Save the whales!

Pauline (one of my most favorite of all friends in the United Kingdom, if not in all of Europe itself!) had some news today in regard to the smoking ban. I thought it fitting to share it here.

Honest, this smoke free thing is really taking the pee..... We have had a
smoking ban for many years like in shops, restaurants, public transport...but
this morning as I left the apartment block I was spitting bricks. They had put
up notices on the front and back doors of the building stating 'IT IS AN OFFENCE

It is an infringement of
human rights. Honestly, if people know that there are smoking areas in a Pub
they go in there KNOWING THIS.....Their choice...but now basically the law
states you may smoke in your own home and in the wide open air. If a
Pub/Restaurant has a 'partially enclosed' area you can not smoke in it.

You can not smoke in your car if......
it is used for business
purposes (that means transport of persons AND goods/tools etc)
You are carrying a non smoking passenger
You are carrying a child under the age of 16

Just make sure that when in your vehicle you ONLY CARRY ADULTS THAT
SMOKE....You do not have ANYTHING TO DO WITH WORK (even workwear)...and......if you get caught smoking by the Police they can have you for NOT BEING IN PROPER CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE.. as some poor people have found out when caught eating a chocolate bar or sandwich in the past and received a hefty fine.

I did love this one.....a guy who sells flowers at the side of the road (like open
air!!!) has to walk 100 yards from his stall to have a cigarette.

Suppose sometime in the future they will even ban us from smoking in our
homes when we have to see them try.

Why oh why did Britain not get together like in France where they tried to pass this law and take them to the European Court on the basis of an infringement.

Good heavens! I would have fire coming out of my nose at this one!

The US is not far behind, sadly. In some states, we can not smoke in restaurants. We must walk 300 yards to smoke near a hospital. We can still smoke in our vehicles.

What perturbs me is that second hand smoke does not affect children nearly as acutely as another common bad habit. Let’s be honest - parents kill their own children.

Where are all these "bleeding hearts for justice" when mummy and daddy are stuffing Hostess cupcakes, chocolate milk, chocolate bars, Kid Cuisines, Mac and Cheese, cookies, juice boxes, McDonald's Happy Meals, and other tripe down their children's mouths? Where are the "protectors of children" when mummy and daddy park their child in front of the television or computer for hours at a time and allow them to sit on their rotund bottoms rather than go outside and play?

I find it appalling that the "powers that be" feel it is their right to tell me how to live and yet they do nothing to stop others from bringing their neighbors harm. They do not enforce the noise ordinances and I am petrified that the loud bass blaring from cars will cause another driver to have a seizure. There aren’t any "no perfume" restrictions in public places; Better Half has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from the war and perfume makes him deathly ill. I have a dear friend whose child must be rushed to the hospital if she is accidentally exposed to perfume; asthma is a terrible thing for a child to suffer.

Filth and rubbish, I say. Let them take away junk food, chewing tobacco, perfume, music with heavy bass, road rage and George Bush - perhaps then I will abide by their "no smoking" laws.

There is an old English proverb that states "Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork." It is peculiar that so many Americans have not caught on. We seem to love banning "bad habits" such as those filthy cigarettes yet we turn a blind eye to all of the other "unhealthy" issues.

I have to question if parents do not comprehend that their child is morbidly obese? The heavy panting, chaffed skin on the inner thighs, inability to touch their toes (or kneecaps!) and portly face would be a dead giveaway. If my child surpassed the Precious Moments figurine appearance only to bear a resemblance to a garden slug I would most certainly alert my physician (and perhaps a tattler magazine such as the Globe or Star.) Perhaps the Precious Moments look is in?

