Friday, July 31, 2009

Bossy Betty Gets Jiggy With Bulgur Wheat Recipes!

Ready to start enjoying Bulgur Wheat and all the Joy it can bring to your otherwise drab existence?

Let's GO!!!


Traditional Tabouleh

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
  • I medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bulgur, medium grade
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Soak the bulgur wheat for one and one half hours.

Drain thoroughly. Mix all ingredients. Serve or refrigerate.


My friend Kathy sent me the following recipe. It sounds really yummy!


BULGUR SALAD WITH SUNFLOWER SEEDS
1 c. bulgur wheat
2 c. water
2 lg. tomatoes, diced
1 med. cucumber, diced
1 med. yellow squash, diced
2 green onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp. dried parsley (or 3 tbsp. fresh)
1/4 c. dry roasted unsalted sunflower seeds

DRESSING:
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. water


1. Soak bulgur wheat in a bowl in the water for 3 to 4 hours. The wheat will soak up the water and become puffy and chewable. Drain excess water.
2. Combine dressing ingredients.

3. Add vegetables, parsley, sunflower seeds to bulgur wheat. Mix. Add dressing and toss well.


I've made this one before. It makes a great side dish!

Bulgur Pilaf

A flavorful bulgur pilaf with green onions and mushrooms
By Diana Rattray, About.com

1/2 cup butter
2 cups coarse bulgur
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, about 4 ounces
4 cups chicken broth or bouillon (I use veggie variety--BB)
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in casserole and sauté onion until just softened; add bulgur and sauté another 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and green onion and sauté 1 minute. Heat broth or bouillon in a separate saucepan; stir hot broth or bouillon into bulgur and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bake at 350° for approximately 30 minutes. Stir with fork and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Serves 6.




Thursday, July 30, 2009

July's Grain of the Month! Bulgur Wheat!



Oh, you've waited a long for this one.

However, the wait will have been worth it.

This month we look at the wonders of Bulgur Wheat.

It's one of those grains you don't think about enough.

No, really.

Trust me on this.

You need to set aside just a little more time to really think about it and you'll find how just the thought of bulgur will clear out the brain tubes and wipe away the haze.



Bulgur is sold to us by those kind purveyors of health food and is actually wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried and then cut into various sizes. Since it's been parboiled, all you need to do is soak the magical grain in water and it springs to life, ready to give you oodles of protein and fiber.

You can soak some (it takes about an hour or so in cold water or ten minutes in really hot water) then add it to all sorts of dishes. Adding it to hamburger extends the meat and also cuts out some of the guilt you may feel about still eating the red flesh. You can throw it in salads and casseroles. You can eat it like oatmeal, or add it to traditional oatmeal for a kick. You can even soak it in fruit juice, add more fruit to it and make a yummy dessert.


So check your brain's schedule of Thinkin' Time and see if you can rearrange or re-schedule some of those blocks of time.

Take that hour you were planning to think about Jon and Kate, or that thirty minutes you were going to use to analyze your little toenail (that really can't be normal, can it?) or that two minutes you were going to use to think about the meaning of life and how to make a difference in our troubled world, and think about Bulgur Wheat instead.

Begin now.

Tomorrow, I'll be back with recipes!




Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bossy Betty Gives Her Seal of Approval to the Tomato.

Tomatoes!

I love them and I am trying very hard to trust those people who do not.

What's better than a beautiful tomato, fresh from the garden?

Oh these Globes of Goodness we hold in our hands!

They are warm, red, stoplights we hold in our hands that remind us to stop and enjoy this time of year.



We recently went to see a friend of ours who lives in Beverly Hills who grows LOTS of beautiful tomatoes.
She has eighty plants this year.
It was a trip to Tomato Wonderland!

She grows a lot of heirloom varieties and starts picking at 6:00 each morning and picks for at least two or three hours.
She's a very impressive 86 year-old!


Here are some of her beauties still on the vine.



She gives the majority of her tomatoes away to the many, many people who wait for her crop to come in. She also cans a lot of them. She makes her spaghetti sauce in advance and preserves it as well. This was just one of her cabinets o' sauces.



