like a good neighbor.

Once I heard a story on NPR about a guy who tried to make a TV channel that was all puppies, all the time. It was called The Puppy Channel. There was a theme song, which was basically this old dude singing "Puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies PUPPIES!" That theme song pretty much describes my thought process for about a month now. My brain has been receiving The Puppy Channel.

I'm a little embarrassed by this condition, because I used to hate it when people talked about their pets all the time. And me being me, I probably did not do a good job concealing how uninterested I was in what those people were saying. And now, with The Puppy Channel in my head, I'm beginning to annoy myself. I'm also annoying other people, some of which probably do not care about Remix but who do a better job at responding appropriately than I ever did.

If you ever told me about your pet and I was a jerk, I am sorry. You were just trying to share about something that makes you happy, and sharing ourselves with others is the fabric of our lives, or something like that.

I know (hope?) that this is a temporary affliction. While I may be permanently a dog person, after a while I will get used to the fact that there is a dog in my house and she does adorable things. And when people tell me about their pets, I will be able to be enthusiastic with them. I may still be bored if they go on for too long, but that's only because I know that their pet is not as awesome as mine. But I will listen nicely anyway, because at the end, I will have earned my right to whip out my phone and show them pictures of Remix. Here she is smiling, and here she is sitting, and this is her digging, and...

I have tried not to talk too much about the dog here, either, because I know that some of you really, really, really don't care. Today, I am going to talk about something that is Remix-related, but not cute dog stories. It's about something even more thrilling: INSURANCE!

Back when we were first considering our dog options, I found out that various forces in the universe discourage owning certain types of dogs. These forces include city councils, apartment managers, and insurance companies. Did you know that no one who lives in Topeka, Kansas is allowed to own a pitbull? I formerly had a good opinion of the Kansas state capital, but now? Screw you, Topeka.

Let's talk a little bit about the ridiculousness of breed-specific restrictions. Aside from the idea of punishing all dogs for the actions of some, it's really hard to know what breed a dog is. Most dogs do not have papers that trace their lineage. If you get a dog from a shelter, then there really is no way of telling what all went into it. You can look at the dog and guess, but even then, it's really a crapshoot. These rules are practically unenforceable. The Topeka police might bang on your dog to collect your dog, but you can just say, "This dog? It's some kind of lab. Also, aren't there some actual crimes you could be investigating rather than harassing animals that haven't hurt anybody?" Are they going to do a DNA test on every single dog?

One of the reasons that we picked out this specific dog was that the shelter listed her as a "lab mix." Frankly, we are not sure why. Anyone else that has looked at her has immediately said something along the lines of "Got a little bit of pit in her, eh?" The only thing we can figure is that whoever processes the dogs goes by a picture, not by looking at the actual animal. The picture that was taken of her was not particularly flattering and was at an odd angle. Really, all you could tell from that photo was that she was mostly black, therefore, she was a lab mix. I knew that my insurance company had some restrictive policies regarding pitbulls, but I figured that we could always just send them the info sheet from the shelter, which had a blurry picture and the words "lab mix." Maybe we should have named her "Plausible Deniability."

But something about that didn't sit right with me, even though I know that a lot of people choose that route. I think that it is stupid and unfair that insurance companies have rules about specific breeds. But lying to my insurance company wasn't really standing up for the breed; it was just lying. The system can be stupid, but going outside the system doesn't really change it. I wanted to say to the world that I was not scared to live with a pitbull. The only way any of this would come into play was if she bit somebody, which I don't expect. Remix is exceedingly friendly to people; in fact, I worry that if there were an intruder in the house, she would attempt to snuggle him rather than chew on his face. She does not warm up to every single person, though, and in those cases, she tends to just back away. However, I am one of those people who believes deep down in the very bottom of me that not preparing for a worst-case scenario is the best way to make it happen to you.

So I started shopping around for insurance. You probably already know that it's a completely joyless exercise. I found a list of nationally rated insurance companies, and I basically emailed every single one of them with a single question: Do you offer insurance to households with pitbulls?

