Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bossy Betty Remembers Hay Season

Putting up hay for the winter consumed many of my summer days since it was my job to drive the tractor in the field and help out at the barn.  Oh yes, Betty was a busy farm girl.  Long after our neighbors were baling their hay, my dad was still putting it up loose in the barn.  I am pretty sure this process is rarely practiced anymore, so I am glad I did a photo series for my 4-H Photography project when I was in junior high.  I came across the pictures the other day and thought I'd share them with you.

All you city kids hang on and listen carefully while I explain:  First we took the tractor, hitched the hay wagon on and went to the field where the hay loader sat.  This was a machine that grabbed the hay, which had been bunched into rows earlier and lifted it up with a series of prongs to the top of the loader which met the top of the wagon.  As I drove the tractor, my dad was on the hay wagon grabbing the oncoming hay with a pitchfork and loading the wagon evenly as the hay came on board.  

After the wagon was full, we took it to the barn and pulled it in front.  The tractor was then driven around the the back and a large rope that ran all the way through the barn was attached to the back of the tractor.  The rope went through pulleys and up into the hay loft, where it was attached to giant forks.  These forks were lowered to the wagon where Daddy set them in the hay, pushing them down with his feet in order to get a good amount of hay in the forks.  

He, or I, or one of my sisters would then go to the tractor at the back of the barn,  SLOWLY drive it forward, pulling the rope through the pulleys which ran through the barn which pulled the hay up and in.  Most of the time, instead of driving the tractor,  I was in the mid-loft, where I could watch the forks come in.  I'd watch and wait, listening to the creaking rope, feeling the anticipation.  The forks of hay would get to the window at the top of the barn and all the light from the outside would be cut off.  Then the sunlight reappeared as the load moved slowly back in to the hayloft. 

It was my job to call out to the tractor driver to stop when the forks got in the right place. (I had to make sure the hay would be evenly distributed.)  When I yelled, the big load of hay would jerk to a stop, swinging high above.  My dad would then go to the front of the barn, and pull a rope attached to the forks tripping a mechanism on the forks that caused them to open up, dropping the load. 

 It was really a tremendous feast for all the senses:  It was just me up there watching that big load of hay swinging, suspended in mid air.  Then the sound of the hay dropping, and the forks chiming in, clanking together, the strong smell of the hay, the sight of the great lump of hay dropping, rolling, tiny bits of hay dancing in the air all about my head.  It was a farm girl's ticker tape parade.

After that, my dad would pull in sharp, hard jerks to get the forks to come to the top of the window of the barn and then the forks would come crashing down with the help of gravity, my dad attempting to guide their descent on to the wagon of hay.  I still remember how we were NOT to step foot out the front of the barn until we heard those forks come down lest we get hit by them.  When they did come down, it was time to start the process all over again.




















In the bottom right of this picture,  you can see my dad driving the tractor which is connected to the rope pulling the hay.  I am in the mid-loft waiting to yell out when to stop.  Oh wait.  No I'm not.  I'm taking this picture.  Hopefully there was a sister there doing that job!  


Friday, January 30, 2009

Bossy Betty's Trip to the Pity Spa.

Sorry You Missed It.


Oh, it was a short spree into the normally forbidden Pity Spa located on the shores of beautiful, gorgeous, outstanding, better-than-anywhere-else Lake Ego, but it was a good one.  Since Betty doesn't normally even think of going there, once she knew she was on the train bound for this beacon of self-importance, she made the most of it.  

It was early morning when I started with a delicious mud bath of self-sympathy.  It was a full-out, rolling around, lolling, splashing about, with flecks of that mud flicked in the direction of all who had so wronged me and offended me.  This was followed by a long shower in the hot liquids of victimization.  Then it was time for a rich massage with the lotion of self-absorption in which it the muscles of martyrdom were loosened and set free to flex over all emotions.  Drinks and a snack?  Why yes, thank you.  I'll just sit here at the bar with the ever-fascinating self-commiseration

The ego is an interesting creature.  We need it to function and yet we need to rule over it as well. When we get in that certain mood, it is tempting to look for reasons to be offended and there's plenty to pick from when we're in that mood.   Even a simple trip to the grocery store can yield big results: the man who took the cart we were headed for, the woman spending too long in front of the Raisin Bran, blocking our way. At our lowest, even the developmentally disabled bagger can supply us with what we are looking for. "He's putting my bread in the sack with the oranges and he thinks I won't even notice.  Well, think again."  

Driving presents a smorgasbord of opportunities to be hurt and offended.  Put it on the agenda at a meeting at work because it can be there at any turn, at any time.  Even a certain look from a total stranger can be food for the starving ego trying desperately to assert its importance.   

A mid-morning snack when we are feeling low might consist of a fattening roll of "I'm the only one who really does anything around here."  A yummy snack of  "I would never do to that person what he/she has done to me" is good for late afternoon.  However, the real Powerbar of the ego, the one we have tucked away for immediate use when we are feeling at our lowest and need that instant insulin shot of self-pity is "No one, no one, appreciates what I do."  

There are some among us who, unfortunately, are on permanent late-checkout from the spa.  They may even try to live there.  (It's a pretty safe place, really.  Maybe that's why they stay.)  Some feel the need to bring a friend along for the trip.  If you've ever been that friend, you know there's only so much nodding and commiserating you can do.  Pretty soon, instead of really listening you start noticing how the person is starting to prune-up, wrinkling from staying too long in the hot, murky baths of being the victim, their souls starting to dry out and crack.  

For the rest of us, short trips to the Spa will do until we finally transcend the need for them at all.  My own Pity Spa experience lasted about half a day.  By that time the ego had been inflated, sated and massaged enough.  By noon, I was pretty sick of myself, to be honest.   It was time to snap out of it, get some perspective and get to work.  

So Betty's back here in the real world where we create our own realities and the ego hangs around like a really cool uncle instead of a mad dictator.  Here there's no time for the self-indulgence of narrow-mindedness. There are lemon cookies to make, bottles to recycle, people who need us, and whole world to help to heal in one way or another.   


(So, did I sneak at least one little bottle of that good-smelling, but easily over-powering lotion of "Delicious You!" out of the spa?) 

I'll let you guess about that one.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bossy Betty's Gettin' Jiggy With All Things Domestic



There are certain issues that every couple must confront as they progress through the years. Religion, child-rearing techniques, money issues--around our house these pale in comparison to the dishcloth versus sponge debate that is now raging at our house.


