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Old Friends

Everyone says the best thing about social networking (e.g. Facebook) is reconnecting with old friends.

I resisted the siren song of Facebook for a long time but I do love being able to read my friends’ pithy commentary and quickly keep up with their news, good and bad.

But one friend’s posts leave me disheartened.

If I’m what some might call derisively a “cafeteria Catholic,” she’s the kind that would live in the restaurant and memorize the menu.  And that’s ok.  I recognize there are all levels of faith and I get that religion is something that grabs people differently.   I understand too that she probably doesn’t accord the way I interpret my faith any validity at all (in fact, I’m fairly certain that there is no ‘interpretation’ of faith in her view.  There is the Word as articulated by the Vatican and that is it).

But when she posts “facts” that are just scientifically inaccurate, or opinions that – in my mind – run down all public institutions like the school system, government in general, etc, it is the status update equivalent of a red flag in front of the bull.  I literally cannot help myself.  The vein in my temple throbs.  My fingers itch to type a reply.

I wonder – what is the point?  I know we are never going to meet in the middle.  She is never going to seriously consider an oppositional viewpoint.  And I can’t acknowledge biased, politically motivated science.

Maybe I just hope that even a little part of her appreciates that others have different perspectives.  Maybe I think that a lone dissenting view might give her a few seconds of thought about alternatives.

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Wow. Just, wow.

I’m pretty sure that you could be on either side of the aisle and find this offensive.  

For those who don’t know, let me recap: Pete Hoekstra wants to unseat Michigan’s Senator Stabenow.  How does he make his claim?  Surely it’s reasoned argument, you say, perhaps presented in an august and heralded newspaper like The Wall Street Journal.  Or could it be a pithy newspaper ad with a memorable summation/damnation of her record?  

Oh, please.

Nope, instead it’s an offensive television ad that plays to the worst of jingoistic and racist sentiments by featuring a Chinese woman speaking in broken English and cycling through a rice paddy.  

Well done, sir.  

I don’t really expect – though naively, I continue to hope – that individuals who hope to capture our seats of leadership elevate the national discourse, that they appeal to our best impulses instead of pandering to deeply rooted, irrational fears, that they bring civility along with their passion to the table.  

With this ad, I’m proven foolish once again. 

Yum!

Today, we are having friends over and making a lovely meal.  Now, in my opinion, friends cannot come over and enjoy a good meal without having dessert.

But what’s a girl eating healthy to do?

I flashed back to a conversation I had recently with a friend about cannoli dip – she said it’s very simple to make and I agree (though you know I jazzed it up a bit).  Give it a shot and tell me how you like it!  We’re serving dollops of this tonight on bowls of fresh strawberries and blueberries.

Dip:

1 container part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more to taste), a good handful of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, a capful of vanilla extract, 1 tsp amaretto, zest of one lemon.  Mix together and chill.  Serve generous dollops on bowls of fresh fruit.

So, I have recently become more interested in food and diet.

Ok, that’s a lie.  I’ve ALWAYS been interested in food and diet but now I’m becoming more deeply invested in reconciling an abiding love of all things culinary with a drive to be as healthy as possible.  Like everyone, I grapple with how to want or even crave what’s good for me when sometimes all I want is a jamocha shake and curly fries.   But you only get one body in this life and while no one should be deprived of the sensual pleasures of a wonderful meal or  the occasional decadent dessert, it just doesn’t make sense to pump garbage into your body and expect it to respond with energy, strength and long-term health.

Recently, I picked up Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.  This tiny tome has just over 60 easy-to-remember rules for healthy eating.  It’s not a diet in the way Weight Watchers or South Beach are – just simple things that can help make us all a little healthier.  To wit: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

As I grocery shopped today, it was easy for me to think about picking foods with pronounceable ingredients, striving to hit the perimeter of the store where fresh food is, avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients (too processed), etc.  I came home and felt satisfied when I made an awesome white bean dip, full of fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon juice.   (Note: I add more lemon juice and herbs, use fresh oregano, and add basil…it’s pretty foolproof).  And I felt better after eating something that was good for me!

