Thursday, February 28, 2008

the present and the past


If you know me, you know I love two types of cars -- Toyota and Jaguar. My lottery fantasy of owning two cars (how extravagant) has always included a Toyota SUV (old dream, 1988 4Runner; new dream, 2008 Highlander hybrid) and a Jaguar (old dream, 1975 XJ 3.4; new dream, 2008 S-Type). There is some flexibility in there. I like my current Scion, and Ted's Prius is pretty darned cool. And it's impossible for my head not to turn at the sight of the new Jaguar XK (rrrrrow).

Other automobile makers occasionally earn props on Kelly's Opinion of Cars. When I lived in Connecticut, I regularly saw an Aston Martin DBS that was jaw-droppingly beautiful. I like the new generation Mini Coopers. And someone in the town where I live now drives an orange Lotus Elise in nice weather (i.e. not for the last three months), which is certainly eye-catching (though I would personally never want one, and would certainly never fit into one).

Tonight, I saw a Mercedes Benz CLS 55 AMD in a parking lot, and holy guacamole, it is one pretty car. I've never been a big fan of MB, perhaps because, despite their luxury reputation, most of their designs were just boxyugly when I first started ogling cars in my youth. In any event, it was lovely, and I just thought I'd mention it.

How this car rave segues into reading old journals, I can't tell you. I just started wandering through the first of my entries when I began electronically chronicling life, which occurred just as I moved myself 'cross country. Here's a smattering from June 1991. For me, it's interesting to read because I see some aspects of my personality that are exactly the same nearly 17 years later, and others that are now completely different. It's also cringe-worthy for its mundaneness and complete lack of creativity.

A brief primer in preparation for this.

  • I moved from Maine to Seattle, where I had no family, friends, place to live, or job lined up.

  • The trip was 5000 miles instead of 3000 because I "detoured" to Los Angeles to visit my brother.

  • Current cost for a room at the SeaTac Motel 6 is $44.99 per night, plus tax.

  • "Sisters" turned out to be one of my favorites shows.

  • Although upon arrival I expressed frustration at the concept of still being in Seattle after six months, it was all I could do to pry myself away from that wonderful city nine years later.

  • Anyone who tackles a long drive should read "On the Road."

  • I did not get the job at the Seattle Art Institute.

  • The house where I first rented a room contained roommates, Bean, Mike, and Dave.

  • Dave drove a bakery truck at the crack of dawn, and his spare time was spent at his "second job" (i.e. the race track, which he called "the plant").

  • The money that funded my trek was a cashed-out pension.

  • I lived in Seattle for one year before getting a television. During that first year, I became a regular at the Lake City Library, where I not only read lots of books, I used the communal computers one hour per night to journal and work on my resume, and Mavis Beacon taught me how to type correctly.

  • Priscilla and Phoenix (my cats) ended up staying with my parents for nearly a year. I brought them back to Seattle with me when I returned from my friend, Pam's wedding in 1992. Phoenix never adjusted. She ran away in 1993. Priscilla remained my precious kitty love until she died in October of 1998. It is her picture below, taken from my dining room table (she was on the skylight above).

June 21, 1991

A trip cross country, almost 5000 miles in 2 weeks, gone by. And I didn't write an ounce of it down. I rationalized that everything would come back easily enough when I look at the maps, motel receipts, and pictures. But I was frustrated that I couldn't write or tape things as I was driving. There were many inspirational sights, sounds, smells and events which conjured up creative literary images.

For some reason today, I decided it was time to write now. Time to write everything. I have encountered so many thoughts and emotions. If I'd written them down (or somehow recorded them), I would have filled a lot of paper space or blank tapes. It may have helped me to organize some of these many, overwhelming, and often confusing ideas.

June 22, 1991

This morning, as I was waking up, I realized where I am (Motel 6 on South 188th in SeaTac), and when that happened, it suddenly made me feel ALONE. None of my friends or family is here, and I'm having a challenging time trying to get started (anything -- job, apartment) because everyone I talk to is a stranger.