OH! Let us sing the praises of the tomato and dance with joy each and every time we see one!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Fiddler Jones


Fiddler Jones
from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters


THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Flower Delivery Once More. This Time With Passion.

I found Passion the other night in a strange man's back yard garden.

Oh, yes, readers, I confess to you, I did.

It started off innocently enough. I was just there to see his tomatoes, but before you knew it.... One thing led to another and....

Well, it was that mysterious slice of time between evening and night and he just couldn't hold back any longer.

He took me far back into his garden and he revealed to me his Passion.

Flowers that is.


What were YOU thinking of?

I had never seen these before. Aren't they wonderful?

It was getting dark when HOB and I said goodbye. (Didn't I mention HOB was there?) So I had to take these pictures inside when I got home.


By the way, for those of you having lurid thoughts about these flowers, here's what our friends at Wikipedia say about the Passion Flower.

The "Passion" in "passion flower" does not refer to sex and love, however, but to the passion of Jesus Christ.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus Christ and especially the Crucifixion:

The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
The tendrils represent the whips used in the Flagellation of Christ.
The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
The flower's radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the Crown of Thorns.
The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
The blue and white colors of many species' flowers represent Heaven and Purity.


These flowers came from the garden of our friends, J and D and when I said J was a strange man, I meant that in the nicest possible Betty-idolizing kind of way. He and D are some of the coolest people we know. We now walk by their house about twelve times a day, just hoping they'll invite us in once again.

Happy Mondays!



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thinking About Passing Up That Deep Fat Fried Twinkie? Think Again!


"Stop suffering every time you look in the mirror."

"Stop hassling with complicated exercise programs."

"It's the ONLY way to get your figure back!"

Yahoo!!! I'm ordering one of these! Pass the fried chicken and potato salad, please!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back to the Crafts Store With Betty


It's Saturday!

Time to clean out the garage.

Time to do that laundry.

Time to sit and pick the ticks off the dog and place them in a Mason jar to add to your collection.

Your work never ends.

Since you have no time to get out and about, Betty thought you'd enjoy a virtual trip to the Crafts Store.


Oh wait! I hear a bit of grumbling out there. I hear, "Hey, Betty! It's Saturday! If you are going to take me somewhere through pictures, why not the beach? I don't want to go to the stinkin' Crafts Store! I want the excitement of the beach! I want to go to the beach!"

Well, OK! Fine! But THIS trip is going to be powered by your own imagination!

Won't that be fun?


Let's start. Look at the picture above and imagine the gentle, undulating waves, flowing up to the shore.

OH! It's a beautiful day here at the beach!

You were so right. This IS better than the Crafts Store!

Hey! I've got an idea! Let's not just sit on the diamond-like sand, let's get a boat and go out!

OK! What fun! Grab your sun screen!


Look above!

These are the bubbling, giggling, foamy waves that playfully surround your small, poorly constructed rowboat as you naively head out for a day of fun atop the dark, chilly depths.

Their jumping, gently roiling action reminds you of playful little puppies, coming up to nip your heels.

Oh! This is so fun!

You laugh.

You sing!

You remember you forgot to bring any food or water on your trip. (Things you would not have had to worry about on a trip to the Crafts Store since there is an AM/PM nearby with snacks and drinks, but hey! This trip to the beach which you insisted upon is SO MUCH BETTER!)

Drop your hand in the water.

Oh! Those gleeful little puppies are getting bigger!

They grow so fast!

You know, into large, overly-aggressive, often-times vicious packs of attack dogs that can take down an innocent human and dismember him/her in 3.2 seconds.



Oh! What's this?

Churning, boiling, seething water coming up to meet you like hell's envoy?

Why, yes! It certainly is!

Your boat and you are tossed about on the water like dice in the hands of a cocaine-addicted gambler in Vegas.

Oh! Where is the shore?

Gone!

Swallowed up by miles and miles of this madness which mocks your feeble attempts to survive.

If this there the simple trip to the Craft Store that Betty suggested in the first place, you could simply turn and walk out the front doors to escape, but, no, YOU wanted to go to the beach.

You were SO right!

