Sunday, December 31, 2006

The old guy, the baby, and a glass of champagne.

I am raising a toast to all of you reading this blog, known and unknown to me. Here's to a peaceful 2007 for everyone in the world.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pulitzer prize.

Today, we need to discuss how uncool I am. Actually, I think nearly every one of my blogs has a final, unwritten sentence; “Moral: Quinn is the least cool person you know”, but today we are going to specifically discuss how deeply unhip I am. I’m not even unhip in the I listen to Kraftwerk, eat salted licorice from Denmark and code until my chair becomes part of my spinal column/So geeky I’m oddly hip sort of way. I’m so lacking in cool that my very presence in a place works against whatever cool thing might happen.

More times than I can count, I have attended a party populated by three people, two of them the bartenders, and left out of boredom only to find out the next morning that the party was “…raging! Incredible! People having sex in the foyer!...” a half-hour after I left. For a while, I attributed my never attending a cool party with my lack of patience. Finally, though, I realized that cool simply wasn’t going to enter the room as long as I was standing there asking if there were deviled eggs.

Only once have I collided with cool. In my early twenties, I was working in commercial casting, and I was invited to a party celebrating the opening of a new modeling agency. Knowing something of models -- how they would show up for a 10:15 am audition promptly at 4:30pm, sometimes even the same day -- I arrived two hours after the event started. I was the first person there. I chatted with the bartenders and the cleaning staff for an hour or so, and then hid in the storeroom for another hour reading a book I had secreted in my purse. My absence from the floor must have confused the Gods of Hipness because when I finally left the storeroom the club was alive with beautiful, young, tall people and their agents, who were none of the above. I drifted around for an hour, drawing no attention whatsoever, which is what happens when you are five years older and a foot shorter than anyone else in the room.

Oddly enough, no matter where I drifted, no matter how hard I worked to use the wakes six foot-tall fifteen year-olds create to travel throughout the room, I would inevitably end up wedged between a wall and a model named Misty. Misty had gotten her hair cut for a big shoot. When they first did it, she cried, but once they blew it out, she liked it a lot. Her booker screamed when she saw the hair cut. SCREAMED! But now she liked it.

This was becoming like that six-month period where no matter what time of day I turned on HBO, the same scene from “Lambada, the Forbidden Dance” was playing. I knew it was time to go. I pushed my way through the now-packed club, and reached the door. The bouncer offered to stamp my hand, assuming I was off to smoke and return for more hair stories. I shook my head.

“Nope, thanks. Going home.”

I heard a moan of disbelief. Glancing down the wall, I saw easily seventy-five people waiting to get into this club so they too could have the joy of buying eight-dollar beers, feeling old and pudgy and hearing about the haircut of a stranger named after a weather condition. Their very longing to be where I was made me stop briefly in my tracks. I had been going out long enough at this point to realize I had lightening in a bottle; I was inside the party of the night. This is what hip felt like. Hip felt boring and self-involved and expensive. I left without regrets.

Moral: Quinn is the least cool person you know.

Even knowing this about myself, I can still stand in awe of exactly how something I am becoming. I say “something” because I have no idea what the following information makes me. Everyone is allowed to contribute their own adjective.

Daughter was paging through a catalogue we had gotten, found something and ran to show it to me.

“Mommy,” she said breathlessly, “we should get these!”

I looked at what had drawn her attention and smiled. It could be cute for spring. Matter of fact, it might be really cute! Then, the reality of what I was considering took my breath away.

Readers, I am considering coordinating Lilly Pulitzer mother-daughter outfits. My greatest concern right now is not that she will look adorable and I will look like an ass, which would be a justifiable anxiety. My greatest concern is since Daughter and I have completely different coloring, I won’t be able to find a pattern equally flattering to both.

My second concern is that I might have told some friend to beat me to death if I ever did a mother-daughter outfit, and have forgotten extracting the promise.