Being the submissive, demure wife for so many years, hasn't been easy, especially for a gal with Betty's spunk factor, but I knew HOB was a sponge man when I married him and for the sake of the kids, I decided to put my own needs second. Year after year, I stood at that sink, sponge in hand and tried to convince myself that it was OK, that I could live this way. I did it for my marriage and for my children. Oh, I was good. The children witnessed me wringing out that sponge and thought it was all about the excess water, but I knew that fist was saying so much more.


Then, one day about a month ago, after a lunch consisting of Diet Pepsi and Mounds Bars, I found myself in Target, in the kitchen aisle. They spoke to me from the shelf--green and white, soft and supple--a stack of dishcloths, all tied up in a ribbon. I picked them up and smelled them deeply. (Try that with a sponge!)  I knew I had to have them.


At home, I unwrapped one of my little beauties and took one to the sink. The warm water made the lovely cloth mold itself to my hands. Ecstasy! I looked at the squat green sponge staring at me from its place on the sink ledge like a a scorned frog but I ignored it and went on with my inaugural washing.


I knew I couldn't go back to that sponge.


So now we have both at our kitchen sink. I think it's pretty big of me to let the sponge stay, actually. HOB hates that dishcloth with a passion. He sees it as an unwelcome, unnecessary  blob of spit wad from the gods of housecleaning. To him, it is a relic and should not be in a modern kitchen. He's on the high speed train of home cleaning/upkeep accessories and shakes his head at the fact that his wife is in that Pretty Little Surrey with the Fringe on the Top. He watches me hang out the laundry, but it's the dryer he prefers. The smell of vinegar as a cleaning agent drives him up the wall, but Glass Plus is the Blueberry Muffin of cleaning smells to him.

Maybe I should wait to tell him I am thinking of ordering a solar oven.




Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Poetry Tuesday


Try To Praise The Mutilated World
                                         
                                                --Adam Zagajewsi

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.


Translated by Renata Gorczynski

Sunday, January 25, 2009

That Sinking Feeling...or Betty Luvs Her Pegasus


What Husband of Betty (HOB) and I really need is someone to come, knock us out with drugs for two or so weeks, fix up our house, and then wake us up for the big "reveal"--the way they do on all those shows on HGTV.   It would just be a slight revision of the already produced "While You Were Out" show and, think about it, they would not have to change the title of the show.

It's not that we don't want to make changes or repairs around here, we do, but we both hate to make decisions about this kind of stuff because they are big decisions, expensive decisions, and decisions we would have to live with every day.  Plus, one decision about the carpet means another about whether we should paint the walls before the new carpet gets put in, which leads to a decision about whether we should replace the door jambs the cats have ripped up with their claws, which leads to a decision about whether or not we should continue to feed the cats which leads to....well, you get the idea.

Another issue that comes with home repair, which is a bit more sensitive, is the fact that HOB is not exactly a handyman.  Now, he has MANY other good qualities and I love the man dearly but handy around the house, he isn't and that's OK.  Not all men come with that "handy" gene just as not all women come with the "cooking" gene.  Society has set us up to believe that these traits are inborn, but we know they are not and just because Betty came with the complete set of cooking-crafting-mothering-cleaning-beauty-brains-fashion icon-decorating-hot body-career woman-genes is no reason to expect HOB to be able to fix the leaking shower head or to maneuver the drawstrings on the kitchen garbage bag.

So I don't ask, most of the time because, well, though I have come to understand that HOB is not a Handyman, HOB is more reluctant to give up that idea and this has led to a few problems in the past.  However,  a few months ago, after washing the back windows in the small office located in the back of our house, I was having a hard time getting the aluminum screen back in.  Now, as far as I could tell, all it was going to take was one person inside and the other one on the outside to slightly bend the corner of the screen and gently nudge it into place.  I called HOB back and explained the situation in about 87 words.   He heard three: "Screen," "No," "Go."  He hitched up his pants and declared he would be right back.

He soon appeared at the back window with a huge flathead screwdriver.  I stood on the couch inside the office holding the screen, which was already partially in its track.  I began to deliver my instructions which included those important words: "slightly" and "gently." "Just step away, Baby!" he said, yanking the screen towards him.  His tone was clear:  I, the little woman, should not even be near this big ol' construction site.  I watched him as he inspected the screen, bending it one way, bending it another.  At one point he put it on the ground and stepped on one corner while he pulled on another.  I was talking constantly while he wrestled with the aluminum beast.  'Really, it's OK."  I said, "I think it's fine now."  Then I tried, "Maybe we should just do this later."  It was too late.  The testosterone had already been dispersed and I knew this man well enough to know, that one way or another, that screen was going in.  It finally did, about ten minutes later, bent in some areas, crumpled in others, the wires of the aluminum mesh in center resembling an experiment in modern art.  

HOB strutted through the house to the back office, screwdriver in hand, to survey his work from the inside.  "Well, OK!" he said, obviously pumped up from his "success."  "You need anything else done?"  "No," I said emphatically.  "No."  I went to the bedroom, sat down on the bed and saw, out of the corner of my eye, HOB entering the bathroom.  I heard "I'm going to help you out, Baby!"  Then I heard a strange scraping and then I heard "Oh! Darn!"

I went in to see him standing with his screwdriver, looking down at a hole punched in the bottom of the sink.  "I saw some dried toothpaste on there, and I thought I'd scrape it off for you."  He paused.  "I guess I scraped too hard."  We both stood, looking at the hole.  Now, granted, it WAS an old sink with some rust problems on the underside,  but I was still furious, HOB was sheepish, and in thirty minutes, we were in Home Depot, standing, staring at the sinks and vanities.  In the domino decision-making that IS home repair, the sink disaster had reminded us of the fact that we had needed a new vanity for two years, ever since the hamster had crawled in the bottom portion and we had had to remove two boards to get him out.  

Now the sinks and vanities at Home Depot are on located high up off the floor. (Note to Home Depot:  Why?  This does not seem right.)  This meant we were forced to throw our heads back to look skyward, mouths agape at the prices: $500.00, $1000.00, $2000.00.  Then there were the choices:  The Pegasus 30 inch Estate Antique Bisque Vanity, the  Pegasus Expresso Haven Vanity, the Pegasus Carabelle 36 inch, the Pegasus Annette Teak Vanity, the Pegasus Black Forest with white vitreous china top.  There were consoles, undermount sinks, side splashes, Swanstone, granite, Black Pearl counter tops, all made by Pegasus.  Then there would be choices in faucets--the colors, the finishes.   OHHHHHH.  I longed for that Winged White Horse to come and save us, but how? Which model?  How to install?  We stood there for what seemed hours, looking up.  To the passerby, it appeared as if we were in the process of selecting just the right fixture, but we both knew we were no longer searching for the right counter top or finish.  We were now desperately looking towards the heaven, seeking divine intervention.  

