No food today, my love has gone away. . .

No, not really (well, unless you count chocolate going away). 

However, today’s blog title is a bit of a double entendre: first, since today was Day One of my detox regimen (no wheat, animal products, sugar; and NO GRAINS), I do somehow feel as if I’ve had no “real” food yet (though I must admit, I actually ingested a fair amount); second,  as a result of today’s overcast, dreary, and very glum weather, I have no food to share with you all on the blog.  Oh, I prepared something, all right; I was just unable to produce a photograph in which you could actually make out anything recognizable as food (or anything else) beneath the obscuring veil of gray (a pox on that inadequate, gratis camera, I say!). 

For now all I can share is this: I prepared a soup; and the HH and I practically licked our bowls clean when we ate it.  I promise to try again tomorrow (no hardship having to eat it again, believe me), since the weather is supposed to be sunny and more conducive to taking photos.

In the meantime, it seemed as if even The Girls were having a hard time finding food today.

[“Oh, Mum, you embarrass us.  And really, if you gave us more food, we wouldn’t have to eat this crappy green ball.  (Oh, wait a sec, we’re color blind. . . that was just a lucky guess.)”]

Having lost my own mother over 15 years ago (yes, far too young, for both of us) and never having personally enjoyed the tangle of emotions that is motherhood, I tend to overlook today’s particular holiday, celebrated by the bulk of the Western world.

While catching up on my ever-expanding list of blogs on Google Reader, I happened upon Ashasarala’s poignant post for today.  It got me thinking:  aren’t I still a daughter?  And what about those other “mothers” I’ve known in my life (both actual and figurative), from my beloved CBC to my older sister to a couple of my best friends? This seems the perfect day to connect with those mothers, whether through birth, adoption, extended family, or simply psychological ties.

So here’s a wish for all of you who are, have been, or just feel like mothers today: may you enjoy meaningful, happy and loving encounters on this day, with the people (and pets) who mean the most to you–whoever they are. 

[“See, Chaser, I told you you were adopted!”

Um, hate to tell you, Elsie, but with that shnoz, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t be sounding so smug, either.”]

Tonight I start my course, Total Health, and I can hardly wait.  I am truly hoping that a holistic, well-rounded approach to diet and lifestyle will put me back on the right track to improved health.  This is one area where the HH has a hard time comprehending the Herculean effort it takes to avoid certain food-related temptations, as he is naturally slim, has never had an eating disorder, and knows exactly when to stop eating, even if he adores the food on his plate. 

As I’ve mentioned before, food isn’t the only area where the HH and I differ.  My beloved and I are, shall we say, sort of like Oscar and Felix. . . like analog and digital. . . like yin and yang. . . like ice cream and tofutti. . . like Sonny and Cher. . . like Jack Spratt and–well, you get the idea.  (And, on another note: how did we ever survive without Wikipedia–seriously?).

Anyway, that got me thinking about the old cliché that says dog owners and their dogs come to resemble each other more and more as the years go by. . . I’m not sure about the looks department, but Elsie and Chaser sure do mimic me and the HH in the realm of personalities.  (I’ll leave it to you to guess who’s who).

You couldn’t invent two more polar opposites than The Girls:  while Elsie is demure, reserved and shy, Chaser is entirely in your face. 

[“Ha ha Elsie, bet you can’t catch me!” “Oh, really, Chaser, you are sooooo immature.”]

Where Elsie is timid and afraid, Chaser is “I can do it!  C’mon–let me jump out that second storey window!” 

(“Hmmm. . . all I need to do is push up that blind, then balance on the windowsill. . . yep, I’m sure I could do it. . .)

Where Elsie is polite and respectful (“Why, yes, Mum, please do go ahead of me through this doorway, I wouldn’t have it any other way”), Chaser is always pushing the envelope (“Doorbell!  I’m on it!  Let’s go!! Outta the way!  Someone’s there!!”).

(“Here is that frisbee you requested, Mum.  Where would you like me to deposit it?”)

Where Elsie is elegant, graceful, and glides silently from room to room, Chaser is the class clown, the one who lacks coordination and who’s all legs, thumping her way across a room (and, in fact, one of her many sobriquets around here is “Thumper”).

 

(“Chaser, you’ve got your legs in my back again.  Sheesh. Can’t a gal get any sleep around here?”)