Several of them responded with a short and sweet "No." Some of them will give you a policy with an exclusion on the dog, meaning if someone gets bitten, they're not going to pay for it. Some of them want you to take the dog to obedience training. Still others had a long list of questions about fences and children under twelve and the dog's personal history. One ambitious insurance agent, who sells for a company that says "Absolutely not" with regards to dangerous breeds, tried to get me to play the lab mix card. Sir, if I wanted to lie to an insurance company, I'd just lie to the one I have already. It's cheaper anyway.

I got really, really frustrated by the whole thing. I felt like I was being punished for doing the right thing. I had rescued a dog that did not have a home, one who would forever be associated with eating babies because of its breed. And I was trying to play by the rules and be honest with my insurance company. It was causing me nothing but grief. Does everyone else just lie about their dogs? What do Jon Stewart and Jessica Alba do?

And then finally, FINALLY, State Farm responded to my desparate query with two questions: 1.) Has the dog ever attacked anyone? and 2.) Has the dog been trained to fight? In terms of Remix, I can answer 1.) No, and 2.) She has been trained to sit, fetch, and snuggle.

The really happy ending here? I'm going to save $208.46 a year. HA!


some things.

Thing 1: Free to good owner
When we were looking for a dog, I checked the newspapers in search of a "Free to good owner" ad. There were none. Instead I found fifty ads offering puppies in a variety of breeds, complete with papers, in exchange for money. We had already visited the animal shelter at this point, and after seeing cage after cage of dogs that were one step away from elimination, I just didn't feel good about buying from a breeder. I also did not feel good about paying $300 for a dog.

Where, oh where, were the free dogs? Is that just a small town thing, where someone stands out in front of the Wal-Mart with a box of wriggling lumps of fur, giving them away to whoever is willing to take them? Maybe here in the big city, people spay their pets and don't end up with a litter of unintended consequences.

But then last week, a guy from work sent out an email, offering a free puppy. There was a picture. It sure was cute (of course it was, it's a puppy). I thought hard about it, but then decided to delete the email so I would stop looking at the picture. It's nice to know that you can still get pets free, provided you promise to be a good owner.

Thing 2: Do not distract Simon.
We've just received our assignments at work, which is the list of things that we will be working on for next year's release. One fellow, Simon, is working on a very long, arduous, and critically important task. This week, my boss sent out an email to the rest of us, telling us not to distract him in any way, not even with work=related questions. In fact, if we were to ask him something, he has been instructed not to respond. I wonder if they are monitoring his email to see if he is replying. He must feel very sad and isolated.

I suppose that's an important thing to tell us, but it makes for a rather comical email. Indeed, I will think twice before I send Simon any questions. But also, I have a strange urge to hire a mariachi band to go stand inside his cubicle and play for hours on end. That sort of thing would never have occurred to me before, but now the thought is so appealing that it would almost be worth the money and the stern talking-to.

Thing 3: Some things are worth paying for a $8 ticket.



blueberry bursh.

We were driving to see The Forbidden Caverns in my sister's minivan. Her kids were all in the back in their special kid seats. Seems like it was kind of a long drive, because we'd all fallen silent into our own thoughts. The kids were making noises, but that's just what they do. I had woken up that morning to what sounded like an entire herd of children playing, but when I came out of the bedroom, it was just three, running in a tight circle and chanting "Otter otter otter otter." No, I don't know why.

I call it chanting, which isn't exactly the right word. It's somewhere between talking and singing, and it's repetitive. Her kids seem to do it a lot, and I don't know if that's something in common with most kids or if it's something about her family. Maybe it's something about my family. My dad does it, and he doesn't have the excuse of being four years old. He'll just get a word or phrase in his head and repeat it randomly, the way that some people hum or whistle. It's just absent-minded noise-making. During the Albertville Olympics in 1992, he would periodically say "Yamaguchi Yamaguchi" for no reason at all.

