Foccacia Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pillsbury Pizza Crust (found in the same area as the refrigerated canned biscuits)
Olive oil
Salt
Fresh chopped rosemary or dried rosemary
Parmesan cheese

Coat a 9x13 pan with olive oil and drain excess well. Open the pizza crust, unroll, and with oiled hands, press the dough into the pan. With your fingertips, make indentations all over the dough. Lightly salt the entire piece of dough, sprinkle the chopped rosemary and Parmesan cheese over the dough and press down just firmly enough to anchor the rosemary into the dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, checking the bottom at ten minutes. The bottom should be a crisp golden brown. Use a pizza cutter and cut into squares. Best served warm. The smell is incredible.

Another option is to use basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Salt the dough, add chopped basil and sliced tomatoes, sprinkle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and cook for 10 minutes. Add grated mozzarella cheese and cook for another two minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.

The way it is---

Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the absence of a threat, of danger.

As long as the threat or danger exists, there is no real peace. There is only the calm before the storm.

7/23/2005

Mediocrity

There have been administrative changes in certain offices around the courthouse in the last six months. Because of these changes, I have become aware of a facet of human nature I haven't given much thought to before. Though the same thing is going on in more than one office, I'm going to focus on one office in particular.

This particular office has five different positions and about 30 people working in those positions. Based on my past experience with them, the people who worked there had a higher level of competency than you would generally expect to find in a government office. Which, of course, makes it a real pleasure to do business with them.


The administrative change I refer to is a new boss, who started in the office about six months ago. I had to work with this particular person before they gained the position. On a scale of 1-10 for competency, I would, if I were inclined to be generous, give them a 5 or 5.5, but no more. This person has a tendency to be careless with paperwork, to be disinclined to listen to anything they don't want to hear, to be less than diligent about showing up on time, given to making excuses as to why they didn't accomplish what they should have, taking all the credit if something goes well and none of the responsibility if something goes wrong and worst of all, if something goes wrong, it is always someone else's fault and they have no problem publicly casting whatever blame there is on someone else. They have almost no organizational skills and no real concept of how this particular office operates or the operational needs involved in the efficient administration of the office.

Since taking charge of the office, thirteen people have found new jobs elsewhere or have been fired. Twelve of them were either exceptional or very good at their jobs. Of the remaining employees, there are perhaps six of them whom I would consider to be at that level. The rest are okay or barely competent. This person has filled eight of the empty positions with people whom I would consider barely competent to do the work, with one notable exception.

So from an office where two-thirds of the staff could be considered very good at their jobs, it has devolved into an office where less than one-quarter of the staff is capable of doing consistent quality work. Considering how inter-connected the court system is, if one office isn't functioning well, the negative effect spreads itself around, so of course, my job has become correspondingly difficult.

Seeing this develop over these months, I have become aware of this--
Mediocre people in positions of power don't seem to want quality, competent people working for them. They don't seem to be able to handle having anyone around them who rises above their own level of mediocrity. And they make concerted efforts to get rid of competent people one way or another and will only replace them with people who are as inefficient as themselves.

It is disheartening to see a well-run, efficient organization slowly grind down to an office that is barely functional. Which brings to mind this adage---
Cream rises to the top; but then, so does pond scum. And pond scum tends to choke out every good thing below it. I have no choice but to watch it happen and deal with the outcome as best I can.

7/20/2005

Another look at it--

The stories on the terrorist bombings in London are beginning to fade off the news . A great many of the stories have made mention of how staunchly the Brits are handling themselves in spite of the attempt to spread fear and panic. People still going about their business, taking the tube and generally living their lives in defiance of those who want to terrorize them. Reporters and newscasters speak with admiration of British insouciance.

I agree that their behaviour has been more admirable than some other nations. But without wanting to take anything away from them, I would admit that my admiration level is only modest at best. I am waiting to see how they thoroughly they deal with terrorism in the long term.

I see four basic ways to react to terrorism:

Complicity is the first. I find it horrendous that there are nations and people that actively support and cooperate with those who murder for the sake of spreading fear. But it doesn't surprise me. Nations that support terrorism feel that there is an advantage of some sort or other to be gained. That's reality.

The second is appeasement. Complicity may be horrible, but I have no trouble understanding that there are various reasons why nations do it. But I find appeasement completely disgusting. How cowardly and venal it is to try to buy off vicious killers in the hope that they will leave you alone and go kill your neighbors instead.

