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Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

Em is on a cousin binder, so it's just been me and Mo this weekend. We got up kind of early. Like 4:20 in the morning. I'm a little zonked.

We went to church this morning, the same rock & roll church I went to Christmas Eve. My bro goes there, and he tried to get me to try this months ago, but I didn't really believe I could leave Mo in any kind of Sunday School scene and have it work.

It's why Em identifies so much with the film Benny & Joon: 'she paints, she reads, she lights things on fire.' Not that Mo ever set a fire, but when you think about turning her over to strangers for something like an hour, you wonder if you'll have to wonder if you're setting yourself up for it.

I explained about Mo to one small-group leader, then to the one it turned out she'd be with. Who turned out to have a brother with similar (and apparently more severe) problems, so she understood pretty quick what was up.

They did come get me at one point, where Mo wasn't settling down and getting the 'structure' of the scene. Well, honestly, it was pretty unstructured at that point, I'm not sure I would have 'gotten' that they were trying to transition things at Mo's age. But once she got it, she did great, doing the motions of the group, sitting when the others did, and so on.

I ended up catching the majority of the speaker, something I really figured I only had a 10% shot at going in.

Then bro took us to lunch at Jason's Deli. Which is awesome, I highly recommend it if you're going to eat out. It's much better food than 'fast food,' and it's much more reasonable than the typical bar & grill type thing. Better food, overall, than the typical bar & grill, come to think of it.

From there, we came home and Mo did Legos, videos, painted with the paints Grandma Mary got her for Christmas, played with Legos some more, etc.

She's in bed, and I'm not sure I'm that far behind. The ball will drop whether I stay up to see it or not. But if Mo gets up at 4:20 like she did yesterday morning, I should be out by now.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Papa Legba

Papa Legba is a soup I make every New Year (or so). Well, almost every year, I don't think I made it last year, when I was four days into a divorce.

It started as a recipe I got watching Caprial back when I had cable. Bill Clinton was President when I last had cable, so it's been awhile, and recipes kind of tend to morph with me.


Take a ham bone from a good ham, or two smoked ham hocks, simmer them in vegetable and/or chicken broth with 1 diced tomato in a crock pot for 6 hours or more. Separate the meat from the bones and gristle.

Sautee in 4 tbsp olive oil:

1 large diced onion
4 diced carrots
4 diced celery stalks
8 cloves minced garlic

pour de-boned stock over sauté and simmer with 6 cans of black beans (juice and all), chipotle peppers to taste (I use six to eight crushed pods) for an hour.

Add 1 lb of andouille sausage. You get this at Fritz's* or don't bother. If there's anything else like theirs, it's news to me. Simmer for another hour to thicken.

I also made a bread to go with this.

I started with a basic wheat bread dough and added some stuff:

1-3/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
2 packets quick-rise yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup maple syrup**

Knead and allow it to rise for 45 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes at 350º.

I was going to braid it but I was hungry and didn't want to wait for it to rise a second time, so I scored it as risen and cooked it as a round bread. It's not a dessert type thing, it's only faintly sweet. You can barely detect the maple, you might miss it if you didn't know it was there. But it's a good, moist bread to go with the spicy soup.

*It's not really $8 a pound if you go there and pick it up. But if you live further than I do, order it in bulk and let them ship it. I'm about 45 minutes away, which with the price of gas is almost too far to drive.

**The real thing. I have a tin of it I bought for Em to try on pancakes way back, but she prefers the fake stuff.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Among Friends

An all-too-short soiree, badly needed medicine. I found out today that in addition to getting fired, five days before Christmas, supposedly for violating a policy I didn't violate unless you interpret it so strictly that EVERYONE has violated it, because it's being deemed 'for cause,' I'm screwed out of the severance package I'd always heard the company gave to take the sting out of such things.

Ten-plus years, nice knowin' ya.

But old friends (20-plus years, most of them), some hors'doerves, conversation, a little of Ted's amazing from-scratch eggnog...

We didn't get quite everyone in the group shot. Ted and Charlotte had already called it quits, and a couple of the honyocks were upstairs watching TV.

I could still be there, I'm sure, except Mo and Em were hanging at Grandpa Calvin's, and while Em was there for a sleepover with her cousin, I didn't want to push my luck with Mo. She's been doing great at their house, behavior-wise, maybe in time she can do the sleepover thing too. Baby steps. Which meant I needed to keep more or less to her bedtime, get her home.

It was a big step. First time I've ever left her with my Dad and his wife to go socialize.



We took the Xmas stuff and headed for the park. I decided to wrap this into walking the dog as well, so all this is with him going every which way on the leash, Em trying to figure out how to shift her new bike, and Mo getting carried away on the Moon Shoes and biffing pretty hard on her knees a few times.

But on open grass, she was a terror.

It was great until she went to her knees and just stopped. At first I thought she was just pausing before making another Tiggeresque run at things.

But then I saw her face. The chewing, the drooling, the looking to the right. She was having a seizure. Not a grand mal extravaganza, but that didn't mean it couldn't evolve into one.

And then I realize, I didn't get the Diastat when I picked them up.

Then I realize my cell phone is at home on it's charger.