Meanwhile, back in the van, I was sitting in the passenger seat, looking at the scenery, thinking about whatever. I don't know how long it had been going on before I noticed that my niece Claire was chanting again. I tuned out again to return to my thoughts (about something important, no doubt), but a minute or two later, I realized she was still doing it.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

Why was she saying that? Had we been talking about blueberries? I didn't think so. Is this one of those darnedest things that kids say? Over and over?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

It was incessant. It wasn't too loud or screeching, but it just kept going. When does a person run out of impetus to keep saying the same thing?

Now, I don't have kids. So when I spend an extended amount of time with some, I am usually struck by something about their behavior. Usually, it's something that I already "knew," meaning that I'd heard about it from parents or seen limited evidence of it. But not until I hang out for a couple of days do I really start to get the idea about what kids are like. For example, did you know that children ask questions constantly? No, I mean it. ALL THE TIME. Also, when you have kids, you don't get to ever eat your own food again. You have to share. ALL THE TIME. Plus, kids can't go anywhere on their own. You can't just kick them out and tell them to get out of the house for a few hours so you can take a nap. No, they are there, underfoot and making noise, asking questions and wanting a bite of your donut.


While I'm all agog at the ins and outs of living in the same house as a child (or several children), the parents don't even seem to notice. Either they are used to it, or they know better than to ponder these things. More likely, they don't have time to ponder these things. It is only in my child-free state that I have the time for luxuries like pondering. Sometimes I do it in my pajamas in the middle of the day while eating a donut.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

How long had she been doing this? Five minutes? Ten? The weird thing was that no one had said anything about it, as if it were completely normal. If a random person did that in public, no one would say anything, but that's because everyone would be too polite to point out that there was a crazy person in the room. Are children actually just small crazy persons?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

The thing about a repetitive sound is that once you do notice it, it's hard to tune it out again. I'd sat there for several minutes, not being annoyed at all, but now I couldn't think anymore, because of

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

I was just a teensy bit annoyed. I didn't want to be, because my niece is very sweet and cute. Not all children are, but she is. So maybe her chanting wasn't annoying at all, but actually cute. If I decided to think that it was cute, would I stop feeling irritated?

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

Okay, you know, now that I think about it, it's kinda cute. It's pretty funny, really, particularly with her little speech impediment.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"

I giggled. My sister, in the seat next to me, giggled. Soon we were just laughing outright, because I suppose our other option was to be pissed off, and this was more fun. Claire picked up on our amusement, and she hammed it up, getting louder and saying the words with more gusto.

"BLUEberry bursh! BLUEberry bursh! BLUEberry bursh!"

It's a cute little story, but hearing about the incident secondhand is probably like looking at pictures of other people's cats. Everyone thinks what their kid does is incredibly adorable or smart or interesting, but really it's how you feel about the kid. I can tell you that Claire is very cute and sweet, particularly with her little purple glasses and long hair, but you don't care. She's just another kid, saying another darnedest thing. Yup, kids do that. There are a million blogs out there with people telling stories about how their kid did just the cutest/funniest/most precocious thing the other day.

So this story is not really about Claire and her affinity for alliterative phrases. It's actually about a particular moment in the story, the one right before I giggled. The one where I made a conscious decision to be amused instead of annoyed. I remember actually making that decision, partly for the sake of my sister and niece, but also for my own sanity. Perhaps it's not so surprising that I made the decision, but what blows my mind is that it worked. And that implies that I could do it all the time. I could just choose to enjoy myself, even when my first inclination is be grumpy.

Are all your minds blown?

I am a lucky person. I have absolutely nothing in my life to complain about. That does not mean that I am not sometimes whiny or bitchy or just in a bad, bad mood. Sometimes there are legitimate things to be momentarily unhappy about, though more often there are things that I am unhappy about, but don't necessarily need to be. These are the times that I need decide to be happy anyway, because I freakin' can.

It's weird. You would think that now that I have made this incredible, momentous discovery - happiness is a CHOICE, holy cow! - I would be happy all the time. But that's not true at all. For some reason, even when I know that the only thing keeping me from enjoying myself is myself, I have a hard time making that first step, having that first giggle. Is it laziness? Am I working undeveloped happiness muscles? Do I want to be miserable on some level? I don't know. More likely, I'm so busy going with that first instinct to be grumpy that I forget about the incredible epiphany I had while in a minivan on the way to the Forbidden Caverns. If only I had a reminder.

"Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh! Blueberry bursh!"


neutral, but not afraid.

Today, our topic is pitbull propaganda. If you go looking on the internet, you'll find lots of conflicting information about pitbulls. Basically, some people love them and some people hate them. The former show pictures of happy dogs, with quotes like "Punish the deed, not the breed!" The latter put up gruesome pictures of people who have been attacked. Me, I'm just gonna skim over all of that, because y'all know where I stand: next to my dog.

But! Way back in the day, back before people associated an entire breed of smiling, wiggle-butted dogs with the ripped-open faces of children, pitbulls were actually a national symbol. In fact, there were posters made to boost the American spirit in a time of war, specifically the first World War. This was before we actually got into the war, when we were just sitting back and letting Europe do its thing.

Basically, these posters want to show that while America is not involved in this little European matter, if push came to shove, we'd push and shove better and harder than anyone else. And we'd do it with PITBULLS!

We're thinking of dressing Remix like this for the Fourth of July.

Do you need a safe place to put your kittens? Wrap them up in an American flag and then hand the whole bunch over to a patriotic pitbull!

I love this last one: Neutral, but not afraid. After living with a pitbull for a month now, I think it's appropriate. She's a powerful and muscular animal, pretty in the noble and strong way that a horse is pretty rather than in the fluffy way that many dogs are. She's got a huge jaw - all muscles and teeth. You can see why this kind of dog would make a great symbol of strength in a time of global turmoil. When we are playing tug-of-war, and she just won't give up, I can see why someone might be afraid of a dog like that.

But then she rolls over for me to scratch her tummy, and I just don't feel that threatened.


yard sales, may 14.

In case you were wondering, the 2011 Yard Sale Season is officially on. 

Once you've been yard saling in the same area for a few years, you end up going to the same church sales every year.  Me, I love a good church sale more than most anything, but there are definitely some church sales that I look forward to more than others.  On Saturday, there was a sale at a gigantic Presbyterian church in an older, richer part of Raleigh.  This is a great combination - rich people have lots of nice stuff, and old, rich people have lots of interesting stuff.  Just as I was walking in the door, I heard someone announcing that you could fill a box for $5.  I went out and picked the biggest box I found.  Then I proceeded to wander around and fill it up. 

While walking around the sale with my giant box, I overheard a lady tell her friend, "I dunno, I guess all the good stuff is gone."  I wanted to hit them.  Maybe it's just a difference in style, but I had actually timed my arrival at the sale so that I would be there for the box sale.  It's true that I did not find anything ¡¡¡SPECTACULAR!!!, just a huge box worth of small things, well worth five dollars.  Books, stuffed animals for the dog, some handy kitchen items, a huge box of old stationery, movies.  Stuff that you might buy after a day at the mall, or wherever the kids are going these days.IMG_20110515_163205

I did the most damage in the books section.  There were three tables piled high with books, and I could have looked for two hours and not seen them all.  Anything that was remotely interesting went right into my box.  I think I ended up with at least twenty, some of which will be given to my local book-hoarder.

I picked up yet another ridiculous clock to add to my ridiculous clock collection.  This one has a fireplace attached, which was apparently a specialty of the United Clock Company.  I have to note that neither the clock nor the fireplace is in working order.  When you plug the thing in, the clock makes a noise but does not run, and the fireplace does nothing at all.  There is a bulb in back that is supposed to light up, which might just be burned out.  I have plans to replace the plug with a battery-operated clock mechanism, probably one from some other yard sale clock.  I'm not sure yet about the bulb.  I could probably get away with a battery operated tealight or something similar.

IMG_20110515_163001The funny thing is, I bought this from a lady who was clearly just an older version of me.  She said she'd bought that clock fifteen years ago because she thought it was so neat.  She meant to fix it, and then never did.  There were several other items that she was selling that were clearly in a similar situation.  Crazy lady buying crazy things because they are cheap and cool.