I’m certainly no innocent in the Pulitzer oeuvre. In fact, I am known in many circles as The One with the Tropical Pants. Christmas Eve service at church, I found the soloist to compliment her singing. She took my hand, looked at me closely and brightened. “Oh, I know you,” she said. “I just didn’t recognize you without your pants”.

It can be safely said, Lilly Pulitzer and I are like this. But a pair of pants with monkeys or another pair with trailing fluorescent vines is one thing. Being the human equivalent of Garanimals with your own child is another. And yet I cannot stop thinking about how cute it would be.

And consider this: Daughter wants us to look alike. Within a matter of minutes, relatively speaking, not only is she not going to want us to be a matched set, she’s going to beg me to stash myself between the mattress and the box spring when her friends come over. Shouldn’t I be grabbing these moments wherever I can?

Right now, I’m uncool. If I buy an outfit which matches my daughter’s outfit, I think I reach a whole new level of uncool. But I’m loved, and Daughter and I can both wear one particular pattern where the primary color is bright pink.

And there’s this lovely matching necktie for Consort…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Oh that we could always see such spirit through the year.

My entire blogged-about family wishes you and your family the happiest of holidays and a peaceful New Year.

Actually, Lulabelle the cat kind of wishes you would throw her new Christmas squeaky mouse across the room and use your miraculous thumbs to open a can of wet food. This is why we rarely include her in family votes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Good Belt.

An acquaintance of mine makes a small side living selling used clothing. This isn’t as tawdry as it sounds. In fact, being Los Angeles, it’s downright posh. She has a selection of vastly wealthy woman from whom she picks up cast-offs anywhere from two to five times a year. The items in question are worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars and have committed no greater sin than having bored their owner. For these women the path from “MUST have it!” to “What, are you still here?” is about a yard long and space in the converted bedroom-turned-closet must be made for this season’s weird platform shoes and the purse of the moment, which is the size of a Great Pyrenees.

This is how I ended up contemplating buying a dress I could never have justified in its first incarnation. It is a sweater dress, in a flattering color, restrained in detail. People who care about such things would recognize it as the work of a particular designer and wonder why I spent this month's mortgage on a dress. People who don't care about such things might think “Oh, Quinn looks less dead than usual”.

I held it up to me. It appeared to fit. I tried it on. I decided that it while it was nearly impossible to get the full effect wearing Converse low-tops, it appeared to compliment me. Not that these clothes are ever worn-out, but while checking for any damage I noticed as how the dress was especially new-looking. In fact, it appeared unworn. I asked the woman selling it about its history.

She plucked at it once or twice and said, “Oh, this one. Yeah, I think she wore it once. If that. It’s a beauty, isn’t it?”

It was a beauty, which made the non-wearing all the more puzzling. I looked at myself in the mirror again, felt the rush of pleasure which is the opposite of the usual heart-sink I feel when I glance at my own reflection and thought, Oh hell, rich women in Los Angeles buy things they never wear all the time. The dress is lovely and suits me and sometimes you just get lucky...

Which is true. Sometimes you get lucky. Me? I don’t get lucky. I get the consequences of what happens when you don’t ask the right questions. For instance, I should have walked around the room for a few minutes and then asked the dress, “Are you comfortable with being a dress?”

Because, as it happens, this dress suffers from a rare and painful personality disorder whereby it is a belt trapped in the body of a sweater-dress. Any movement greater than that of breathing shallowly causes it to manifest its inner belt-ness. And while I am sure it is terribly painful to live a lie, it's no picnic at the beach to wear a dress whose hem keeps lunging up towards your waist.

I discovered this on Saturday night about twenty minutes before we had to leave for our first holiday party. I had been dressed for nearly an hour at that point, but between getting Daughter to eat dinner, getting her ready for the babysitter and giving the cat antibiotics for her bladder infection, I hadn’t noticed how often I was hoiking down the dress.

