Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tennessee throwdown

Friends I hope we all had as fabulous of a holiday as I did.  Let's just say day one and I'm drunk with my mother in my poodle pajamas, singing Herman's Hermits at the top of my lungs in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  Now if that doesn't bring a tear to your eye in the spirit of the holiday season, I don't know what will.

A good night's sleep and a few aspirin later, we managed to pull ourselves together and accomplish a day's worth of chores, holiday-style, most of which revolved around which outfit the Tiny Sheriff would be wearing, discerning whether the Tiny Sheriff was in fact still hungry/thirsty, and, most importantly, determining the Tiny Sheriff's mood, which ranges from pissed off to extremely pissed off.  All in all a productive venture!  And even with time to spare to take Paula Deen up on her challenge of the month:  decide for yourself which shrimp 'n grits recipe really is the best.  Well, folks, my momma isn't one to blaspheme the mistress of the south, so we took an evening to settle the great debate once and for all.

First we cut up all the ingredients and put them in their own brightly-colored wares just like Paula would do on her own show. And then we were so worn out from our labors we snapped some pictures, had a cocktail, and briefly commented on how the Tiny Sheriff may or may not need to put on her doggie snuggie because she was looking cold and particularly pissed off.  Then we realized the grits take over an hour to cook and why the sam hill did we spend the last hour aimelessly chopping veggies for the money shot.  Idiots.

ANYWHO.  We finally figured it was time, as sister would say, to TCOB (take care of business).  Frank Stitt's sophisticated recipe included yellow grits seasoned with fontina cheese, and shrimp sauteed with white wine and various flavorful veggies, such as sweet tomatoes, chives and green onions.

Paula's spicy, low-country creation (which I've made before and thoroughly enjoyed) included white grits seasoned with sharp cheddar, and shrimp sauteed in bacon grease (yikes), chopped peppers, and creole seasoning.

All paired with some tasty libations including, from the left, a rose I brought back from a small winery in the Hamptons (I must've been a few glasses in when I tried it this summer because it tasted like shiz), Sarah's Patio Red from Virginia's Chrysalis winery - a family favorite and highly recommended!- a very light, sweet red served chilled, and, randomly pictured, a delicious Malbec/Tempranillo blend Mumsie brought to the cabin from Florida.
We finished our mad, chaotic, double-burner showdown and each sat down with one bowl of each in order to sip, stir, munch and scrutinize.  We decided we ever so slightly preferred Frank's subtle, more sophisticated  flavor's over Paula's cajun overload, but we thoroughly enjoyed both and filled up for second helpings of each (with a small morsel or two for the Sheriff herself).
 And that was our Thanksgiving break throwdown folks!  The rest of the weekend was full of more feasting, some college football (RIP Florida Gators), plenty more libations and tons 'o reading, which will produce more book reviews in the near future.  (The photo-documentation is dedicated to Miss Jessi-Anne and her colorful food blog that always makes my stomach growl.)  xo 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Outside, there were two tickets in the window of the Pontiac -- a parking fine, and one for a smashed headlight.  It was enough to almost knock me sideways.  Before I drove home to the cabin, I went back to the window of the bar and shaded my eyes against the glass, looked in.  Ciaran was at the counter, his arms folded and his chin on his wrist, talking to the bartender.  He glanced up in my direction and I froze.  Quickly I turned away.  There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they will never see the surface.

There is, I think, a fear of love.

There is a fear of love.

~Colum McCann, "Let the Great World Spin."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My what momentum this splendid year has had!  Thanksgiving is already upon us and it feels like just yesterday I was flip-flopping on DC's steamy sidewalks, barely able to find an hour cool enough to fit in my morning run.  Now I'm preparing for sister and Jonny to pick me up at 6am on my corner (WORK IT, OWN IT) so we can head for the Smokies for 5 days of family fun.  I am beyond excited to spend the entire time with mumsie (and of course the tiny sheriff), sipping vino, laughing, and sharing stream of consciousness thoughts and ideas as I am only truly capable of doing with mumsie herself.  All with the beautiful backdrop of eastern Tennessee and the cool, soothing lake Cheleque!