Where Elsie is a little chubby, rounded and soft (in all the right places), Chaser is lanky, lean and lithe.

 

(“Mum, Elsie’s taking up too much room. . . my legs don’t fit in this space.”)

When we first got Elsie, we were afraid that she had no vocal chords.  In fact, we didn’t even know she was capable of barking until she was about 10 months old. 

(“ *Sigh* “)

Chaser, on the other hand, whined the entire way home from the first afternoon we got her.  She is also, as the HH is fond of saying, rather “lippy”:  I’ve never known another dog that yelps, whines, howls, cries, barks, growls, and basically complains as much as she does.  Oh, and she groans.  Like an old man, like a creaky rocking chair, like an exasperated audience at the comedy improv:  there we’ll be, late at night in utter darkness, trying to sleep. . . when suddenly, I’ll hear the rumble of an outboard motor–but emanating from the foot of our bed: it’s just Chaser, changing position in her sleep, and groaning.

(” *** Groan ***”)

Well, despite their differences, The Girls have managed to find a balance, to develop a true love for each other and their respective quirks and peccadilloes (as have the HH and I). 

 And anyway, what would life be without a little contrast?  

[Photo of a photo of] The HH and me dressed as Sonny and Cher for a Hallowe’en party, the year we met (and before the dreaded weight gain). Dig those wigs! .]

(“Mum, you totally embarrass us. . . no, we don’t care that people know about our cute little quirks, but how could you publish that photo of you and Dad?? Oh, cringe. . . “)

It’s so great to hear from people who enjoy seeing (and hearing!) The Girls in the blog.  But I have to tell you, folks, what with all this attention, and then with the Oscar buzz happening yesterday (yay Daniel Day-Lewis!), they suddenly think they’re celebrities or something.  They’ve even begun to re-enact famous movies. 

For instance, here’s Chaser doing her own rendition of Queen Elizabeth (and believe me, she rules around here, too):

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Here she is again, this time as Lucy in Dracula(the Gary Oldman-Wynona Rider version, not the Bela Lugosi version):

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Not to be outdone, Elsie went ahead and rehearsed for Bull Durham (though I think she’d make a better catcher than a batter):

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And my favorite, their collaboration on Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers:

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I’m really not sure how to handle them with all this puffed-up ego in the air. . . for now, I’ll just humor them and hope it goes away soon.

(“Mum, truly, this is has to be the worst embarrassment ever. . . but, while we’re here anyway, perhaps one of these nice people would like our autograph?”)

 

I Heart Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2008

hearts.jpg Do you love Valentine’s Day?  It seems to elicit one of two diametrically opposed reactions from most people: either sentimental, tug-at-your-heartstrings devotion, or else complete, unmitigated disdain.  (I must admit I’m closer to the former).  But whether you love or hate it, wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on the wall at someone else’s V-Day? 

Well, this year, I’m suggesting we both be flies on the wall (I know, technically that’s an incorrect grammatical construction, since I am only one fly and “you” constitute at least two others, so it should actually read, ‘I’m suggesting that we all be flies on the wall,’ but that just sounded stupid). 

I’ll be the little fly I remember so vividly from my childhood, the one in the original 1950s The Fly movie, who is trapped at the end in the evil, inescapable spider’s web and calls out pitifully in a tiny, wailing voice, “Help me.  Help meeeee. . . . ” 

And you can be the fly on my Valentine’s Day Dinner wall.  Or should I say, “Please be the fly on my Valentine’s Day Dinner Wall.”  What do I mean  by that, you ask?

Well, so far, my HH and I have spent 10 Valentine’s Days together.  Each year, we’ve gone out for a fancy dinner in a restaurant.  (For three of those years, I couldn’t drink wine or eat most of what was on the menu, but I’ve found that if the restaurant is expensive enough, they’ll accommodate almost anything.)

This year, with finances a little tight, we decided to do something different and entirely novel.  We’re going to stay home and cook a romantic dinner together. This is highly significant for two main reasons:  (1) my HH generally doesn’t cook. (I may have mentioned before his past record of two years in an apartment without using the stove once.) And (2) my HH has agreed that this particular romantic soiree will feature an entirely vegan meal!!