[The computer just insisted hoiking isn’t a word. Well, guess what, Spell-check? Hoiking is the thing women do when they tug a skirt into place, so you can just add it to your dictionary because I’m going to be using it a lot.]

Every movement sent the skirt off on a personal journey of discovery. Every action contracted the beautifully woven fabric by an inch or more. There was no activity so miniscule that my dress didn’t cry out “Oh, God, don’t you understand? I was meant to encircle your waist!”

The dress, realizing this new life it aspired to might come as something of a surprise to me, offered me a compromise of parking at the middle of my thighs. I looked in the mirror and was reminded of Mariah Carey, a woman of great vocal talent but the wardrobe of a, shall we say, slightly younger woman. I am older than Mariah Carey which means I have no business prancing around in a mini-dress. I mentally ran through my closet, and found no other options unless the party turned into a spontaneous hiking trip. I had no choice so I hoiked downwards fiercely.

You know what’s fun? Fun is getting out of a car in a dress that wants to be a three-inch wide fashion accessory. You get to swing your legs out, knees locked together in a death clench, adding a firm hoik as you try to maintain eye contact with the parking valet. I think this exercise could be used as a sobriety check for women. It’s also nice to meet business associates of Consort’s as my skirt is stubbornly clawing its way up towards the Promised Land.

CONSORT: Quinn, this is Carter and his wife Siobhan.

QUINN: It’s a pleasure to…are those shrimp rolls coming this way?

(Everyone else glances at the waitron heading towards us as I do once quick, brutal all-around hoik)

SIOBHAN: What a pretty color your dress is.


I’m fairly certain several wives didn’t speak to me because they assumed I had gotten lost on the way to the next ballroom and my job in as the entertainment for the Sigma Phi holiday mixer. And yet I had a good time, mostly because I developed incredibly low expectations. As long as I sat still, or moved with the mincing deliberate steps of a geisha, the skirt would stay below where it would embarrass Britney Spears. By the time the evening ended, I had had such fun that I hoiked down my skirt no more than twenty times between the restaurant and the car. I mean, by then, what hadn’t everyone seen, right?

The good news is that I won’t see some of these people again until next year when I’ll be the one in the ankle-length skirt and head covering, gazing down modestly and murmuring, “I understand you met my cousin last year…?”

This year’s dress will be at home, folded up, quietly dreaming of a world where it can hold up pants without being judged.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

More locusts.

This is what I get for writing “Tomorrow” instead of “Whenever I get around to it”; I actually have to finish what I start.


Okay, so when we left our luckless heroine, she had a sick child, a sick car and a sick neck. On the plus side, she had a supportive Consort and no longer had stitches in her head.

I made my way home without looking over to the right; the steady throbbing ache provided a reminder not to move my head, but so did my mumbling “Move along, nothing to see over there” to myself whenever the right side of the world started to sound interesting.

When I got home, Daughter was sweaty and sleeping, Consort was writing emails, all seemed to be fine. He could work from home for a while longer, but there was an unavoidable meeting mid-afternoon, which was to take place about ten minutes from the doctor’s office from whence I had just come.

Oh, irony. How I hate you.

All we had to do was wait for Daughter to wake up, have Consort drive us to the rental-car place, get a car and bring it home. I could then take a pain pill and forbear from operating heavy machinery. I believe this was Plan L. While I waited, I attempted to clean the kitchen a bit. Moving methodically if not gracefully, I managed to fill the dishwasher without moving anything above my sternum. Having filled it, I pushed the “Start” button.

It didn’t.

I pushed “Start” again, and again, and then once more just for the feeling of the control panel under my finger. I opened the dishwasher’s door, joggled it a bit, which joggled me a bit, sending off new fireworks of pain into my skull but doing nothing for making the dishwasher work. I considered all of my options:

1) Empty the entire dishwasher, because clearly I was going to have to call the appliance guy.
2) Wait for the pain pills to kick in before I empty the entire dishwasher.
3) Cry while emptying the dishwasher.

