A ‘to-do’ list for the end of the world

I stayed up late last night watching the third episode this season of The Walking Dead. It’s my favorite show. I shouldn’t stay up so late watching tv, but I can’t stop myself. I get so excited to see what’s going to happen that I can’t wait until Monday.

As a fan of the show, I’ve certainly imagined myself as a survivor in a zombie-infested world and my hopes aren’t too high. I don’t expect I would survive for long. Some days, even without zombies, I feel ready to cash in my chips. I don’t need the added pressure of a million lurching undead to convince me life sometimes isn’t worth the hassle. I have work and bills and a constant barrage of relatively minor obligations to remind me of that.

However, I was thinking the other day about what sorts of things I could do now to prep for a zombie takeover. Here’s what I came up with:

• Get in really good shape. The chubby ones die early in zombie attacks. They’re slower and particularly juicy. That doesn’t bode well for my little Dougal. Or me.

• Buy cargo pants. Not terribly fashionable, but all those pockets may come in handy.

• Stockpile feminine hygiene products. On the show, they’re about a year out from the zombies taking over and they’re already scavenging food and nearing starvation. No one is mentioning the tampon situation, however.

• And floss. With a primarily meat diet, floss would be critical. There will be few dentists around and I want to make sure I keep my natural teeth as long as possible. I dread the day I steal dentures from a zombie’s mouth.

• Learn not to pee on my shoes. I’m all about the outdoor pee. However, since my knee surgery, I have a bit of trouble with the whole crouching thing. In fact, the first post-surgical outdoor pee I attempted ended with wet pants and a soaked right shoe. Since then, I’ve gotten marginally better, but I still sometimes get my shoe. And, it’s not a quick process. It takes time (and considerable balance) for me to make it happen and get back up. I have to do a “shoot the duck” thing. Not easy. I’d be zombie bait!

How do you think you’d fare in a doomsday situation, zombies or otherwise? Would you want to be one of the last ones standing?

Balsamic dressing, your days are done

On my lunch today, I had a balsamic and herb dressing. Fancy stuff. Unfortunately, it was absolutely disgusting and the aroma lingered for hours. The interesting part is that I hate balsamic dressings. Yet, a couple times a year, I get so caught up in wanting to be the sort of woman who likes balsamic dressings that I buy one, semi-yack, and wonder what the heck I was thinking.

And, it’s not just balsamic dressings.

I also hate rosemary, curry, Greek yogurt, acorn squash, fennel, kalamata olives, Breyer’s cherry-vanilla ice cream, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cumin. Still, I’ll see a recipe that has one or several of these exact ingredients and imagine it might be the turning point. This will be the recipe that turns me into a lover of curried broccoli and acorn squash ragout!

Inevitably, it turns out disgusting and I feel genuine (and completely ridiculous) surprise. After all, how could a fancy-sounding recipe full of ingredients that individually make me gag possibly have turned out terrible? Wha?

Why am I buying this nasty food? Why can’t I just accept what my taste buds are telling me and stop the manual override? I think this might be the real turning point. It’s time to stop eating foods I don’t like. No more balsamic dressing or cumin. No more roasted Brussels sprouts that allegedly taste nothing like Brussels sprouts (there are people who perpetuate this lie that roasting them is a kind of alchemy for nasty vegetables – don’t fall for it!). That acorn squash sitting on my counter right now is not going to get eaten, and I have to be okay with that. I hate that damn thing, anyway. Stupid acorn squash.

Skunks 3, Auggie 0

Auggie is a good candidate for dog shaming after his run-in with a skunk.

My parents’ dog, the debonair and dashing Auggie Doggie (he’s adopted so his last name is different), tangled with a skunk today in the pre-dawn hours.

This is the third time he’s been on the receiving end of a skunk wash. Needless to say, my stepmom maintains a cache of tomato juice in the pantry for these unfortunate occasions. (It didn’t keep her from wretching, however. The aroma that results from the collision of skunk and tomato molecules is particularly pungent, apparently.)

After soaking in tomato juice for 30 minutes to an hour, Auggie was rinsed and prepped for phase two, a scrubbing with a quart of hydrogen peroxide, 2 teaspoons of dish soap, and ¼ cup baking soda. This is a tested recipe from my stepmom’s dear friend Barbara. Feel free to use it if your pooch is on the losing end of a skunk fight. Not that there’s a winning end of a skunk fight.

I hope your day is much less skunky than poor Auggie’s. I suspect that dog will never learn.

A real soup-er stinker right out of the gate

Every fall and winter, I go ape for soups. I’m always trying new recipes with varying degrees of success. Sunday, I had my first fail of the season. It was a super-healthy, immunity-boosting mega soup of mushrooms, garlic, butternut squash, onions, white beans, and kale. Individually, those are all delicious ingredients. Simmer them together in a chicken broth hot tub, however, and they become what can only be described as swamp water soup.

The broth became an eerie green-brown mix dotted with floating mealy orange chunks and gray-brown, rubbery mushrooms. Not at all delicious.

But, what it lacked in good flavor, it made up in quantity. I had six containers of the stuff when I was done. I was able to pawn off two on the boyfriend, who, when I asked how he liked it, was very diplomatic. He suggested I leave out the kale and noted that the mix of textures was “strange.” I think it looks like septic runoff, but I’m much less diplomatic.

So, this is my appeal for recipes. Do you have a super soup recipe to share? (Bonus points if it’s also healthy.) I’m desperate for ideas. I can’t forcefeed myself another bowl of healthy swamp.

Look to the Duck

In a previous life, I spent most Saturdays at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, cheering on the Oregon Ducks. It was a wonderful time in my life. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier than I was then. It wasn’t necessarily the football, but the experience of the stadium, the crowds, and that adorable Oregon Duck.

You see, when most people were watching the action on the field or (perish the thought) those ridiculous cheerleaders, I was watching the duck. From the moment he rode in on the back of a Harley through all of his celebratory pushups when the Ducks scored, I couldn’t get enough. He’s the best.

I look to the duck as a source of inspiration. He has style, a good sense of humor, and a healthy self image. I don’t even have to mention his dancing. Amy sent me this video a while back and, when I’m having a rough day or work is ripping my soul out of my body, I come back to it. That duck has the best job.

A rallying cry for a friend in need

A friend of mine, Francy, is losing her home. It’s a very common story nowadays, but a heartbreaking one nonetheless.

I know Francy through her adorable Bichon, Missy. We live near each other and we both love dogs. We’ve tried to meet up for dog walks several times, but something always got in the way. It was a matter of weather or time, or because it was difficult for Francy to get away.

She is the sole caregiver for her husband, who has end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. He’s 72 and a veteran. In the last year, the disease has progressed dramatically. He’s forgotten how to walk and he can no longer be left alone, even for short periods of time. He relies on Francy for the most basic care.

These are all things I knew about Francy.

Last week, I discovered there were many things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that she’s been going without food so her dogs and her husband can eat.

I didn’t know that last winter, one of the coldest on record locally, she went without heat so she could pay her mortgage and her husband’s medical bills.

She never told anyone, even as things were falling apart around her. Frankly, I don’t know whether to shake her really hard or cry or some combination of both. So many of us love her and had no idea about any of this.

At this point, there’s no way Francy and her husband will be able to keep their home. That’s not even on the table. A group of us, spearheaded by my infinitely kind and wonderful friend Lisa, are rallying to help as much as we can, however. Lisa has set up a ChipIn account to raise money for Francy to cover moving expenses and to help her secure a rental home.

Financially, the amount I can give is relatively little. But, perhaps by telling you this story, you might give your little and your people could give their little, and all our littles could combine into something not so little at all.