Monday, August 28, 2006

How Not To Awaken the Bug Phobic

Thank you for all the well wishes. I'm mucusy but getting better.

So, shall we step into the way-back machine? Don't bring a lunch. It's just a little trip, say back to the Friday before last.

Ah. Friday. How I love you. I don't work Fridays and the house is usually somewhat clean. Plus, the real weekend stretches out like a dream.

Or a nightmare.

Our scene: The Master bedroom, 5:07 am. Charles, all rumply, plops down on his 1/2 of the bed, waking our heroine, who is quite rumply and rather bleary, as well. Yes, people often say we look alike. I'm guessing this is why.

Charles: "I have to share what happened last night!"

Me: "Mmmmm. Yeah. I'm awake. Mmmmmm. I'm listening."

Charles: "Molly got me up at 2 am to go to the bathroom. So, I let her out and just as she was coming back in..... This THING flew in the house!"

dramatic pause...

Me: "Mmmmm. What sort of thing?"

Charles: "This huge flying bug! About THIS big!!!" And he demonstrates with his hands, measuring the air between them by about 8".

Me: (completely awake) "What? What sort of bug?" (Grabbing for my glasses, the better to see the approaching demon.)

Charles: "I think it was a moth. It was all hairy. And huge. Really huge."

Me: "You're shitting me. Moths aren't 8" big. I was asleep, you poop."

Charles: "Well, this one is."

Me: "IS??"

Charles: "Well, yes. It flew up into the loft. Molly and I feared for our lives. We didn't go up. Kitty did, though. She raced up after it. I stayed on the couch and Molly leaped on top of me."

Me: "And it's now......?"

Charles: "Um. Still up there, I think. Although maybe Kitty ate it. She's unusually spunky this morning."

Mad-Kitty now leaps on the bed, and is, indeed quite spunky. Horrifyingly spunky.

Me: "Ew. What's worse? Mothra loose or Mothra recently chomped with much relish by my cat?" To Mad-Kitty: "I'm not kissing you, today."

20 minutes later, Charles is out of the house and I am alone with either a possible mutant moth or a horrifying cat. Yup, just me and the kids and the wussy dog. He has also informed me that the THING is mottled gray, which would blend perfectly with the carpet.

I throw on my long, heavy robe, thinking the terry cloth might provide some protection, should the creature still be up there. Gingerly, I creep up the stairs to the small loft above the living room, MY room, the loft where the house plants and my most favorite books live and the kitty lurks and terrorizes the plants, because the dog is never allowed up and the kids are only allowed up with permission.

I creep all about and find nothing. No large mutant winged bug and no large mutant bits of wings, legs or feelers.

I descend and shower, resolving to think for the best, that the beast is in the belly of the cat. Or, better yet, a waking dream, spawned by having to get up at 2 am to let the damn dog out.

We go about our day without further incident.

Later that evening, as I curl up with Charles in the Big Chair, he informs me that he's done his manly duty and dispatched The Bug. Just a few minutes ago, while I was putting Sara to bed.

Oh dear. And where was it? Oh, yeah. Up in the loft. And how did he, erm, slay it?

"You don't want to know."

"Yes, I do. I've had a beer. I'm now brave. Tell me. With a rolled up magazine?"

"Um. No. He would have laughed at the rolled up magazine as a weapon, taken it from my hands and beaten me about the head with it. No. You know that glass vase? Yeah. I don't think it left too big a mark on the wall."

"Are you sure it's dead?"

"Would you like me to re-create the sound it made?"

I passed on that.

A bit later, Charles headed off to bed. And I? Well, I may be bug phobic, but I am a blogger, and that glass of beer was still warm in my veins. I grabbed my camera and headed back up the stairs. And snapped a picture:

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You'll notice that I even included my thumb in the shot for scale. You'll also notice that, while it's a goodly size, it's not quite 8". Maybe 3":

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And now, you'll notice that it's looking a bit worse for the wear? And is now on the floor?