This was much better.

What's that?

Does Betty sense that a virtual trip to the Crafts Store is sounding pretty good right now?

Does Betty sense an apology?

Oh no need for that.

Betty does not hold a grudge. Just knowing you are experiencing Personal Growth Through Guilt is enough for me.

Now you'd better get back to those chores.

Those ticks aren't going to pull themselves!

Have a lovely Saturday!






Thursday, July 23, 2009

Goodbye, Pathfinder


Tomorrow we say hello to our new car, but alas, we must also say good-bye to our 1995 Nissan Pathfinder.

HOB and I were pretty darn proud when we bought our new vehicle 14 years ago. We were a growing family and needed more room than our little Honda could give us. It was a big deal for us to buy a new car. I still remember picking it out, waiting for the credit approval, then bringing it back home and showing it to the boys.


(As you can see, back in 1995, we were not too terribly worried about that MPG.)


For some reason, the loss of this car is hitting us both harder than we expected it to. Maybe it is because there were so many family moments that happened in that car. We took a lot of trips together in the Pathfinder, had a lot of talks in it, drove to soccer games and many, many school functions. Many July Fourths, we parked it on a hill, opened up the back and sat together, watching the fireworks.

Both boys rode in car seats in this car; both boys learned to drive stick shift in this car.

It was my car in the beginning and since the preschool the boys went to was on the same college campus where I taught, we spent a lot of time together in it, to and from school, talking about our days.

After about five years, I started driving a van, and the Pathfinder became HOB's car. So many evenings, the boys and I would sit on the front porch, waiting for the dependable Pathfinder to come down the street. Dad was home! Time for dinner. During HOB's stint as driver, Sonny Boy became enamoured with inline skating and took it quite seriously. He insisted we put this bumper sticker on the back:


HOB, ever the patient and proud father, allowed the bumper sticker but reported more than a few strange looks from people passing by him.

After HOB got his new car, a few years passed and the Pathfinder was our utilitarian vehicle that carried bikes, loads to the recycling center, the dog to the vet.

Then, Sonny Boy graduated from high school and started college. In his sophomore year, he needed a car to take to college and the Pathfinder filled the bill. He and his girlfriend filled with with their things and prepared to make the long journey. I stood beside this vehicle, my hand on the side, giving it a mother's blessing, praying that it would make the journey safely and protect the people within. It did and when it was time for Sonny Boy to make the rare trip home, you can bet the sight of this red car, rounding the corner, coming to a stop in front of our house was a welcomed sight.

(Last time he drove home, he got to to our house, pulled up and then at that moment, got a flat tire. Don't tell me those Mothers' Blessings don't work.)

Since we are turning the car in as part of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, the car will be destroyed. It's a hard pill to swallow. Both HOB and I lament that fact and will miss the Pathfinder. It's been a good, constant, reliable car. However, when we get too dewy-eyed and sentimental about our loss, Sonny Boy's Girlfriend brings up the women on "What Not To Wear" who cling to terrible old t-shirts, and ratty old hairstyles. The rest of the world can clearly see it's time for a change.

HOB assured me last night that the metal from the car will be used to make a lot of other things and in that way it will live on. However, I'll be the one driving it over to the dealership tomorrow, handing over the keys, and saying good-bye to our Pathfinder, giving it one final pat on the side and whispering "Thanks for everything."




Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Modest Proposal for Improvement of the English Language OR Betty's Gonna Snap: One in an Occasional Series

This is a close-up of a cactus.
You didn't know that?

Betty is all for verbiage. Take her to a party and wind her up. She likes to talk and likes to respond to people talking. She considers this act high on the evolutionary scale and is proud to be a walking/talking mammal.

However, there is one particular phrase that I would like to nominate for exclusion from everyday conversation. This is my humble request and I am generously giving people a grace period of six months to rid themselves of this odious series of words, placed together and followed with a question mark.

First, let me just set a scene:

Fresh off an extensive feast of documentaries about World War II, and in particular the Japanese culture/involvement, I was at a party and sharing some of my new found knowledge with a woman who seemed genuinely interested. (I would find out later she was slightly drunk and was just trying to focus on my rapidly moving lips.)