Finally, his eyes still transfixed upwards, HOB said to me, "You know, I've got a tube of caulk.  I could just pump a blob in there and see what happens."  I closed my eyes, gratefully.  Just as Catholic doctrine allows grace to be delivered through the imperfect, the answer had been delivered from on high through the mortal who had set all this in motion.  "OK.  Let's try it."

We did.  It worked.  

HOB still assures me that we will get a new sink and vanity and he says, "I know I can install it all myself.  I'm going to do it for you, Baby."

But, you know, I've grown quite accustomed and, dare I say, dependent, upon that blob of caulk in my sink the past few months.  I look at it every morning and every night as I brush my teeth.  Now, instead of my eyes and brain darting around the slippery bowl, nervously thinking errant thoughts, I have a focal point, a centering mechanism.  I believe this is a benefit to my mental health.  In fact, I would recommend a similar feature to the makers of the Pegasus Caesar Bath Athena Solid Copper Vessel Sink.  They could charge even more for their sinks (their "vessels") while touting the relaxing nature of the Calming/Centering Device placed there by Certified Caulk Gun-Toting Monks.  

Meanwhile, I know that my man stands by,  always ready to lovingly apply a new blob should my Calming/Centering Device begin to erode or get moldy.  Thanks HOB.  You are my Pegasus, saving me in my time of need.* 




*According to our friends at Wikipedia, the name Pegasus is connected with the word for "spring" or "well."  "Everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth."  Hummmm....
And according to another source, "Pegasus was kind, helpful and not at all greedy.  In fact he did not even have a whole square of stars to himself, but shared one star dot with Andromeda, a maiden he rescued."  Ohhh..

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's the Shank of the Evening and I'm Peckish. Let's have a Confab about Supper.


"Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.  Our civilization is decadent and our language--so the argument runs--must inevitably share in the general collapse.... Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes."
                                                                                                       --George Orwell

That George Orwell must have been a blast at a party.  I love his churlishness in his essay "Politics and the English Language" written in 1946.  English majors all over the world return to it time and time again to "ohh" and "ahh" over it.  We go to it like we go to the bolt of tweed in the fabric store, running our fingers over it, understanding the inherent qualities in such a classic even if it is difficult to work with.  However, on our way to the register with our sensible tweed ideas about language and syntax,  we pass by that bright bolt of novelty print--the pigs riding on tricycles, or the pink bunnies sporting purple bows on their heads  and we drop the tweed and go for the fun and familiar. Uncle George has been warning us for years of the dangers of sloppy, popular verbiage, urging us to go on a word diet, but the English language keeps delighting itself with the large platters of deep-fat fried clams, french fries, ice cream sandwiches for dessert, all the while bellowing for more beer.

If English is going to be an obese language, the least we can do is to dress it appropriately. No more Spandex, please!  Herein, Betty suggests the increased use of some words/phrases that may have fallen out of favor, but are still perfectly good, able words (no expiration dates on these suckers!) that help us perform our complex linguistic tasks throughout the day.  

Shank:  One definition of the "shank" is the lower part of the human leg--between the knee and the ankle.  This in itself if good stuff:  "My shanks are killing me tonight."  "Is that a bruise on your shank or did you finally get that tattoo of your man's face?"   Here's a great phrase: "The shank of the evening."  It means the early part of the evening as in,  "Oh! Don't go, Joe!  It's the shank of the evening and we've just started showing our vacation pictures!"  Now, interestingly enough it also means the latter part of the morning, as in, "I'd love to go to lunch with you today, but I have an appointment to get my shanks waxed at 11:00--the shank of the morning--and I'm pretty sure it's going to take awhile this time.

(A co-worker who is disturbingly obsessed with the TV show, "Lockdown: Prison Nation" has pointed out to me that, "shank of the morning" means something completely different in "Prison Nation," but then she's also taken to wearing bright orange jumpsuits and checking the hallway at the office with a mirror before coming out into it.  Somebody's really got to cut off her cable TV.) 

Peckish:  I love this expression.  It comes from our British friends and means somewhat hungry.  "I'm always peckish around 3:00 pm."  It also means somewhat irritable, which makes perfect sense.  "I'm always peckish around 3:00 pm."  Both work for me!  

Confab: An informal chat.  Actually, you can say, "Let's have a confabulation in the shank of the morning tomorrow."  Then you can spend the shank of the morning confabbing.  I prefer the shortened (though probably incorrect) "We had a confab about it and we've decided to have another child even though he's discovered that's another man's face on my shank." 

Supper:  This is the term I grew up with for the evening meal and though I have trained myself to say "dinner" for the evening meal, I've never been really comfortable with it.  Supper in the dictionary has two meanings:  the evening meal, often the principal meal of the day OR any light evening meal, especially one taken late in the afternoon.  It also notes that "supper" is used for the evening meal when "dinner" is used for the noontime meal.  I'm all for going back to "dinner" for the noontime meal.  "Lunch" is Formica, cold sandwiches, waxed paper and linoleum.  "Dinner" is wood, soup, china and cloth.  Some people might even want a shank of lamb to go with that soup, but not me. I'm not peckish at this time.  

 Now get out there, Betty fans and sprinkle, shake and scatter these words into your everyday conversations. Load up your sentences with them, distributing them liberally like fresh-ground pepper on a piping hot ear of corn on the cob. You'll find they add an expected zing to your day and others will admire you!  They will be transfixed by your use of language!  They will gaze at you, mesmerized by your large, fascinating vocabulary.  Oh, wait.  Perhaps it's that large flake of pepper wedged up there between your incisors they are looking at.  Oh, yeah.  That's probably it.  Get a mirror and check that out, will you?  We'll confab again tomorrow, perhaps in the shank of the morning.

--Betty
 



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bossy Betty: Troublemaker, Rabblerouser, Agitator-at-Large

NO PICTURE ON THIS POST! I CAN'T RISK IT!




Now that I have passed a certain milestone in my life, I have decided to cast aside the "Good Girl" motif by which I have lived my entire life. Just as the swimsuits sold at the Big Box Stores are displayed on the clear plastic molds of the perfect woman's body, for too long Betty has hung her personality on society's pre-molded notion of "Nice." (Note to Readers: Sleeping in those molds that come with the swimsuits has no apparent effect on one's actual body shape, but does cause an unsightly rash and harsh red marks on one's sides.)