I have to go brush my teeth, throw on some clothes, and ask the girl at the desk the location of nearest laundromat when I pay another $32.02 for this room.

June 23, 1991

I was watching a show called "Sisters" last night and thinking about how hard it is to be here with my family and friends in New Hampshire, Maine, etc... . One line in the show was a younger sister saying to an older sister who was leaving town "there's nothing you'll find out there that you don't already have right here."

I've thought about that. I had it good where I was. A comfortable job, a nice apartment full of furniture and other necessary implements, close access to my friends, and regular visits to my family. It was good. Obviously something was missing, or I wouldn't have left it all behind, right? Hmmm.

I'm looking for a job and an apartment. I wanted to be idealistic and find a job I would really enjoy -- preferably in the music industry. It's tough not knowing exactly what I want. And my money's not coming from a never-ending source, so I've just got to find employment.

I interviewed at a place called Mills Music in Bothell on Friday. It's a store which sells and rents musical instruments, sheet music and supplies. A nice man, James Mills, and a beautiful store. Of course, I went in after he talked with Isaac Meyers -- grandson of the man who ran Meyers Music... a legacy in the instrument world in Seattle. James was kind enough to tell me that I was up against some pretty stiff competition. Oh well... even if I don't get hired there, I know that I can rent a piano for $39. a month!

I have an interview tomorrow at Promotions in Motion, an advertising agency. I'm hoping to be hired on the spot. Talk about optimistic. I want to start working THIS WEEK... I NEED THE MONEY! I also think it will help me to find an apartment once I'm employed.

June 24, 1991

I had it great. I had a comfortable, secure job, opportunity to be published bi-weekly, nice apartment... . I've been through this before. I'm just frustrated that I left it all behind to find something better. I know what is said about hindsight. I could have used that time to develop my writing skills and apply to other careers while employed in a stable job. But I could only possibly appreciate that opportunity after giving it up and moving 3000+ miles away.

I'm trying to find an apartment. I am now running low on money, so I want to get into a place soon. AAARRRRGGHHHH! Now I just want a job so I can pay everything off. Now I'm going to watch Nightline, about unemployment and overwhelming debt.

½ hour later...

Someone mentions that Christmas eve is 6 months from tonight and what rushes through my mind is how I'm going to buy presents and why the hell I would still be in Seattle.

June 25, 1991

Jack Kerouac never anticipated the 90s.

June 26, 1991

OK. I have a place to live. It's a little room (not that little, but not huge) with a corner window (a cool thing) in a house with three other people. I've only met one of them. It's kind of strange, but as long as nothing unusual happens between now and tomorrow when I get my keys, I'll be OK.

Now I just have to find a job. I want that job at the Seattle Art Institute. I want that job at the Seattle Art Institute.


June 29, 1991

Saturday. What did I do on Saturdays in Maine. I think I went to New Hampshire enough that when I actually stayed in Maine, I allowed myself to vegetate. Watch movies, listen to records, clean the apartment, drive somewhere. Today, I slept til 10:00 (not really, I kept waking up 5:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, etc...). Then I had an English muffin for breakfast. I talked to Dave for a little while. His 1974 Barracuda passed the state emissions test. Then he went to the track.

Bean wandered up and down for a little bit, altering (her client) Barbara's polyester skirts. Then, she went to a conference.

I ended up reading "The Carousel" by Rosamunde Pilcher, the author of the runaway best seller "The Shell Seekers." It only took 3½ hours to read. It was a good-but-predictable story. It did make me realize that if I want to write professionally, I need to be reading more often. If I read more and diversified things, I'll have a better grasp on the styles I do and don't want to emulate. I've been reading the newspaper every day for a couple weeks now. I quite enjoy it. I never bought the paper in Maine, because I never needed or wanted to.

Right now, I want to be employed more that just about anything. I'm thinking about the influx of bills I'll be getting in the mail on Monday (Mom's forwarding them to me). The only thing which allays my fears of unpaid bills is that I paid (and in some cases overpaid) all my bills before I left a month ago. So, at the most, I'm a couple weeks behind. And everything from Maine is paid --electric, phone, cable, oil, etc... . My auto insurance will be due in a month.