I went with:

4) Hide in bedroom and pretend the kitchen is part of someone else’s house.

Right around the time that Consort was going to have to leave, Daughter woke up on her own. The nap and vomiting appeared to have done her some good, as she was more her usual self, less of the lead character in a Tennessee Williams play. Consort put on his shoes, grabbed his coat, and we were heading out the door when I did something so stupid as to be almost charming.


When Consort dies -- may it be centuries from now -- his tombstone will read “He fixed”. He fixes problems, he fixes people, but mostly he fixes mechanical objects. The point where the enigmatic metaphorical knot finally, after patient ministration, comes unwound in his hands is a source of pure endorphin to his brain. I know these things as well as I know that I have no idea where my car keys are located. He cannot leave a problem alone.

So why, oh why, OH PLEASE TELL ME WHY, when we were racing through the kitchen towards the garage and his car, did I burble “By the way, the dishwasher isn’t working”?

He came to a cartoon stop and squinted thoughtfully at the dishwasher. I know that look. It’s the look which precedes trips to Home Depot. I immediately started back-tracking.

“No. Just leave it. It will be just as broken tonight, or...fixed! You remember the time that thing I had just fixed was...“

But he was already down on his hands and knees, his dress pants velcro-ing up pet hair, his body lost up to his floating ribs in the maw of the dishwasher.

“I think I see the problem," his voice emerged from somewhere deep inside the appliance. "This shouldn’t take more than ten minutes.”

Daughter announced that she might, possibly, maybe need to vomit again. I whisked her off to the bathroom where we spent several minutes determining this was a false alarm but that she wanted to go back to bed. I gently dissuaded her, promising her not only a nap but weekday television once we got home from getting the rental car. We walked back into the kitchen, prepared to leave. The dishwasher was out of the wall, in the middle of the kitchen, screws forming a sort of halo around the dismembered front panel. Consort, cross-legged and dusty, looked up.

“The copper water-intake pipe is crimped. That’s not the reason it isn’t working now, but it would explain why everything hasn’t been getting as clean.”

“Hey, a new fact about our house!.”

A snotty tone is completely lost on a man trying to remember where his wee set of Allen wrenches went.

I watched him touching wires to determine if the washer had shorted as Daughter snuck away and crawled on to the couch.

“You need to go to work.” I offered, knowing I was far less interesting then a smelly non-working appliance.

He said vaguely, “I know. This should take no more than…huh. Look at that.”

And that, Gentle Reader, is when this day finally got funny for me. Something about a grown man wearing a necktie, a dress shirt and what appeared to be cat-hair trousers staring meaningfully into my dishwasher finally put me over the edge. Nothing, not one single thing, was going to go right today, and you know what?

I just had to ride it out. This day had become something like performance art, and like every performance art piece I have ever seen, I had no idea what in the hell I was looking at, or why they were doing a single thing they were doing. The only thing I could hope to do was admire the elements. The Fates had decided to toy with me today, and all I could do was marvel at their prop choices:

“The only rental car available at three in the afternoon is covered in dog hair? I appear to be allergic to whatever kind of dog this is? That’s some fine detail work.”

“I think we all knew that when I was washing the dishes I took out of the dishwasher I was going to cut my finger on a knife, but may I commend you, oh impish Fate, on your choice of a serrated knife? The ragged edges of the wound endlessly leaking blood are a lovely visual.”

“Now the disposal isn’t working? Oh, you scamp!”

Please don’t think I was shaking my fist at the heavens. It was actually sort of interesting. This day sucked, sucked loudly in fact, but in this day of suckage, I found my inner Buddhist. I couldn’t live in the past, where my life didn’t suck, because I had to keep changing finger bandages and making sure Daughter had her bucket. I couldn’t live in the future because, frankly, I was a little frightened of what was planned for me next. All I could do was live from second to second, dealing with the rolling black-out or hurricane of toads or whatever else was up next on my dance card. And taken on a moment-to-moment basis, it was strangely entertaining.