She nodded when I spoke, she had the right kind of eye contact, her face showed an interest which led me to keep spouting off, spewing information which I found fascinating and I knew she would too. Finally, I stopped and she said it:

"You didn't know that?"

To save the social situation I mumbled something about well, yeah, I had heard of a lot of that stuff, but found these films really interesting....

Then I went and ate massive amounts of cheese.

Since that incident, I have thought a lot about that phrase and have come to the conclusion that there is no altruistic purpose in it. OK, so you are astonished that someone didn't know something. In what way does pointing it out aide/help that person?

So, my people, I am advocating for a complete abandonment of this phrase.

OH! You are shocked! You disagree with Betty?

OK, my Dumplings, perhaps you can think of a situation in which it is meant in a kind, non-demeaning way. (I have actually thought of one that will be included at the end of this post.)

Please inform Betty.

It is NOT even a matter of intonation and emphasis on a particular word.

Consider the following examples:

"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"

All of these are useless and serve only to make the speaker feel superior.

Important Note: I am not against this phrase used without the question mark. I can see the value in this.

New Employee: "Oh, was I supposed to get a giant bag of pork rinds for the big meeting?"

Experienced Employee: "Oh yeah. It's OK. You didn't know that. You can pick some up this afternoon when you go out for the blow-up deer for tonight's big company dance."


So, I would like to eliminate this this phrase from ordinary conversation. Are you with me? Can we start the REVOLUTION, my people?

Yes, it's time for that question to go from ordinary conversation. HOWEVER, it's FINE for literature such this scene from my upcoming Romance Novel: Forbidden Secretions.

He held her close and she could feel his hot breath on her supple, swan-like neck neck.

"You are so beautiful. I have always loved you. I have always worshiped you, my darling. You don't how I have longed to hold you close," he said.

She gasped and whispered, "But you shunned me for years, preferring the beautiful Duchess, calling me a no-good daughter of a pig farmer and spitting at me as you drove by in your golden carriage."

He tilted her head up toward his, his shirt buttons (conveniently being snaps) popping open, exposing his hard, chiseled, yet strangely well-moisturized chest. Their eyes met and her heart blazed up. "I longed for you," he said. "My spitting at you was the closest I could get to exchanging bodily fluids with you. You have always been the love of my life. You didn't know that?"*


Now THAT my people is where this phrase belongs, not on our lips.**

*This denotes "I was an idiot for not letting you know."

**Don't get cute with Betty and try the "Didn't you know that?" variation. It means the same thing. But then, you knew that, didn't you?







Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: To A High School Senior


To A High School Senior
--Pat Schneider
(for K)

Don't go. Don't stay.
Daughter. Morning after afternoon
the last year slips away.

Singing all the old songs, you will go
(ambivalence of moon, certainty of sun)
we know

only half of what we are.
The earth is earth to us, star
perhaps

if apprehended far enough away.
Daughter – don't go.
Don't stay.

Monday, July 20, 2009

HOB and Betty's Big Adventure: Car Shopping Continues.

It was fairly late when we left the very calm/nearly comatose man at the VW dealership, but we stopped by the Honda dealership on a lark and were greeted by a very nice guy who handed us off to another very nice guy who showed us some cars. There was no sales job, no high pressure tactics, no one took our name and number. We just looked and when it was time to go, we left with a handshake and a smile.

Driving home, we commented how car-buying and car sales people had certainly changed over the years. Maybe, we surmised, the industry had finally gotten the message that high pressure tactics didn't work anymore. We were ready for this new, civilized, enlightened world. Yee-Haw.

Then. The Next Day. We Entered Mitty's World.

Despite the good experience we had with the first Honda dealership, we decided to go visit the one closer to us. We figured it would be more convenient and we wanted to see if the prices were about the same.

Driving into the dealership, we spied at least eight hungry car salesmen perched at the front entrance, all in white shirts. They were the sea gulls. We were the fish. I clutched my notebook, full of my facts and figures and we started for the door.