More than ever I find myself at a loss of where to start counting my blessings.  I have been blessed more than I could've ever imagined; never when I was a little girl growing up in our trailer sweet trailer (for reals) did I dream I'd be an accomplished city femme, calling my own shots, traveling the planet and keeping world class company.  Especially in light of some of the stories I've heard of mumsie's students this year:  one in particular is a heart-wrenching tale of a kid who never had a chance and will always struggle to eat, read, work - things we all take for granted.  Reality checks are important and have their way of bringing me down from my educated, well-dressed, well-traveled circles of friends and colleagues.  And even though my involvement with Washington's Junior League has been mostly limited to fundraising and enabling wealthy women to shop at events, I'm coming off a fulfilling weekend of helping raise around $200,000 to give directly back to literacy causes in Washington - a cause I hope to continue supporting any way I can.  All of that random shiz being said, this year's perspective makes me more thankful than ever for:

1.  My life.  My decisions haven't always been easy, and I sometimes worried I was walking away from what I'd always been told equalled happiness.  But things truly do happen for a reason and trusting that has led me to an amazing existence in a fantastic city, doing stimulating work I believe in.  I worked hard, but that was only a small part of getting here, and I'm deeply thankful for all of the help I've had along the way.

2.  My mom.  She has always been the most supportive person in my life, and now that I'm the age she was when she was raising two kids as a single mother (at a whopping salary of $8,600 I just learned!), I'm more amazed than ever at her strength and resourcefulness.  I don't know anyone else who could've done what you did, Mom, and Kaycee and I are the women we are because of you.

3.  My support network. Between family and friends, I have never felt helpless or alone for one moment in my life.  What an amazing blessing.

4.  Books and wine and Taylor Swift.


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and do enjoy every moment you spend with your family.  You never know when you'll live far from home and those moments will be rare and precious!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Party in the USA

Oh gosh what a fabulous few weeks.  Working hard.  Playing hard.  Not really sleeping hard, but I'm hoping to start chipping away at the backlog tonight.  One of my most recent weeknight adventures took place on the USS Sequoia, the presidential yacht (well, it was the presidential yacht until President Carter decided it was bad form to be using taxes to float around in a yacht, so he sold it).  A few rockstars at work met the owner and charmed him into giving us a screamin' deal on throwing a party, so before you know it I was aboard one Friday evening with around 25 of the DOE's young and hip scene.  Not only did we get to peek into the bedroom where JFK and Marilyn Monroe...*ahem*...retired for the evening after she sang him "Happy Birthday Mr. President" at Carnegie Hall, but we also held our own Michael Jackson dance party on the roof while it was conspicuously tied to the Cantina Marina dock on Washington's southwest waterfront (a refreshing splash 'o tacky for all of you non-Washingtonians).

(below is the bedroom *wink wink*)

Last night's energy extracurriculars took place at the Mandarin Oriental bar with some of my favorite coworkers.  Great spot- and thank goodness- because it's just about the only cocktail watering hole anywhere close to the office.  But, as I've expressed before, I am incapable of staying up past midnight without being completely wrecked the next day and this was no exception.  I looked like complete, haggard shiz at work, stuffed my face with the disgusting, greasy cafeteria buffet fare at lunch (GENTLEMEN:  "FARE" AS IN FOOD, NOT AS IN A CARNIVAL.  Let me speak for all of us when I say that ladies are *not* impressed when you misspell this in your texts.  Kthx.), and left an hour early because I was nodding off in my office.

Which brings me to my next point:  goodnight darlings!  xo

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Hello dahlinks!  How are we all holding up out there?  Reading and being your lovely, curious selves?  I've been reading, but not from my leisure selection, nor at what I'd call a leisurely pace.  I've been working around the clock- for reals.  Literally burned through both of the last weekends and am pulling some serious evening shifts, reading all about light subjects such as renewable energy technologies, solar tax rebates, combined heat generators, wind turbines and distributed generation, among lots of other things.  Not nearly as bad as it sounds- I'm really enjoying the info absorption and (at the risk of jinxing myself...yikes) it could lead to a SERIOUS new opportunity at work.  And that's all I can share about that right now because big brother is watching and I'm not trying to get my damn self in trouble.