Oh, yeah. It's time to get a little edgy, radical, a little irascible, maybe even a little petulant, just for good measure. Betty's throwing in TWICE the amount of cloves into the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies of Life and she doesn't care if you like it or not!! Whooooo!


OK, so here's my first bold act: You all may remember my post about Lunesta and how much I dug that moth who comes flitting into people's homes, granting sleep to all those who have the grace to swallow the sacred pill. Well, on the day I posted that particular little article meant to amuse you, I noticed that my little clicker recording how many visitors come to see me went a little crazy. Hummm....I thought and dug around in the website that hosts to the little clicker thing and found that the fine folks at Sepracor in Marlborough, MA had looked at the posting about fifteen times and from what I could see were passing it around some and viewing my profile as well. I am sure they were merely admiring my witty writing style. Those large, research-based pharmaceutical companies are always looking for authors to give their dull warning labels a little pizazz.

Old warning: "The most common adverse events reported with Brovana were pain, chest pain, back pain, diarrhea and sinusitis."


Love the term "adverse events"!! I think I'll keep it.


New "Betty" Warning: "Sure, there may be some adverse events associated with wimpy people who take Brovana, but what's life without a few adverse events? If you want that kind of life, maybe you should just buy yourself an isolation chamber and stick yourself in there. Life is all about adverse events and how you deal with them is the measure of your character. Think about the great figures in literature and film. Adverse events are exactly what shaped Gatsby, Hamlet, and that unshaven guy Bruce Willis plays in the Die Hard movies. You want a life without adverse events? Take another medication. This one's not for weaklings like you. If, on the other hand, you are a decent person who fully understands that life is about hard work and overcoming obstacles, then by all means, help yourselves to this drug, and lots of it."

(How about it, Sepracor? Am I hired? Huh? Huh?)

However, I must give my writing friends at Sepracor kudos for the fine job they have done with this description of what might happen when taking Lunesta:

"After taking Lunesta, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing.

The next morning you may not remember that you did anything during the night. Reported activities include:

Driving a car
Making and eating food
Talking on the phone
Having sex
Sleep-walking."

I think that's rather attention-getting, (and somewhat appealing) don't you? Those Lunesta users are just getting a whole lot done during the night. If only they could throw in "Grading Papers" and "Cleaning the Bathroom" I'd be sold completely!

My hope is that the employee at Sepracor in Marlborough, MA whose sole job it is track down references made to their fine products which include Xopenex, Brovana, and Alvesco, in the blogs of middle-aged women is enjoying this post. I want to send a big howdy out to that employee. (Hey! Why not become a follower? Have you checked out the cookie recipes on this blog? Are you getting enough grains in your diet?)

From what I can ascertain from my research, the Judds have no such corporation tracking down people using their names. If you recall I suggested that perhaps Mama Judd had used the moth. Let us not forget that the word "Mother" contains the word "Moth" which leads Betty's Brain in a whole new direction. Look how the word could be used as code: "It's getting late. Time for Moth-er to go to bed!" "I need to Moth-er my daughter so she can get her beauty rest." Ohhhh....

For those readers who decide to come on this wild little pony ride with Betty, I'll report back on the number of times Sepracor shows a fervent interest in my creative writing skills. And don't be surprised if at times, in totally unrelated posts, the word "Lunesta" just pops up. It's just a way of thanking all my readers in Marlborough, MA (while also adding to that Clicker Count!) Wait a minute! Isn't MA an synonym for Mother? Hummmmm. OH OH. Betty's brain is tired. This Being-an-Agitator thing is exhausting. I think it's time to put in a call to my Moth-er.

See you after the papers are graded and the bathroom is clean!

--Betty

P.S. to Sonny Boy: Mama's a radical now! Aren't you proud?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poetry Tuesday


A Blessing


Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian poniesDarken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the
darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

--James Wright

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bossy Betty's Birthday Brouhaha!


 The Industrial Strength Mixer of Birthday Excitement was on Full Whip this entire weekend creating high peaks of memories in the mixing bowl of Betty's brain, memories that will stand out and rise above the landscape in Betty's mind for years.   In years to come, these days will be the Denver Airport of memories--visible for miles up there on the otherwise flat terrain, the white pinnacles beckoning me to remember, waiting for me to fly back to this, my best birthday celebration ever.  

That wonderful Husband of Betty covered up facts, lied and otherwise deceived me as he told me to pack my bag, that we would be going on a trip.  He was acting very suspicious and in my darker hours, (when I discovered that I was down to the Maple Chews in my Whitman's box)  my mind raced to create four horrifying  scenarios:  

 1) He was taking me to a foreign land for Plastic Surgery, directing the surgeon to create the woman of his Dreams  

2)  He was taking me to a foreign land to have one of my organs extracted in exchange for cold, hard cash. (Actually, this scenario was supplied somewhat quickly and gleefully by my brother-in-law.)

3)  He had watched one too many Snuggie commercials and had yearned for the warmth,  safety and security of a cult and we were going to join one.   

4) All of the above.

However when we arrived at the airport I found we were not flying anywhere, that my gift was waiting there:  HOB had arranged to fly in my life-long best buddy from first grade: Elaine.  She stood there, fresh from her flight from Kansas and Betty melted in a puddle.  Not only would I get to keep my internal organs, and my lovely natural appearance, I was going to get to celebrate my significant birthday with my best friend from childhood.  

HOB then announced that he was dropping us off at a hotel near the Santa Monica pier where he left us to roam, unrestricted and unchaperoned on the beach, pier and downtown.  The next day he picked us up and we went to explore the Getty Villa. It was an absolutely beautiful day here in Southern California.  The fountains at the Getty were running, the birds were singing above us as we walked through the gardens and inside we found stone naked Roman and Grecian men, a few of whom still had their "birthday presents" attached after all these years.  Art!  It's SO stimulating!  

"What a great birthday, Betty!" you say...but wait, there's more!

We came home, out to dinner and then over to my friend Karen's house for what was supposed to be a quiet celebration with two guests and cake and ice cream,  but it was actually a surprise party for Betty!  OOOOHHHHHH!!!!!!  It truly was a surprise and it was so much fun!  A beautiful cake, great friends all around, a song composed solely for Betty and sung just for her, presents (I got a SNUGGIE!!! I can join a cult and not even leave home!) and a flashing tiara.  Could a girl ask for more? I think not.