I find nothing precious about children with fat, bloated faces. There is so much adipose tissue that their tiny eyes seem receded into their flesh like buttons between the cushions on a 1970’s sofa. Fat hands grasping at French fries whilst mommy urges the child to finish up so they can hit the McDonald’s playland (do the fast food restaurant employees keep child-sized plungers on hand in the event one of these bloated creatures becomes stuck in the plastic piping?) Even their tiny voices (which should sound sweet and inquisitive) become thick from the amount of tissue in their throats. They lack energy and they lack intelligence. YES, they LACK INTELLIGENCE, oh you parent of an earthbound baby whale; the nutrients they required for the proper development of their brain cells were sadly undersupplied during the most crucial years of their early life.

Hey Lady! Your child is a LARD ASS!

I am certain that I will have several replies to this and that those replies will be overflowing (much like your cupboards) with criticism. Why on earth are you on your computer when your child is about to suffocate on that Keebler Cookie you handed him five seconds ago? What are you doing inside on a beautiful summer day?

Darling, do you want fries with that?

Ascender Rises Above

It has been quite some time since I have offered a link to another's blog. I will correct that oversight today. Please take a moment to visit Ascender ( and browse through the vibrant images offered there.

In tribute to this talented artist, I offer you the following (photo taken from my window last spring):

Tree at My Window
by Robert Frost

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.


Morning Musings

A steady downpour falls outside my office window this morning and the perfume of damp humus wafts through my window, invigorating my soul. To say that I fancy rain is an understatement; the power of Mother Nature leaves me breathless.

I passed another night of brief sleep and awoke at 6 o’clock (my gratitude to the cat was expressed via a heavy book aimed at her fluffy little head.) The house was serene in the pre-storm gloom and I found myself reveling in the scant scent of ozone.

I ambled down the stairs, pausing only to sigh at fine layer of dust upon the living room furnishings before letting the dogs out the kitchen door. Together, we made our way into the yard.

The dogs love capturing the early morning smells lying upon the breeze. They busied themselves in the grass, noses pressed to wet earth as they inhaled deeply. I browsed my squash plants, harvesting several choice white globes for today’s Project.

It is now an hour to noon and homemade marinara simmers gently upon the stove. The sounds of Better Half knocking about the kitchen reach my ears (his chore for the morning is to clear out space in the refrigerator) and I will wend my way to the kitchen shortly so that we can begin the tedious effort of slicing squash.

We have pounds of patty pan squash. Pounds upon pounds. This morning’s harvest sits in a plastic shopping bag upon the floor. The previous days’ harvests line the counters. We intend to bash together all these veggies into a variation of my eggplant Parmesan recipe. I would expect no less than six tin’s worth by the end of the day. I vow that I should never again plant more than two bushes in a season (we currently have six!)

My email inbox was (satisfyingly) empty this morning, with the exception of several energized quips from a dear friend concerning Michael’s book release in late August. I promptly fired off a succinct note of congratulations to Michael and then sent a standard “yes, darling, I know about the book” retort to my eager friend. “Other Men’s Sons” promises to be TFMM’s best work to date.

I visualize Michael as a kindred spirit in many ways. We share analogous views and I have a high regard for his writing style. Weeks can pass between communications between us (given his busy schedule and my health) yet we can pick up right where we left off. He is a consummate dog fancier (he and his spouse, Brian, have two dazzling labs.) We value a touch of wicked sarcasm and both find amusement at word play. Michael wears many hats in my life. He is the girlfriend with whom I can chat vivaciously with on the phone (a little fun gossip never hurt a soul.) He a mentor in my efforts to explore my talent. He is, at times, the older, much wiser and more refined sister that I never had.

How extraordinary it is that we can meet such remarkable people by chance. Michael and I both frequented a common Christian online chat forum at one time; we share a mutual friend. I consider myself as blessed by the camaraderie that he has brought into my life.

Blogger Reflections Award

Thank you, dear Annie, for your nomination! I should attempt to get back "on track" with my posts (rather than put as much effort into banal current events.)

The rules are simple:

1. Copy this bit of the post (text is in the comments section.)
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Place the award icon on your site.