Whoo-hoo, I say.  Again, a monumental concession on his part.  In the past, by eating at restaurants, we’ve been able to accommodate his motto that “a meal without animal protein just isn’t a meal.”  (Wine fits the motto, too, if you add the word “special” before “meal.”)  This time, though, he’s happily going along for the ride as I leaf through my scores of cookbooks and attempt to choose some spectacular dishes for the meal. 

And here’s where you come in. I have a few okay ideas, but for this ground-breaking dinner, I would really, really, REALLY love some new ones.  

And so I am entreating YOU, dear reader, to please serve up some suggestions!  Now’s your chance–if you’ve been a silent reader in the past, here’s a perfect opportunity to speak up! (Truly.  It would just be too humiliating if there were not ONE single comment left here after this impassioned plea. I would be forced to make up some of my own. And believe me, that would not be pretty.)  

Here’s what I’m considering for the menu so far (some of which I’ll actually have to make up myself, as I can’t seem to find a great recipe):

Appetizer

Sweet and Sour “Neat” Balls (appetizer size)–I could use a better appetizer;

First Course

Caesar Salad (I’ve fallen in love with the Veganomicon one, but would love to try something I haven’t had before);

Second Course

Cream of Olive Soup (writing about it the other day got me hankering for this soup–and I must get myself some, even if I have to create the recipe myself!);

Main Course

Pasta with Pesto, Sundried Tomatoes, and Smoked Tofu–I’d REALLY like a better suggestion for the main course!

Dessert

Banoffee Pie (I’m partway toward a fabulous vegan whipped cream recipe, but not sure I’ll pull it off by then–so other suggestions for wheat-free sweets would be much appreciated.)

Now, the HH and I have also made another unorthodox decision regarding this Big Day.  Unlike the rest of the civilized world, we are going to celebrate on Saturday–February 16th.  (Who said the 14th has to have a monopoly on love?).  Since Saturday is the weekend, we’ll both have the day off to cook in a leisurely fashion, perhaps even stretching the loving vibe throughout the afternoon. I’ll have time to set up the candles and bring out the bubble machine (well, the bubble wand, anyway).  And besides, all the Valentine’s Day chocolate will be on sale by then (fitting perfectly into our more frugal approach to the holiday this year).

So if you have an idea for a main dish that’s fabulous, romantic, tried-and-true, or an all time favorite, I’d love to hear about it.  If there’s a great appetizer you sampled at a party and would love to share, go for it.  If you’ve been blown away by a (wheat-free-dairy-free-egg-free-sugar-free) dessert in the past and know the recipe, send it on over! And if you’ve already blogged about your recipe, let me know and I’ll gladly add a link (I was going to say, “I’ll even invite you for dinner,” but I don’t think the HH would appreciate that on V-Day.)

Here’s your chance to spread the love around on Valentine’s Day! (And just think, this way, years from now, you’ll be able to say you were a driving force in encouraging the HH to finally cook something! How cool is that?)

*Or, How Our Puppy Got Her Name 

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 Once, several years ago, I read in a women’s magazine that the best time to discuss “serious” issues with your male partner is when you’re in the car, preferably going for a long drive. That way, you are in close contact with each other, it’s quiet and private, he can’t escape, and he doesn’t have to look you in the eye (always an intimacy-buster for men).  I have absolutely no doubt that writer knew whereof she wrote.  With that in mind, here’s a little glimpse into my past. 

(Scene One: Early morning. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa February, 2006.)

Ricki  (sweetly, with a quiet, loving tone): I just love Elsie so much. But you know, she’s lonely.  She lies on her pillow all day, moping and sighing, or else she just wanders over to the window and stares yearningly at the birds and squirrels outside. And I feel so guilty going off to work and leaving her alone for such long stretches of time.  Dogs are pack animals, you know. They’re not meant to be alone.  It’s so hard on her. She needs a sibling.  What do you say let’s get another dog?

HH: No.

(Scene Two:  Mid-Afternoon. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa May, 2006.)

Ricki (gesturing expressively):  Oh, come on, why can’t we get another dog?  You know that you love Elsie.  You know  you do. Okay, okay, fine; I promise to take full responsibility for house training.  I’ll even be the one who gets up in the middle of the night to let her out to pee until she’s trained.  Oh, come on, honey, you’ll love it, I know you will.  And isn’t Elsie great? Isn’t she? Isn’t she just the cutest thing in the universe? Don’t you just adore her?