We decided to not walk straight through them, but to go off to the side a bit. There, we were met by a man in a blue shirt who introduced himself and wanted to know what we were interested in. He said he was the sales manager and said he would find a salesman who "was a good fit" for us. Now, the man had talked to us for fifteen seconds, so I wasn't quite sure what he meant by "a good fit," but soon, out came Mitty, a middle-aged white guy (good fit, hummmmm) with a oddly weathered face to shake our hands and look us in the eye. Mitty could have easily been one of the guys on "The Deadliest Catch."

"Got enough paper in that notebook?" he said.

Making Fun of Betty's Notebook: Strike One.

Though there were 500 cars surrounding us, Mitty led us straight to a desk where he grilled us about the other makes and models other than Honda we were considering. Then he asked, "So do you want the lowest priced car or the most car for your money?" We smiled politely, but did not answer. He asked again. "Both," I said. Believe it or not, he asked again.

"Do you want the lowest priced car or the most car for your money?"

Needlessly repeating stupid question: Strike Two.

I wanted to show him how ridiculous this question was, so I said, "How are we supposed to answer that question? Are we supposed to say 'Oh yeah, I want the least car for my money?' I mean, really, what do you expect us to answer?"

HOB was smirking at this point, knowing exactly what I am thinking. HOB knows I really have trouble with guys like Mitty and I think he actually enjoys watching the mouse being lowered into my cage.

Mitty ignores me, turns to his computer and goes to the exact web sites we have viewed at home. He delights in showing us reviews of the Honda we are interested in. He scrolls down, showing us the high ratings. I stop him at a low rating. "Look at that," I say. Mitty goes on to show me why the guy who wrote the review is an idiot. Mitty then commits himself to running down the Mazda 3, the other car I was thinking about.

At no time does Mitty take us anywhere near a car. Instead we are in the office, looking at web sites we have already seen. Then Mitty fulfills the stereotype of the car dealer completely when he asks if he can "...make it happen, will you make the deal today? Can we make this sale today?"

Now, HOB is incredibly patient during this whole process. He knows the game and just sits back watching it play out. I, on the other hand, grow impatient with Mitty. I shake my beloved notebook at him and say, "We've spent hours researching cars. Do we look like people who make rash decisions? Do we look like people who are in a hurry? Do we look like people who act on impulse?"

Mitty blinks and looks at HOB who sits patiently.

"Hell, I can put you in that car today. You could drive off the lot in a brand new car today."

Repetition of the word "today": Strike Three. (Let's face it, at this point it does not take much.)

Mitty leaves and I turn to HOB, announce the price at the other Honda place is about $150.00 higher and I am more than willing to pay it if I don't have to deal with Mitty any more.

Mitty sends in salesman number two.

"Are you here to rough us up?" I ask, now ready for my second mouse of the day. "Are you here to make fun of my notebook?"

No, he is here to repeat to us why buying a Mazda is a bad idea and to show us MORE web sites that we have already seen.

Mitty comes back in to sit with us. I am really ready to go but they are "printing some comparisons up" so we sit and wait for the comparisons.

Soon we are able to escape.

At no time did either of these guys ever physically show us a car or let us get near a car. What's up with that?

We left, went to the Mazda dealership, test drove a car and decided against it. (Just a little too boxy.)

Then we went back to the first Honda dealership, located our sales guy, who answered our questions thoroughly but made no attempt to coerce us or upsell in any way. We took a test drive, did a little wheeling/dealing, signed the papers and bought a new car.

Since we are participating in the "Cash for Clunkers" program, we can't take delivery until Friday. Then, I will be Sporty Spice, driving around in my new white Civic Coupe.

Mitty does have HOB's work phone number and I imagine he'll be calling soon after HOB gets to work today. On one hand, I wish I could be the one to give Mitty the news, but really, I think HOB will do a better job of it. He won't get sarcastic, for one thing. I won't be there when he talks to Mitty and although I KNOW this line will not be a part of the conversation, I like to imagine it will be:

HOB: "Hey, NOBODY makes fun of my wife's notebook, Buddy."








