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The AT&T It’s Not Complicated ads with the obnoxious guy and annoying children. For weeks I noticed that the adult ignored the girls and pretended to be amazed by every dumb thing the loud, little boys did and diss the girls. Now they have a couple of spots where a girl takes center stage. Of course, it’s no better as the grownup hasn’t been paying attention to her. I am sorry to put these in here as god knows they’ve been running constantly on television as it is.


March Madness is going to be hard to take with these running every 12 seconds.

It is unnerving to see how much paper has accumulated in the filing cabinets in this house. Note that I didn’t say I had accumulated the paper but the paper has accumulated. Paper makes me passive. Or feel passive. Or passive-aggressive. Sure don’t want to take ownership of much of it. Ok, so it’s not as bad as the photo, but it is utterly not empowering to go through one’s files. It makes me think I’ve been both busy and lazy simultaneously. That I have wasted my life and continue to every minute I spend purging the outdated and extraneous stuff from the damned files or reading things I find interesting in them. It’s that just putting off the inevitable ashes to ashes. It’s more like ash to trash and brain down the drain. Will my children thank me for the load I’m taking off them? That depends on whether the binders of my father’s multi-papered life outlast me. My husband just put a load of them in a container up in the attic. As heavy as it must have been, I feel lighter already. Out of sight–out of mind works so well sometimes. I much prefer it to going out of my mind



I wish I could show you what I’d like to show you on this auspicious occasion, but I can’t. Can’t even tell you why I can’t. It’s that crucial to the future of pie in Richmond. I will say that unless it’s a graham cracker crumb crust or the like, I don’t see the point of crust on and under pie. Not my thing.

Since it apparently is National Pie Day, I thought I’d be true to form for lunch and have my favorite thing–leftover homemade pizza. It also helped that we made a trio of pizza pies last night for dinner. BBQ Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions, Pesto w/ Chicken Sausage and a really good white pizza of my husband’s design with lots of stuff leftover from the other pizzas and mozzarella and such. Small pieces of the three, I swear.

Pizza Tonight Gluten free dough, FYI.

Pizza Tonight Gluten free dough, FYI.


In an unplanned pie day event, I ended up making a quiche. I use the ole Moosewood Cookbook recipe as my base and riff from there. It has never failed me though this one–in the oven now–certainly could. I used Swiss Cheese, sauteed onions and red pepper, added some leftover sage sausage that we had and, I’m embarrassed to say, pulled out some leftover greens from a container in the fridge and threw them on, too. I seem to recall their being a part of a meal in the not-too-distant past. Not sure what their mooshy-ness is going to add to the mess. Not to mention the mish-mash of flavors. Eggs and cheese cover a variety of mistakes.

Now that I’m in the boring healing stage of  various and sundry health issues, wherein it appears that my 51 year-old self was body-snatched by my 87 year-old self, I get asked how I’m feeling. Lately I’ve been saying 75%, but that just makes me feel worse. I’d feel better if we all would agree that I’m really still only a shadow of my true self and that there’s way more energy and vivaciousness and remembering the last 4 of my SSN to come. Time will tell, but all these digital clocks are mum.

For about 10 years I’ve kept a list of what books I read each year. It would be handier if I actually remembered to write down every book I did in fact read, but it’s a better source than me answering the question, “What have you been reading lately?”

I’ve bolded my favorites. 2012 looked like this:

Blue Nights  (I know it’s wrong to say, but ugh.)

Behind Enemy Lines  ( a children’s book we’ve had + insomnia)

Church Hill Train Tunnel

Richmond’s Unhealed History (highly recommend)

Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors (this and the next 2 for a JRW panel I moderated–enjoyed the first two)

Good Humor Man

Mom in the Making

Devil’s Highway ( quite a shift from the Christian romance I had to read for the panel)

Richmond Receipts      (this and the next one were crucial for Dinner & Dames info)

The Virginia Housewife  

Street Gang (about Sesame Street)

Lewis Ginter

Home    (Witold Rybczynski)

Power of Habit           (Didn’t change my life, alas)

Come August, Come Freedom ( Written by a friend. Immensely powerful and beautiful.)

The Girl Who Silenced the Wind (Written by another friend. Searing and sage.)

Home (Toni Morrison)

Some snooze of a marketing book from Constant Contact

Making Babies           (enjoyed it more than I’d expected)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (wrote about it here.)


Blink     (Yes, I’m slow!)

Black Potatoes  (post-Ireland trip. Hard to complain about bowel prep reading this.)

McCarthy’s Bar (re-read it post-Ireland. Didn’t think as much of it this time.)

Thread Across the Ocean (Bought in Ireland–a family connection to the story.)

