Sunday, November 23, 2008

Burgoo - Good Maine Food?

So I was looking through my Good Maine Food cookbook, a Christmas present from my mother-in-law years ago, for a pie recipe she wants me to make for Thanksgiving. I have discovered over the years that the title of this book, the quality of the recipes in it, and the sanity of some Maine "cooks" are debatable. There are several pages I tore out completely after browsing through it for the first time simply because I didn't ever want to come across the recipes again. EVER EVER EVER.

While searching for the pie recipe, I came across the following recipe for burgoo, which makes me vomit slightly. I apparently missed it in my page-ripping tirade. My disgust is so great that I am sharing it with all of you. Should you decide to give this one a whirl, I'd love to hear your candid review. Mind you, this recipe is copied word for word from my cookbook. No creative license on my part. I particularly love the precise measurement of the "handful" of flour, and the use of the word "carcasses" - not something overly delightful to find in a gourmet dinner recipe. Hmmm... maybe I'll make some burgoo for Thanksgiving instead. A word of caution: Vegetarians, finicky eaters, and men who cry easily should not read any further. Bon Appetit!


6 gray squirrels
1 chicken
4 quarts water
1 slice salt pork
1 sliced onion
1 can tomatoes
1 can cream-style corn
1 can cooked yellow-eye beans
1 tablespoon salt
1 quart whole milk
1 handful flour

Skin gray squirrels and from hindquarters remove small sack which has a bitter taste. Boil squirrels and chicken in water 1 hour and remove all bones. Add pork, onion, tomatoes, corn, beans and seasoning and boil another hour. Just before serving, add flour dissolved in milk.

This is an old hunter's dish, and is as variable as the winds. Maine hunters use rabbit, porcupine, muskrat, woodchuck, big snapping turtles, venison, & bear meat as a base for burgoo. Some guides use skunk meat, which is said by those who have eaten it to be tender and delicious. In the spring, guides who have meat but no chicken for a burgoo will drift away from camp and later return with the carcasses of birds that look suspiciously like robins, blackbirds, yellowhammers, thrush or spruce partridges.

If this recipe freaks you out, just imagine what I actually tore out of this book...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Avoiding the deadly curse: Too much stuff

OK, so I've been cleaning. Really cleaning. Purging might even be a more correct description. And I am a pack rat. Certifiable. I just can't throw stuff away. Every now and then I get an urge to purge, if you will, and I'm currently in one of those phases. And I'm always amazed at what I find when I start digging - and at what I am compelled to save. This time I came across a scrap book from my time at MSU. In that scrapbook is a collection of articles clipped from the MSU paper, The State News, by my favorite student columnist: Glenn McDonald. I had a mad, mad journalistic crush on Glenn McDonald, and I couldn't wait to read his column. I thought I'd share it with all of you, because it still, to this day, resonates with me and all of my current stuff. I, too, attempted to get rid of a bunch of my stuff this summer - at a garage sale with a bunch of other friends from work. While I was successful on some level, much of the stuff still came home with me, along with some of the stuff everyone else was selling, because I thought it was cool. Somehow I don't think that's the point of participating in a garage sale - to come home with all the stuff your friends no longer want. But that's what I did.

So here it is, verbatim: I'm not trying to take any credit, because I'm not this clever. This is all Glenn McDonald, circa 1990-something. Wherever you are now, Glenn, I love you, man.

Avoiding the deadly curse: Too much stuff.

I have way too much stuff.

This realization is periodically hammered home when I move into a new place. Coming back to school, in particular, has become an annual ordeal of dispair. Nonetheless, every August, I  attempt to transport 46 cubic feet of matter that is My Stuff 76 miles from Detroit to Lansing in one trip. Kind of like the ancients crossing the Bering Strait, but not as fun.

The hell of it is, I made a sincere effort to get rid of a lot of things  this summer. Having become decidedly less sentimental since Jodie Foster refused my marriage proposal, I threw out boxes of personal tokens and remembrances - love letters, photo albums, Hoffa's remains - yet I'm still traveling barely lighter than Operation Restore Hope.