Here is what the Blogger Reflections Award rules say: "This award should make an individual reflect upon five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and who have provided a Godly example. In other words, five dear bloggers whom, when you reflect upon them, you are filled with a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.”

I shudder to think of what my recent posts have reflected! (
Annieelf did nominate me prior to my recent tirade on certain subjects.) As my morning is now behind schedule I shall include only a short description here:

1. I can not nominate Annie again (as she has already received this award) and so I shall turn to another inspirational Catholic blog:
Mt. Saint Caffiena. Please do stop by and see for yourself.

2. For a wonderful Protestant view, I recommend
Skipping to the Piccolo by Pastor David Shelton. David dwells on life in general and his topics encompass everything from bible devotionals to Legos (and movie reviews.)

3. For sheer whimsy, I nominate
Art and Soul. Pam's approach to the every-day is a treat (and I approve of her Greythounds.)

Paris Parfait brightens my day. Tara is always an inspiration.

5. Meg Genge and Laini Taylor run
Sunday Scribblings, a blog that impacts hundreds of bloggers from across the world.

The Phenomenon of Our News...

A quick browse of the news reveals a cat named Oscar that predicts the death of patients in a Providence, RI nursing home.

This would explain why our own yowling harbinger of the 4:30 suppertime continues to torment me nightly as she sits above my pillow, licking her paws and smacking me with her head. I do not believe that our cat is predicting my own death; she is toiling to deprive me of sleep in order to steal my pillow. I can almost imagine the phrase "die, you stupid snoring bitch" running through her kitty brain.

The most evil news is the stories concerning Dr. William Petit Jr (his wife and two daughters were tied to their beds, and brutally raped and murdered during a "home invasion".) Prosecutors have not reached a decision vis-à-vis the death penalty in this case. I firmly believe both men deserve to be tied to their beds, sexually violated and allowed to perish in almost the same manner as those young girls and their mother - coated in gasoline and lit on fire.

Oh but this is America, land of the Free and Just, where coddled criminals delight in the summer sun cascading down in the exercise yards or enjoy fellowship with each other even as they watch the latest Maury Pov's "who's your baby's daddy?" episodes. These men will "languish" in prison, eating proper meals and receiving free medical care for life (thanks to our tax dollars) as the good Doctor Petit (also brutally attacked during the "invasion") must live the rest of his existence haunted by the ghosts of this incident.

Please forgive my lack of compassion for these criminals, dear Readers; at no time were these two (pathetic excuses for) human beings forced to rape the mother, and daughters (ages 17 and 11) nor were they forced to set their beds on fire and allow the women to writhe in their tight bindings, their pitiful screams filling the house as their lungs filled with noxious smoke and the flesh blistered and peeled from their bodies.

Stores such as Dr. Petit Jr's seem wedged between celebrity news these days. We are treated to monotonous feeds on the topic of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and other party girls gone bad. I have started to wonder if the networks are run by white trash pigs named Cletus and Bubba. Who in their right mind would find these women's pathetic lives fascinating when cats predict death? I am certain that Paris Hilton (*cough*CRIMINAL*cough*) endured much trauma during her guest stay at the local jail.

Regardless, Dr. Petit has my best wishes and prayers.

Tammy Faye part III

I wrote Annie a brief (for me) reply regarding the subject of Tammy Faye in order to clarify that my views (previously stated here) were more in regard to the "Movement" started in the 1980's rather than with Tammy Faye herself.

Some people saw [Tammy Faye] as wicked, and others saw her as wonderful. I'm fairly neutral on her at this point.

I am certain that she was a lovely woman who coped with much pain in life. My qualms with her stem from the period when she and the husband offered their public pleas for money from viewers. I lumped her (sadly) with all the other tele-evangelists.

