A bird too far

That's it. I'm done.

I have to be. I can't keep throwing money and time away like this.

 Roasted chicken, you and I are through. THROUGH, d'ya hear me?


In college, I took an art appreciation class. I studied; I took notes; I eventually visited the professor during office hours to try to get extra help. And I could not get it. Even though I had A's and B's in the rest of the classes, even though none of the other students in art appreciation seemed to be struggling, I had no idea what was going on. I would walk into class, day after day, and find myself completely unable to see the qualities of unity in Caravaggio's work. Or whatever.

Finally, in the seventh week of the 10-week quarter, I dropped the class. It's the only W on my transcript, and I still believe it's better than the D I was going to get.

The lesson of art appreciation is one that I still struggle with: No matter how hard I try, there are actually one or two things in this life that I cannot accomplish.


The story of me and roasted chicken is one of perpetual hope and perpetual failure. I've read stories about how whole chickens are the best per-pound deal in the market, how you can live for months on recipes from a single bird, how even the most rock-stupid culinary dumb-dumb can roast a chicken.

So every now and then, I buy a chicken. I put tasty veggies under it to roast. Sometimes I try brining it, and sometimes I just rub it with salt and pepper. I stick a meat thermometer in and pop it into the oven. When I pull it out, it looks gorgeous!

And then I start carving. And I find bloody spots along the thigh. So I carve it into bits, cursing, and pop the bits back into the oven until those spots go away.

This happens all. The. Time. I've tried flipping the chicken during cooking. I've tried letting it sit out to bring it to room temperature.

So. Yesterday, I brined the chicken for three hours at room temperature. Instead of 165, I set the thermometer to beep at 180. And then when it beeped, I took the thermometer out of the breast and stuck it in the thigh - where it registered 140. Back in the oven with you, vile poultry poultroon!

By the time the thermometer beeped again, it was getting close to time to leave for a party. So I made a little slice in the thigh, satisfied myself that the juices were running clear, and popped the whole Corningware in the fridge, chicken, veggies, and all.

Cut to this morning, when I'm carving the chicken into servings for later. I pull off a wing ... and notice some pink. It worries me a little, but I convince myself that it's normal and move on.

Until I get to the little bits of meat on the back and pop out the oyster. Yeah, that's blood. And even though I am an absolute tightwad when it comes to wasting food, I'm not about to mess around with undercooked chicken. The entire bird, plus the veggies underneath it, have to be thrown away.

Ugh. That's like six pounds of food and $15 down the drain.

So I'm done. No more imagining that if I change my technique, I'll magically get it right. No more wasted hours spent seeking out undercooked chicken spots. That's it.

Although, there is always butterflying ...


On a Tuesday ten years ago, I woke up early to open at the movie theater where I worked during summers home from college.

I stared at the TV for two hours. Once, I ran outside and called to my dad, "The second tower just fell!" Eventually, I went to work.

It was a slow day at the movies.


On a Friday one year ago, my friend Bob called in to work saying that he'd be late because his car broke down on the side of the highway. An hour later, he called back saying he wouldn't be in at all. His wife was in labor.

When it rains, it pours, I guess.

I had already told him, "Tracy can't have this kid on Saturday. The other kids will call him a terror baby!" He took it in stride as only Bob can, suggesting tasteless joke names for his unborn son.

Saturday dawned. Amid a steady stream of "I remember where I was nine years ago today" updates on Twitter and Facebook came a message from my friend: He and his wife were the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.

All joking aside - they named him William.


Let's be clear. As the years go by, the date of September 11 will never mean nothing. For so many families and loved ones, it will always mean fear and heartbreak and pain.

For the rest of us, I hope that one day eventually it will mean something similar to December 7 - a date that marks not an end of American innocence, but a beginning of an era of American strength and dedication and ingenuity.

And I imagine that eventually there will be a group of kids in the Cincinnati area who primarily think, "September 11 - yeah, that's my pal Will's birthday! I hope his mom does the cupcakes-frosted-to-look-like-a-big-cake thing again this year!"

That's not such a bad thing, right?