Two days later, here's the head-count:

Daughter is on the mend.

My finger has almost completed clotting.

The dishwasher has to be replaced.

The disposal has to be replaced at some point, but can live for a while longer.

The dishwasher and disposal, even though they live next to one another and broke within an hour of each other, broke for completely unrelated reasons. This amazed the appliance repairman, but I merely looked up toward the sky and mouthed “Good one”.

I may not always understand it, but I know good theater when I see it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Day of the Locusts.

Before I begin, a note -- nothing in the following account has been made up or exaggerated. This is, in fact, the day I have had…

But first, here’s how it was supposed to work:

First thing in the morning I had to be across town to have some stitches removed from a small and not-worthy-of-blogging-about procedure. Since the doctor had exactly one window of opportunity between now and Easter I seized it, even though it meant I couldn’t drive Daughter to school. No great loss, since this entire week at school seems to be dedicated to rehearsing for the holiday recital. Being the avatar of multitasking, I begged and whined until I got an appointment with her dentist, whose office is about a mile from my doctor.

I was a cascade of efficiency. My stitches out. Daughter to dentist. Home by lunch for a free afternoon of brain-enhancing play and magazine style mother-daughter bonding. Someone give me a Merit badge.

Now, let us discuss how this day actually flogged out:

The day actually began last night at about 11:30. Consort and I had been watching TV and yawning for an hour, saying listless things like “we really ought to go to bed” and “I’m too tired to walk to bed”, when I suddenly realized the next day was street-cleaning day. Consort, being as he was wearing shoes, graciously offered to move my car to the other side of the street. He was gone for about ten minutes during which time I had almost motivated myself up off the couch, when he came back in.

“You want to call the tow truck now or in the morning?”

I sighed in dark irritation. The car had suddenly died two weeks ago and visited its dear friend Chris the Mechanic. Chris the Mechanic determined that: a) the car was completely dead; b) it might be this cheap part which needed replacing but wasn’t sure so c) it should be sent to the dealership to have it double-checked. Of course, once back in its home soil it perversely refused to manifest any symptoms whatsoever, ergo it was fully recuperated and should run perfectly forever. The cheap part did the trick.

Stupid Quinn. It’s never the cheap part.

And let us not forget, the car was still on the wrong side of the street, ticket-wise. Were we having it towed to Chris the Mechanic? No doubt. Would the tow truck get here before eight AM, when the street-cleaner threatened to arrive preceded by a phalanx of evil ticket-writing minions? Doubtful. Would I get a ticket? Assuredly. Would I be prepared to write the fifty-seven registered and notarized letters from Chris the Mechanic to the City of Los Angeles, attesting to the car’s inability to move, thereby clearing said ticket? Oh, goodness no.

So this is how we ended up pushing a twenty-seven thousand pound car around the corner to the non-cleaning side of the street at 12:30 in the morning.

Actually, we didn’t push. I sat in the driver’s seat, steered, and discovered first-hand how my car would respond without power steering. Consort, God love him, pushed, along with a young man who happened to be bicycling home from his job at Trader Joe’s at 12:30 in the morning and saw our plight. Including a few back-and-forth maneuvers to get close enough to the curb to avoid the “you’re too far from the curb” ticket, the entire process only took about fifteen minutes, but there is something about moving an unwieldy mass in the middle of the night to conjure up a certain sympathy for grave-robbers.

We thanked our tattooed helper profusely, offered him a six-pack and money (he declined both), and went inside to create Plan B.

Plan B: We would get up early and arrange to have the car towed. Consort would drive me to the rental-car place on his way to work. Daughter and I would continue from there.

What I hadn’t foreseen was vomit.