This morning, I woke up after a dream in which I was desperately trying to scrub gum off my shoe.  (Note: This is not some deep metaphor for an issue in my life – but a comment on how deeply I am disturbed by gum which did, in fact, find its sticky way onto my Cole Haan flats and lodge there with all its germ-infested might while on a recent business trip). 

Man, I thought to myself as I rolled over to a cool spot, that was a boring dream.

Apparently highly offended by my offhand remark, my subconscious then wreaked its revenge.  I’ll show you! my subconsious chortled.  Creative, oh, I’ll GIVE you creative.

I then was treated to a nightmare where my beloved and I were on a midnight boat trip in some exotic jungle.  Beset by an impulse I pray never overtakes me in real life, dream me became very excited and decided to jump into the dark, dark water for a little swim.  Then of course, I realize there are all manner of things in the water.  Things with sharp teeth and an appetite primed for tender girl-flesh.  Things that one cannot see but know instinctively are bad, bad news.

Pull me up, I screamed to our dream tour guide.  He launched me back into the boat and somehow, the water becomes illuminated.  I see great whites and all manner of imaginary creatures – and then wake up with a gasp.

From this point out, I’m paying the inner me only the most lavish of compliments.

Whole Paycheck

Last night, I decided to do a “treats” dinner for  me and my beloved.

For the uninitiated, a “treats” dinner is pretty much what it sounds like: yumminess that you wouldn’t normally have for supper.  The phrase was coined by my mom and back in the day, meant pizza slices cut into bites and eaten while sitting on a blanket in the family room, watching a movie and drinking one (usually forbidden) glass of pop.  Treats dinners generally happened when Dad was out of town on business.

Despite my general reluctance to patronize Whole Foods because of its gastronomical prices, I ducked in.  Oh, my.  Something about the lighting in there makes every vegetable look especially delicious – heirloom tomatoes with beautiful stripes and weirdly lovely knobbiness, the triple creme cheeses oozing into their packaging, the crisp loaves of bread.  It’s an experience. 

But one you pay dearly for, as my wallet reminded me last night. 

Sometimes though, that which is dear can be worth it – especially if you’re celebrating a bit of cautious good news for a loved one.

I’m introducing a new Friday feature: Form & Fashion.  Each Friday, tune in for my (semi-uninformed) perspective on fashion, style, products and more.

In this, my inaugural edition, I’d like give a shout out to my sisters in curves.  It’s summer and – speaking for myself – I’d like to stay as cool as can be in the sweltering swampland known as the greater DC area – yet still look as fresh as possible, sartorially speaking.  Is this a pipe dream?  For me, with my extremely low tolerance for heat and sweat glands the size of drain spouts, the answer is a resounding yes.  But in the spirit of hope for the rest of my girls, I offer my top three suggestions:

  • Cute casual dresses, like this one I recently picked up from The Limited.  The picture doesn’t quite do it justice but the halter draws attention to lovely shoulders and pretty decolletage while the a-line skirt provides some swingy sass (without being ginormous).  Love the cobalty blue option too.  Just as I once swore I would never, ever wear capris, I’ve also had to walk back from a previous hardline stance against the maxi dress.  With the right detail, a maxi dress can be all things to all women.  It’s a comfortable option to throw on for day but with the right color, shoes and accessories, it can transition to a more glammed-up evening out.  Imagine this with great gold heels, for instance.
  • Nothing says summer like linen.  Semi-fitted linen trousers in a light color and a fitted top with a statement necklace – bam!  You’re ready to check out the Phillips Collection, grab brunch with friends, or smooch your boy during a picnic lunch.  (Of course, ten minutes after you put them on, they’ll be as wrinkled as a pug’s mug but, hey, there are always tradeoffs).
  • Finally, I think the long short is critical for the hourglassed among us.  Crisp white shorts and a bright tank top with fun sandals and big shades feel classic to me.