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Seems Mad-Kitty thought, if she couldn't be a lion, being a vulture was almost as good. The kids noticed a commotion going on in the loft the next morning and I ran up, thinking she was attacking a plant. Nope. She'd managed to first, sniff out the moth, then extract it from the back of the bookcase, then start to munch on it.

I shooed her away, went to get a stiff piece of something to put under it (And my camera, of course. If I'm disposing of the carcass, I'm getting credit, dammit.) and shooed her away, again, scooted it onto the stiff paper, shot pictures, tried (and mostly failed) to scoop up the now-present bits of wings, legs and feelers that were strewn about the carpet, and gingerly carried it to the trash.

I think it is a sphinx moth of some sort, which are really very cool. They can hover like humming birds. I once saw a large flock of them around my butterfly bushes when we were living in Illinois. They even make a humming sound when they hover.

Kitty, however, was disgruntled.

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Which is nothing new. You can't see the bits of moth all over her face. Lucky you.


Saturday, August 26, 2006


So sorry I've not been around. I seem to have come down with the crud I've been seeing for the past week and a half. If enough people breathe it in your face, I guess it's destiny, eh?

Well, at least I know what to expect.

And, hey, get it early and get it over with, I say. I proclaim cold and flu season officially begun!

So now I must go back and sleep some more and do things like try to figure out why the tea kettle isn't boiling when the burner isn't turned on.




Sunday, August 20, 2006

Life Is Good

See, some dreams are really big and some dreams are quite small. This bowl represents a small, lovely dream. It is filled with the 5 varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I procured from the Madison Farmer's Market on Saturday. I've always wanted to try heirloom tomatoes but have never sat down and done all that seed ordering and planting and transplanting and such.
Ariella and I and our marvelous men and my two kids braved the human river that flows weekly around the state capitol building. We'd been planning to do this for months and finally the stars and schedules aligned and we trotted out, her Erik clad in backpack, me in an over-the-shoulder satchel and ooohed and aaaahed the wonderful goodies.
I showed admirable restraint and came home with a couple of pounds of heirloom tomatoes and some baby patty pan squash (another small dream; I've never tried them and always wanted to) and a lovely wheat-oat-walnut bread.
Next time I won't be so restrained.
Next time I will feed the kids their first breakfast before we head out, so they can wander without crashing blood sugars and nosh on a second breakfast. This parenting thing is a learning-in-progress gig.
Next time I will bring a U-haul truck.
Thank you, Ariella.

Have I told you lately how happy I am that you are now in Madison?


Thursday, August 17, 2006


As it's been a few weeks since I've mentioned the following, I thought I'd inflict a bit of follow-up on the trivial of my life. Hate to keep you hanging with the suspense.


The endless loop of "Why Can't We Be Friends" has been replaced by (no, Beth, NOT "It's A Small World", evil vixen) but by the infinitely preferred and lively paced:

The Philosopher's Song(Monty Python)

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am"

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed!

See how I've included the full set of lyrics so you (at least all appropriately versed in Things Python) can all sing along with me across the vastness of cyberspace.

Now that we've changed the collective theme song for the better, here's some more goodness from my recent days:

Food: Da Green Beans

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Oh, how I adored all the "what the hell am I to do with all the green beans" recipes. So far, I've taken Teri's idea of a nice beef curry and run with it. In fact, as I've changed the template and about 1/2 the ingredients from the recipe that I took out of the cookbook, (and it really looked nothing like the picture in the book) I feel that I can claim it as my own and submit it to you. I think it's yummy, but then, consider the source:

Terribly Easy Green Curry with Beef and All Those Green Beans.

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp green curry paste
1 + 1/2 cans (400ml + 200 ml) coconut milk
1 lb green beans (or so) . More would be fine and dandy.
1+1/2 lbs sliced, good quality beef (you want something nice and tender for this)
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar

Take a large pot, like a dutch oven sized one. Add the oil and the curry paste, cook on mediumish until fragrant (say a minute or so, depends on your stove).