Sunday, July 19, 2009

Car Shopping With Betty n' HOB

Betty's a practical gal and a follower of the drive-it-until-the-wheels-fall-off philosophy of car ownership. While you would be correct to assume she does this for environmental and economical reasons, you would also show an astute knowledge of Betty's Pet Peeves to assume the main advantage of this philosophy is it keeps Betty out of car dealerships and away from car salespeople.

In the past, most of our car purchases have been exhausting, drawn-out, confusing processes in which we have emerged, overwhelmed, drained, feeling as though our very souls have been processed and packaged like sardines in little oval cans.

All the stars aligned around our household, however, and it became necessary to go car shopping, so HOB and I did what we do best: avoided it for as long as we could by doing research on the Internet. By the time we entered the doors of the dealership, we had a lot of facts and figures in out heads and I had a little notebook in my purse with notes about the different makes and models we wanted to explore.

We were armed, as much as possible, for the gruesome battle ahead.

Our journey started one evening when we drove to the Volkswagen dealership. We steeled ourselves inside the car before getting out. We knew what was coming and we vowed to be firm and not to be reduced to jelly by the relentless verbal machinations of the car salesman/vicious shark. NO! This time WE would be the ones processing the sardines, thank you very much.

We walked up to the door of the car dealership and noticed a man in his late 50's standing by the door. He had the air of a gentleman who had just arisen from his easy chair and had stepped out to enjoy the fine evening air before preparing to drink his warm milk and go to bed.

As we were entering the doors, he seemed to slowly withdraw from his reverie and introduced himself, by his first name. I noticed he was wearing a polo shirt with the dealership's logo, so I told him we were looking for the Jetta TDI diesel. He nodded and squinted across the lot for a long moment. We turned our heads in the direction he was looking, seeing nothing but the tops of cars.

Time passed.

Finally he spoke.

"Oh," he said. "You know, I think we might have one of those, but it's sold."

"Oh," we said.

Nodding again. Silence and then... "There's a couple coming in from Fresno for that car tomorrow."

We nodded back.

Silence. Looking at the sky, then over the tops of the cars again.

It was a little like a scene from an episode of the Andy Griffith Show after everyone has had one of Aunt Bee's huge Sunday dinners and is relaxing on the porch planning a big trip later down to the gas station to get a bottle of pop.

Silence. Nodding.

"Well, OK!" I brightly said, breaking the silence. We turned to go.

"I could let you sit in it, if you wanted to."

We stopped and turned back. "OK," we said.

He went in to get the keys.

We were set to walk across the lot with him, bantering about cars, using some of the lingo we had picked up in our Internet research. Instead he directed us to the car by pointing across the lot. "It's over there. You just keep walking for a bit and you'll see it."

We went. We sat in it. I made notes in my notebook. We were done. We wandered by Jettas but they were all locked up and there were no salespeople in sight. We went back up to find our "salesman" sitting in his office, leaning back in his chair, calmly waiting.

I thought about it before we entered the office again. Perhaps this sly man was a car-selling genius. These cars were in short supply. People were paying top dollar for them. Perhaps his tactics would work. Perhaps we had been lured in, expertly psychologically prepared, lambs to the slaughter. Oh yes, I thought as watching him apparently studying a spot on the wall. He knew exactly what he was doing. This is when we'd get the sales pitch, the offers, the promises, the tantalizing facts that would push us to order. NOW! Tonight! He'd use his verbal weaponry to reduced us to signing-on-the-dotted line fools.

"You ever thought about the Prius?" was the first thing he asked.

HOB asked if he had ever driven one.

"Nope. But a lot of people like 'em."

More nodding and more silence. We had thought about asking if he could actually unlock a regular Jetta for us, but we didn't really want to bother him any further, so we left.

Tomorrow: We go Honda shopping.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Final Portland Pictures (Really!)

OK, OK, I may try to sneak more in from time to time, but I think I may have my Portland Picture Publishing ya-ya's out now.



Love those bridges...




Two more from the Japanese Garden:



See you tomorrow!

--Betty

Friday, July 17, 2009

Portland Walls

I didn't spend all my time lookin down at grates. I found some good-looking walls too.




Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Portland Sampler Plate Is Ready

We went to Powell's--largest independent new and used book store in the world. 1.6 Acres of retail space!