My problem is this: I seem to have this schizoid pack-rat mentality by which I can find several bizarre purposes for a completely disposable item.

For example, there's this little plastic Halloween skull I stole in 10th grade on a dare. For seven solid years now, I've been carting this thing around for the sole purpose of hollowing it out one day and using it as an ironic little ashtray. How lame is that? Seven long years for a gag I'll never get around to, and that isn't all that funny to begin with.

Then there's all this band equipment I've kept around since my days as a cool punk-rock guitarist. Nothing valuable or glamourous, mind you - stuff like used guitar strings and adapter cords and shoulder straps. Still, I'm convinced that one of these days I'll be at a club and Bob Dylan will show up for a surprise gig. And in his moment of need, I shall provide that gleaming e-string. And we will be pals.

So that's my problem. Thousands of useless items doomed to totally bogus destinies.

Not only do I have loads of stuff I can't use. In my four years of college, I've had a dozen or so different residences, so now I have stuff I can't use in places I can't remember. Now, on the surface, this situation would seem to resolve itself nicely. Not so.

See, I have a keen sense of karma, so I know that if I leave my stuff for someone else to deal with, within weeks I will somehow come into possession of a pile of strange new useless stuff. This stuff will be twice as mysterious, and twice as hard to get rid of.

So I feel obligated to keep track of all my distant stuff. Just this week, I got a call from (this is true) Albequerque, New Mexico, where I evidently have some stuff. Never mind that I've never even been west of the Mississippi, far less New Mexico. The fact is, an old roommate of mine recently moved there, only to discover some of my stuff had leeched onto her stuff. "Like barnacles to a manatee," was how she phrased it.

I told her not to panic, but it would probably be awhile before I could reclaim that stuff. In the meantime, I suggested that she conspicuously leave some of these things laying around the house. It's likely that the stuff will attach itself to someone else all by itself, effectively diffusing any future stuff-karma.

In addition to New Mexico, I also have little caches of stuff in Detroit, Chicago, Ann Arbor and an abandoned grain silo outside of Boston. (A long story). Naturally, I'm also responsible for countless territorial pissings of stuff right here in East Lansing.

In fact, if you check your basements and closets right now,  you're bound to find a few of my things. Of course, I also have some of your stuff, no doubt, so in the spirit of reconciliation I hereby declare a campus-wide amnesty on stuff. You deal with mine, I'll deal with yours, and we'll call it even, OK?

Unless you're the swindler who nicked my Trip Shakespeare disc at last year's Halloween party. You can drop that off at the State News offices, no questions asked.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I went down to the beach this morning to tighten everything up before Kyle gets here later this afternoon. It's been a long time since we've had any kind of tropical action up here, but we're overdue. It's been 17 years since Hurricane Bob. It's not supposed to be too bad in our location, as the storm is supposed to make landfall in the Maritimes, up near the Maine/Nova Scotia border - but I didn't want to take any chances at the house. My father would never forgive me if we ended up with large granite boulders in the living room because I didn't put up the storm shutters...

The surf was already kicking up, and the tide was in so it was higher than usual. The boats down in the cove are all moored together, and fisherman up and down the coast are headed for safe harbor. It was foggy at the beach - but beautiful. There are days down there where you can really just smell the ocean and the salty coastal air. Today is one of them. I expect the storm surge will have surfers in the water this afternoon.

The drive back from the beach was just as beautiful - one of my favorite spots to be this time of year is on the road from the beach driving inland, through the marshy tidal areas. The marsh is full because the tide is high, and is teeming with birds - egrets, geese, great blue herons. It's actually part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge - and you'll occasionally see deer grazing off in the distance.

But just on the other side of the marsh is a solid line of northern hardwoods - maples and oaks, mostly - and right now the colors are starting to blaze. I love to drive this road on a crisp, clear fall day when the colors are jewel-like and just explode in contrast with the green marsh grasses and sandy dunes. Today the fog nearly blocked the color - but not completely. The colors were dulled a little, but were peeking through the fog here and there. It was beautiful in it's own rite. I hope the winds stay offshore so the leaves stay intact through the peak of foliage season.