There was a brief period when my parents withdrew from the RCC and joined a protestant church (they sought in-depth bible study which our local small parish did not offer.) I detested the ordeal. The youth group was filled with teens that played so sweet to the adults, whilst behaving like horrible heathens at school. These were the ones who made life hell for other youth... who tortured my gay friends, who slept around, who did drugs... all under the guise of sweet little angels passing out bible scriptures during Evangelization Fairs on the city streets. I was seeing a side of Christianity that I plainly did not know existed!

My aversion is due to experience. Whilst I sympathize with Tammy Faye's family, and realize now that she was a beacon of hope for many, I still recall that movement in the 80's that made life so difficult for so many. I never bothered to see what Tammy Faye was up to after she lost the money. I wrote off [fundy] evangelical Protestants as a whole. I also wrote off God for nearly a decade.

I have personally met some of these "wonderful pastors"... Jack Hayford, Benny Hinn, Dr. Dobson, Jim and Tammy Bakker etc. I have also met that idiot out in Colorado Springs who was recently caught with his pants down (he shall remain nameless here.) Each time, I was struck by the irony of these people "off camera". (I shall give Dobson a short reprieve here; I believe Focus is a fiend that can no longer be controlled, but that the man himself seems decent enough.)

I was dragged to a youth meeting at Hayford's church in Van Nuys. We watched one of the Bakker broadcasts [the topic was not homosexuality] and then endured some (fairly disparaging) preaching [from a youth leader] about gay youth and how "God can change them." [This experience – the combination of the broadcast and then the sermon – was seared onto the walls of my mind. I perhaps unfairly associated the Bakkers and the in-person preaching as all being under the same “Jesus loves you unless you’re bad” banner.]

My best friend Dan, who was a young gay boy, endured two weeks at a "reassignment camp" that promised to "purge him of evil homosexual feelings towards other boys." He hung himself a few months later, convinced that God hated him for his "uncontrollable gay feelings."

I do have a bitter taste in my mouth for the [enter the label “wicked”] 80's movement that has wrought so much damage to the lives of so many. This movement ushered in the Westboro Baptists, and others like them. Many of these "leaders" are coming forward now and stating, "we were wrong about gays!" That is of little consolation to those of us who lost loved ones due to the actions of their régime.

It is not that I abhor Protestants themselves (I have met a plethora of charming and Spirit-filled men and women of all Protestant denominations.) Sadly, I closed my eyes to the Tammy Fayes and other Idiot Box preachers at Dan’s funeral and I allowed the bitterness to stay in my heart. I regret that I did not learn of her positive role in the gay community until after her death; the saying still stands, however: "We have only one chance to make a good first impression."

“Jesus didn’t love me, this we know, for the bible tells us so. Little gays by Him demise, for weak faggots He despise.” I can not take any credit for this malicious parody of the popular Christian children’s song. It was Dan who penned it and left it for the world to see, black letters vehemently slashed at the bottom of a suicide note with such force that the wooden desktop bore the gouges in irrevocable effigy. It haunts me to this day, so much so that I will vacate a room if a child is humming the tune.

I do not see happy, smiling faces when I think of renowned television or megachurch leaders. I see no Christ and certainly no Christian love. I do see a timid woman sitting in a folding chair beside a gravesite, weeping weakly as roses are placed upon her son's cold casket.

Suffice to say, I have made the long trek back to God. I have learned to ignore any human being who would offer himself as God’s mouthpiece (“I am God’s Elect and a True Christian and God says ____________ about your sin of ____________!”) as a means of making peace with the Lord. I can only offer my sincerest gratitude towards people like Ox, Peony, Beardi, Annieelf, Rad and Jer 1v7 for inspiring me through their own Christian walk. These are the ambassadors who symbolize “true Christianity” (as the fundys would call it) and mercy. These are the human beings who reveal to us what love truly is. I need not look to the Tammy Fayes or other preachers for inspiration; God has provided me several fabulous models right in my own backyard.

Tammy Faye Part II

A dear friend of mine (Annieelf) sent me a short article regarding Tammy Faye which I believe should be "repeated" here.