HH: Elsie, stop nipping my ear! Get off me! Back! Go on, get into that back seat!

(Scene Three: Evening.  Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa January, 2007)

Ricki  (Despondent.  She pouts.):  But I have to have another dog.  You know how much I love dogs.  I am bitterly unhappy!  I simply cannot envision my life without another dog in it!  Two, two is all I want.  Really. I need a puppy.  Elsie needs a sister.  Seriously, I don’t think I can live without another dog.  I will never have another happy moment in my entire life unless we get another dog. (She sheds a tear.)

HH: Elsie, I said get back!  This dog is driving me crazy. Go on, get away, I can’t see where I’m—

(Screeching noises.  The car lurches to a stop, millimeters from a tree.  Silence.  The HH glowers.)

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(Scene Four.  Ricki and her HH. Mid-morning, driving in the car, circa May, 2007)

Ricki (from the back seat): Oooh, look at this little angel! Isn’t she just the sweetest little thing?? Ohhh, hello my little fuzzy wuzzy, ooooh you are so cutesie wootsie, what a darling little puppy wuppy kiss kiss pat pat. . . .

HH:  She hasn’t shut up since we got back in the car. Can’t you make her stop crying?

Ricki:  Just ignore her.  Besides, we can’t really get her attention until she knows her name.

HH: But she doesn’t have a name yet.

Ricki:  Well, I’ve got some excellent ideas!  How about–

HH: Wait a sec, YOU named Elsie/L.C.  You said I could come up with a name for this one.

Ricki:  (Suspiciously) Okayyyyy. . . . what’s your idea for a name?

HH: I don’t have one.

Ricki: Well, then, let ME pick one!

HH: No.

Ricki (after a pause): Okay, well, let’s brainstorm.  I’m sure we can come up with something.  How about related to your hobbies.  I know, what about a cute car name, like Bentley, since you love cars?

HH:  You mean, like, “Come here, Ferrari!”  Naw, too stupid sounding.

Ricki:  Well, what about a famous musician’s name, then?

HH:  What, like, “Come here, Rachmaninov!”  Really stupid sounding.

Ricki:  Okay, let’s look at some of our favorite televison shows.  What about Star Trek?

HH:  Oh, yeah, like, “Come here, Seven of Nine!”  Right.  Mega stupid. As if we’re going to find a name in a television show!

Ricki: Hmmmm.  What about House?  Who are our favorite characters. . . .let’s see. . . .Gregory House, Dr. Foreman. . . .

HH:  Really, this is not going to work.

Ricki:  There’s Dr. Chase. . . Hey!  How about Chaser?

HH:  Hmmmnnn.  (Pause). Perhaps, perhaps.

Ricki:  Yeah, that’s kinda cute, actually, little Chaser. . . .

HH:  Sort of like a “chaser” after a drink. . . yeah!  Hmm!  VERY cute!

Ricki:  Yes!  And she’s so energetic and bouncy, I bet she’ll be chasing Elsie all over the place–

HH:  Okay.  I think I like it!

(They arrive home, and, as they both cradle the puppy in their arms, they kiss.  They enter the house as a family unit).

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(Scene Five.  Morning.  Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa January, 2008)

Ricki:  See, I told you they’d get along eventually!  See how Chaser just loves Elsie. . . she doesn’t leave her alone, in fact.  Actually,  I think the only one that Chaser loves more than Elsie is yo–

HH:  Chaser, off!  Stop nipping my ear!  Get back in the– 

(Screeching noises.  The car comes to a stop millimeters from a flowerbed in someone’s front yard.  Silence, followed by loud and enthusiastic barking.  The scene fades to black.)

Well, if I learned anything from the experience, it’s this:  we sure could use a chauffeur.  

(“Um, sorry about that last part, Mum.  But since you already told Elsie’s story, thanks for telling mine, too!”)

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Dog Day: Bonehenge

December 12, 2007

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Unretouched photo of an aerial view of mysteriously placed Nylabones–AND a single rawhide (to the left) in a geometrically significant arrangement around an ottoman in our TV room.

How did they get there? What do they mean? The mystery remains unsolved. . . .