I also got an egg basket shaped like a chicken.  I've wanted one of these for a while, though I have no idea why.  Sometimes, a secondhander develops a hankering for some random thing.  In my case, it’s usually something shaped like a chicken.  Two bucks.  I would have preferred it to be a little rustier, but I guess I could just leave it out in the rain.IMG_20110515_163038

There were three estate sales this weekend.  Sometimes at one of these sales, I can look through the possessions of the deceased and think that we would have gotten along famously.  Such was this sale.  I came away with this milk scale.  Since I don't need to weigh any milk, it's completely ornamental, and I'm just going to hang it up on the wall like those people did.  I paid the whopping sum of $10 for it, so you can tell that I really wanted it.

I think my best purchase of the day was an ironing board, of all things.  I already have an ironing board.  It's a avocado green metal number that I got at an estate sale for $3 a couple of years ago.  We don't do a lot of  IMG_20110515_163238  ironing, just enough that we should have a board handy.  So buying that one was a practical purchase. 

This one was folded up in the corner of a bedroom.  I missed it on my first pass through the house, and only saw it when another person mentioned a chair sitting next to it.  I was just about to pass it by, but then I decided to see how it stood.  So I maneuvered it out of the corner and set it up in the middle of the room.  I was instantly hooked.  It's so darn rustic.  It's also really sturdy.  I could not figure out how to fold it up again and had a friendly stranger help me figure it out.  I think he wanted to buy it.  Or pick me up.  Maybe both?  An old ironing board and an unshowered crazy lady, all at one sale?  That’s the kind of day he could write about on his blog.IMG_20110515_165113

Three bucks.  The former owners apparently didn't like to just throw away padding, so they just added on top.  At the bottom level, you can see that there are pages from the May 1964 Philadelphia Inquirer sticking out.  SO FREAKING COOL. 

This ironing board is yet another illustration of what I love about shopping the way that I do.  Sure, my house is full of unusual things - a sarcophagus, a WWII dummy cartridge, now a milk scale.  And there are some things which are semi-valuable, like antique books or glassware.  But even my most practical things are so much more interesting than their retail equivalents.  When you buy secondhand, even your ironing board can be neat.IMG_20110515_165202


pluck and flush.

When I was in high school, I had a friend who was bitten by a tick. He told me a thrilling tale about trying to get the pest off by burning it with a lighter. He killed the tick and singed some leg hairs. Then he fretted about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever for a week or two.

I didn't see what the fuss was about. When I was growing up, I was bitten by a fair share of ticks. That's what happens when you tromp around in the woods and play with outdoor pets - you get parasites. Whenever I found a tick on me, I would just pluck it off and flush it down the toilet. Then I would tell my mom, who would ask whether it had been attached. If I said no, she would respond "Good," and the matter was done. If I said yes, she would say "Hmm," and the matter was still pretty much over. I knew that ticks carried diseases, but I figured that they must be such rare occurrences that it wasn't a big worry. If my mother wasn't worried about her favorite child, then I wasn't worried either.

Ticks have made a resurgence in my life since we brought an animal into the house. They gave her a dose of Frontline at the shelter, but I've still found two ticks happily sucking away her mutty blood. I plucked them off and flushed them down the toilet. You know, as far as deaths go, being flushed down the toilet is probably one of the worst. You just have to hope you die before you get to the septic tank.

More concerning is that Josh has been the host of five ticks - three attached, two still looking for just the right spot. He found the first one slurping on his knee. After taking the appropriate measure of plucking and then flushing, he promptly freaked out.

I'll just let you in on a secret. Josh is a bit of a hypochondriac. Anytime he gets a little cough or a rash or a bump, he obsesses over it for days. I am less than patient when this happens. Maybe that's because he frequently finds some way to blame it on me. Somehow, I gave him Sealpox, even though I haven't been bitten by any seals, and I don't seem to be showing any of the symptoms.

So my general impatience with his hypochondria, in combination with my blase attitude about ticks, added up to me being not all that worried about a silly little tick bite. I've had dozens of tick bites - no, hundreds! Stop doing internet searches for Lyme disease and come snuggle. He eventually would come snuggle, but only after checking me for ticks. I am not even kidding about that.