Back to the book, which was a very thorough read though not the most brilliant collection of prose.  Upton Sinclair, socialist extraordinaire, painted a very detailed (and what turned out to be epic) snapshot of Chicago's meat packing industry during the early 20th century.  While he intended the book to bring light to the awful turn of the century labor conditions, an epidemic he called "wage slavery," most people (including yours truly) couldn't get past how completely and utterly GROSSED OUT they were after reading about the beef industry in the Chicago stockyards.  Very graphic and very nasty.  As a matter of fact, nearly one month later and I have finally dabbled back into red meat (beef stew in the crockpot on Sundee and it was delish if I do say so myself).  So, much to Sinclair's chagrin, this masterpiece inadvertently became a huge advocacy tool for exposing the lack of meat safety and incited enough public momentum to create today's Food and Drug Administration.  Who knew!  I'll have some nasty meat tales with a side of big government!

A little more about our main mang:  Upton Sinclair is buried in St. Paul's Rock Creek Cemetery (along with Tim Russert, interestingly enough), a stone's throw (well, a metro ride + a sketchy walk that I'd only attempt from the approximate hours of 12pm to 2pm) from chez moi.  Not to mention, his book "Oil!" was the basis for the film "There Will be Blood"- and we all know my hopeless adoration for Daniel Plainview and his son, H.W.

And that's a wrap, folks.  This book was a great choice for any Washington bureaucrat to mark off the 'ol bucket list, but aside from its historical significance, I thought the characters were too pathetic to strike any realistic empathy (though empathy has admittedly never been my strong suit), and the narrative was very average.  Onto my next read (sandwiched between a few renewable energy conference summaries), and I suggest you all do the same!  Because TV is getting worse by the day and we've got to do SOMETHING at home while we drink wine in our underwear!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Facebook amateur hour

Part of the reason why any self-respecting, overly-opinionated, closet loud-mouth would create a blog is so they can quasi-publicly share opinions that are too sweeping for facebook, right?  (Please see one of my recent soapbox moments about an example of an utter lack of facebook etiquette that my diplomatic...err...wimpy self would never have the nerve to air live on the networking site itself!)

Well here's an average evening for you kids at home:  I crank up the 'ol laptop while nursing a glass of red and watching Wolf Blitzer's mini @ss commentate tonight's election results (one word:  depressing), and I get a facebook friend request from some yahoo named "Michael Adams" who allegedly went to high school with me.  The name doesn't ring a bell, so I check his page and here's his profile picture:

This is a true story folks.  I'm surrounded by morons.  Who shall inadvertently remain anonymous because I have no flipping CLUE who they are and any opportunity they have at ringing a bell in my rusty memory is wasted on a posted picture of some homemade vehicle contraption.  If I seem to be talking generally like this happens semi-frequently...that's because it does.  I probably have 10 (give or take) facebook friend requests indefinitely sitting in facebook friend purgatory because (1) I don't recognize the name of said "friend" (who in all honesty I probably did go to school with at some point- y'all think you know but you have no idea); and (2) I can't put a face with a name because the face is some vehicle that may or may not have been purchased in a Desert Storm-themed yard sale.


And just like that, I finished my second full marathon y'all.  The 35th Marine Corps Marathon, held on Halloween 2010.  'Twas a lovely day in the District and Biscuit and I scooted our old hineys* past the finish line almost 15 minutes faster than we did last year, which was an amazing feat considering (1) we were both severely under-trained; and (2) we literally walked the last 7 miles.  Makes me wonder what in the shiz I was doing last year.  (*A highlight during the run occurred when Biscuit asked me how I was feeling at approximately mile 14, to which I responded "my old knees are hanging in there."  This comment caught the attention of a little old man running behind us, and injected him with enough energy to pass us quickly and tell us we were, in fact, NOT old and he didn't appreciate the comment.  Sheesh!)

Here's a picture of my very own cheering section (who were holding a sign that read "Bless all y'all"):

In related news, my podcast this morning retold the story of the very first marathon, which originated as the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought), which took place in August or September, 490 BC.  It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won.') before collapsing and dying.  I feel 'ya, Pheidippides 'ol sport!  So do three of my toenails who similarly collapsed and died upon crossing the finish line.  RIP all. 

Last related marathon note, CNN is reporting this morning that a Chilean miner is planning on competing in this weekend's NYC Marathon less than one month after being rescued.  I'd say that if Biscuit and I can do it, anyone can, but this guy is just flat out asking for an intimate rendez-vous with a mid-course medical tent.

Happy Tuesday, darlings!  Enjoy the brisk weather and reward yourselves with some low fat eggnog- it's now on sale in Safeway and you know I'll enjoy a glass while I put up my Christmas decorations this weekend!  (Fair game after Halloween folks.)