Anyway, I do need to start working this week. The sooner I start, the better! It's hard to imagine that on June 6th, I had $1600. cash, and as of June 29th, I have less than two dollars in loose change. I'll have to go through my receipts to figure out where it all went. I know that 17 or 18 nights in a hotel adds up quickly (17 x $30 = $510. approx.), plus $400 to move into the house. Plus gas, food, film, tolls, crates, hangers, etc... . That's where all that money went. It's not like I was being extravagant and buying souvenirs everywhere I stopped. In fact, the only things I bought for myself are postcards. I bought a gift for Gerry, and paid for gas for Denise when she drove me to Idyllwyld and back. Regardless, I knew that I would spend that money: that's what I planned to do.

I just expected to be immediately employed, and if I had been, I'd probably have my first check by now.

What a boring life I lead. I was just talking to Dave about various things, mostly rock 'n roll. It started because "Alone" by Heart was on the radio. He said "Heart: Seattle's Biggest Embarrassment." It struck me as really funny, and I howled! He said he'd met Ann Wilson about 10 years ago at a party, and she was doing major coke. The conversation led to artists, musicians, actors who invariably get involved with drugs and alcohol. It's almost a prerequisite that if you're remotely famous, you have to have a slightly scandalous lifestyle. Which leads me to the conclusion that I will never become famous due to my past, present, and presumably future straight-as-an-arrow lifestyle.

Anyway, nothing makes me feel like I’m me here. I no longer have my job, home, alma mater, family, or friends to support my sense of myself. It has been largely based on those things for a long time, so when I took them all away, I struggled with my identity. When I first got here, all I was was an unemployed nomad in a city full of strangers. It is my task to affirm myself (as a person -- not as a job or a home) within these circumstances.

It's amazing, the thought process that occurs in the absence of television. Dave has a TV in his room. He put it out in the living room for half a day, and I watched in mindlessly. But it's his TV, it's always been in his room, and unless I buy a TV, I'll be watching none of it. That will be a very good thing. I won't have to pay for cable. Although that would probably be nominal ($6.00 or so), it will be that much less to budget. I will be forced into other alternatives, such as reading, writing, and getting out and about.

Look at everything that I've written just because there's no television.

June 30, 1991

I'm not getting my cats. I just talked to my parents. The conversation was going along normally, then my mother asked if I minded if they had the cats declawed. So many things rushed through my mind that I forgot to say anything. It was obviously a longer pause than I thought, so she asked again -- or said something relative to shake me back into reality.

The things that went through my head:

  • I found a place to live that would allow me to have cats so that my parents didn't have to house them for any longer than necessary.

  • If they're declawed, they're going to be angry, and I won't be there to help them through recovery.

  • They won't be able to travel for a couple months, probably.

  • These cats are my children, and I feel like an uncaring parent who has abandoned her babies by moving cross country and leaving them with someone else to care for them.

  • They are one of the few stable things in my life, and I've been shifting them around ever since I got them. Moreso, in recent months.

  • My parents think I'm a freeloading, spoiled brat, and they need to be totally responsible for them.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

thanks, doug

Having escaped the real world for a while, my friend, Doug, is living la vida loca in Mexico. He set up camp with his girlfriend, participates in local celebrations, and dares to start the process of writing a book. Luckily, he has a good internet connection so he can send regular updates and weekly song selections. His most recent is one of my favorite "Three Stooges" skits. My brothers (yes, three of them) taught me this song well, and I have been randomly torturing friends and loved ones with my rendition of it ever since.

With no further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, "Swingin' the Alphabet."


This morning, after Ted opened the store and I set up my Twitter account, we ran a couple errands and went to IHOP for breakfast. We hadn't been there in a while, and I woke up craving cheese blintzes.

Now, I have to go backwards.