The third is stoic acceptance. The attitude of "perhaps you can kill some of us, but you won't destroy our way of life" really is admirable, because terrorists do want to disrupt lives and spread fear and uncertainty. But I really don't see people who are willing to murder being so overcome with awe and respect by that attitude that they see the errors of their way and repent of their evil doings.

The fourth way--retribution. Not punishment, not vengeance, not retaliation, but capital letter Retribution. Make them pay. Extract a cost that is greater than anything that they gain from terrorist acts. Let future terrorists realize that there will always be a price to pay. Just for clarity's sake, retribution is not revenge. Revenge can be defined as payment for a slight or an insult. Retribution is the meting out of punishment for a crime or a wrong and is justly deserved based on the action done. Retribution requires careful thought, sometimes personal sacrifice, great effort and real strength of purpose.

Consider the four choices honestly, then decide which one will be truly effective. Retribution is the only one of the four choices that has any real possibility of stopping terrorism. It is the only functional choice. It is a willingness and an unshakeable determination to exact retribution that I personally find admirable. And I think it is the only thing that terrorists both understand and fear.

Out of the Past

[This was painful and difficult to write and as painful and difficult to post. But the weight of it on my heart is heavy and I need to put it into words.]

When I arrived for work Monday morning, I saw that there was a fax that had come in over the weekend. It was a conflict letter from an attorney listing the courts he had to appear in that day. As usual, I did a quick skim for the Judge's name to be sure it had been sent to the correct office. My judge's name wasn't on the conflict letter, so I looked more thoroughly to see which judge should have received it. But when I looked closer, I saw the name of one of the people he was representing. It was a name from the past. A name I would have preferred not to ever see again.

My father worked with this man at one time. He was actually my age, but he and my father were friends. My parents often went to dinner with him and his wife. They had two little girls.

My father came home from work one day about twenty years ago and told us that this man had been arrested. A little later, we found out the details. He had raped his five-year old daughter. This wasn't a situation where a disgruntled spouse made false accusations or was just trying to cause problems or gain an advantage. I know this, because there were pictures. Taken by his wife. She took pictures while her husband raped their five year old daughter.

As a parent, as a female, as a human being, I cannot begin to accept or understand. You're five and the two people you depend on the most, the people who are the very foundation of your existence, do something that destroys your innocence, your faith, your trust and your life. Unless someone has lived through it, can anyone know how frightening, how painful, how terrifying, how hopeless it must have been for her.

Think about what it would have been like for her right after it was over. How much physical pain was she in from having a grown man force entry into her body. Did her throat hurt from screaming? Were her eyes and face swollen from the tears she had to have cried? Did he hold her down and bruise her arms, her legs? And when they left her there after he finished, how could she sleep with that much pain? Did they do anything to comfort her, to ease her? Would she even have wanted them to come near her or would she have cowered away? Did they even care? What was is like for her going to bed at night after that? Did she lie there in fear and wonder if it was going to happen again? Did it happen again? For how long before they were stopped?

Would you ask why they did it? Husband and wife were both cocaine users. That was the reason/excuse they used. They were under the influence of cocaine and "didn't know what they were doing." My, my, weren't they poor, pitiful things?

I have heard all the reasons for "legalizing" drugs. But having had my entire life affected because I grew up in a home where a "legal" mind-altering substance was abused, having listened to story after story from others who came from the same situation, and the fact that after twenty years, all it took to bring back the memory of this little girl and what she must have suffered, was the sight of a name on a piece of paper, I have the the only reason I need for opposing the legalization of any other such substance.

The reality of what she went through, what I went through, what other children have gone through and are still going through. That's reason enough for me.

7/19/2005

Do I detect a pattern?

True story.
I rode down on the public elevator Monday at lunch time with a female, a male and three children. The female was complaining that the Judge had "yelled" at her for being just a few minutes late. I didn't pay a lot of attention to her until I talked to someone who had been in that courtroom.

She had been involved in a convoluted incident where group of about six men and women went to the house of some people they had a prior history with (interchangeable boyfriends and girlfriends), robbed them and beat the man and woman up. She had been charged with robbery and battery and her trial was to begin Monday morning in Superior Court. She was fifteen minutes late for court and the Judge chastised her strongly for being late for her jury trial.