On a Sunday this September, I'll head to the suburbs for a birthday party. I'll bring beer and a snack to share, because I know the game will be on. I'll put a Target gift card into a fancy tin, because I don't know what babies need when they turn 1, but I do know that whatever it is, you can probably find it at Target.

I'll see my friends, and I'll hold the sweet, smiling boy who's just learning how to walk and say "ball," and then I'll get tired and say, "Oof, you're too big, Will," and pass him off to someone else.

They say to never forget, but this isn't forgetting. It's just ... allowing other things to happen.

And this is a good thing.


Anchors Aweigh (a Memorial Day story)

As we sat around the pool waiting for my dad to finish mowing the lawn so we could start dinner, my grandpa started talking about the obstacle courses.

Throughout New York state, the courses were put up in high schools as a way to test the skills of young men entering the armed forces. It was 1942, and the war effort was in full swing. So when a course was installed at his school in Yonkers, he tried it out.

"And I did that course in 22 seconds," Pop-pop said. "When I was done, they looked at the stopwatch and told me, 'No one's ever going to beat that time, Carson.' And no one ever did."

"So were the services all just jumping to have you?" I asked. "Did they all line up - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines - and you got to take your pick?"

And he told me the story of how he was drafted. "I had a basketball game that night," he said. But the letter said to report to Grand Central Station, so he went to the city and took his physical.

"Then they read off all the names and where you were headed - this one to the Army, this one to the Marines," he said. "But no one called my name." So he left with a group headed over to the Y, and as they were discussing the draft, he asked if anyone thought it was strange that his name hadn't been called. "You'd better go back over there and check," they told him.

When he arrived back at Grand Central Station, he asked the draft officials to check the rolls for his name. No Carson in the Army, no Carson in the Navy, no Carson in the Marines. So they checked the 4-F list, and there he was. "What's wrong with me?" he demanded. "Says here you have a punctured eardrum," they said.

So my grandpa left Grand Central Station with the knowledge that he was sitting World War II out. He even made it back to Yonkers for the last half of his basketball game. "And we won!" he said.

That summer, a few of his friends decided to enlist in the Navy and asked my  grandpa if he wanted to go with them. "I said sure, why not?" he said, and nearly 70 years later, I could still hear the smirk in his voice. "I knew I was going to be 4-F."

And that's when Pop-pop learned that the draft board had made a mistake when they said he had a punctured eardrum. In a matter of weeks, he was reporting to a naval base in Maryland.

My grandpa sure had a funny way of joining the Navy, but he served proudly once he was there. Happy Memorial Day to all the men and women who have served this country - no matter how roundabout your path.


i heart hp

Sunday morning dawned grey, chilly, and drizzly - actually a welcome change from the crazy heat of the previous few days. Top Chef On Tour was at the Hyde Park Farmers' Market, but I was more interested in browsing the market preview and possibly running into Cati, Julie, or Polly.

No pictures from the market because of the rain, but I left with two pots of herbs for my miniature balcony garden ...

... and a half-dozen eggs "from happy chickens."

The Eaton Farm representative who sold me the eggs had to cut a dozen box in half for me. "Those eggs are pretty fresh," he joked as he sawed away at the cardboard with a dull pocketknife, "but that's the freshest-cut carton you'll find!"

On the way home I crossed the street to peek in the windows of the new Cock & Bull pub, set to open next week.

After I snapped that photo, a workman emerged from the open door. "You'll never get a good picture that way! Come on in!"

It is gorgeous inside, guys.

So many taps (Polly says nearly 60)!

Lovely details like pressed-tin ceilings!

A great-looking patio!

And I live three blocks away.

Oh, and the fountain in the square is on, finally!

 Good beer, great local food, beautiful spaces ... this is where I live. It's like a fairy tale.


Guess who's back?

You might think it was me, getting back into the blogging swing of things. But I'm actually thinking of someone else.

A lot has happened since last we typed. I got an oil change. I got transferred into a different department at work. My best friend in the world decided that this year, she would do the half marathon with me - and we made it in under three and a half hours. I turned 30. Mr. W and I moved in together.

That last bit is what we call "burying the lede" in journalism.