Add about 1/2 the coconut milk and stir so there are no curry lumps. Cook until there is a nice sheen of oil on top (hush). Say about 5 minutes. Or so.

Bung in the green beans, slices of beef, oyster sauce and sugar in the pot, stir it up, cook for 2-3 minutes then add the rest of the coconut milk. Stir again. Obviously.

Simmer for a bit, until the meat is done and the beans are tender. Maybe 5-10 minutes. I don't know. Sara was talking to me. And then Charles came in. And the dog. I got distracted.

Serve over rice. It was rather runny, so I put it in bowls. I also sauted some sliced ichiban egg plant in olive oil and a few cloves of garlic. (Eggplant would have been good in the curry as well, in fact it was supposed to be in it in place of the beans but it was the beans I needed to work with, so the eggplant became the side dish. That's the beauty of curry, always room to add something more.)

I think I'll try one of the lovely green bean salads next. I even bought some tuna for Jamie's suggestion of salad nicoise. Have I told you-all lately how I love you?


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Here are the new specs. They are rather like the old ones, just in one piece and slightly hexagonal rather than oval. And as I've started to go ever-so-slightly more far-sighted and less near-sighted, a bit different prescription. The first change in, say, 30 years. (What can I say? When my eyes went bad at the tender age of 8, they went bad fast.) I went ahead and, for the first time, got a back-up pair of contacts. Well, I actually got new (again, new prescription in the one eye, to be gradually shifted so one eye sees near and one sees far as I descend into physical decrepitude) contacts and have my old ones for 'emergencies'. Such a luxury.


Charles has just finished his first term in grad school. We've come through it fairly well but are holding our collective opinions about this whole thing until after fall term, when he has to take 9 rather than 6 credit hours and will have all those pesky kids back in his now quiet school. Yes. We shall see.


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Finally, FINALLY! The porch has been stripped (sorta), sanded (as much as I had the oomph to do), washed, dried, primed and painted. It's pretty and white and already has fresh bird poop on it. Guess the birds approve. It makes me happy. Of course, now the flower beds look like utter ass as I've put in all the time on the porch, neglecting them. Having the spiffy porch also makes the garden look all the more woe-be-gone. Sigh. This weekend, me and the spade and the gardening gloves will wage yet another battle.

The Vegetable Garden:

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For some reason, It's just not growing as rampantly as it did last year. I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn't get the compost as evenly distributed as I thought when I was tilling it all in. Witness the tomatoes:

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As you can see, to the right, the plants are scrawny and, as you go down the row to the left, each plant is about double the size of its neighbor-to-the-right.

This pear tomato seems to have gotten the lion's share of all good things:

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Yes, that huge mass of plant in the center of the picture that's trying to escape the walls. One tomato plant.

One lone cucumber of the several I planted has made it. I actually was sure it was dead, but hadn't pulled it out of the ground after the bugs had destroyed it. Guess it was playing possum.

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And, for Rozanne, this is the only use for a tomato cage I've come up with. It holds up the cucumbers off the ground:

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You know, about a week ago, she must have gained that last ounce that meant the difference between clawing and side-scooting under the bed and just being able to get her head under. Heh. Heh. Not as much fun chewing up your contraband in plain view of Those Who Disapprove. The kitty is having a ball, though, as she can maneuver around under said bed and bat at the dog head, which is precisely what she's doing in the picture, you just can't see her as, well, she's under the bed. Mad-Kitty, by the way, was found shut in Charles's sock drawer for the second time. I'm beginning to think she wants to be shut in terribly small places.

So, there you have it. Anything I've forgotten? I'll field questions from the audience.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Apparently, at my lovely dentist's office, they've got this new thing. It's some sort of powder that sandblasts some of the stain off your teeth. Sounds great, eh? I made an encouraging sort of assenting noise as the hygenist, clad in full-face mask and handing me goggles, set to work. I'd noticed that the choppers, thanks to years of coffee and tea, had developed a rather jaundiced cast. I'd even played with having them bleached or whatever that whitening process is, but then found out that you have to abstain for a full two weeks from the sorts of beverages that, when spilled on your clothes, cause you to mutter profanities and reach for your full armament of stain removers.