This morning (Tuesday), I heard that she still hadn't shown up by 9:15 and the Judge was furious. Everyone, including the jurors, were just sitting there waiting for her. She finally showed up at 9:30 and was full of apologies. She promised the Judge it wouldn't happen again and he said she was damn right, because he was revoking her bond and she would stay in custody for the duration of the trial.

Well, after some consultation with her attorney and the Assistant District Attorney, she decided to accept the plea recommendation and plead guilty. As is standard procedure, the Judge offered her an opportunity to make a statement before sentencing. According to a person who was in the courtroom, this is what she said--

"Your Honor, I admit that I did help beat up that girl, but I
really didn't have anything to do with the robbery. You see, I got there late......"

The ADA dismissed the robbery charge.

7/13/2005

Big Thrill (well, it is for me)

When I came home for lunch today, there was a package waiting for me.
I ordered some books last week and when I saw the package, I knew what was in it.
My heart gave a thump and I felt a smile grow on my face. I put everything down and reached out for the package. I was so happy. I didn't open it right away, but just held it for a minute to prolong the anticipation.

Then it occurred to me. I reacted to a new book the way some women respond to a lover. I laughed at myself, but it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the moment at all.

I've already finished the book and have re-read a part of it. I will probably have finished the second reading either tonight or tomorrow.

And then, I'll wait for the next arrival.

7/10/2005

They all look the same-

Some members of our church went on a mission trip to help build a camp for Romanian gypsies. They made some contacts there and the result was that a Romanian pastor came to visit and speak at our church.
He was quite a man. Early thirties, not very tall and with an appealing shyness that he worked hard to put aside. He began by apologizing for his English, which wasn't bad, but wasn't great either. His "not so good English" gave him one of his best lines. He talked about his conversion to Christianity in his early twenties and about how he thought he should stop cussing. He said, "I lost half my dictionary then."
But there was one part of his story in particular that made a deep impression on me. He had been straightforward about his life in the military. He drank, smoked, paid women for sex, beat people for the fun of it. But after four years of it, he was unhappy. He knew that he was missing something in his life, but he wasn't sure what it was.
He spoke of a visitor who came to see him one day and talk to him about his lifestyle. He said he knew her as a drug addict who roamed the streets asking for money to feed her habit. She had approached him more than once when he was out carousing with his buddies, wanting money. He said, "You know the kind of person I'm talking about. You've seen them. I saw them when I was in your downtown Atlanta. I recognized them, because they are the same people. They all look the same."
I didn't hear the next few minutes of what he was saying, because the truth of his statement got to me.
"They all look the same".
For some reason, that one phrase, delivered in his broken English, seemed to capture the misery and pain of drug addiction. Maybe it was the truth of it that suddenly made me so sad. That made me feel an emotion that I don't often feel-sympathy.

He was very unkind to this young woman, telling her he knew what kind of person she was, and that she had a lot of nerve coming to his house and acting like something was wrong with him. She went on to tell him that she had changed and was different now and that she wanted him to come and meet the people who had helped her. He ended up going with her, of course, and these same people that helped her helped him see that what he was missing was a relationship with God.

Although his story was about his conversion, I think now about that girl, about the generosity of heart and humbleness of spirit that it took for that nameless girl to go to him, knowing what he was like at that time, knowing he would be unkind and insulting, knowing that he would bring up her past and throw it at her like a weapon to hurt and humiliate her. But she went anyway. While I felt sympathy for her at first, I consider what she was willing to do and I think of her now with honor and respect and admiration. I wish her well.

Goat beards

Just a thought going through my head. My youngest daughter began calling goatees goat-beards when she was about 6. That was about the time they began to gain popularity. Over the years of course, they have become more and more popular and more common. I have asked men I know why they liked having them, but for the most part, I get a shrug and an "I don't know, I just do".

Then I read an interesting article in a psychology magazine. Their conclusion was that since women were moving into more and more traditional male arenas, more and more men were choosing to grow facial hair, since that was one area a woman couldn't encroach on and probably wouldn't want to , even if she could.
And for some reason, it made me feel sad and a little sorry for men. Males seem to need to openly display their manhood in order to affirm it to themselves, to other men and to women. There was a time when it was easy for them, because so many things were for "men only". Smoking, drinking, certain hobbies, certain tasks, certain jobs.