By Michelle Tsai Posted Monday, July 23, 2007, at 6:37 PM ET

By the time Tammy Faye Messner died Friday, the outspoken, fake-eyelash-donning 65-year-old had gone from Christian televangelist to reviled woman to
gay icon . How did Messner become a gay icon?

With fabulousness and honesty. Tammy Faye's religious background made her an unlikely object for this kind of adulation, but in many ways she had the classic profile of a gay icon. Like many others, she became celebrated for her perseverance. She fell from grace (and lost much of her money) when it was discovered that her husband, Jim Bakker, had cheated on her and swindled their followers out of $158 million. But Tammy Faye talked openly about her pain on TV and stood by her man after his conviction, singing at a press conference, "On Christ the solid rock I stand/ All other ground is sinking sand." Her refusal to change her unique style— runny mascara, gawdy jewelry, and all—also made her icon-worthy. When asked by a makeup artist to lose those garish false lashes, she said, "Without my eyelashes, I wouldn't be Tammy Faye. I don't know who I would be." And gays appreciated the fact that she had long refused to denounce homosexuals on the Bakkers' TV show and that she had urged sympathy for those with AIDS. In her final interview last week, she said, "When we lost everything, it was the gay people that came to my rescue, and I will always love them for that."

Gay icons are often powerful women who are also marginalized and vulnerable. Billie Holiday, for instance, endured poverty and survived rape at the age of 14 before being discovered as a singer in a Harlem nightclub. She signed record deals, but she also served time in jail, battled drug-abuse problems, and died with little to her name. Princess Di, another icon, was loved for carrying on with grace—and style—despite her public battles with the royal family. Dolly Parton, with her super-sized hair and breasts, ascended in status because of her larger-than-life femininity. Same goes for Madonna, who built a career by wearing cone bras, orchestrating orgies in music videos, and otherwise embracing her sexuality without apology. Even Miss Piggy of the Muppets has won icon status because she refuses to see that pigginess is ugly; she believes she's beautiful and won't quit pursuing an unwilling frog. In a sense, gays—especially those who are closeted—look upon these women (and almost all of them are women) as role models.

Gays and lesbians may be loyal fans, but an icon can fall from grace. Donna Summer lost many supporters when she reportedly said in a concert, " It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." The "Hot Stuff" chanteuse has denied being homophobic, and even worked with AIDS charities in the 1990s, but she ultimately lost her status among gays in the disco generation.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.
Explainer thanks Lee Edelman of Tufts University, Nadine Hubbs of the University of Michigan, and Thomas Peele, author of
Queer Popular Culture: Literature, Media, Film, and Television.
Michelle Tsai is a writer living in Jersey City, N.J.

Was Faye... wicked?

TFMM sent me a link to his friend’s blog (Ron Oliver's Fabulous Life!: MY FAVORITE JESUS!) and I wrote Michael a short email in reply. I feel too lazy to actually blog today therefore I will simply paste part of the email here (regarding my viewpoint of Tammy Faye.) Ron's post was brilliant.

Was Faye a gay icon? I wrote her off in the mid 80's (along with all the other frothing tele-evangelists of that era) as the supreme poster child for the "Help Us Develop A Real Waterproof Mascara" campaign. I can distinctly remember the old commercials featuring this deliciously wet model breaching the waters of her Malibu pool and twisting around to offer the cameras a sensual "f*** me now" bat of her eyelashes as she perched her scrumptiously delicate arms on the concrete edge of the pool, whilst the Maybelline (or perhaps Max Factor) ad execs spun their nifty jingle regaling about how this model swam hours yet maintained her faultless eyelashes. If this mermaid- turned-siren-of-my-heart could spend hours in the water using these products why then was Tammy Faye so clueless in the application of her own eye enhancing products?

