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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mango Couscous And A Big Turkey

I hate cooking the same things over and over again. I don't like reading the same book twice, driving the same route every day, and I rarely watch a movie twice. I think that sensation of newness and creativity. I like the exploration of spaces, nooks, and crannies that can fill my mind. I'm an insatiable woman that way.

Hence I look for new ways to torture my family on Thanksgiving every year.

This year however I will be cooking at my brother's home. So I may have to calm the raging fires a bit and produce something akin to a normal Thanksgiving. I've got the organic bird. The stuffing recipe that could float a whale. Mashed potatoes (the one common bond between all genetically linked family members and non) with gravy. Oh, and the pumpkin pie.

So I figure that leaves everything else to mess with.

I'm posting one of my favorite previous, more successful, "different" things I've thrown in for Thanksgiving. I'm thinking of doing it again this year--since I didn't get time in isolation for this dish last year.

I thought I'd post and share with readers. An apology for not blogging so to speak. Feel free to send me others--I'll post them if you want or else put them in with your comments. There is a comment link at the end of each post. If you click on that link you should get a comment window to open up.

Mango Couscous
The Washington Post, November 8, 2006

* Cuisine: African
* Course: Side Dish
* Features: Fast, Meatless


Who knew that tomato, raisins and mango go so well together? This is a very fruity, pretty and easy side dish.

4 servings

* 1 cup couscous
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium clove garlic, minced
* Flesh of 1 mango, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
* 1 jalapeño chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
* 1/2 cup dark raisins
* 1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
* Juice of 1 lime
* 1/4 cup loosely packed small cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
* 1/4 cup loosely packed small flat-leaf parsley sprigs, finely chopped
* Salt


Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, mango and jalapeño chili pepper and cook about 5 minutes, until the mango begins to color lightly. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the couscous, raisins, tomato, lime juice, cilantro and parsley, stirring to combine. Cook long enough just to heat through. Season with salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Making Instant Window Ice in Greeley Colorado

All right. Stop calling. I'll write. I'll write!

It's true I have been skipping out on those refreshing blood pressure gushing cynical observations of mine. And, yes, I realize I've let some of my readers down and made them go search for some other neurotic politically minded blogger.

But my heart has been more into reflection the last couple of months and I don't generally write about things when I feel befuddled and undazzled.

I first came to Greeley less than a year ago. After finishing the job from Mars, I wanted to be near my Mother where I could visit her in her final declining months. I also wanted to rekindle that spark of extended family I had left while my sons spent their twenties chasing mates. I figured my sons would check in as soon as they found someone they could bring home to Mom.

The last Blondy bimbo barely-high-school grad wannabe my youngest son almost introduced me to flopped miserably. He will be joining the household for Thanksgiving. I've noted he isn't bringing a guest. Is it the stuffing recipe or is it Mom?

Or to put it another way, the nest was finally empty and I decided it wasn't really a nest at all so I set out looking to find a new one or at least have the fun of poking around other people's nests.

After a few months I have learned some exciting things about Greeley and northern Colorado. One is how to make instant ice on my windshield in the morning. Another is that almost every town in Colorado sprawls all over the place uncontrolled. Greeley doesn't have a lock on the poor planning decisions department at all. I've also learned to expect the streets of Greeley to roll up at about seven in the evening. The only things I've seen out on the town in the evening are furry, harry, and Peter Cottontail. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

But what daunted me the most, and made me draw back considerably from writing, was the election process and the ideologies that process highlighted.

I've never been someone who seriously wanted to tell other people what to do with their lives. In my book, if you are living up to your set of ideals and what you believe in, and you are not physically menacing or threatening another human being then that is a good thing. If some one's politics are not my own I have never really felt a serious need to change them.

Then, again, I've never felt harm threatened by a conflicting political mindset.

As I drive around Northern Colorado I can definitely feel the forces at work for minimum government and regulation. Every time I have visited my Uncle Billy's ranch I see those forces at work. He would sic his ranch dogs on any government anything that came on the ranch I think. Jail be dammed. Just leave him alone and he will be just fine. Probably some of the last words he whispered in his head as his family, not my side, shuttled the 96 year-old off into the rest home so they could mine his landed fortunes.