Give up red wine? Fine.

Give up coffee? Fine.

Give up tea? Fine.

Oh. Wait. Give up coffee AND tea?

Nope. Not to be considered.

I'm tied to my nice, warm, milky cuppa or three each and every morning. I can give up one or the other, but not both. No, cocoa is not a substitute. I don't want sweet beverages in the morning. No, it's not the caffeine. I've reaped the seeds I've sown by bragging all those years that caffeine doesn't affect me. For years it relaxed me. Never mind that it never gave me that boost I needed at 2 am during school and more school and residency and private practice. Bastard caffeine.

Now, not only does it keep me awake (even a demitasse of decaf after dinner), I get horribly crawly and jittery if I drink a fully caffeinated cup in the morning on a full stomach, with plenty of milk. It also bloats me. The shame. Rat bastard caffeine.

"Much better!" the nice, helpful hygenist proclaimed, her own teeth flashing in the reflected light off my goggles. "Here's a mirror! Look!"

And so, I did. Through the goggles and in the glare of the fluorescent light of the exam room, I flashed a grin in the hand mirror. They did seem less tarnished.

"They DO look better!" said I, and gave her a heart felt thanks.

The rest of the check-up proceeded routinely, and I smiled in my rear-view mirror as I started up the car. Hm. In the dim car, I can't see any difference.

Later, at home, I grimaced in the bathroom mirror for several minutes, imitating a wolf. Nope. Looks the same to me. Oh well. Let's get us a glass of iced tea, shall we?


And it was then that I discovered the hidden downside that was not mentioned, indeed may not even be something the hygenist had been aware of (and even had she mentioned it, I'd probably have waved and mmmm-mmm-hmmmmed her to do it anyway, in my quest for a quick fix, true blue, red-blooded, American that I am). It removed the scant bit of stain that was not part of my inherent tooth structure. It also removed the layer of calcium or what-have-you that I'd layed down by the 2 tubes of 'sensitive tooth' toothpaste last year.

Now the teeth, they are again exquisitely sensitive to anything warmer or cooler than mouth temperature (97.6 degrees F) and, as an added bonus, to anything of concentrated sweet. Fortunately, it is just the left side of my mouth, as it had always been.

Fortunately, I have 2 new tubes of the 'sensitive tooth toothpaste', bought last year.

And, in the mean time, I'm brushing up on my drinking out of only the right side of my mouth for the next several months.

It goes without saying that our dear Babs is giggling fit to bust, with her movie-star-white 'deeth', sipping scalding hot tea and swishing it all around her mouth.

Good thing she's too much of a lady to gloat.


Monday, August 07, 2006

What Would Freud Say?

So, there I was. Driving along, trying to get to the old Victorian house where our clinic was, trying to make it to the reunion in time, when I saw them as I passed the grade school playground along the way. There were 6 of them, all Emperor penguins, all using the slide. They seemed to be co-existing nicely with the 2 bears on the merry-go-round. I was vaguely worried that they would get wet as the sky was dark and threatening rain, but was excited that I finally had something interesting to blog about.

"I must remember to blog this, as everyone will be interested to hear about the penguins, although not so much about the bears," I made myself a mental note. I mean, bears are not unheard of in Wisconsin, but penguins, not so much.

And so I continued on to the clinic/class reunion. The one in the Victorian house, where the lights didn't seem to work. Nothing else happened, although I don't think there was any food and I had been hoping for some cake, at the very least.

It took about 20 minutes after I woke to realize, with regret, that the penguins hadn't actually been playing on the playground.

But that didn't stop me blogging it.