And I've got this damn dog on the leash pulling every which way trying to pee everywhere, and Mo's lost bladder control, and Em's on her bike, and in any case, Mo is on these freaky rubber band platforms.

Luckily she came out of it able to walk home. Em helped her out of the Moon Shoes so it would just be walking. It was a long three blocks.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


[Pardon my blatant rip-off of Hair lyrics]

She asks me why, why I'm just a hairy guy.
I'm hairy noon and nighty night night, my hair is a fright.
I'm hairy high and low, but don't ask me why, cause he don't know.
It's not for lack of bread, like the Grateful Death.

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair.
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen.
Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer hair
Here baby, there, momma, ev'rywhere, daddy, daddy.

hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Hair, hair, hair. Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my hair.

I'd let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees, give a home to the fleas in my hair.
A home for the fleas, a hive for the buzzin' bees,
a nest for birds, there ain't no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my:

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty,
oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, streaming, gleaming, flaxen, waxen,
knotted, polka dotted, twisted, beaded, braided,
powdered, flowered and confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled and spahettied.

Oh say can you see, rise if you can,
and my hair's too short

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Hair, hair, hair.Flow it, show it,
long as God can grow it, my hair

They'll be ga-ga at the go-go when they see me in my toga,
my toga meade of blond, brilliantined, biblical hair.
My hair like Jesus wore it, Halleluja I adore it, Halleluja Mary loved her son,why don't my mother love me?

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
long as God can grow it, my hair

For those of you who haven't heard it from the Lobster's mouth, I got fired five days before Christmas. I don't think I got a fair hearing, but show me the fired guy who says he got a square deal.

And no, I'm not going into details. For the same reason I'm not contacting various government agencies and legal foundations, there's no percentage in fighting some things, even when they are seriously screwed up.

When the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster woke me up a year ago today to tell me she had to have a divorce, I did not see that my life today would be better than it was then. Not to give the impression that divorce is a good thing, I wouldn't wish it on the asshead who decided to fire me, but life is better a year later. My task now is to find a new job and be able to look back on this a year later and say as hard as it is to sleep on Christmas Eve without a paycheck, I'm better off.

As far as what I do for a living: there is zero reason why long hair should keep me from getting another position, but there was also no reason it should have contributed to my exile. Yet I believe it did. And I can't afford to walk into an interview and turn an opportunity into a closed door because someone thinks my hair means things it doesn't.

When I was in high school, the shaved head (which I've also done, many times) was a cry for help, the sign of a suicidal kid. Extreme even for punks. Yet today it is Sesame Street normal. Long hair, a look that goes back much further, is still apparently the domain of people who prefer pot to booze, following the Dead to following a career, etc. In other words, people who might have much more sense than me, but who are definitely not me.

Plus, I was able to donate to Locks of Love, which was a goal when I decided to grow my hair out one more time while I had an (I thought) stable job situation and hadn't started to go bald naturally. Whatever kid gets my hair, hope it makes things better. I enjoyed it, and if you needed it, you have bigger problems than I do, even now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Rest of Christmas

Mo loves this snowman. He's easy to love the first 40 times she makes him sing.

The Moon Shoes I got for Mo didn't say they required assembly ont he box, but you have to web the rubber bands through it. Dozens of them.

She enjoyed them, but she's kind of scary with an extra six inches of height and the extra jump those sproingers give her. She didn't want to take them off when we went to Grandma Mary's, so she wore them in the car and everything, until she found they hindered her getting into toy boxes and such.

The first stop was Grandma Mary's for brunch and more presents.

Oh, and to pose with reindeer.

My Bro and his wife were on hand. And very tolerant of my excessive photography.

Em got out the tinker toys. This wasn't one of the presents, these are the ones me and my brother had growing up.

I think my brother had more fun with them than Em did.

Not that Em didn't have fun.

Em was delighted to try on her new clothes, too. Mo was maybe less than delighted.

Grandma Mary made the mistake of trying to light candles for the dinner table. Mo can't leave a candle lit. Even in a hurricane, I think she'd run around blowing them out. That's what they're for, right? I don't mean she just seems to like it, it's as if God would strike her down if she didn't get there and get it blown out.

Mo did get a pair of Tigger slippers that may rival the Moon Shoes for favorite footwear. Though the latter makes her more like her Pooh-ish soul mate.

In the 'what did you get' column, I got the Joy of Cooking. This was one of the few material possessions the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster wanted that I might have fought over in the divorce. There are sections of JoC that are pure bullshit (like their take on beer in the drinks section), but as a general reference, it has no peer. Wanna cook a bear? Look it up in the Joy of Cooking. Fried Cucumbers? It's in there, like Ragu.

And some real flatware. I've been using that clear plastic stuff for a year now, because Mo had a bad habit of throwing silverware away. She seems to have stopped that, so hopefully my kitchen drawer will seem less College Dorm.

We went on from Grandma Mary's to Grandpa Calvin's. Where we ate another Christmas dinner that couldn't be beat...

We were actually light a family unit there. One of my bro's and his family went to Branson. So we only had six kiddos worth of mayhem (it would have been nine plus two more adults who can seriously talk).

I'm told my nephew's guitar is really just a complicated joy stick for a video game. Go figure.