Government has its place. Rules and regulation have their place. Keeping government out of our individual lives has a place too. There isn't one way that works for everything or everybody.

But watching and reading and talking to people in Greeley holding vested interests in their own future well-being and their children's vote down 3A made me take a big breath and retrace my own views a bit.

Yes, I blogged furiously about the problems in the District. I still believe that those problems are a big problem. But promoting the gutting and dismantling of what is left of Greeley's public school system was never my own intent. You don't identify that there is a deep gaping wound on your leg so that surgeons can cut the leg off. You identify it so it can be tended and bandaged and returned to normal.

I guess that is not what the voters in Greeley are in tune with. They are in tune with taxes and their own personal advantages in the world. Well that may be a sweeping generalization but it does represent the total experience I've heard, summarized.

To add onto my personal feelings of woe over the political environment I've recently read through the City's Charter and discovered that technically most the political power really has been handed over to a nonelected official, the City Manager. The City Council are in effect stuffed puppets used to assuage the public mindset that they are the ones in charge and can vote out those who don't perform.

Do Greeley citizens really think that paying someone $1200 or so a month gives them a full-time Mayor for the city? Do Greeley citizens think that Greeley is still small and rural and doesn't need a full-time Mayor? Do Greeley citizens really think it is in their best interest to limit the people who can run for political office to a pool of people who are retired or have enough money they don't have to work for real wages or to build a real career? Fire the Mayor, either one Clark or Norton, I doubt they would be troubled about losing their position for long. Neither would the other council members. After all being the public whipping post when your City Manager really makes all the calls on how things are done and who gets to benefit isn't a position of comfort.

But I digress here over my disillusionment. Just remember YOU CALLED ME and asked me to write! Suffer my melancholy whims.

But I still like the people here. I like all the trees. I like the fact that the downtown needs fixing--it is something for the community to work on together. I like my family and they are here. I like it that Denver is only an hour away but that Denver is not HERE. And I like the snow. I haven't had to shovel it yet though.

In short, I'll get over it. I've decided I've just got the change blues. I'm going to volunteer for a while I think doing something that matters to the future big picture. It should help lift my spirits. There is a lot of work to be done in this community. My only regret is that I meet so many people that say change can't happen here and won't. They quit before they start. Or they have started before and it hasn't happened.

Well change comes incrementally and it always demands payment in the form of human energy, patience, conflict, and time.

I'm not quite sure it works the same in a town like Greeley. As I said I've never been particularly inclined to try to change things for other people. But here I don't think I'll be working to change things. I think I'll just be working to put reasonable working solutions together. The people Greeley already want good schools and good government. We just disagree on how to get to that nice safe warm place. As I see it, the places we are heading aren't going to get us there, so time to change course as compared to people. The people are good, the system choices are bad, and it is time to look further than out into our own backyards.

The people can, and will, choose which path they want to walk.

In the end I guess that is just like how it is supposed to be.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Forget Cranky's Students Are Posting Good Things

The UNC class covered election night at the Greeley Tribune. It is interesting to read their impressions for that night. So don't forget to give them some support and visit their postings on the Cranky Copy Editor's page. If you look to the left hand side of the blog you'll see the City Council links to the student postings. I am not a big fan of the Tribune myself. And I certainly would like to see their editorials improve. Maybe they could let the students write them so they have more factual reasoning and content. That would be nice! Some of these students are pretty good at this stuff.

But the Cranky Copy Editor's post is a little life-changing. I just went back and changed the title on this piece from "Kids" to "Students". Sometimes it is easy to forget how language can be offensive even when not intentional. My favorite complaint is why does an individuals race or color has to come into a conversation when their race or color has absolutely nothing to do with what is being discussed. For example this conversation recently passed during a routine dinner in this household, "My old roommate, who was black, showed up later after I had talked to the landlord." Race and gender bias is embedded deeply in a culture. Always a hot button issue. These references happen frequently I've noticed but yet no one else seems to pay attention. Kind of like the gender discussion on CCE's (Cranky Copy Editor) page.