Looks like another slow week.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Doldrums

Nope. Nothing going on here. And to demonstrate that, I bring you yet another Day in the Life:

06:50 Got up, cursed the fact that it is now over 2 weeks since my glasses were eaten by Evil Dog and I must hop in the shower instead of lazing in my jammies while I eat my breakfast and dick around on the 'net. Very pleased that I finally got more than 5 hours of sleep. For some reason I've not been able to get to sleep before 12-1 AM the past 4 nights.

07:05 In the kitchen with latte, pancakes with jam and some peaches and melon. Hummmmm. Get sidetracked at A Little Pregnant on the blog roll and read some other blogs about BlogHer. I'm strangely fascinated by BlogHer. I don't think I wish I'd gone, but wish I could watch the thing on a 2-disc DVD with the second disc devoted entirely to 'extras' of the various parties and such. The knowledge that next year's conference is in Chicago, just a few hour's jaunt down the freeway, keeps tickling my consciousness.

07:25 Colin is up. I love it when they sleep past 6 AM.

07:26 Realize that I've not seen the cat since last night. Find her curled on Sara's bed with Sara contorted around her. The relief that there is no smell of cat excrement in her bedroom is indescribable.

07:55 Sara is up. Play waitress for the kids. Play waitress for the cat. Receive no tips.

08:15 Put a pot of eggs on the stove to make them hard boiled. Vow to not forget them. Know this is a worthless vow as I always forget them. Still, I do not do something sensible, like setting a timer.

08:25 Muse more on the whole Mommyblog controversy. Wonder if I'd be considered a mommyblogger. Wonder how I'd describe my blog if asked. Decide I'd just say it was a blog about the piffle of my life and leave it at that. Decide that I just do not and never will understand the wide spread need for many to create The Other. Aren't we all just bloggers, recording our thoughts and connecting with others?

08:26 Try to dislodge the song Why Can't We Be Friends from my over suggestive brain.

08:28 Do the laundry round-up. Scold the dog for going in the kids' rooms, looking for toys to abduct and mutilate under our bed.

08:32 Still unsuccessful with the song-in-the-brain thing. Try humming it but this makes it worse as all I know of it is just that one line: "Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends, lalalalalala."

08:34 Realize that I've forgotten that I put eggs on the stove and they've been boiling away merrily for who really knows how long.

08:40 Pull eggs off stove. They'll either be over done or under done. We'll see when we have one at lunch. Every day should have a touch of mystery. Keeps you feeling alive.

08:43 Decide that I simply can't bear the fact that I've not posted anything in nearly a week (A week!) and, after trying to figure out what the hell to natter on about and coming up with absolutely nothing, not even a meme that will kick things off, decide on this. Aren't you sorry I didn't just leave the old post up?

08:52 Reward myself for starting the wash and running the dishwasher by making a pot of tea. Found a new brand, London Fruit and Herb Company, which had some intriguing tea medleys. Today I'm trying 'Lemon and Lime Zest'. It's not why I bought it as I think it sounds a bit vile, but if it's horrible, I can tell you all about it.

08:53 Tea steeping. Can I tell you how happy I am that the heat wave has finally gone? There's a fresh breeze and it rained last night and now every single window that has a screen over it is open and the ceiling fans are valiantly pulling the clean air through our poor smelly house.

08:54 Decide to start cleaning the disaster that my house inevitably is on Thursdays. (I am essentially not home Mon-Wed and things seem to happen involving mud, pet hair, and scum of assorted varieties. Anti-House elves, I'm sure.) OH! Saw my current favorite bumper sticker Saturday in Madison (liberal Madison, how I adore you. Most cars seem to have some sort of anti-Bush sticker or at least a fading, peeling Kerry-Edwards sticker, if they are merely passive aggressive.) It says, "Republicans for Voldemort" over a flag-themed background. (OK, yes, the rest of you have probably seen it and have one of your own, but it was new to me.)

08:59 Tea is steeped. Siiiipppp. Not terrible but smells better than it tastes. Reminiscent of what I think microwaved 7-Up would smell like.

09:03 Ok. Enough stalling. Time to clean like a banshee while the kids are playing nicely so we can go outside in a bit. Must. Go. Outside. Must. Tire. Out. All. Occupants. (Except me. Must run after lunch.)