We ate at Voodoo Doughnuts. I had a Tang-covered doughnut!

I'm all for that!

We visited Multnomah Falls--611 feet high. See the bridge? We were on it at one point.


We visited the Japanese Gardens. Very cool. Very Simple. Very Controlled.


Portland has a great city-scape. For some reason, I liked this building.


That's me with Ramona from the Beverly Cleary books!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Back! I Had a Grate Time in Portland!

(Mable and I are still in negotiations concerning control of the blog. Circumstances are in my favor, however, since I can go approximately ten minutes longer than she can without a nap. I intend to have her sign away all rights as soon as her eyes begin to glaze over.)

I'll be back tomorrow with more of a narrative of my trip.

Meanwhile here are some grate photos I took while in Portland, a city that understands the amount of time people spend looking down throughout the day. Thanks for making that time a bit more interesting.






Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day Four: I Sense the End of My Reign and Anyway, I'm Getting Bored.

Did You Hear That?

This morning I heard it: the sounds of the males of the house hurriedly cleaning up. The smell of cleaning fluid is in the air and large garbage sacks of fast food wrappers are being carried from the house. This can mean only one thing--that my main human is coming home today.

This means that my time here on the blog has come to an end and while I will miss giving you my highly sought-after advice, I must admit that this whole World Domination Through Blogging thing has really cut into my nap times. It's probably best that I hand the whole project back over to that woman who really has nothing better to do with her time. As for me, well, I've got my paws full around here just training this family to meet my needs.

I must go now. Though you humans are interesting creatures, I grow somewhat weary and bored of this simple communication method of yours.

For being faithful readers, I will share with you this one secret before I leave. Don't tell anyone else. OK, Here it is:

When you humans die and are standing at the Gates of Heaven, waiting to find out if you get in, it is the cats you have had in your life who come out and ultimately make that decision.

This is absolutely true.

Do not doubt it.

Do not gamble with this information.

Do not risk your future.

Do not forget to pick up extra cans of Fancy Feast Elegant Fare, Florentine Collection Tender Turkey and Cheddar Cheese Souffle With Garden Greens. Extra Gravy, please.


Thanks,
See you and yours at The Gate!
Mabel

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day Three and I Am Still In Control


Do some of you come to this blog expecting pictures of someone other than me?
Hello?
Have you ever seen an O magazine?


Let's face it. It's exhausting just being a cat and sometimes a girl's got to have a little fun.

Here's Mabel's Guide to Big Time Fun:

1) Don't be afraid to eat. Life's too short for Diet Kibble. That big male human tried to put me on a diet once. Imagine! Oh, he had nerve. He let that other cat have all she wanted. (Note that I do not mention the other cat around here very often. She's a complete sellout, a drooling sycophant to these people.) Anyway, that whole diet thing did not last very long. My vigorous campaign for more food via enhanced vocal sounds jellied his nerves within one week, and now my kibble dish is always full--as it should be.

2) Nap as much as you can, as often as you can, wherever you can. Napping is the fountain of youth. Napping is essential to good mental health. The best naps are taken on flat, clean surfaces. If your humans do not clear their table for you, simply show them how to do it. They are slow creatures, but they'll eventually get the idea.

3) Fountain drinks are superior to "bowls." Insist on them! Why drink still water from a common bowl when you can have fresh water gently running from the tap? My technique is this: I wait for the medium-sized human to go to the bathroom sink to place small round plastic discs in his eyes. Just as his finger gets near his eye I leap up and rub against his elbow. He makes a strange sound, but he has learned that this is his cue to turn on the water just a trickle and it is then I lap up my day's supply of clear liquid.

4) Cat Nip is your friend. It clears the mind and allows peaceful thoughts to flow. Insist on it. Don't just settle for the stuff that comes in the bottom of the scratch pad. Your humans know where to get the good stuff. As you can see from the picture below, mine sure do.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day Two of My Total Domination

Even with my extreme intelligence, I still rely on basic reference books.

When I adopted these people about seven years ago, they were woefully unprepared to handle a cat of my obvious intellect and very specific needs.