Is the innate ability to grow facial hair the only thing we've left for them to have for themselves as men? Why does that bother me? Is it because we have been so greedy to have more for ourselves that we have taken pretty much everything from them? If it is, then something is wrong with what we're doing. Or maybe the something that's wrong is the lack of consideration in the way we're doing it.

7/09/2005

Saturday Night

We had good old-fashioned home-made hamburgers cooked on the grill tonight, with french fries and baked beans.
I bought enough ground chuck to make the burgers and a meatloaf. This is the best meatloaf I have ever had. Which is why we keep on making it. Even people who don't like meatloaf like this.
Good Meatloaf serves 6
1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tsp salt, pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper(optional)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 cup quick-cook oats
Additional 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix together ground chuck, onions, bell pepper and garlic.
Add salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well
Add ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
Add egg. Mix well.
Add oatmeal. Mix well.

Lightly grease a loaf pan. Turn the meat mixture into the loaf pan. If you choose, at this point, you can cover the meatloaf with wrap and freeze it until you want to cook it. If you freeze it, let it thaw in the fridge for 24 hours.
When you are ready to cook the loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the loaf for thirty minutes. Check the loaf at this point and if there is a lot of grease, very carefully pour it off and discard. Have the additional ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce mixed and spread it over the top of the loaf. It bakes into a wonderful crisp crust. Bake for an additional twenty to thirty minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
We serve this with mashed potatoes and peas, the standard accompaniments for meat loaf. Also a green salad and rolls.

Things I haven't noticed in a while

I took my mother to the grocery store today. I only had to pick up a few things, so I got them and went outside to wait for her. Instead of getting in the car after I unloaded my groceries, I decided to just sit on the bumper and look around.
This is Georgia in July. High summer. I had bought a very cold coke and while I drank it, I noticed some things I haven't taken the time to see in quite a while.
There is an endless variety of green in the South in the summer. So many shades and tints and hues and shadows of green across the skyline. So much richness.
I watched the flight of a brilliant red cardinal and saw the distinctive flight pattern of lift and dip, lift and dip. I know that it is a survival tactic to throw off predators, but it is also beautiful to watch. Particularly when that red is highlighted against the greenness of the trees.
There were afternoon clouds building. Soft, cotton candy white against a delicate baby blue. Big, fluffy cotton ball shapes, shifting and floating slowly across the sky.
Someone nearby was cutting their grass. I could hear the buzz of the mower and smell the special fragrance of cut grass.
I could feel the heaviness of the humidity in the air and when I breathed in, it was almost like breathing water and the heat of the day was intense, but not uncomfortable. At least not to me.
I sat there and allowed myself just to enjoy for a few minutes this indulgence of the senses. Taste, smell, sight, texture, sound. And for those few moments, I was at peace.

7/08/2005

Down the Toilet it Goes

Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist-Edmund Burke
Neither can $50 billion dollars .

7/06/2005

Relaxation

I made fresh bread Monday. I used to make it more frequently than I do now, but time is a real consideration when making bread and I have little to spare . It's about a three and a half hour project. Of course, 2 hours of that is for proofing the bread and 35 minutes for cooking, so you can do other things, but you have to be around.
Bread making, other than being time-consuming, really isn't as difficult as you might think. The majority of the ingredients are commonplace-flour, sugar, salt, milk or water, shortening. The only other ingredient is yeast. The only specialty equipment that's good to have is a thermometer, used to check the temperature of the water the yeast is put into. Other than that, a big bowl, measuring cups and measuring spoons are it.
One of the things I enjoy about the process is the smell once you add the yeast to the mixture. It is a basic, primal, comforting fragrance.
Once everything is mixed together, you let the bread sit under an overturned bowl for ten minutes to rest. Then comes the best part other than actually eating. The kneading.
Properly done, bread requires 6 to 8 minutes of firm, continuous kneading. And it is one of the most relaxing things I have ever done. It is one of the few times my mind actually seems to take a rest and just focuses on the rhythm and movement of the process. Push with the flat of the hands, fold over and do a quarter-turn. Press, fold, and turn. Again and again for a minimum of six minutes. The combination of primal fragrance, soft texture and monotonous rhythm is almost a form of self-hypnosis for me. I don't really even have to think about what I'm doing. Even better, I don't need to think. I am so relaxed that I feel like I'm just drifting.
I can tell when the bread has been kneaded enough. Instead of a semi-loose sticky mass, it becomes as soft and round as a baby's butt. It is placed in a greased bowl, covered and left to rise until doubled in size. Then the dough is knocked down, separated into halves, shaped into loaves and put in pans and left to rise again for about an hour. Then it is cooked for approximately 30-35 minutes. The smell of fresh bread baking is incredible. It will fill a house.
Once the bread is done, you are supposed to let the bread sit until cooled. I have never been able to do it. Usually after about 5 minutes, I have to cut an end piece off and butter it and eat it right away. Fresh, hot buttered bread is so good. It melts in the mouth.
Bread is the most basic of prepared foods. Historically, it is found in almost all cultures and the ingredients don't vary much. Honey in the place of sugar, various liquids, but the basic formula remains the same.
If anyone has ever thought about it or wondered about making bread on their own, I would encourage them to do it at least once. Find a good, simple, instructional recipe and try it. You may be surprised at what you can do.