09:17 Oh my. I've gone and gassed myself. I started in the laundry room, first cleaning the hand carpet cleaner, which I'd called upon a few nights ago to clean the enormous amount of dog vomit that she spewed on the carpet after eating her dinner too fast and then running around in the heat for 10 minutes. Truly horrifying the volume she spewed. Anyway, after attending to that, I hadn't the oomph to clean up the machine that had cleaned up after the dog and merely left it on top of the cat box (it's covered) with the hose dangling in the utility sink. So, as no one else had cleaned the damn thing (What, surely you hope the magic cleaning fairies will step in and deal with such situations. And, no, they never do but one can keep hoping.) I tackled it first. Possibly the worst smell I've ever smelled. Ever. And you know that's saying something. Then I cleaned the cat box and added the aroma of old ammonia/kitty pee and feces to the mix. For some reason I had little sympathy as Colin, 3 rooms away, complained about the odor.

10:57 Done. Well, done enough. Vacuumed, mopped, bathrooms cleanish, laundry tumbling, stuff sorta picked up. Everybody outside!

10:59 Kids doing kid things, I'm in the vegetable garden surveying the damage. Actually, not that bad. Last week, I succumbed to the inevitable that is my garden in late July, meaning that I was rapidly losing the bug war. This year, my old nemeses, the squash bugs, have been out in full force, despite the painstaking dismembering I did with the bipass pruners on every adult I could find. Eggs had been laid and were hatching, the nymphs covering the poor zucchini, which were dying before my eyes. That evening, I stormed out and poured more of the diatomaceous earth (that hadn't done any good before) all over them. Then I drenched them in environmentally friendly spray (the stuff that you can use right up to harvest, although there was nothing to harvest, all the little fruits and flowers being the first to flump. And wept. See, I know when something's useless. That night, it poured. So the next morning, I did it again. Don't know why. Um. And, well, it seemed to have worked. Today, I harvested 2 decent sized zucchini and 1 yellow summer squash! I'm absolutely shocked. Also some pear tomatoes and 2 slicing tomatoes (the first I've managed to bring in before the Something with the Large Teeth had gotten to first), still slightly green, but nothing a paper bag can't fix. Oh. And green beans. Lots of green beans. We all then went for a walk, while the dog raced back and forth. Not that I would have urged her to do such a thing.

11:41 Tired, sweaty, ready to come in. Sara cajoles me into playing the memory game where you match pairs of cards that are face down on a table. She kicks my ass, yet again. This time I make a better showing and only lose by 2:1. Usually it's more like 4:1. No. I'm not letting her win. She's really good. I would not recommend getting into a poker game with her in, say 20 years.

12:07 Time for the lunch shift.

12:29 Sit down with a nice chicken Caesar salad (the eggs from the morning were perfect!) and blog this morning's drivel. Realize that the kitty is MIA, again. AGAIN! Colin and I start to systematically go through the house, searching through cupboards and closets. Luckily, we find her after about 5 minutes. She's in Sara's empty laundry basket. Apparently, she slinked in as I was getting Sara's laundry out several hours ago.

Aw, that's enough. I'm bored with this and I'm living it, not reading it. Hardly worth clicking on 'publish', but I've absolutely nothing else to put up. Sorry. The rest of the day is scheduled to include a whiny run! And a shower! And taking Colin to swimming lessons! The cliffhanger? Will Charles get home in time for me not to take Sara or not? Your heroine will be praying that he does, yessiree. Sara is less than enamored with standing on a bench, looking through a window and watching her brother master the intricacies of the kickboard. I've promised her swimming lessons of her very own in the fall, when he's in school.

So that's that.

Hey, anyone have a good recipe for using up all those green beans? I usually saute them in olive oil with scads of garlic, which is lovely, but getting a bit old. Recipes with canned mushroom soup need not apply.

Happy Thursday. I'll try to do better next time.