I am fat; have been most of my life. I fought it for many years, but repeatedly dieting only ever made me temporarily smaller before making me permanently bigger. I made a conscious decision to stop all attempts at weight loss when I was 22 years old, and with the exception of one moment of weakness in 1991 (old habits die hard, especially in the face of constant bombardment), I haven't dieted since.

I believe that dieting is worse for my health than fatness ever was or will be. I eat intuitively. Such a concept flies in the face of an industry that creates unfathomable methods and imposes insane rules. Luckily, I love nutritious food, so it makes up the bulk of what I eat every day. The net result is that I am simultaneously fat and healthy. It has confused every marginal health care provider I've ever had, and pleased the good ones.

Don't get me wrong. I totally love sweets, too. I have them when I want them. As my mother (and her mother, and her mother's mother) said, "all things in moderation." Smart women (of which, I count myself). My old job had a company-subsidized cafeteria, which was extremely convenient. This resulted in a nearly daily routine of a fresh salad, a can of Fresca, and a chocolate chip cookie for lunch. The diet industry and all those who have been brainwashed by it would look at that lunch and say, "Oh, you were doing so well until you added the cookie!" My intuition (and previous experience) tells me that the one cookie after my salad was perfectly acceptable (not to mention enjoyable), and probably prevented me from stopping at the store and picking up a box of Hostess cupcakes to eat in its entirety within the next 24 hours (an old trick from before I was so smart).

It was not easy getting to this point. In addition to the food aspect of this change, I also had to learn to accept myself without reservation. Although this is a lifelong process that every intelligent human must endure, I have found it to be tricky at times because world is constantly telling me that my size makes me unacceptable. It forces me to be defensive, a posture I've never embraced (hence my claim of being a "passive size activist"). That said, I had a good foundation of parental esteem-building, and once I had my own personal epiphany in 1994, most of the external barbs went away. Once in a while, a complete stranger is compelled to say something brilliant to me, but it usually the exception now, not the rule.

So back to this morning. Ted and I are two of a hundred people at the very popular pancake restaurant. The place is bustling. There's a crowd waiting in the foyer, and people standing outside. We are seated, enjoy our breakfast, and head out. Ted opens the door for me (how chivalrous!), and I keep walking toward the car while he stands in place for an elderly woman who had just been dropped off at the front door.

She said something to him, I didn't hear what. When I turned around, he was just standing there confounded, with a look of utter disbelief on his face. This stance lasted a couple of long seconds, while the old lady stood in front of him and looked at him with what appeared to be eager, nay gleeful, anticipation of an answer. I headed back toward him, and he said "I left the table" while shaking his head. She turned and walked into the restaurant.

He turned to me and said something to the effect of, "What the hell was that?" I asked him what she'd said. She said to the kind man who was holding open the door for her...

wait for it...

"Did you leave anything for me?"

Not "Good morning."

Not "Nice day, isn't it?"

Not "Thank you for holding the door for me, young man."

No. Instead, she cracked herself up with a joke that the fat man must have eaten all the food in the restaurant before she got there. I might have been able to shake that off as the type of politically incorrect thing that the elderly sometimes say because their ability to filter such things has diminished with old age. But hers was not just a rhetorical question asked for the sake of comedy. She stood there and waited for him to answer her. Usually sharp-tongued, Ted stumbled because he didn't want to be rude to her -- leading to the long pause and his "I left the table" response.

Upon telling me this story, my first response to his query ("What the hell...?") was that she was rude, plain and simple. Then I said he totally should have looked her in the eye and as seriously as possible said, "No. I ate everything. Go somewhere else." No, I wouldn't have been able to do it, either.

The whole thing left me hacked off for a while afterwards. It's interesting timing for me (which is silly because it didn't happen to me, it happened to Ted) because I have been entangling myself in the Fat Rights movement more and more these days. I have dramatically expanded the "Blogs I Read" and "Size" lists on the right side of my blog, after having spent countless hours reading them. I joined the COFRA website, and have even committed to attending the next BFB Think Tank in Chicago (circumstances allowing). I've been building myself up to see if I can shake the "passive" off my size activist descriptor, and then something stupid like this happens.