7/04/2005

They just don't know what they are missing.

The concept of patriotism has taken a real beating. Perhaps because people who don't like the concept have managed to equate patriotism with jingoism. They are not the same thing.
Patriotism is an awareness, love and appreciation of where and what you can from, in its entirety, both the good and bad. We have more here than anywhere in the world, both in the tangible things and the intangible. Nowhere else in the world offers the opportunity to be so much, not just for those born here, but for those who come here looking for more and who are willing to try and work for it. This is a good place.
Perhaps no one understands how good or how dear it is until you have left it for a while and then returned. However lovely or interesting or fascinating other places may be, they simply lack what can be found here.
Military personnel who have to spend time overseas miss their country. Not just their families and the comforts they have known, but they miss what America is, the way it feels. I know, because I spent six years living in other countries and coming home, even that first moment when you can see land from the plane, is a special moment. You feel like you've been holding your breath the whole time you have been away and at last you can breathe again.
I feel both annoyance and a profound sense of pity for those people who can't or won't try to understand the beauty and poignancy of patriotism. Who can't or won't understand that when you have been given so much it is right and honorable to be willing to give something back. Because they don't know what they are missing.
So, here is a a little help from people who do understand, better than most, what it is to give and what it is to love what America is and what America can and should be.

7/03/2005

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, June 2005

When you visit the Day Butterfly Conservatory, one of the big surprises is that sometimes the butterflies will land on you. I took the picture of one on my mother's head. Liz wasn't thrilled at all with the idea and used the butterfly identification sheet to protect herself. Liv, who is the bolder of the two thought Liz was funny. The temperature and humidity in the conservatory is tropical-that is, hot and sticky. Butterflies love it, the girls were a little less happy with it. Fortunately, in the center of the conservatory, there is a large machine that produces a constant mist to keep the humidity high. We let them stand in the mist when they got too hot and they loved it.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, June 2005

Callaway Gardens has a butterfly habitat called the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Conservtory. There are thousands of butterflies and they are literally everywhere you turn. Click on the link in the title and see a picture of the inside of the conservatory.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, June 2005

Liz and Livy in front of a fountain in the greenhouse.
My mother and the girls on a walkway over the water next to the Discovery Center. There are vending machines you can get food for the animals out of and feed the ducks and turtles that hang around the bridge It was fun watching the ducks scramble around and the fish still flash up and grab the food before the ducks could get it.
The view across the lake.
The ducks were very used to humans and weren't bothered by the girls at all.

7/02/2005

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, June 2005

The plants growing out of the wall are succelents. The size is amazing.
The purple flower is called a Maypop here in Georgia.
The girls are sitting under a grape vine that has been shaped and trimmed into a shady place to sit.
The hollyhocks are beautiful.