After a couple of days, I happened to see his bite, probably while he was examining it for the eightieth time that hour. The scab had turned black, was a bit oozy, and there was a dark red blotch about an inch in diameter. I have never seen a tick bite look like that, and I've had hundreds - no, thousands! - of tick bites. Alright, now I understand your concern. It didn't look like the pictures of Lyme disease on the internet, but it sure looked like something bad.

The thing is, Josh continues to be without health insurance. As much as he would like to run to the doctor, he has to use the wait-and-see approach. It's amazing how many things just clear up on their own. Our strategy was to wait until the next week, and if it still looked gross, then he would go to the doctor. Despite having a clear plan of action, which always makes me feel better, he still looked at his leg with furrowed brow approximately twenty thousand times a day.

The following Monday, his tick bite continued to scare even the likes of a country girl like me, so he went to the CVS Minute Clinic. The lady there took one look at his leg and told him to take his Lyme diseased self down to Urgent Care. The doctor there said he wasn't sure what it was, but agreed with my assessment that it wasn't good and put him on some antibiotics. The doc told him that this stuff - doxycyline - kills pretty much everything except for MRSA. Of course, that offhand remark convinced Josh that he had MRSA. If he happened to also have anthrax or the bubonic plague, though, he's good to go now.

Here's a brief interlude to say nice things about the doctor at Urgent Care, whose name I do not know. He was apparently very understanding about the fact that Josh was without insurance. There is a blood test that they can do to check for Lyme, but the doctor opted not to do it. Even if Josh did have Lyme, the treatment would be the same - really dang strong antibiotics. The doctor also called the pharmacy and told them to charge the generic price ($10), rather than the full price ($40). Being without insurance often means being without treatment, but sometimes you've got a red and black oozing tick bite and you've got to suck it up and shell out the cash. It's nice that some doctors are willing to work with him.

After only a couple of days on the meds, the bite cleared up beautifully. And then Josh got a couple more bites, which he agonized over. But he still had twelve more days of antibiotics to take, so why worry? I am concerned about what we will do if this continues to happen. Anthrax or no, it's probably not good to be on antibiotics for an extended period of time.

The funny thing is that I haven't had a single tick on me. Either they are all hiding somewhere that is not visually accessible to me, or they're just not interested. It must be because I'm a country girl. They can tell it does no good to bite me, after thousands - no, millions! - have already tried.


cookie cake.

Like many offices, we have birthday celebrations. My only complaint with these little parties is that our birthdays are not more evenly distributed. In May, we get called into the break room for dessert about once a week. But then in September, there is a goody drought. Maybe we should consider this factor during the hiring process.

"I'm sorry, Phil, you're incredibly qualified and we really need to fill this position; however, we were looking for a Virgo."

The day of the party, a blue folder is passed around. Within this folder is a greeting card and a list of all the employee names. When you sign the card, you're supposed to cross out your name and then hand the blue folder to someone else on the list whose name has not been crossed out. It's all done with the utmost secrecy, as if the person did not know it was their birthday. The surprise is further ruined by the fact that the lady who buys the goodies asks what kind of sugary snack the person wants. Well, it's not always sugary. One guy is kind of a health nut (fruit) and another is on Atkins (meat and cheese tray). The rest of us know what birthdays are about, so we ask for cake or pie or cookies or ice cream bars.

Every once in a while, someone will be unable to decide between cookies and cake, and we'll end up with a cookie cake. This is basically one giant chocolate chip cookie which has icing on it. It's cut up into slices and served like a pizza.

I'm here to report that the cookie cake is crap. It's a waste of a perfectly good birthday wish, maybe the only birthday wish that ever consistently comes true. If you want cookies, wish for cookies. If you want cake, wish for cake. But this bastard son of cookie and cake is an abomination. It satisfies neither craving and just leaves you with a gross, sugary, fake dairy taste in your mouth. A glass of milk cannot save you.