Anyone got other ones?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Congressional Shocker: Betsy Markey Bats For The Other Team

It would appear that I am not the only one peeved at the Democrats voting against health care reform. Thunderhead, a Greeley Colorado resident, posted the following note to my previous thoughts about Northern Colorado's Congresswoman Betsy Markey. I thought I'd repost it here.

Thunderhead: No one wants you on their football team when you cannot come through in the pinch.The Virginia governor's race should have been example enough, Betsy. Virginia's progressive base stayed home last Tuesday because their democratic governor decided he'd behave legislatively, like a Republican, and did so throughout his term. Like Virginia, we mistakenly believed you were on our team. The rule of thumb: when there's a choice between a republican candidate, and a democrat who acts like a republican, the republican will be chosen every time.That is what happened in Va. and is why Betsy, you do not deserve, nor will you win a second term as House Representative in this district. You betrayed your base on an historical issue. You may think, like other handwringing democrats who cannot be progressive, "what will the voters do instead, vote in a republican?" Wrong reasoning:That is what the, now former, democratic governor of Va. thought.To your base you are now a republican; you cannot make it up by voting left on other important issues; you voted to keep our health insurance industry monopolized, you voted for zero competition for the health insurance cartel, your base told you clearly: single or payer or robust public option. Always do what your base tells you. If in doubt within your district, always do what progressives nationally tell you; progressive democrats are progressive democrats anywhere in the country; they're not timid shape-shifting chimeras. But you knew better Betsy; you chose to be a political hybrid and try to hold your base hostage to a republican taking your seat. But it was you who brought harm to your base. You're a lame duck now, one year in to a two year term. And you are no democrat.

Betsy Markey Votes to Support Second Class Citzenship

It deeply saddened me this morning to find Betsy Markey voted against the Health Care Reform bill. While I realize she is playing to the conservative base in Northern Colorado it is appalling to watch someone in office drive the rest of us, also on the bus, over the cliff.

Bye-bye Betsy. You have lost every voter in my family. Sometimes you have to stand up for what is logical and reasonable and in the interest of those without political power. But it takes a spine to do so in this region.

I've never taken to the idea of single issue voting. But in the case of health care reform I believe it transcends other single issues that have become before it. Voting to support the egalitarian viewpoint that there are fundamentally two types of people who live in this society--those who die early and painfully because they do not have enough accumulated wealth or status as compared to those who have status, political power, and wealth is a fundamental undermining of all the principles on which this nation was established. Generations upon generations of my family have worked their fingers to the bone to keep this country moving towards equality.

It is not the 1920's any longer Betsy. We are reaching the carrying-capacity point of many of our current systems. Those systems designed for "the few" cannot be expected to carry everyone into the future. Voting against a reasonable health care reform plan is foolish unless you hold to the egalitarian notion that there are two classes of people in our society and one of those classes deserves to work for the other but be rewarded with only as much gruel as the holders of political power will permit a second class citizen to gain.

Personally I don't want to live in a society based on those principles. My ancestors left Europe in 1660 to shed the suffocating cloak of oppression. I cannot vote for a representative who desires, whether blindly or simply for re-election purposes, to use her power of authority as an elected representative of the people to restore such an abusive and inhumane system.

Second class citizenship based on wealth is class warfare.

For more information on Democrats who voted against the bill, this morning's New York Times is carrying a list.

Betsy Markey(COLO. 4)+12MCCAIN+1%18%


Please come in. Have a seat. Let me show you around my rectangle. Feel free to put your feet up. Have a cup of coffee. Some tea. Crumpets?

Let's talk about what is, what has been, and what can be. What is a town made of? What is the meaning of quality of life? Where does the future lie? And where have all the flowers gone?

I like to explore things. I like to write. I like to think about possibilities and probabilities. Please join me. We'll have a merry-old time.

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