I have no neat and tidy end to this anecdote. So with that, nearly four hours of writing, editing, and otherwise formatting this silly entry, I need to go to bed. I must be up at 5:30am.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


If only I'd been paying attention. If only I read the town paper more often. If only I looked more closely at the "coming soon" board on the Music Hall when I walked past it. If only... . Then I would have known that Lyle Lovett was playing there. TONIGHT.

But now it's too late. Sold out. And just to torture me, not only did I just drive past his tour bus (noting the Tennessee license plate) and chuckle as it tried to take the corner, I can now literally see the bus from my front window. Parked for the evening. Maybe I could go knock on the bus door.

"Hello... Here I am. Yes it's me."

Woe is me! I was just a few weeks ago effusing about him. Wah! Boo-hoo! Cry!

Monday, February 18, 2008

get that mushroom

Anyone who spent as much time as I once did playing Super Mario Brothers (or even a fraction as much time as I did) will appreciate this. What a riot!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

he won. yay!

My recent obsession with a certain Canadian singer is well documented here (and here). Because I often find myself out of touch with television programming, I somehow missed the fact that the Grammy awards show was Sunday night.

I knew that Mr. Buble had been nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (for "Everything") and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (for "Call Me Irresponsible"), and just stumbled upon the fact that he won the latter. Yay, Michael!

I know that loving this album the way I do lumps me in with a bunch of middle-aged soccer moms. Well, I am middle-aged -- without the minivan and play dates. So I guess I accept that for what it is. I just don't feel like the MASMs of the 70s who cooed over Barry Manilow or the MASMs of the 80s who cooed over Julio Iglesias. Maybe it's because I'm equally enthralled by Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl, and Chris Cornell, among others. I'm not so sure that the above-mentioned MASMs were simultaneously digging on Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, or Ozzy Osbourne.

So, I bought tickets to see him in concert. Yes, indeedy-do, I did. Mmmhmm. Since leaving Seattle (where I regularly went to shows at Jazz Alley, along with the occasional arena-size concert), I haven't gone to all that many shows since returning to New England. *NSYNC, Diana Krall, John Mayer, the New Haven Jazz Festival with Dianne Reeves, the Spike Lee show last summer with Kurt Elling, Raul Midon, Terrance Blanchard, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and then the Police reunion tour. I toyed with going to see Vienna Teng last year, but ended up sick.

In any event, I'll elbow my way through the slightly silver crowd to bask in the wonderfulness that is Michael Buble. By the way, to the unidentified photographer of the picture at top*... genius. Pure genius. Gentle readers, I suggest you listen to "It Had Better Be Tonight" or "I'm Your Man" and just stare at this picture the whole time. Ouch.

Not that this other photo* isn't marvelous. Ooo... marvelous. Oh dear, I'm drooling, aren't I? How indelicate of me. I'm certain both my husband and Emily will forgive me. I must wrap it up for the night. Sweet dreams.

* I found both of these pictures uncredited on the internet.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

swinging shingles

It's not snowing at the moment, though it has snowed a couple times earlier today. In fact, it's snowed (to some extent) pretty much every day in the past week. There was some "wintry mix" too, and one whole day of rain. We haven't had the monster storms like the ones in December. So no giant new snow banks or parking bans. Just perpetual, daily precipitation.

The Weather Channel advises us that, although there will be a little more snow overnight, the real story now is high winds and bitter cold. I hadn't really perceived it before peeking out the curtains about 20 minutes ago, when I discovered that the lawyer's sign across the street was nearly horizontal for the wind. It's really the only swayable item in view from our front window (no flags, no trees), but it does a fine job of indicating just how much the air is moving out there.

When the wind blows, our apartment gets very cold, very fast -- especially when we set the thermostat to 60°F at night (neither of us sleeps well if it's too warm). The building is old, and the brand new, double-paned, winterized windows only partially make up for what seems to be a complete lack of insulation in the walls. Bonus, the whole building shakes in the wind. Sometimes, it shakes even if it's not windy.