So far, cohabitation has been really nice. I like having someone to cook for. He likes having a balcony where he can sit outside and watch chipmunks and deer. (There were deer a couple weeks ago. In Hyde Park. *shrug* Who knows? Don't look a gift deer in the mouth, I suppose.)

But Mr. W is allergic to cats. I mean, super allergic. His arms swell up if he carries a cat owner's box of books-to-sell into the used bookstore where he works. And my cat is not exactly hypoallergenic. If anything, she's hyper-allergenic.

So I had to find a home for Thursday. I advertised on Craigslist, I put the word out on Facebook and Twitter, and I found someone. She was perfect. She had two cats but wanted three. When I told her Thursday still had her claws, instead of the standard "Ugh, really?" I got a "Good - both my cats have their claws, and it's important that they're all equal in that way." When I brought her over and despaired at how she cowered in her carrier and hissed at the other cats, the response was, "Yes, she'll do that for a while."

I left, heartened.

That was six weeks ago. On Sunday, I got a call. "I'm sorry - she's not coping. I think you need to come and pick her up."

Thursday had spent the entire six weeks hiding in the attic, emerging in secret for food and litter-box use - her new owner had only seen her once. Late at night, she could hear her two cats fighting with the newcomer, and every morning, she found a puddle of cat pee on her kitchen floor. (Whether this was Thursday herself or the other cats - unable to access their own litter boxes at night without being jumped by the attic-dweller - we don't know.)

Mr. W, as I've said, is intensely allergic. But he said, "Bring her home. We'll figure it out." (Mr. W is kind of extraordinary sometimes.)

So the next day after work, I went over, prepared for a long evening of coaxing her out of her hiding place. I brought cat toys, tuna, and a book in case I needed to just sit there for a while. I was offered pizza for dinner if I needed it.

I shone my flashlight into the crawl space and called out, "Thursday, it's me." And she came to me immediately, jumped into my lap and started purring. She was my sweet kitty again.

For the moment, she's living in my office, and we're doing everything we can to limit Mr. W's exposure to dander. I have a set of clothes that I put on when I come in to see her. When I leave, I go to the bathroom, change clothes, and wash my arms and face. I bought a pricey grooming brush to keep her from shedding so much.

And it's working, for now. Maybe it'll work forever. Maybe the dander will eventually creep through the rest of the house and cause a reaction in Mr. W, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

For now - guess who's back?

This girl.


Let's see ...

Hmm, this is a tough one.

The question is: Which part of my 30th birthday weekend was my favorite?

Possible answers are:

  • Walking in my parents' door on Friday evening expecting to see the quiet bustle of family-dinner prep time, only to find a dozen friends from every era in my life shouting "SURPRISE!"
  • Seeing that two of those friends are co-workers from my last job - people whom I haven't seen since last July.
  • Two hours later, party in full swing, looking up and realizing the latest guests to arrive are my aunt and cousin from Indiana, who drove three hours for the party.
  • Hearing my friends and family's memories of me, from trick-or-treating at age five to giving a gift a few months ago.
  • Not getting home until Saturday afternoon, five hours before my NEXT party (planned, of course, without prior knowledge of the surprise party).
  • Racing about frantically with one minute to go before party time. (Not the best, I guess - but it made a good story at the time. "Five minutes ago, my hair was in a towel! What's it doing now? I haven't looked in a mirror yet. Should I comb it or put out the hummus?")
  • The five people who actually showed up to both parties!
  • The incredible quantities of beer that arrived with each guest, sending me running downstairs for a cooler and obliging a friend to make a UDF run for ice.
  • Noting, at about 1 a.m., that the seven people chatting animatedly in the kitchen had never met before tonight.
  • The friends who said to me, "We knew this would be fun. You know good people." (I do! I know the BEST people!)
  • The friend who had another engagement until 1 a.m., but wasn't about to let that keep her from celebrating with me! (She dropped in for a few minutes at 1:15.)
  • The final wave of guests who didn't depart until 3 a.m. (And the VERY last guest, my best friend, who stayed until nearly 4!)
  • Reading some of the sweetest cards imaginable.
  • Responding to message after message from well-wishers on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Knowing, without a doubt, that I have some of the best friends and family members a girl could have.