Cookie cake is not worth the calories, the money, or the experience of eating it. I gotta tell you, my threshold for free dessert being worth the calories is incredibly low. I did not even know that it existed until I tried cookie cake. I do alright managing to resist junk food at the grocery store, and if I don't bring it into the house, I'm perfectly content not eating it. But when it's sitting there in the break room, waiting to be eaten, then I lose all sense of self-control. I am like a child who has not yet learned the rules of sharing, except I have learned the rules, so I mostly try to sneak in and get a piece when no one is looking.

Whereas on cookie cake days, I can sit idly by and watch other people consume it while I feel sorry for them. Suckers.

HOWEVER: You can make homemade cookie cake, and it is freaking amazing. In fact, you could make this tonight, because you probably already have all these ingredients.

Cookie Cake
From Alosha's Kitchen

  • 2 c all-purpose flour

  • 1 t baking soda

  • 1/2 t kosher salt

  • 3/4 c (12 T) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/2 c sugar

  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 t vanilla extract

  • 1 bag (11.5 oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until they are just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Put dough in a 12-inch cast iron or other ovenproof skillet, and spread so that you have one layer completely covering the bottom of the pan. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until edges are brown and top is golden. Be careful to not overbake, as it will keep cooking in the pan once you take it out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack in pan, 15 to 20 minutes.

Notes - I do not have a 12-inch cast iron skillet. But I do have a 10.5-inch and a 5-inch. I did the math, and it was close enough for me. Plus, the 5-inch skillet is really cute and would make a great individual cookie cake for someone's birthday. If you have a similar situation, you might need to increase the cooking time.

If you have ice cream, it needs to be involved. If you don't, it's still pretty dang good.



Really, Saddam Hussein was the bogeyman of my childhood. By the time September 11 happened, I was eighteen. And while there was a new bogeyman to fear, there was also a lot of blame being distributed to entities with funny names - the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan. And then Iraq and Saddam got pulled back in there again. It was all very confusing.

After Saddam was executed, I found and watched the cell phone video of his hanging. It's the sort of thing that you seek out and then afterwards wish you hadn't. The video quality was terrible, for which I am grateful. At the end, there he was, the bogeyman, swinging. He was just a man after all, and then he wasn't even that.

I logged on to my work computer this morning and read that Osama bin Laden was finally dead. I was stunned, because up until then, it had been a very regular kind of day. I had hit the snooze button too many times. I'd read the advice column in the paper while waiting for my tea to steep. And then it became a momentous day, even though the moment was actually yesterday. Then again, 9/11 had started out as a normal sort of day, too.

And then I read a bunch more - articles, blogs, reactions from politicians, obituaries that had been written years ago (Whoever wrote most of the copy of the New York Times obituary has since died; how depressing to be outlived by the subject of a pre-written obit). There's a whole spectrum of views out there. Many of them are jubilant and triumphant. Others pay lip service to the idea that you shouldn't celebrate the death of a human being, then go on to say that this particular guy deserved it. Still others compare bin Laden's body count to that of the two wars that were started in his name and the loss of individual liberty for the sake of national security.

In all that reading, I was hoping to find someone else who had figured out what I was feeling and put it into words, since I am apparently unable to. I'm not at all sorry that bin Laden is dead. Justice, as far as we humans understand it, has been served. Mostly I wonder why I don't feel more. First I was stunned, and then just...well, not really anything.

Here is one thing I feel: I'm happy for the President. Just last week, I listened while someone told me that Obama was weak. I should have responded that recognizing that there are other options besides force is not the same as weakness. I did not say that, because political discussions turn me into a tense mash of mush. I am glad that Obama will get credit for this assassination, and I hope that it helps him get re-elected. He seems to be the only adult left in the room a lot of the time.

But I'm not celebrating in the streets. The fact that such a person existed at all is too depressing to make his death a festive affair. The fact that he is finally gone seems to have given a lot of people some closure, and I'm glad for them, even though I can't help but think that nothing is really closed. One less bogeyman is a good, good thing, but there will always be more.


give me your answer do.

Part of me was relieved when the guy told me that it had already been sold.

Part of me still wants it.