The forecast says that it will be below zero in the morning when Ted leaves for work. Not below freezing: that would be a balmy 31°F in comparison. Below F. I'm tiring of winter tremendously. Oh, Phil, why do you curse us so?

Friday, February 08, 2008


I once liked Peter Walsh. I watched TLC's Clean Sweep regularly and fantasized about Peter bringing in a massive team of helpers who would spend two days throwing away stuff, having yard sales, and redecorating my newly clutter-free home. I loved his no-nonsense approach to the things a person really needs and wants and loves versus the things that the person somehow accumulates.

In the last season that I watched (I stopped watching about a year ago), it got super-schmaltzy, though. They reconfigured the show's focus. Suddenly, Peter was spending an extraordinary amount of time prodding the homeowners to tears and then philosophizing about their emotional clutter while cheesy music played softly in the background. Whatever. I still thought the whole clean-up process would be cool.

So Mr. Walsh had dropped off my radar for a little while because I stopped watching Clean Sweep. But then, he somehow finagled himself into becoming one of Oprah's gurus. And despite my ongoing love/hate relationship with Oprah, I do still TiVo/watch her show (though I will occasionally delete an episode immediately if it leans toward the 'hate' side of the scale). I've seen a couple Oprah shows with Peter that were fun and fine. But the most recent one took home organization into a whole new direction -- weight loss!

Seriously, he's written a book proclaiming that cleaning your house will lead to weight loss (because the clutter prevents you from having healthy eating and exercising habits, doncha' know). As if that whole concept weren't enough to choke on, in this particular episode, he literally put a family on a line of scales and weighed them on national TV.

Now, I don't have a problem with adults who wants to flog themselves in public. But I take particular issue -- for any of about a thousand reasons -- with the fact that two of the family members were children.

First, those children did not ask to be a part of such an outrageous stunt.

Second, until about the age of 20, children grow. It's that simple. They're supposed to grow. They morph through all sorts of shapes and sizes in that time. It's important to note few things about all that growing. [A] A fat child can be healthy and active in exactly the same way as any child. [B] A fat child does not necessarily become a fat adult. [C] Even if a fat child becomes a fat adult, he or she can be healthy and active in exactly the same way as any adult, because... [D] Some people are just genetically designed to be larger than others. Period. No matter what the diet industry tries to tell you.

Third, these children are already taunted by their peers (and the media, and the general public, and sometimes even their own families) because of their size. Standing in front of a group of 30 classmates getting weighed in the school gym is enough to pulverize self-esteem and cause life-long emotional scars. But on this day, Peter Walsh increased the audience a million-fold for that torture.

Clearly, this is a man who doesn't understand some very basic tenets.

[A] It is possible to be simultaneously fit and fat.

[B] Dieting doesn't work.

[C] Humiliation is not motivation.

[D] ...

[E] ...

[F] ...

[G] ...
[H] ...
[I] ...
[J] ...
[K] ...
[L] ...
[M] ...
[N] ...
[O] ...
[P] ...

You get the idea. I'm not articulating well tonight. Please, please, please read Junkfood Science. Read this post in particular. Visit the sites listed in the "size" section on the right side of this blog. Plus "Fat Girl on a Bike," "Fat Rant," and "She Dances on the Sand."

Heck, sign up for the content feed from "Notes from the Fatosphere." Read up, my friends. I know the world tries to convince us that fat=bad. I'm here to tell you (badly) that it's not always the case.

That was my painfully ineloquent way of saying my flame for Peter Walsh is officially extinguished. And my disappointment in Oprah continues to grow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

three words

Pup Pee Bowl!

Pup Pee Bowl!

Pup Pee Bowl!

OK, eight words.