I can select "all of the above," right?


Me vs. the bird: a story in tweets

Act I: Prelude

In my shopping cart tonight: tomatoes and tallboys. Spaghetti for tonight; beer can chicken for the rest of the week.

Act II: Tragedy!

It is now official: God does not want me to roast chicken.

Seriously. My beer can chicken tipped over in the oven, filled the kitchen with smoke, and just now suddenly EXPLODED. You win, bird.

exploded? Now I have a new cooking fear.

I heard a loud BANG, and my chicken, which had been sitting atop the stove, was on the ground with a big gash in the back.

Stupid chicken.

Act III: Hilarity

God does want you to roast chicken, it's Sarah Palin that is sabotaging your efforts. Damn you Sarah Palin

@ THAT's why my chicken exploded! Sarah Palin shot it from a helicopter!

She can see your oven from her house


more evidence to support my controversial theory that God is a chicken.

God likes to launch Himself from my stove and commit seppukku on my not-so-clean kitchen floor.

mysterious ways indeed


I know it's not funny and a huge mess but I def laughed out loud. Chkn 1, Kelly 0.

Seriously, show that damn chicken who's boss!

Clearly, the chicken is the boss.

The chicken got the best of you tonight. But you'll come back stronger.

It won the beer can battle. I'll win the lean protein war! I shall fight on the beaches, I shall fight on the landing grounds ...


that steel reserve was the death of the chicken!!! That beer can knock even my dad down:)


Positive attitude: The beer looks tasty, if a bit warm. TC

I drank half the can as part of my prep. Not bad!

As always, Kelly I love your 'tude. Now if you would have eaten 1/2 the chicken before the beer-butt challenge I would worry.

Act IV: Advice

I have a stand for beer can chicken if you want to use it


ive been trying whole chix since oct or so. I like my old way (cut up, sear, finish) much better.its pc vs mac (control v ease)

@ The only luck I've ever had with a whole chicken is in the slow cooker.
I did THIS a few times and lliked it. (sorry, the recipe is from a mag)


whole chickens are evil.

Act V: Bedtime

Twitter makes me feel better about exploding a chicken. Thanks, guys.


You are an obsession, you're my obsession

It's been a while since I've posted a music video review up in here, but this one TOTALLY merits the revival of the feature.

  • OK, first of all, the song itself is genius. ("I will have you. I will have you. I will find a way, and I will have you." Poetry!)
  • The very first shot is of a giant jester shoe tapping out the beat. Conceptual! (0:00)
  • The hair, the shoes, the keyboard, the outfits, the lighting - everything is SO VERY '80s that it makes my hair crimp a little just watching it. (0:05)
  • Antony and Cleopatra are just hanging out with their backup band at their friend's pool overlooking LA. Which makes total sense, but what's with the pirate? (0:56)
  • OMG ELECTRIC HEXAGONAL DRUM KIT MANNED BY DUDE WITH TWO-TONE MULLET my hair just spontaneously permed itself. (1:17)
  • Hang on, now two-tone mullet guy is the guitarist, and he's providing the soundtrack to some sort of epileptic seizure? (1:30)
  • Even though the video was obviously thrown together in a day, using a friend with a pool's home and whatever costumes the band could scrape up, it kinda looks like male singer guy isn't in on the joke. (various, but especially 1:35)
  • Now a spaceman is having the seizure, and he's being watched over by a man with plants growing out of his hat. ... Cool. (2:03)
  • The jester is clearly the hero of the piece - he has the courage to drum on Cleopatra's head, and he's rewarded by having his foot appear in the opening scene. (2:16)
  • Silver Venetian blind shades at night FTW! (2:52)
  • Someone thought the shot of the pirate raising his eyebrow was GOLD, Jerry! (3:34)
  • And then, all the crazy characters disappear, leaving their costumes behind. Maybe ... they transcended matter and evaporated into pure states of awesome? (This is definitely what happened.) (3:52)

Sorry, all other '80s music videos. The bar has been set, and I doubt you can pole-vault that well, seeing as how you don't have arms.