My first experience with Tammy Faye (the muppet) and her husband Jimbo (the leering toad) was during recovery from a surgery. I lay in my hospital bed, weakened and nauseated, as her voice blared for viewers to place their hands upon the screen before writing fat checks to support their ministry. I recall contemplating if she used special mechanic's solutions (such as Orange Goop) to dissolve the makeup glue coating her eyes after each program. I also recall hitting the morphine pump in a Herculean effort to wipe her image off my retinas.

I am not a devotee of this modern (and frightening) protestant trend of damning everything that moves under the sun. I have always equated them to trifling bible Nazis. "Jesus Camp", a masterfully done documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, paints a realistic view of what many Protestants believe. There is nothing remotely insightful of Christ or his teachings in their approach. They brainwash their children into becoming mindless zealots yet scream bloody murder when they catch a snippet of "Muslim child cruelty" on their Trinity Broadcasting News. Those horrible Muslims allow their children to pray to Mecca several times a day! Mecca! That is of Satan. Someone needs to sound the alarm - Focus on the Family can mobilize!

Tammy Faye and others like her were the 1980's starting point of this entire "evangelical" movement now plaguing the United States.

Berke Breathed, creator of “Bloom County", portrayed her best. Look out for penguin lust, or Tammy might just pop out of your own Anxiety Closet.


Oh ICK (Kitty Litter Cake)

I receive the damndest things via email.


On a recent visit to our veterinarian to get shots for our cat I found this recipe on the waiting room bulletin board. After recovering from hysterical laughter, I obtained a copy from the office staff so that my wife could make it, which she refused to do. I took it to work and gave the recipe to a lady at work who loves cats. The pictures below show the results of her work. It doesn't look very nice, but it's actually quite tasty, so I decided to pass it along.

1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 box of white cake mix
1 package white sandwich cookies
1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
A few drops green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Rolls or equivalent

1 NEW cat-litter box
1 NEW cat-litter box liner
1 NEW pooper scooper

1) Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions, in any size pan. Prepare pudding and chill. Crumble cookies in small batches in blender or food processor. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of cookie crumbs. Mix with a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside.

2) When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.

3) Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the blunt ends into slightly curved points. Repeat with three more rolls. Bury the rolls decoratively in the cake mixture. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top.

4) Heat 5 more Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with crumbs from the litter box. Heat the remaining Tootsie Roll until pliable an d hang it over the edge of the box. Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper. Enjoy!
"Kitty Litter Cake"


Another July Update

Happy glorious Sunday to all of you awake enough to see the morning light.

I am quite awake, having suffered through a bout of insomnia last night due to spasms along my spine hence I am somewhat “out of it” mentally.

Our weekend has been lovely. Better Half and I took in the new Harry Potter movie (he hated it and I have mixed feelings regarding the whole thing) and we have spent most of our time basking in the glory of our front porch. My dianthus is in dire need of some tending; our mid-summer clematis is thriving. Surely we have never had the pleasure of appreciating our own private park (i.e. the lush front yard) prior to our move to Ohio. The summer squash behind the house is producing copious amounts of knobby little edibles, which Better Half and I turned into a squash parmesan yesterday.

Mum’s birthday was Friday and her package arrived on time. She and Dad are progressing with their plans to relocate out here in a year’s time. They have taken their budget into consideration as well. Mum feels she will be quite content in a small apartment rather than a large house and has conceded to handing her antiques into our care (I hope her visits to our house will be to see us rather than to see her furniture. Ha ha.)

I am endeavoring to wake my mind up enough in order to drive to mass in a half an hour – and praying desperately that I can stay awake during the homily. This is not the first time that I have gone sans sleep but I am quickly discovering that, as I grow older, remaining awake and competent throughout the day is becoming more of a challenge. Gone are the twenties and my ability to function for forty-eight hours straight.

“Ain’t life a bitch?” No, life is indeed life. How we live it determines how we reflect upon it. I choose to see it as nothing more than a contest of wills between myself and some higher power. The higher power surely will win, and thus I must do my best to go with the flow and not remain too stubborn to appreciate the wonderful events thrown my way.