Daughter has the constitution of her father’s healthy genetic stock. She hardly ever gets sick, but when she does it changes her personality completely. Normally a cheerful little trouper, when ill my daughter becomes agitated, illogical and stubborn – which, ironically enough, describes her mother when healthy. When she started weeping over her sore throat and insisting the cardigan touching her neck was making it worse, I knew she was truly sick. When she started wailing “I just want to go to BED for a few minutes!...” I suspected the worst.

All right, Plan C.

I couldn’t postpone getting the stitches removed. We had already gone many days longer than the doctor wanted, and if the skin grew over them, that would create yet another “complication”. I have had quite enough of those, thank you.

The child had to stay home. The car had to be towed. I had to move. Plan C involved Consort staying home for the morning. He quickly rearranged his schedule as I popped Daughter into bed. I would take Consort’s car. He would arrange the tow. We’d get the rental car when I got home.

Already running late, I hit the road and immediately called Daughter’s doctor. Good luck. They could see her within two hours. I called Consort, feeling just a bit smug -- sure, I’m leaving my sick child at home in order to attend to my selfish need to be able to wash my hair without touching nylon filament, but even while traveling, my Daughter comes first. Look, see, I’ve arranged her doctor’s appointment!

“But, Quinn, you have the car.”

Oh, that. Consort called back in a few minutes. He’d arranged for the tow truck to come within an hour. He and Daughter would get into a cab and hitch a ride to the doctor’s office. From there it was a short walk to the pediatrician. I called the dentist and cancelled.

Fifteen minutes passed. Consort called to tell me Daughter had thrown up and was feeling much better. Her sore throat was completely gone but did he need to worry that the vomit was blue?

No, I assured him. She had masses of blueberries last night for dessert. If the sore throat didn’t come back in an hour, it probably wasn’t strep and didn’t require a trip to the doctor’s office. A stomach bug had been going around the school which ran its course without intervention. We hung up, and I relaxed a little bit. The dead car and the sick kid were a bit of a spanner in the works, but calm parenting and a certain Zennish luck had prevailed.

Another fifteen minutes passed. I was enjoying the upgrade in car audio when my phone rang. It was Consort. His voice was pitched about an octave higher than usual.

“Uh, Quinn, do you have your car key with you?”

I shrieked in horror. I did have my car key with me. My dead car was locked. They couldn’t tow it without… wait!

“Don’t you have a duplicate of my key?” I asked, desperately.

“I do,” he said flatly. “It’s in my car, with you”.

I popped open the ashtray. There was his second key-ring. There was my car key. I wailed.

Consort cut me off, mid-wail. “I’ll have him come back later. I have to go. She needs the bucket again. Just get back as quickly as you can”.

I made my way to the doctor’s office. I gave my name to the receptionist. I sat. I paged through Architectural Digest twitchily. I needed to get home. I had to get home. I was just grateful all the doctor had to do was sit me down and snip out five stitches. His assistant told me it would take no more than ten minutes, then I could make the hour-long trip home.

“Ms. Cummings?”

The receptionist motioned me over.

“The doctor has been called away on a family emergency. He said to tell you he was sorry. He just had me page another doctor here in the hospital to take the sutures out.”

“How long do you think it might take to get this doctor up here?” I said in the overly-even tone I take when screaming seems unfriendly.

The receptionist looked into my eyes a second too long.

“Fifteen minutes. Maybe thirty.”

Then he dropped his voice to a you-and-me whisper..

“I wouldn’t want you to be overly optimistic.”

Buddy, that’s not going to be a problem today.

I was summoned thirty minutes later. Give the assistant credit, the actual de-suturing took ten minutes. The doctor walked me out of the room and I darted towards the first opening resembling an exit. He trotted up behind me and said, “The exit is over there”. I turned to look at the door to my immediate left and felt a searing heat followed by a blinding stripe of intense pain shoot up the side of my neck. I clapped my hand under my ear as if the patient in exam room 5 just hit me with a poison dart. I clamped my eyes shut, and waited for the pain to subside.