Oh what kind of karma did I inherit from my last life that I am so blessed in this one?  I am so grateful to HOB for not taking me away, but bringing my friend to me and letting me loll around in all this goodness that surrounds me right here.  I am grateful to my two friends who organized the party and dealt with all the stress and details.  When they recover and stand upright again, I am going to take them out for Cokes and then we can replay over and over again how glorious that evening was and how pretty I was, and how many presents I got and then we can act out that moment when I walked out and all my friends were there and maybe I'll dress in the same clothes I had on that night and suggest they take even more pictures of me!  Oh!  They'll just love it!

Alas, this kind of excitement cannot last. I must draw my head out of the giant bag of Birthday Sugar and prepare for days and weeks ahead.  Betty can't live in the silk and taffeta of party dresses forever. There are papers the be graded and laundry to be done.  Still, this was one luscious birthday and the memories of it will dance around in my brain forever, bumping against the walls like colorful gumballs, reminding me over and over again of this moment in my sweet life.  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bossy Betty's Birthday Manifesto: Appendix A

I just hate it when songs on the radio make me cry when I am driving.  Not only does it make my pretty mascara run, causing disruption to my otherwise flawless face and creating a safety hazard for all those around me,  it reminds me of just how sappy  and prone to manipulation by the popular media I am.  Darn it! I want to be Betty O' Steel, not Betty O' Mush!  Anyway, after posting yesterday's Part One of Birthday Manifesto, I got in the car and before I could put my "Living Life in Balance" Dr. Wayne Dyer CD in, a song by Trace Adkins came on and I listened to it as I started off to school.  Well, OK, fine. There would be no Life in Balance on this day. First I write about appreciating the present and then shortly afterwards I hear this song. Betty's a mess and the Universe is in on it.  

Here are the lyrics and Trace's video, if you can handle it.  My apologies to those who cringe and curl up like insects in a windowsill upon reading/hearing anything remotely to do with country music, but Betty's behind the steering wheel of a mood here and apparently you're along for the ride in the careening semi-truck.  

 "You're Going to Miss This"

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying "I can't wait to turn 18."
She said, "I'll make my own money and I'll make my own rules."
Mama put the car in park out there in front of the school
And she kissed her head and said, "I was just like you.

You're going to miss this
You're going to want this back
You're going to wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're going to miss this."

Before she knows it, she's a brand new bride
In her one bedroom apartment and her daddy stops by
He tells her it's a nice place, she says "It'll do for now"
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says, "Baby, just slow down

'Cause you're going to miss this
You're going to want this back
You're going to wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times, so take a look around
You may not know it now, but you're going to miss this."

Five years later, there's a plumber working on the water heater
Dog's barking, phones ringing, one kid's crying and one kid's screaming
And she keeps apologizing. He says "They don't bother me
I got two babies of my own, one's 36 and one's 23.  It's hard to believe

But you're going to miss this.
You're going to want this back
You're going to wish these day, hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times, so take a good look around.
You may not know it now, 
But you're going to miss this."



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bossy Betty's Birthday Manifesto: Part One



While some may look down the highway of time and see birthdays waiting there in the distance, like large roadkill---partially unidentifiable carcasses that become horrifyingly recognizable as you approach them and see a paw or a hoof jutting out of the mangled heap at an unnatural angle--not Betty!  She looks ahead on the highway of time and sees most birthdays as cheerful roadside stands wherein you can buy fruit, flowers, and perhaps a bottle of Coca-Cola too.  

For those birthdays that end in -0, however, a roadside stand just will not do.  Oh no.  These birthdays have been advertised all our lives with big billboards  So for miles and miles the anticipation mounts for the sleek truck/travelers' stop with clean restrooms. The hunger for the world famous soup/pecan log/date shake advertised grows as we ride mile after mile, just looking for that exit.  Then, suddenly, it happens.  It's here. It's time to take that turn, get out, stretch our legs, fill up the tank, have a bite to eat, and nod our heads in recognition at the other travelers.  It's an occasion to stop and take stock of just how far we've come, where we are going, and check to make sure we still have a steady supply of moist towelettes in the glove compartment.

So Betty sits down today at the cheerful blue booth provided by this Haven on the Highway to have a little cellephane-wrapped snack and do a little thinkin'.  Here's Part One of her thinkin':  

It's human nature, I suppose to look ahead and think about the future, but what are we missing right under our noses while we are doing just that?  Why is it we think that whatever is to come is more interesting than what we are going through right now?  Judging from the poems and books on this subject, I know I am not alone in this quest.   From the poem "Next, Please" by Philip Larkin, to Be Here Now by Ram Dass, to the country song, "Don't Blink," it's a theme running through our lives, so why is it so hard to do? 

Birthday Manifesto, Part I:  I will remember to treasure all that surrounds me now, to stop the squirrels in my head from scampering to the next tree too quickly.  On this day I will notice the color and texture of Evan's hair, the way HOB smells just before he goes to work.  I will marvel at the way my legs move smoothly as I walk.  I will listen to the sound of laughter in my office wing. I will just stop and take in the scene of my students at their desks and understand that this moment in time will never come again.  I will look around the dinner table tonight and recognize the beauty of the three of us sitting together in this bubble of time.  I will open an e-mail from Sonny Boy and see his familiar personality come through in his writing.  I will call my mother, hear her pick up the phone and say, "Hello?" and realize how lucky I am for the privilege of still hearing her voice. I will--

Whew.  This may be a lot of work here.  If you find me passed out in the sink tonight, it was not the work of the Glowing Moth (even though it DID challenge me!)  

It will be from sheer exhaustion from the digestion of this delicious life.  


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One of the Many Products That Frightens, Yet Also Intrigues, Betty







Let me say right away that I have no problem with sleeping. I do it a lot and I am very good at it. I come from a long line of champion sleepers. You want to see me nap right now? Fine. Watch me. I can do it.

[Please wait here for 30 minutes or so.]

OK. I'm back and I feel great.  I also eschew pills of any kind.  (Well, I eschew them, but never swallow them!  OK, back to business.)

So it bothers me that when I watch the Lunesta Moth float into people's homes on the advertisements that I, a person with absolutely no problems with sleep, think "Oh, man, I would love to have me some of that stuff." Why do I want to swallow a pill and invite a glowing moth into my home?

Oh, because that moth is good.

1. The neighborhoods it visits on TV are upscale, nicely maintained. HOB and I have no Lunesta Moth flying above us and our lawns are not well-manicured and our home needs repairs. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There is nothing on the Lunesta website about this but I am still reading the fine print.