... And Kitty Cat Half Time!

a new feature

At the risk of sounding immodest, I'm a pretty good cook. I can really only remember one dish I attempted that was so unpleasant we threw it away after a couple bites and went out to eat. Otherwise, I do fairly well. Last year, I made a concerted effort to start creating some of my own new recipes, with three specific goals in mind:

1. Fresh/whole ingredients
2. Low sodium
3. Great flavor

Those last two things might seem contradictory, but creative use of non-salt spices goes a very long way to that end. I went great guns with my inventions for a while, but slowed down when we bought the store, changed states, started new jobs, spent more time with the family, etc. Now, I'm getting back into it. Until I hone the next few recipes, I'm going to regale you with my favorites to this point. This one will be early dinner for Ted and me before Super Bowl tonight.

Chicken Pasta Primavera
(makes two large servings)

o 4 oz. uncooked pasta
o ½ cup carrots, cubed
o 1 cup broccoli florets
o ½ cup zucchini, cubed
o 3 large grape tomatoes, sliced
o 1 teaspoon olive oil
o ½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch strips
o ½ cup sliced mushrooms
o ¼ cup chopped red pepper
o ¼ cup chopped orange pepper
o ¼ cup chopped yellow pepper
o 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
o 1/3 cup light ranch dressing
o ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
o ¼ teaspoon basil leaves (dried, or 1 teaspoon shredded if fresh)
o Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Step 1: Cook and drain pasta as directed on package – except add carrots 2 minutes before pasta is done, and broccoli, zucchini, and tomato 1 minute before pasta is done.

Step 2: While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in deep, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir until brown. Cook chicken, mushrooms, and peppers for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink in center; remove from heat.

Step 3: Stir dressing, cheese, and basil into chicken. Toss with pasta and vegetables.

Step 4: Sprinkle plates with coarsely ground black pepper, then add primavera on top.

Note 1: Wheat pasta is a good substitute, as long as you find one that you like the flavor and texture of. If you don't like the pasta, you're not going to like the whole dish.

Note 2: Personally, I don't think it's possible to have too much basil in this dish (or anywhere in life). If you like basil, amp it up!

Note 3: Be creative with your personal choice of veggies. Fresh or frozen green peas are a great addition. I don't include them because Ted hates them with the fire of a thousand suns. Whichever veggies you choose, just bear in mind the density of each to determine whether it should be boiled with the pasta or sauteed with the chicken.

Note 4:
This dish is not low-sodium, per se, thanks to the ranch dressing and parmesan. Although I would normally recommend substituting high-sodium ingredients for lower-sodium alternatives, this particular dish is NOT the same without these two key ingredients. That said, Chicken Pasta Primavera fits easily into the recommended guideline of less than 2400 mg. of sodium per day -- as long as the remaining meals and snacks of the day are equally sodium-conscious.

There's my cooking lesson of the day. I'm off to chop some veggies.

ya' hafta' try

I've been to many concerts where the "Superstar" phenomenon takes hold of me and won't let go. Do you know of this phenomenon? It was explained by the Carpenters in the song of the same name. The sheer talent of a person wholly compensates for any lack of physical attraction one might have for the artist.

The most striking example of this for me was seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan from the third row at the Portland City Hall Auditorium in November 1989. Having been a fan of his music for a few years at that point, and not finding him particularly easy on the eyes (although he always seemed to be sharply dressed), I was a little stunned at the level of enchantment that blossomed in two short hours. I fell trulymadlydeeply in love with SRV that night. Talent oozed from every fiber of his being, and I was rapt. It's happened many times with other musicians since then -- almost always in small venues where I'm breathing their air, looking them in the eye. But never to the extent it did with Stevie Ray. I still love him. ::sigh::

Given that, it's easy to understand why Julia Roberts fell for Lyle Lovett. Listen to this song.* Seriously. It came on my iPod the other day (which, by the way, is a great way to listen to it), and reminded me of how incredible Mr. Lovett is. In the way that shuffle randomly removes some music from the docket of things I'm currently listening to, it sometimes randomly draws me into (or back into) wonderful territory. Now, I'm listening to nothing but Lyle Lovett for a while.

That's all I wanted to say for now. I'll be back later.

* For some reason, this video has embedding disabled. So you must click the link to view it.