I stopped at the local farm store on the way home - one owned by the same people I spent my college summers working for out here. It's a different store in a different location, but the feel is the same. I love that I can go in there and say, "Rick, I need a dozen eggs" and he'll say, "McCormick's down in the coop right now" and he'll call McCormick and in 10 minutes I'll have a dozen eggs fresh from the coop. I picked up a bag of apples (I just love local apples here) and some cider. Driving down our road on the way home I had to stop and wait for a flock of turkeys to clear out of the road - they seem to be everywhere right now. Not a particularly bright bird, but they are so cool-looking - almost prehistoric.

So now I'm ready to settle in for the day. Hopefully I catch some NFL before the lights go out.

Stream of Consciousness

Every once and awhile I get the urge to write - sometimes poems, sometimes just a journal, but usually about some aspect of my life - whether it's an observation, something a friend is dealing with, or something I've experienced personally. Thought I'd share them here from time to time. Shut up, Eric - don't make fun... or you'll be my next subject. Russell Brussell Fat Lard Fruitcake Moron Reject Speedstick No-spit Spicer would make a really good title.

I Do Love You

"I do love you"
you wrote.
And I wanted to believe you.
"I do love you,"
you wrote,
you loved the
tall, bony girl
with the shiny face
and frizzy hair
The ugly girl
with the toxic smile,
empty gaze and cool clothes,
the one who ate sushi
and stole your heart.
"I do love you…"
you wrote.
But you lied.


Tonight I wish for sleep to come
quickly, long and quiet this stretch of night,
devoid of wild imaginings that
dream themselves into being -
For my bones are tired, and my eyes heavy
with the weight of another day,
weary and restless in the fading light
of a silver moon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

America - Pay Attention!

It may be Saturday Night Live, but it's no joke. Your republican VP candidate does NOT know what the Bush Doctrine is. If you haven't seen her recent interview with Charlie Gibson, make a point to. Do not jump on the Sarah Palin bandwagon just because you think she has great glasses. Pay attention to what she has to say - or, rather, her lack of understanding about what she's talking about. Tina Fey nailed this one - now, America - please pay attention.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dogtown - The Michael Vick Dogs

To any of you who may have contributed to Best Friends Animal Society last year in honor of our memorial hike, and who may be wondering what Best Friends actually does with that money, here's a great opportunity to find out.  Earlier this year, Best Friends was awarded custody of 22 of the Michael Vick dogs (more than any other rescue organization in the country), and the staff is currently in the process of rehabilitating these dogs at the sanctuary in Utah.

National Geographic Channel is running a new episode of Dogtown (which is a series about the work being done at Best Friends) on Friday, September 5th at 9 pm which deals exclusively with the Michael Vick dogs and the work that is being done with them to make them whole again. Best Friends was one of the only organizations that fought to keep these animals from being destroyed, and they have built a special compound at the sanctuary just for these special dogs. It's a fabulous story - I hope you'll watch! 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

i am i - and this is why

On Facebook I have this handy little application that tells you your daily horoscope. Well today I had it create a nifty natal chart for me, based on my day, year and time of birth. And it automatically tells you, astrologically, everything about you based on how the planets were aligned when you were born. Now I typically only read horoscopes for fun, and only on occasion. While this isn't 100-percent accurate, it is pretty damn close. Like scary close. So for all of you who are wondering why I'm the way I am, here it is. In black and white!

Planetary Positions at Birth
Sun: 02º 02' in Cancer
Moon: 00º 06' in Aries
Mercury: 27º 08' in Cancer
Venus: 21º 51' in Cancer
Mars: 01º 50' in Aries
Jupiter: 11º 09' in Aquarius
Saturn: 25º 19' in Gemini
Uranus: 18º 53' in Libra
Neptune: 05º 18' in Sagittarius
Pluto: 01º 40' in Libra
Conjunction: Mercury Venus 5º
Conjunction: Moon Mars 1º
Conjunction: Sun Saturn 6º
Opposition: Mars Pluto 0º
Opposition: Moon Pluto 1º
Semi-Sextile: Mercury Saturn 1º
Sextile: Mercury Pluto 4º
Sextile: Neptune Pluto 3º
Square: Moon Saturn 4º
Square: Sun Mars 0º
Square: Sun Moon 1º
Square: Sun Pluto 0º
Square: Venus Uranus 2º
Trine: Mars Neptune 3º
Trine: Mercury Mars 4º
Trine: Moon Mercury 2º
Trine: Moon Neptune 5º
Trine: Saturn Uranus 6º

The Sun in Cancer
The Sun and its place on your chart are the most important information astrology can provide you with. Your most powerful energies and force-of-will are denoted by the Sun's position.