2. The people the moth visits have angelic, serene expressions as they sleep. No mashed-in faces, hairdo alerts, drool escaping upon the pillows, no arms askew. If someone comes into my house while I am sleeping and finds me, this is the way I want to look. Actually, these Lunesta users look so good they could be models for what embalmers/ cosmeticians-to-the-dead should shoot for.

3. Upon arising the people in the TV ads are practically ecstatic and they take off for their days and are joyous and energetic throughout!  I want some of that!

4. All the people in the ads have really nice bedding too: 500-600 thread count minimum.

You may notice the women all still have their make-up on as well. I guess that warning that the moth is “fast-acting” is true—no time to wash the face before bed. They should throw in a couple of shots of people with heads flopped in the sink, the toothbrushes sticking out of the mouths to dramatize this fact—just a little hint of truth in advertising.

A note: the woman in the last ad looks suspiciously like Mama Judd (of the mother-daughter Judd singing duo) in her younger days. Perhaps this was her “Mama’s Little Helper” that got her through all those days and nights on the road with that attention-seeking Wynonna. Perhaps we should re-visit the basis of Wynonna's weight problems which she is now turning into gold by hawking the diet pill, Alli.  Perhaps Mama slept through much of the trauma of Wynonna’s “growing” years, and yet all the sleep made her beautiful, so in the end, the trade-off might have been worth it.

Large ads on the back of Time urge us to “Take the Seven-Day Challenge.” OH, even though I am not a candidate for a visit from the moth, now that it has been framed in the form of a challenge, can I really back down from it without seeming like a wimp?  

Oh, Glowing Moth, you both frighten and intrigue me.  As you are drawn to the flame, I am drawn to you. Does that mean I am also drawn to a flame?  Is it an Old Flame?  Should I tell HOB about it?  Should I get my fire-retardant negligee out of the mothballs?  

I grow weary!  I think I'd better sleep on it immediately.  You wait here.  I'll be back in eight hours.
 






Tuesday, January 13, 2009

According To A Member Of My Editorial Board, I Have One Basic Problem With My Writing. Well, Maybe There's More, But This Is The Main One.


 "You want to know the problem with your writing?" Evan said. "There's too many words.  People won't read your blog if you keep using so many words in it."

Monday, January 12, 2009

First Day of School


Today is the first day of classes at the small community college where I teach.  Teachers  love the first days of the semester.  The campus is alive with activity; students are eager and enthusiastic, carrying new notebooks and textbooks.  There's an air of new beginnings, new possibilities.  

At a community college you'll find a diverse group of students--the eighteen and nineteen year-olds fresh out of high school, the returning students in their 60's, 70's and 80's, the ESL students there to learn English, the 20 year old transferring to Berkeley in the next year.  One of my classes is a night class where the majority of my students are working adults, mostly in the 30's and 40's finishing up that degree they never got to when they were younger.  They come straight from work, juggling baby-sitters, relatives and kids from their cell phones in order to be there.

When I look out at the faces in my classes that first day, I keep in mind that I may be the first college teacher they've ever had.  To some, my words, my attitude, even the way I walk around the classroom can either give them hope, or can reinforce negative feelings about education and themselves they may already have.  For some students, coming to college at all is an act of bravery and may even be an act of defiance.

By mid-semester, a great number of students will have dropped out.  It's sad but true.  Some find they can't handle balancing working, family, and school and school is the thing that has to go.  Some discover their skills weren't good enough; some discover their interest isn't high enough to push them to do the work that's required.  

Ah, but we have today when all is new and the possibilities are endless.

On Friday, I was up on campus, preparing for my classes.  I spotted a woman, probably in her late 30's, who looked like she was searching for a classroom so I stopped and asked her if she needed help.  "Yeah, I wanted to find my classrooms before my classes on Monday.  I've never been here before."  I took a look at her schedule and quickly saw she was in Drug and Alcohol Studies.  It's no secret that 98 percent of those who major in that are recovering addicts who want to now help others break addictions while understanding their own pasts.  

I went down the list of her classes, pointing out where she could find her classrooms.  "So this one is by the parking lot?  And this one is over in that building?" she asked, somewhat nervously. I nodded, "Get here early because parking can be a problem."  Putting her schedule back in her purse, she said "Thank you," and then added, "I've never been to college before."  I smiled and said, "Well, you're off to a great start."


Sunday, January 11, 2009

So He Strikes Like Thunderball


You've just got to love Tom Jones for being, well, so Tom Jones.  He sings his heart out on songs that are pure corn without a trace of irony.  He throws himself into the moment and goes for it. Oh, I think we could all learn a lesson from this wise man.  

My older sister, Kathleen, was a Tom Jones fan when she was in her late teens.  She might try to deny it now, but I was there with her in those days when we'd sit beside the stereo, listening to him sing, staring at the album cover of his dreamy face.

Even after she'd left the room, I'd remain listening.  Ever hungering for drama and excitement in my rural life, I particularly loved "The Green, Green Grass of Home," which is being sung by a condemned man, singing of his dreams of seeing all his family and his "Sweet Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries."  Bound to be executed in a matter of minutes, he sings of finally reaching that "The Green, Green Grass of Home" though technically, he'll be buried beneath it.

Another favorite was a delightful tune called "Delilah"  in which an enraged man stabs his woman to death because he sees her with another man.  He goes to see her and "She stood there laughing." [Not a good idea.] "I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more."  I particularly loved that line because I got it and I was pretty sure not everyone did. The way Tom sang this sent shivers up my spine and when I went to feed the calves in the evening, I'd try to imitate his style as I sang this song at the top of my lungs.  My audience just stared as me as they happily sucked on their buckets confirming my suspicion that they really did not get it.

And of course, I learned all about Womanhood from his song "She's a Lady."
"Well, she's never in the way
Always something nice to say, Oh what a blessing.
I can leave her on her own
Knowing she's OK alone, and there's no messing."

What I learned and practice even today:
 Stay out of the way.  No one likes a woman who is in the way.  Shrink back in social situations and let your man shine instead.
When you must speak, say nice things--even when angry, confused, or distraught. "I love that color of Excursion.  Now, if it's not too much trouble could you please remove it from my Ford Focus?  So sorry for the little scratch on the fender left by my totally destroyed automobile which you plowed into as you ran the stoplight.  May I buy you some gas to make up for all the trouble I've caused you?"
Be clean and neat at all times, even when left alone. No one likes a "messing" woman.  Always clean the top of the catsup bottle, even when no one is watching.  

