Saturday, October 16, 2010

Curiosity Killed the Cat

I like dogs.  I have never really been a cat person (I suspect my parent's utter hatred for the creatures has something to do with it...)

My husband, on the other hand, loves them all, even the ones with bad attitudes.

We have wanted to get a pet for a while, but because we live in an apartment and our lives are so hectic, getting a dog just seemed unfair to all involved (and I'm sure my landlord is grateful).  My husband has been on me for years to get a cat, but I was hesitant.  They scratch.  They shed.  They can be or make your house smelly.  They can be very aloof and not affectionate.  They scratch.  Did I mention they scratch?  Did I also mention that we have a brand new couch?  Well, there you go.

Cat Claws + New Couch = One Dead Cat.

Enough said.

However, I have been warming up to the idea.  I barely see my husband anymore.  I usually get a day on the weekend, and a night (or two if I'm lucky) during the week.  Between his hours at work and school and my schedule, he's almost a stranger. (Great way to start a marriage though! Ha!)  I'm lonely.  He's lonely.  We're in that nesting stage...not ready for a baby what with the lack of an actual home (and secured employment!) but ready for something more.

So, last weekend while visiting his family in Brockville, Shane and I bought a kitten.

She is an almost 4 month old, chocolate point Siamese with icy blue eyes named Sookie (yes, after the character in True Blood - we wanted something Asian sounding...Sookie stuck.)  Shane likes to walk into the house calling her name like Bill does.  It's hilarious.

And so far, I think she might be the most lovely cat ever.

She took her first car ride.  All four and a half hours of it in Thanksgiving traffic while perched on my shoulder.
She enjoys watching for our car out the window on her "Stripper Pole".
She hopped in the shower one morning, unexpectedly, and after leaving and meowing in protest, she hopped back in.
She likes to sit on my chest while I type on my computer.
She likes the way my cell phone vibrates when you type on it, and has attempted to communicate with Shane on several occasions.
She sometimes thinks she's a turban and sleeps on our heads, but for the most part she sleeps between us.
She purrs a lot, and likes to meow at me while I cook.  It's like she's telling me about her day.
So far, she has killed her fishing rod toy...and is quite sad about it.
When we got her, she smelled like a bounce sheet.  I can't figure out why or how, but she still does now.  It's fantastic.
Still waiting for her to bust into "We are Siamese if you Please!"

As far as cats go, she's pretty amazing.  It's been nice having a furry little thing to come home to at night, and to keep me company.

Anyway, welcome to the family, Sookie.  You're a little weird.  You'll fit in great!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Curried Autumn Soup

I have the head cold from hell.

I feel like total crap, and because of that, I decided to make some spicy, homemade soup to help kick this cold's ass.


Curried Autumn Soup

1 medium size butternut squash
1 medium size acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 large cooking onion diced
1 clove of garlic
1-3 tablespoons of curry powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 large carrots sliced
1 large sweet potato sliced
1 or 2 tetra packs of vegetable broth
S & P to taste

First, cut the squashes in half, remove the seeds and roast in the oven with a little bit of butter and brown sugar (optional).  When they are cooked, remove from skin.  Set aside.

In a large pot (Dutch oven), melt the butter.  Toss in the diced onions and minced clove of garlic.  Sweat.  Add in the curry powder (start with less, you can always add more, and don't forget, heating the spices will release the flavors more and more.)

Dump in the whole tetra pack of veggie broth.  Bring to a boil.  Add the sweet potato & carrots, lower the heat and simmer until cooked.  Then, add the roasted squash.  Simmer for 10 more minutes.  Take a masher and smoosh the veggies together just to make it easier on your magic bullet, food processor or blender.  Then, blend until smooth.

I found that when having left overs, it was best to add a bit more veggie broth just to thin it out.  This is a really thick soup!

Photos from here and here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Turkey!

I hate getting up early on the weekend...especially for the purpose of driving to Brockvegas.

It's not that I dislike Brockville, or the people there, but the act of driving itself is frightening!  Have you ever driven to Eastern Ontario??  Traffic, crazy drivers and Mack trucks, oh my!