Traits: Emotional, Loving, Intuitive, Imaginative, Shrewd, Cautious, Protective and Sympathetic

Dark Traits: Changeable, Moody, Overemotional, Touchy, Clinging and Unable To Let Go

You were born during a period when the Sun was in Cancer. The Cancer's first love is its home and family. They love to nurture those around them. No sacrifice is too large to ensure their home is secure and their loved ones are safe and happy. They are very kind and sharing. Cancers are also very moody, and often retreat into themselves to regenerate, or sometimes sulk. The quickest way for them to rebound from such moments is to do what they do best: nurture others.

Cancers can be very iron-willed and like to have things their way. They are very sensitive to slights and hurt easily. When pained Cancers will retreat into themselves and brood. Although generally they do not like confrontation, Cancers are not above seeking revenge against those that hurt them. Cancers are compassionate and freely show their affection for others. They will set their problems aside to assist others in solving theirs. Being extremely intuitive, they often know what is upsetting someone without being told. They are great communicators and can often help those in trouble with just a few words.

Overall, Cancers are quite gregarious. They love to socialize with their friends and family. Their need to care for those in their circle makes them an asset to any family.

Sun Opposition or Square Moon
You feel your wants and desires are pulling you in different directions. For instance you may need to express your individuality to the maximum, but you desire a warm, loving relationship and the security of strong camaraderie. This dichotomy makes it difficult for those around you to tell what you want.

Sun Conjunct Saturn
You tend to move down your life path with caution. Because of this reaching your goals will require more staying power than others will need. Fortunately you are full or self-discipline. You may lack the confidence to realize all of your ambitions.

Moon In Aries
The placement of the Moon on your chart denotes a region of life you travel through based upon your instincts. The Moon's placement often points to emotional issues we must address.

You have the Arian trait of speaking bluntly and meaning exactly what you say. You conceal your weaknesses and personal needs from others very well. At times you can be quite emotional and even display a temper that borders on having a tantrum. The expectations you put on yourself and others may be a bit unrealistic. You prefer to take action, and have no tolerance for whiners.

Your Arian courage and love of challenges makes you a role model to others. Through your courage they find theirs. You are optimistic and believe all obstacles can be overcome. You admire others who display bravery and share your need for freedom and adventure. Indeed you are not likely to spend much time in the company of wimps. Taking role of leader should feel very comfortable to you, but you need to try not to be too domineering.

Moon Sextile or Trine Mercury
You seem to instinctively understand people and why individuals behave the way they do. Being nonjudgmental and empathetic makes it easy for those around you to "tell all." You love to share your knowledge and insight, but don't force your views on others.

Moon Conjunct Mars
You cannot handle idle moments. They drive you nuts. You must have something to do at all times. You are somewhat aggressive, which may cause trouble at home.

Moon Opposition or Square Saturn
You have moments of serious self-doubt. To you it sometimes seems who you are just isn't enough. Your inability to see your intrinsic value makes you hypersensitive to the criticisms of others. While you want to be a part of the human experience around you, fear or rejection makes it difficult for you make a place for yourself amongst a group of people. Instead you tend to retreat into yourself where it is lonely but safe.

Moon Sextile or Trine Neptune
Chaos and confusion upset you terribly. Where others might see opportunity in upheaval you see despair. You have a need to live in a peaceful setting insulated from the harsher elements of our world.

Moon Opposition or Square Pluto
Your romantic relationships are marked by such a large outpouring of emotion and passion that they may actually scare your partner. Love always has a sense of urgency for you. It is practically impossible for you to just let things happen and enjoy the ride.