His hit "Thunderball" is from a James Bond film.  I heard a radio interview with the man who wrote the song who said that James came in to sing the song, knew nothing about the plot, character, or anything whatsoever about the movie, but they told him to sing it big and he just said, "OK" and went for it.   I had planned on putting a video of Tom himself singing it, but that got pulled from YouTube for some reason.  (Too sexy?) Alas, the only other option was this one which is basically a video of a record going around and around and around and around which can be oddly soothing if you watch it enough times and you've had a lot of cough medicine.  

I hope my sister Kathleen, (a technophobe of sorts) will push the big white arrow, (aka the "Play" button) and listen to this song.  (K-Do it at work, not at home on your dial-up.) Hope you all enjoy it!  Make "Thunderball" the soundtrack of your day and see what happens!



Here are the lyrics so you can sing along!  Sing BIG people!  Make Tom proud!

"Thunderball"

He always runs while others walk.
He acts while other men just talk.
He looks at this world and wants it all,
So he strikes, like Thunderball.
He knows the meaning of success.
His needs are more, so he gives less.
They call him the winner who takes all.
And he strikes like, like Thunderball.

Any woman he wants, he'll get.
He will break any heart without regret.
His days of asking are all gone.
His fight goes on and on and on.
But he thinks that the fight is worth it all.
So he strikes like Thunderball.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wheat! It's the Grain O' the Month!

Wheat. 
It's honest.  
It's forthright.
It has no criminal background. 
You can trust it to be alone with your children.  
OK, OK, so it's no Rhodes Scholar. Maybe it never got invited to the cotillion.  So its wardrobe lacks a certain flair, and maybe its table manners leave something to be desired, but it's the guest you'll invite back to your dinner table time after time.  Why? 

Well, at some point in your life you have to decide what's important to you--sequins and glitter or substance and honesty.  This grain, my friend, has substance and honesty.  Oh, you'd never hear it from them, (they don't like to brag; they consider it gauche,) but they have protein, iron, complex carbs, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine.  They'll make you proud and happy to be a wheat-eating American.*

Now, most kernels of wheat are taken, stripped of their healthy components and are made into the white flour used for making bread, etc.  However, some of these little gems escape that equivalent of factory farming and are released to us with their endosperm wrapped in stylish bran and their precious hearts of germ intact, waiting to, wanting to, loving to benefit our bodies.  These are called Wheat Berries and are our featured grain this first month in the Year of Grains.

*My apologies to all of you out there with Coeliac disease.  You are really fine people, I am sure and even though Betty has lured you in with all the sweet talk of the goodness of wheat, don't try this recipe at home.  I do not want that duodenum of yours getting up in arms and giving you trouble.  There will be other grains, I promise.  


Wheat Berry Salad




OHHHHHHHH.  Look at that yummy, yummy dish of Wheat Berry Salad!  Get closer and really look at it:



That's better.  Here's how to make it:

1 cup wheat berries, soaked 8 to 10 hours, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup Italian dressing

Directions:

Place wheat berries in medium saucepan.  Add 1--1/2 quarts (6 cups) cold water.  Bring to boil on medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 50 minutes to one hour until berries are tender.  Drain.  Transfer berries to medium bowl; cool.

Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 days.

Serves: 4 one cup servings.

YUMMY!  Betty wants a full report from those good people who make this salad. 

Note:  Be sure you cook the berries until they are nice and chewy.  Being the impatient cook I am, I have sometimes skipped the whole soaking thing.  Some people use the slow cooker and cook them overnight.  Crazy, but true!  Try it!



Friday, January 9, 2009

Just for a Moment, Betty is Back On the Wagon


It's coming, people. I hope you've been able to fully prepare for Year of Grains as I am publishing the first recipe for our year-long celebration tomorrow. Are the pans out? Do you have that apron on? Could you at least run a brush through that hair of yours? Is that too much to ask?

Tomorrow's recipe will be a salute to Wheat. Betty grew up in Kansas on a farm that had acres and acres of wheat. Most of our neighbors had it as well so we were treated to quite the show from nature as it turned golden in the fields, and waved at us as we passed by. We were forbidden from running in the fields near harvest. Ah, but the temptation to run down the row with both hands out, the stalks passing by our fingers! I must confess, I gave into the temptation from time to time. Then in the middle of the field, I'd stop and just listen the the sounds of the golden cicada-like conversation all around me as the heavy heads of wheat brushed against each other, sharing their secrets.

After harvest, my dad would save some of the grain for seed for the next year's crop and bring it in from the field with the tractor in a large, narrow wagon. Normally, we were discouraged from playing in that precious wheat, but I have a vivid memory of one year when I was probably six years old or so. My father was on one side the wagon and my mother was on the other. For some reason they allowed me to climb in and bury myself in that bed of grain, pulling the gold kernels all around me. This was sheer ecstasy! I lay down and wiggled about until I was nearly buried. I could hear the kernels dancing about in my ears, singing in their own Morse code to me, once again whispering their golden stories as they settled in and about my ears. I looked up in that wide expanse of blue Kansas sky, listening to the muted voices of my parents above me. Whereas so often their speech was tense, spiked with anxiety about money, the harvest had been good, offering them hope and they stood, speaking to each other soft, genial voices. At that moment, I was rich beyond belief there in that wagon, lolling about in my treasure, my parents on either side of me, their voices arching above me in muted, happy tones, both of them optimistic about the future, if only for awhile.

Today I go to the health food store and get my wheat berries from the plastic tube dispenser in the bulk food section. I carry out that little plastic bag and can't help about childhood. One day you are surrounded by it, buried in it, feeling its richness, listening to its secrets. The years pass and one day you realize that the fields of grains no longer wave at you as you pass by. They just stand, mute and aloof. You are not privy to the conversation any longer. No longer are you surrounded by the richness of possibility, and those voices above you have faded or are gone altogether. You hang on tight to those meager bags of memories you do have, but with the knowledge that even those are perishable as the years pass.

Ah, Betty gets uncharacteristically misty-eyed here, but tomorrow it's all business once again. We head to the kitchen and the kitchen is no place for the misty-eyed, lest you confuse your finger with that bunch of carrots you are chopping with your super-sharp Komachi and draw back a nub. We don't want that now, do we? Blood stains are so hard to remove from clothing.

Thanks for reading, my faithful ones. Betty adores you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cookie Fever!

          (Can you find the cookie that has the face of my Uncle Claude without his teeth?)


There I was, innocently walking down the street in my stylish exercise wear when my normally well-behaved neighbor Linda opened her front door.  I gave her my friendly wave and wished her a good morning and how did she respond?  She yelled, "I Want Some Cookies!" and shut her door. 