I have spent a lot of time training them and while they have made some progress, it has been slow. For instance, how many times must I scratch on the door jamb before they come running to open the door? How hard can it be to respond in a prompt manner? And why must they shout my name as they run the to the door? I understand they are praising me for being such a smart cat, but I go weary of the adulation.

The bed is another matter. I do not understand how two people can take up so much space. I give them both sides of the bed, and as is appropriate, I take the center of the bed. In my opinion, I am generous to share the bed with them at all, but I sometimes hear them complaining. Please.

I will be blunt. There are times when my humans can be, how shall I say this? A little dim, obtuse, stupid, dull-witted, foolish, slow-witted, and dense. Sometimes I wonder if I should keep them at all, but then they do something worthwhile like buying me three cases of food and I find myself forgiving them their deficiencies.

Alas, even though my main human is off on vacation, there are still other humans in the house and I hear them rustling about. I must sign off now and pretend to be merely stretching out upon this computer. If they know of my abilities they will begin to rely on me too heavily and they will never learn to grow on their own.

Until tomorrow,
Mabel

I'll give them my pensive look. They fall for that every time.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is She Finally Gone? My Complete Domination Can Begin



Finally, she's gone on her trip to Portland.

I have been waiting for this exact moment in time.

For weeks I have had to sit beside that woman as she signed on to this blog, imputing her password, and using her "secret" codes to publish her drivel and meaningless pictures.

Poor sap. She actually thought I was snuggling up to her for affection. (Yeah, Right...)

And while I had to endure her endless cooing about how beautiful I am (like I don't know it!) and her awkward petting of my perfect fur with that clammy, fleshy hand of hers, I did achieve my goal.

I learned her precious little codes and now I get give the world the information it longs for.

Now, on this blog, it's All Mabel, All The Time. I won't bore you the way she did. I've got a lot of essential information to give you.

This is the News You Can Use.

Important Stuff.

First, however, it is time for a nap. I suggest you take one too. Let's make it a short one this time around.

See you in 12-14 hours or so.

Need a visual aide? Please see below.

Signed,
Mabel the Cat



This is the way you do it, people. Begin now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Off on VACAY!!!


That big pile of WintOGreen Life Savers can only mean one thing:
Betty's geared up for a trip.

Regular readers of Betty will recall that Betty luvs to travel and often has flashes of brilliant insight induced by the smell of airplane exhaust.

This time it's off to Portland, Oregon with some grad school buddies. We'll be gone there for four fun-filled days. This morning I'll take the train to the airport, fly to Portland and then meet the buddies who are flying in from Sacramento.

I've never been to Portland before and really have no expectations of the city. I do know, however, that there is a Beverly Cleary sculpture garden AND I may be able to visit Klickitat Street which Henry Huggins fans will recognize. I am sure we will visit Powell's Books and maybe, just maybe ride Portland's famed public transportation system. There's also been talk of visiting the Japanese Garden.

Hey, when you vacation with English majors, you gotta be ready for serious action like this.

I'm leaving the males on their own here. I think they'll be fine. Mabel, my cat, however, may miss me. It's strange, but I think she knows I am leaving. She comes and sits by my side whenever I have my computer open. She heaves her impressive body up against mine and stares at the screen. She's so attached and devoted to me. All I can do is assure her (and all my faithful readers out there) that I'll be back soon with a full report from Portland.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crafty Betty Returns With Questions


I thought we'd go back to the Crafts Store today. Hope you enjoy these pictures and the mind-expanding questions too!



Who invented the zipper? Why do most zippers have YKK on them? Have you ever sewn a zipper into a garment? How many stuck zippers (either literal or figurative) have you had to deal with in your life? Why were zippers at one time considered immodest for women?




What exactly is foam rubber made of? Have you ever (inadvertently or on purpose) inhaled old foam rubber? Is picking at foam rubber human nature? Have you ever tried to cut thick foam rubber? What percentage of Americans have slept on foam rubber during their college years?




When were the first buttons invented? Why do women's garments button from the left and men's button from the right? Did you have a button collection when you were a child? Have you ever swallowed a button?