Anyway, we're going to the hubby's family's Thanksgiving this year.  In the last two days, I've whipped up a batch of Ken's Decadent Brownies and two Maple Pecan Apple pies.

They're quick, they're easy and super delicious!  Hope you enjoy this easy Thanksgiving recipe!

Maple Pecan Apple Pie  

2 frozen pie crusts
5-10 apples, peeled, sliced thinly (enough to over fill one of the pie shells.)
Small bag of crushed pecans
2 teaspoons of butter
2 heaping tablespoons of real maple syrup
2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of brown sugar
egg or milk to wash over the top of the pastry.

Poke holes in the bottom of a pie shell.  Peel, and slice the apples, use the pie shell to gauge how many to use.  Melt the butter in a microwave with the maple syrup.  Add the pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar.  Mix well.  Dump in and coat the apples.  Dump the apples back into the bottom of the pie shell you poked.  Carefully remove the other pie shell from the foil liner.  Roll it out with a rolling pin, and use it to cover the top of the pie. Smoosh the sides with your fingers and cut off the excess with a knife.  Use the egg or milk with a pastry brush to brush the top.  Using a knife, put a few vents in the top.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Great God Debate

I hate church.

There.  I said it.

Though I guess it's not so much the building itself that I hate, it's more all of the religious dogma the physical building stands for that I find so...awful.

Today, I watched my best friend's son be baptized.  It is the first time, in my memory, that I have been inside a Catholic church.  And while I hope that this event holds lots of lovely memories for her family, I find myself thinking about church and religion and why I find them fascinating and irritating at the same time.

I was baptized.  In fact, many of my earliest memories occur inside the tiny United church in Seagrave, Ontario.  The same church where my grandparents had raised their five children, where my mother was the Sunday school teacher and where my sister and I were sheep or angels or shepherds every year in the nativity play.  I can still remember the distinctive, musty smell of the church basement where we did our lessons, the sound of the organ as Fern-nio played the hymns and the creaks and clicks of the 100 year old wooden floor beneath my shiny black church shoes.  I also remember how excited my sister and I were to wear our new bonnet and gloves on Easter Sunday and have our picture taken by the sign on the front lawn, each year a little taller than the year before.

Those were the good old days when going to church meant seeing your friends, eating goodies and getting to colour or cut and paste while the minister talked with the grown-ups up stairs.  There was no question as to whether or not there was a god.  And as far fetched as it seemed, we believed that a man named Noah really did build an arc and save two of every animal, and that we all came from one very virtuous man, and one rebellious woman who got us all kicked out of the garden of Eden.  Life was good.

But, the day came, as I'm sure it has for many others before me, when I started to question whether there was a god, and if there was, why on Earth would such an all loving, all knowing being create such hatred and sadness in the world?

The year that my Uncle died, I remember speaking with a minister who told me that god hated gay people and that I would never see my uncle again, because he would be in hell.

I was 12.

After that, I got very angry.  If god hated people for something so insignificant as who they chose to love, then I was through with god.  I remember getting really, really angry with my parents for baptizing me at all.  How dare they commit my life to a god that I don't believe in.  It's my life, don't I have the right to choose?  What if I wanted to be a Buddhist or a Hindu or a worshiper of the Fonz?  Wasn't it my right to choose?!

Since then, I have renounced my faith.  I'm not an atheist.  I call myself agnostic, but in reality, I just choose to be me.  I am open to all religions that treat ALL people with kindness and understanding.  If you want to praise a god (or many gods) to do that, you go ahead, but I'll pass, thank you very much.  I don't believe in one all powerful being sitting on a cloud screwing around with the human race like ants in an ant farm, but I do believe in the spiritual world.  And yes! There are amazing things in this world that I will never understand, and that's ok.  I believe that when someone dies, they're gone and I'll never see them again, and that's ok, because their spirit lives on through me and those who loved them in the memories we share, and in that spirit, they never really leave us at all.  I could go on and on, but I'm guessing you get the picture.  I believe that being good to one another is the only religion I need.