The doctor asked, “Are you okay?” This was awfully sporting of him, considering I was clasping a body part for which he wasn’t legally liable.

I said through gritted teeth, “…Rrrgmph…Had it before…Heat…Then pain…Then terrible headache for several hours…I’ll be fine in a minute,” I lied.

“Oh, that’s a pinched nerve,” he piped. “It can be aggravated by stress. You can take Aleve for that.” And with a cheery wave I could only feel because my eyes were still clenched shut, he was off.

Tomorrow; more of today. Oh, yes, more.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Man can live by (Pumpkin) bread alone.

(I originally posted this almost exactly a year ago. I stand by everything I said)

If anyone hasn't completely depleted their baking urge, I humbly offer the following recipe for pumpkin bread. It's darn tasty and very easy to make, but that isn't its most winning quality.

This recipe has forgiven me every time I have fooled with it.

I removed the corn syrup and replaced it with applesauce, and it got better.

I had half a cup of mixed dried fruit in a bag, and was desperate to get rid of it, so I doubled the amount of dried fruit in the original recipe, and it got better.

I have used every form of dried fruit known to the civilized world, and it took it all and gave me back tasty pumpkin bread.I have baked it in all shapes and forms with no ill-effects.

I imagine that if you have someone who cannot eat nuts, you could eliminate those with no flavor-based consequences.

You forget to put it in the fridge? Ha! It's better if it sits, tightly sealed, at room temperature!

I have waited my entire life for something to be so understanding about my cooking limitations.


2/3 cup oil2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup solid-pack pumpkin

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 T. Vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for preparing pan

1 t. baking soda2 1/2 t. cinnamon1/2 allspice1 t. salt

1 c. chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried currants (or cranberries, raisins, or combination)

1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (a bit of dried ginger works well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Blend oil, eggs and sugar with electric mixer until thick, about one minute. Add pumpkin, applesauce, and vanilla and mix well.Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, salt, walnuts and fruit in medium bowl. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.Pour into buttered and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan (Note: I've done it in muffin tins, mini-muffin tins, and Pyrex tart plates. As long as you keep an eye on it for doneness, it works) until dark brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about an hour and ten minutes.Cool in pan five minutes. Turn onto wire rack to cool completely.NOTE; Seal it up and let it sit at room temperature for at least a day for optimal flavor.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Witness to witlessness.

I went into Talbot's Kids today and spent several minutes insisting to a blameless saleswoman that she had to go find me the embroidered pants which were in the Talbot's catalogue, but were unaccountably not in the store. I think I even suggested in a knowing voice that she check the "Stock in back" because for once Daughter and I had agreed on a pair of pants and I wasn't letting this moment get away from me.

And how odd was it that none of the stuff I liked in the catalogue was in the store?

It became slightly less of an enigma when I got home and realized I had been looking at the Land's End catalogue.

When I was young, I was frequently told how I wasn't working up to my potential. No one says that anymore; now this is my potential.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cole Comfort.

I think we’ve spent enough time cooing over Quinn being just a teeny bit famous. I think we all need to go back to the original charter of The QC Report; that is, Quinn makes mistakes and we gaze upon her making them.

A few nights ago, I decided that five tablespoons of cole slaw didn’t justify a container the size of a snare drum clogging up the fridge. Having opened the container, I made an executive decision and decided no one in the house was interested in six day-old pickled cabbage and that I was going to dump it out. So far, so logical. Here’s where it takes the turn only I would take.

I hate wasting food.

I didn’t feel like driving around looking for a homeless person who was longing for a side dish, so I gave it to the dog. Because vegetables are good for dogs, right? And she can afford to put on a couple of pounds.

The dog that, while capable of eating the day’s mail, a roll of toilet paper and a twenty dollar bill without incident has a delicate stomach when it comes to actual victuals. By giving her the slightly elderly cabbage salad, I bought myself an endless, night-long, round-trip ticket from the living room to the back door.