Have Mother, Will Travel (hated–didn’t finish)

Team of Rivals (slow start, but never wanted it to end)

At Home (Bill Bryson)

The Heart and the Fist (From a friend whose son is a SEAL )

A Jane Austen Education (better to read her books again)

Official Book Club Selection (couldn’t resist  when I saw it in a sister’s closet)

Stuart Little (soothing to re-read ahead of surgery)

Holidays on Ice (David Sedaris– a tad too mean for the holidays if you ask me)

Three Dog Life (need to read more of Abigail Thomas)

No Ordinary Time (more DKG to love. Think we never got to WW II in school.)

The Reader (can’t imagine anyone going to  the movie unless to see naked Kate W.)

Forgot these 2:

Thee, Hannah (an oldie that my mother loved as a child)

Treat Your Own Back (I’ll recommend it in a few months if my back gets better.)

So that was what I remember to write down, and as I was typing this I remembered another. Here’s hoping 2013 is full of good books to sit down with. God knows there are plenty of good ones sitting around this house.

I recently re-read Stuart Little, having forgotten most of it. When Stuart becomes a substitute teacher for a couple hours–the only way to do that job–he asks his class, “‘How many of you know what’s important?'”

One student had the answer–or almost all of it: “‘A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,’ answered Henry.

‘Correct,’ said Stuart. ‘Those are the important things. You forgot one thing, though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?’

‘He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,’ said Mary quickly.

‘Exactly,’ said Stuart. ‘Ice cream is important.'”

It takes a genius like E.B. White to say just so what the rest of us were not quite thinking.

Is my favorite birthday joke and so appropriate this year on so many levels. It was an all-stool birthday this year. First I practiced the local love that I preach on our Real Richmond food tours and post-tour one pre-birthday Saturday went to one of my favorite stores, La Difference, for no good reason other than I was there and it was there, too. Once inside I realized I needed twelve different pieces of furniture. I settled on two bamboo bar stools to coolify our kitchen until I do more that needs doing.

Mine is darker….

Things took a turn when I ruptured a disc in my back and whatever coolness factor the above stool conveyed upon me and my home evaporated. I am now at the point where I can get into serious trouble losing focus while I put my pants on. This is the stool I’m on now:

Let’s pretend it’s retro….

And then there was the phone call from the doc on my birthday telling me he wanted me to do another colonoscopy pronto. I won’t go all Katie Couric on you, so I’ll spare you the photo. But I did get my first tattoo.


Not to over-anaylze it–squiggly, wiry, metallic and free-form.  Note the juxtapositions. (There are always juxtapositions.) Is it an Alexander Calder mobile rip-off? A caricature done in coat hangers with a nod to irony? Symbolic of Virginia hanging onto its blue state ways?  A way to avoid ironing shirts that are supposed to be no-iron but look like wrinkly crap when they come out of the dryer? The best way to showcase my cobalt blue kitchen and laundry room cabinets? A poor excuse for a blog post? You decide. My artistic output for the day.

Cowed by the Roads

I have had more near-death experiences in Ireland than in any other country and I’ve been there for a grand total of 4 months of my life–9 days just recently. It’s the roads and the people driving them, not the cows, that I blame. Too many beautiful things to look at just off the road. The way the light lasers through clouds and dances on the water must make people think they’re already in heaven so what’s the big deal if a car hits them or they hit a person to make it official. This cow in Doolin has a sweet spot just off the Clare Way, supposedly a walking route that puts people on narrow, winding roads where drivers are supposed to go 100 km an hour–62 mph–and often surpass that. It’s on the right side of the wall.

I must hand it to dreams–sometimes they know what they are doing. The last couple of nights I’ve had the funniest anxiety dreams, so finely crafted, so detail-oriented, so nuanced that I couldn’t (and certainly won’t now) articulate a mixed-up miasma of complicated feelings any better.

Sadly I’ve forgotten the first dream, but the second one involved most of my siblings and our mother and a dollhouse version (that actually does exist-as do my siblings and mother) of my mother’s house. The task at hand while I slept was moving this dollhouse from one sibling’s house in Richmond where it has never set foot or foundation, to god knows where. (I’ve never been very goal-oriented.) Even though I knew exactly how it could be transported and knew that the correct vehicle to do the job was my old minivan, (which in fact did drive the dollhouse from my mother’s house in Maryland to her new place in Philly–seeing the miniature house roll across Locust Street was a surreal experience) which in the dream was sitting in the old Egan driveway in Maryland right next to all sorts of bizarrely proportioned vehicles that couldn’t possibly have fit the damned dollhouse in them, this information did in no way help the situation. Nor did communicating such information in the nicest and then perhaps the not nicest way to various and sundry relatives. The many obstacles that were never overcome and the multiple wrong-sized vehicles that one sibling (guess who?!) kept showing up with nearly made the dream version of me pop an aneurysm.

How much better for me that I woke up from the dream not in a cold sweat but rather laughing at myself–and perhaps at a sibling or two. Now that’s a good dream. Sometimes I do have such affection for my brain–especially when it’s sleeping.

I’m back!