And if I'm wrong when it's my time to go, and I have to spend eternity with devils poking me with pitchforks, so be it, but I certainly hope that if there is one all knowing, all powerful god out there, he or she isn't as mean or spiteful as many religions would have us believe.  Life is all about compromise, and surely any god who created us would understand that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poetry in Motion...

I miss my Uncle Bob.

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook from the Ellen Degeneres Show.  I don't usually watch the random stuff that people post, but for some reason "Important Message" and Ellen Degeneres seemed just too odd a combination to ignore.  So, I clicked on it.

I'm glad I did.

A clearly upset Ellen, voice cracking and tears floating in her eyes, pleads with the nation to do something about the crisis of teen bullying, especially against gay teens who seem, more and more often, to be taking their own lives to escape the torment.

I watched this video three times.

Once for myself.

Once for my Uncle Bob.

And once for his partner Greg.

I always knew my uncle was different.  When he came to school one day when I was in grade one to pick me up for a surprise lunch date, the secretary called my class on the intercom and asked me to describe him before she would release me (gotta love 1980's school security!).  I told her he was tall and skinny, his hair was always really neat, he wore fancy clothes and a long, fuzzy fur coat.  He always had lots of gold rings on and he ALWAYS smelled really good.

The secretary took one look at my uncle and poof!  Lunch date!  (And one of my fondest memories of grade one.)

My uncle and his partner Greg lived in Toronto, right near the old Maple Leaf Gardens.  We used to take the Go-Train to the city and Uncle Bob would pick us up at Union and we'd walk to his house, my tiny town eyes ever looking up and the enormous buildings towering above me.  I remember my parents explaining to me that Uncle Bob and Greg were roommates, and it never really occurred to me that they only had one bed.

We used to love going to the city to visit them.  Their lives seemed so glamorous.  My uncle drove a Miata.  He and Greg used to dress to the freaking nines!  They went to the theatre, the museum and concerts.  They did everything with a certain panache that only they could muster...just another thing I desperately miss today.

As an adult, I have become privy to the reality of my uncle's life.

My mum and her brother (Uncle Bob's twin)  have told me about the dark side of his life.  Fights where he would just curl up on the ground because he knew that fighting back would only make it worse.  Fights where one of my other Uncles or my mother would have to step in and protect him.    The fights where he was beaten within an inch of his life.  They've told me about what high school was like for him, about life for a closeted gay man living in small town Ontario during the 1970' breaks my heart.

After watching the Ellen video, it made me think of my Uncle Bob and Greg, and all of the hardships they had to endure all because they didn't fit into what "normalized society" deemed normal.  They were labelled as sexual deviants, perverts and treated as though they were criminals unworthy of basic human decency.

All of this happened during the 1980's.  Apparently, it's still happening now.  30 years later, and the methods have changed (enter facebook, twitter, myspace and the blogosphere) but the results are the same.  The bruises may not be visible, but they're still there.

It's no wonder gay teens are being driven to suicide.

I lost my Uncle Bob and Greg in 1993 to AIDS.  We watched them suffer through the illness, one drained to nothing by experimental drugs, the other with nothing, vowing not to let the drugs kill him faster.

I always miss my Uncle Bob, but today, perhaps more than most.  There are so many things I wish I could tell him - but perhaps the most important is how much I love him, and how grateful I am for the time we had.

I keep thinking about if my uncle and his partner had not made it through one of those dark times and how my life and the lives of every single person in my family would be different.  It's devastating.

As I sit here reflecting on how lucky I was to have two such amazing people in my life, I am overcome with sadness that we live in a world where so many are senselessly persecuted because they live or love differently than others.

I really hope that this age of intolerance and hatred is quickly drawing to a close.

On a closing note, my Uncle Brian told me, just before heading up for our first dance on our wedding night:

"Watching my brother Bob dance was like watching poetry in motion.  When you feel your dress sway or a gentle breath of air on your cheek, you'll know he's here with you."

I know he was there that night, guiding my clumsy feet.