Saturday Supper

Tonight we had barbecue pork ribs, a broccoli, cabbage and carrot slaw with garlic/balsamic vinegar dressing and fresh fruit salad.
Since I know that my daughters and their families will be here tomorrow, I decided to marinate a beef roast overnight. The marinade I like to use is this:
Beef Roast Marinade
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 yellow onions, sliced into strips
2 tbsp peppercorns(I use mixed black, white and pink), crushed
1 tsp salt
Mix all the liquid ingredients well, add the garlic and onions to the liquid, then add the crushed peppercorns and salt. I place the roast in a ziploc freezer bag and then pour the marinade over it and close the bag. I marinate it overnight, turning it as often as I remember it.
The roast can also be frozen in the bag with the marinade and thawed later. The acid in the vinegar and lemon juice really tenderize the meat, and the peppercorns give the outside of the meat a real bite. When I prepare the roast for baking, I sear it on all sides, put it in aluminum foil and pour the marinade over it and close the foil. I bake it it 300 degrees for approximately 3 hours.
I serve it with parslied red potatoes, fresh corn, rolls and a green salad.

Lord Darcy

I really love this book. It is actually a compilation of 8 short stories and a novella that revolve around the central character of Lord Darcy.
The author is Randall Garrett, who wrote a number of science fiction novels in the fifties. Lord Darcy is not what I would consider science fiction. Nor is it quite what I would call fantasy. It is definitely different though.
The book in set in England and France in the 1960's. Lord Darcy is an investigator for His Royal Highness, the Duke of Normandy. The character is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes in the way he solves crimes. He has a sidekick named Sean O Lochlainn who helps him with the technical aspects of the crime.
What really sets this book apart is a change in history. In Richard Garrett's world, Richard the Lion-Hearted, King of England, did not die in 1199. He survived the wound he suffered at the siege of Chaluz and returned home to England to become a great King. John Lackland never became one of the worst kings of England. The Magna Carta was never written. And history took a different turn. England and Europe were united under an English King of the Plantagenet line. There was no French revolution. The continents of the Americas were still discovered, but there was never a American revolutionary war.
And in the 1960's, a large portion of the free world is ruled by "Our Most Serene Lord, John IV, by the grace of God King and Emperor of England, France, Scotland, Ireland, New England and New France, Defender of the Faith.
Catholicism is the religion of the monarchy, since there was no Henry VIII to start the Church of England. And there was no Martin Luther to begin Protestant movement that split the church.
And one more major difference-magic. In Garrett's world, St. Hilary Robert worked out the laws of magic in the fourteenth century. Lord Darcy's sidekick, Sean O Lochlainn, is a master sorcerer. Magic is the science of Garrett's world.
In the story The Eyes Have It, Master Sorcerer Sean has to perform a spell to see if the bullet that killed the victim came from a certain gun. He explains to those watching about "the Law of Contagion"-that being any two objects which have ever been in contact with each other have an affinity for each other which is directly proportional to the product of the degree of relevancy of the contact and the length of time they were in contact and inversely proportional to the length of time since they have ceased to be in contact. Magic as a forensic tool.
The stories are consistently good mysteries, written with humor and surprising twists. I enjoyed.

No time for vampire spiders

I dream in color and I can usually remember at least two of the dreams I have during the night unless I am completely exhausted. Then I remember nothing.
I had a dream that both annoyed and amused me. Particularly since it was so very much me.
Imagine your typical B-horror movie small town. Perfect little place with a nasty secret. I'm not sure why I was there, but I know I had a lot to do. I was walking down Main Street early in the morning at my usual clip and out of one of the little shops steps a woman. She has a hairy, seven-inch long, black and tan striped spider hanging from the side of her neck with his fangs sunk into her artery and she leaps at me with another vampire spider in her hand aimed at my throat.
Do I scream? Do I flee in panic and fear? No, I shove her backwards and yell at her. "I don't know what your problem is, but I have things to do and I don't have time for you." For the rest of my dream day, it happens over and over. The mayor, the sheriff, the banker, the school teacher, maybe the entire town have vampire spiders hanging off their necks and keep jumping out at me. And every time my response is annoyed impatience, because I'm really moving through my day and I just have too much to do to take the time to let them fasten one of those spiders on me. Focus, focus, focus on getting everything done.
The dream amused me because of the outrageous nature of the dream and my even more outrageous response. I had a really good laugh at myself and the silliness of the dream.
When I told my youngest daughter about it, she didn't laugh at all. I asked her if she didn't think it was funny and she said not really, because that was probably the way I really would act.
After I thought about it, I realized she was right. When I decide to get something done, very little distracts me or gets in my way. So the dream ended up annoying me, because it almost seems as if I was nagging at myself to slow down the drive. But why would I want to slow down for vampire spiders? And just what did the spiders represent? And do I really want to know?

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