Also, thanks to my extremely limited sense of smell, you will have to take Consort’s word for how exciting it is when an old dog eats old cabbage. Apparently, it was like Satan’s Traveling Potpourri.

But, wait! There’s more!

A few weeks ago, I noticed the cat’s back looked less black than brown. Had she been dabbling with Sun-In? Upon closer examination it was determined that Lulabelle was losing a great density of fur from the mid-back to her tail.

To put it in a less-than-ladylike way, Lulabelle was well on her way to a bald ass. At first, I thought it might be an excess of mechanical loving, and I had no idea how to explain that delicately to a veterinary professional. But, as it turns out, Lulabelle had developed an allergy to the moderately high-priced spread she was eating, and needed to move on up to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky, cat food-wise. I briefly thought about how she had been found as a tiny kitten living under a car, having come from a long line of feral cats who would have considered living under a car to be a fabulous dream. Four years later, she had become yet another living thing in Los Angeles with food allergies. She could start grilling waiters about whether her Chilean Sea Bass had any dairy or wheat products. Or, she could have me for an owner and get expensive stinky wet food.

I don’t like giving wet food to Lulabelle. First of all, it’s only slightly more unpleasant going out than going in. Second of all, Lulabelle is a wet food addict. After two days eating wet food, she tackles you as you walk in the front door and starts rifling through your pockets. A week and she’s mugging little old ladies and panhandling in front of Petco. And here I was, buying her drug of choice in bulk.

The morning before the cabbage, I had started her on wet food. She inhaled her daily portion and then stood for hours like an avenging gargoyle on the washer, screaming at anyone who walked by while looking pointedly at her food bowl.

Here’s how the Night of a Thousand Trips Outdoors went. The dog would get to her feet painfully, and then stand by her precious bed, looking puzzled. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, so by the time she was fully upright, she would have forgotten why she had bothered to stand, only noting dimly that her stomach hurt. Having bounded from the couch at the first collar-jingling I gently herded her towards the back door. By the fifth or sixth trip, I had traded in my herding skills for my collar-tugging skills, all the while crooning supportively, “C’mon, pretty girl. Nothing nicer than the dog run, let’s get there now”. I would get her to the back room, where the addict awaited me.

QUINN: (Gently pushing the dog out the door) Out you...


QUINN: ...go. Lulabelle, hush.

(The dog, distracted by the half-bald screaming shrew , stops in the doorway. I lean against her to push her into the darkness. She falls over.)


(I help the dog to her feet, and note that while she was down on the ground she found a magazine blow-in subscription card to eat. While leaning over to remove it, the cat jumps down, gets between the dog and me, puts her paws on my thighs and gives me a piece of her mind.)


(I shove the cat away, remove the bit of paper which hasn’t already been digested by the dog, push her into the night and throw the cat off my knee. Lulabelle jumps back onto the washer with the rudely empty bowl, and glowers at me. While waiting for the patient to return, I absentmindedly pet the cat. She licks me until whatever microns of wet food have been removed from my skin. Then, she bites me. The dog staggers back in, heads towards her blanket. With a forlorn sigh and a sulphurous emanation, she goes back to sleep.)

Repeat the above ten times.

I can’t complain, being as I was the one with the genius idea to feed the dog cole slaw. I can’t stand by the decision in retrospect, but I like to think that part of what draws my regular readers back is the nearly unanswerable question “…What moronic thing is Quinn going to do today?” And the nicest part is, I never really learn. Next week, sure, it won’t be cole slaw, but it will be a deli pickle beyond its expiration date, or a slightly cracked hard-boiled egg, or a celery stalk of yogic flexibility. I will decide it’s a sin to waste food, the dog will decide (if decide is something you can do with four brain cells) to eat whatever is placed in front of her maw, and we will both spend the evening living with the consequences.

Consort, being a gentleman, will say nothing approaching “Told ya”. The trash-talking half-bald wet-food addict on the washer probably won’t be so kind.