Oh my.    

As my regular readers know, I love to bake and I am strongly pro-cookies.  (Newbies, please see entry entitled "Bakin' With Betty" to see just how strongly I feel about this.)  When I bake up batch of cookies,  I am sure to package some up for five of my neighbors and I deliver them.  Apparently, have been remiss in the past few weeks and some people are beginning to have withdrawal symptoms.  It's not pretty, nor is it safe, so I whipped up a batch of Molasses Cookies this morning.

I found this recipe in Nutrition Action Newsletter a couple of years ago and we have been sucking them down ever since.  For my vegan and my "I-wanna-be-vegan-really-I-do" friends, this is a really great recipe to convert.  Just use egg replacer instead of the egg and maybe throw in some soy milk at the end if the batter seems too dry.

Molasses Cookies

2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use regular flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup trans-free tub margarine (I use Earth Balance!)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 whole egg
   cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and set them aside.  In a large bowl, combine the margarine, sugar, molasses, and egg and beat with an electric mixer until well mixed.  Add the flour mixture and  and beat until all the flour is combined.

Drop the dough, one teaspoon at a time onto a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray.*  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. (The cookies may look dry or be slightly cracked.)*  Allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet,* then remove them to cool completely.*




*Betty can't leave it alone:  I roll the dough into little balls instead of dropping them by teaspoons and then I roll them in sugar before putting them on the cookie sheet.

 *Don't we all, at some point in our lives?

*Betty REALLY can't leave it alone.  I sprinkle more sugar on the top of the cookies as they are cooling. 

*Then I lick out the remaining sugar in the bowl. This, of course, is optional, but I recommend it.  It makes the ten minutes afterwards very interesting.

OK, I really have to make those deliveries now.  I think I hear clawing on my door.



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy. We Miss You.

                                         January 7, 1915- June 18, 2005


Those Winter Sundays
                        --Robert Hayden                                                

Sundays too my father got up early 
and put on his clothes in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze.  No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake up and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bossy Betty Creates Her Dream Team


Let's face it:  It's not easy being the Man in Betty's life.  No one man can handle it all.  Though Husband of Betty tries, he'd be the first to admit that even he needs a little back-up from time to time.  That's why I have assembled my stable of men here to step in when it all gets to be too much.  I hereby present Betty's Dream Team:













Nick Arrojo.  He's the hairdresser on "What Not to Wear."  I mean just look at that picture of us together and the way he is looking at me!  OK, OK, it's not me, but if this man came to my door and asked if he could shave my head, I would say, "Yes, Nick. Yes."  Don't tell my current hairdresser, Zeke, but I watch Nick and lust after his hairdressing skills/personality/accent.  "Give us a hug, Luv." Yes, Nick.  Yes.











Cesar Milan:  The Dog Whisperer.  There's something more than a little sexy in a caveman/Sharper Image sort of way about a man who puts on funky skates and takes his Pack O' Dogs out for a spin. Besides that, any man who willingly walks into the living room of a "Red Zone" dog and thrives on it can handle Betty after a bad day of wraslin' with the copier at work or when my curling iron has gone on the fritz.










Patrick Fitzgerald:  Bringing justice to all and going after the bad guys.  Betty likes this in a man.  I say he should devote himself to getting rid of ALL governors committing Hair Crimes.  Go get 'em Patrick and could you pick up some vanilla soy milk on the way home?  Thanks, hon.














EVERY gal needs a Jim Halpert to come by her office/cubicle at work and hang out.  This is essential for good mental health.  It's the only reason some women go to work. Men could learn A LOT by watching Jim interact with Pam on The Office.















That's right--the Jolly Green Giant.  Come on, ladies, admit it.  There's just something about him.... The tag line under "I Stand for Goodness" is (In fact, I Haven't Sat Down Since 1925!)  I love that work ethic in a man.  It's hard not to think about the Jolly Green Giant in a dreamy way when your own man is sitting in his Lazy Boy flipping through channels by the hour.  JGG is out there in the valley all day, watching, supervising, bringing in the vegetables, and unafraid to embrace his feminine side in his green leafy dress-like outfit.   Yummy!














OHHHHHHHHHHH.......This is my all-time dream man and HOB knows it.  If we lived in England, I fear I might just stalk him.  It's James Dyson from the Dyson vacuum commercials.  And when he says, "I just think things should work properly" Betty melts into a puddle on the floor.  OHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  I envision him coming in to the room as I am attempting to use a faulty or difficult appliance (any appliance!) and gently taking my hands away from the problem and saying "I just think things should work properly."  He'd take that problem away--even a refrigerator!  I can see him just lifting it over his shoulder, taking it out to the his workshop and returning it, fully repaired, 30 minutes later--problem solved.  "I just think things should work properly," he'd say over his shoulder as he went back to his workshop to draw up plans for his next breakthrough in vacuuming technology.  OHHHHHHHHHHHH.  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bossy Betty Has An Announcement

Betty's Angels: Ready for Action!

I am a firm believer that we should have a theme for the year.  If you don't have a theme to provide boundaries and limitations, how are you going to make up-to-date fashion choices, elegant decorating decisions and exciting party plans?  

Every January I proclaim a theme for the year and I know my friends and family have just been waiting for this moment. It's big.  It's going to guide A LOT of the upcoming social season.

So, without further ado, I would like to announce that 2009 is 

The Year of Grains
The Year of Grains
The Year of Grains
The Year of Grains
The Year of Grains

That's right.  Grains.  It's time to pull them out, cook 'em up, and start living the life you were meant to live.  Grains are the unsung heroes of the pantry.  Sure, at first sight, they lack the glamour of pasta, the pizazz of the spice shelf, and the temporary excitement of the high-strung syrups and jellies, but given the chance, grains will show you their true rock-solid essence and lead you into a substantial, fulfilling life.  The Amish-like grains are never ostentatious.  They do not wear stilettos and red lipstick and strut down Main Street in a desperate bid for attention. Grains are to our diets like Horatio was to Hamlet--a true and honest friend.  Turn to the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern candy box occasionally if you must, but you'll walk away with an empty feeling every time. 

Betty loves grains and recommends them to all her friends.  In the coming year, I will extol the virtues of  all my grain friends and include recipes and tips for cooking these trustworthy, versatile and quixotic food stuffs.   These "Salute to the Grain" posts will occur about once a month for twelve months, so watch for them! 

Oh, my friends, your lives are about to change for the better.  So put down those paper plates and that glue and remember our slogan:

Grains:  Not Just for Grade School Mosaics Anymore.