I require more coffee. Please, hook the IV to my arm and allow me to begin my day.

July Update

Pale mist haunted the neighborhood early this morning. I found myself torn between making coffee and enjoying the deck or crawling back into bed (the urge to sleep triumphed.)

I have been more than remiss in my blog entries. I have been negligent in a great many things! My greatest challenge has not been motivating myself to take action; it has been an ordeal to find enough “good days” to essentially complete tasks.

I can egotistically say that I am pleased with my first experiment in gardening. I planted patty pan squash and the bushes provide me with a healthy daily meal. I am a squash fanatic and I have not grown weary of the taste yet. Better Half and I are contemplating turning an eggplant Parmesan recipe into a patty pan Parmesan dish.

Better Half’s Mom (I call her “Momma Paula Dean”, as her voice reminds me of that notable chef) is an avid gardener. She commented that “surely nothing tastes as good as that first bite from your own garden.” She is astute, for I have never tasted squash so tender and perfect than my own.

It was an effortless thing to grow. I started from seed in a Jiffy tray on my kitchen counter. I transplanted those tiny 1” sprouts into the tiered flowerbed near our garage; I had no idea how big the plants would actually grow. I am pleased to say that the plants fill out the bottom tiers nicely, towering over the daylilies placed on the very top tier. The squash itself ranges from tender and sweet tiny 3” diameter “fruits” to white ovals as wide as a man’s hand. I need only harvest it daily and water during those periods where we haven’t any rain.

My birthday came and went without any pomp and circumstance, which was to my liking. I am not a fan of extravagant parties or gifts. You need only give me a card and a hug and my day is complete. On my birthday, which was Sunday, I attended mass and sat with my friend from the choir. I came home to find Better Half busily preparing my birthday dinner (which was wonderful: pork ribs, potato salad and SQUASH.) I spoke with my parents on the phone and they sang me “happy birthday”. This is the first year that we are not together to celebrate.

We heard from our former exchange student from the Ukraine on the day before. Vova (or “Boy”) completed his schooling as is now gainfully employed in the business sector in Kiev. He aspires to work in New York and we could not be more pleased or proud of him. Indeed, he is a son to us and we love and miss him dearly.

Our Independence Day was a pleasant one. We did not purchase any fireworks this year, but we were treated to a glorious display put on by several of the businesses on this end of town. I decided to throw caution to the wind for once and engaged in what I would call “white trash” behavior – Better Half and I crawled through my office window and sat upon the back deck’s roof. It was quite a scary feeling for me as we were technically three levels above ground. None-the-less, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and chatting with our neighbors on the left of us. It was a fabulous night and blossoms of red, white and blue painted the sky in celebration of liberty.

One of my dearest friends, TFMM, has been anticipating the publication of his newest book (haven’t we all?) His galleys arrived this week for final review and he called me from Canada in a state of excitement. I would have hugged him and taken him out to lunch, were we in the same country. I have promised him that I would give it a positive review and am eagerly awaiting that moment when I can hold my very own copy in my hot little hands. His work is, as always, breathtaking and full of meaning. I strongly urge you to purchase your own copy. You can find it at you local bookseller as well. "Other Men's Sons" by Michael Rowe.

My own work is on hold momentarily. I approached our bishop and the priest in charge of our new parish (he is also my own priest) with a proposal to help build support for the Triumph of the Cross parish and capital campaign. It would entail a series of short articles covering the background of the parishes slated for merger. Fr. Tim was to pitch the idea at the parish meeting but he also was leaving for a short holiday in NJ so I do not know how well the idea was received.

I have not had the patience or desire to work on my personal projects. This is in part due to the state of my office, which resembles a war zone in some tiny third world country. I can not focus in chaos and I have not been ambitious enough to organize that chaos.

Mum’s birthday falls on the 13th and Better Half brought her gift to the post office for mailing. I do hope that it arrives in time.