Mercury In Cancer
The position of Mercury on your chart will give you insight into how you communicate with others and learn.

Often your decisions and opinions are based on your feelings and not the facts, which makes you somewhat dogmatic. Sometimes it is difficult for you to think rationally because your emotions have such a free rein.

You tend to over-romanticize the past. You long for a kinder, gentler time when everything was as it should be. Unfortunately that time never really existed. You tend to be so nostalgic that you often fail to see all that is good about the here and now.

You are not comfortable in a crowd and dread the thought of being the center of attention. While you do have opinions on everything you rarely express them for fear of being attacked. Your emotional self cannot take much rough handling. When you do express your views and find that others hold opinions different than yours, you are likely to retreat into yourself for fear of being verbally attacked.

Mercury Conjunct Venus
You have a love of the arts and innate sense of style. Your creativity makes you a natural to pursue a career in the arts. Unlike many with a talent for the arts you do well in social settings. Your charm and sense of humor make you attractive to a wide variety of people..

Mercury Sextile or Trine Pluto
You are enthralled by hidden truths. You love to "uncover" the truth. Your mind is strong enough to allow you to explore the inner-core of consciousness. You probably are attracted to the mysterious and occult.

Venus In Cancer
Where Venus appears on your chart will provide you with information on how you relate to others on an emotional level.

There is nothing you won't do for your love partner. You physical expression of your love is both affectionate and passionate. You prefer sophisticated people who have a great depth of character and charm. You may also be attracted to more flamboyant types. Someone who always dresses well will impress you.

Venus Opposition or Square Uranus
About the only thing you do quicker than falling in love is falling out of love. Your affairs of the heart tend to begin with massive amounts of unrestrained passion, but this high state of energy ends quickly and boredom sets in. Also your need for personal freedom quickly makes any traditional relationship feel a bit oppressive.

Mars In Aries
Mars is the planet of action. Its placement on your chart will indicate your level of aggression and competitiveness.

You are a person of action. You want to get things done and get them done now. You'e not one to wait for all the facts to come in before tackling a project or problem. You don't simply take on a task, you attack it.

When you have a goal to reach you don't wait to receive assistance from others. Because you are extremely self-sufficient and feel as though you should always be the leader, people who wait around for reinforcements or provide unsolicited advice infuriate you. When working with others you are not particularly cooperative or willing to compromise. To you your way is the only way.

Although you are not the easiest person to work with and your need to act sometimes actually slows you down, your bravado and raw determination will get things moving in the right direction. You do best with situations that do not require a long term investment of your energies. You need to see results quickly to keep your interest peaked by a project.

Mars Sextile or Trine Neptune
Although you are quite an idealist you do manage to apply your lofty ideas to the real world in a useful way. You will do best in the arts or some other occupation where you can beautify our world.

Mars Opposition or Square Pluto
Your strength of will is enormous and you are passionate about attaining your goals. You may become so focused on a goal that you lose perspective on life as a whole. You tend to be secretive about your true aspirations. Those working with you may not know exactly why they are doing what they are doing.

Jupiter In Aquarius
Jupiter deals with where the Universe is definitely on your side.

You thrive on being on the cutting edge of things. You don't allow yourself to be anchored down by traditional thinking or behavior models. You have a genuine concern for the plight of humanity, and are perfectly suited for paving new roads down which the rest of us can find better lives.

Saturn In Gemini
You harbor self-doubts concerning your intelligence. Social spontaneity is likely to be very difficult for you.

Saturn Sextile or Trine Uranus
You have the ability to bring innovation to projects. You understand that new ideas need to have practical applications to justify there use, so you waste little time with the superfluous.

Neptune In Sagittarius
Because of distance Neptune is from the Sun, its astrological influence is generally measured in increments of 14 years. What this means is that the effects of Neptune will influence an entire generation in a like manner. Neptune is the Astrological Wildcard. The area in which Neptune appears on your chart is a place where there are no rules. Anything can happen.

You are member of a generation of dreamers and purveyors of the future. You and your contemporaries are very broad-minded and thrive on new forms of spirituality. Traditional religions are far too dogmatic to serve you well, so you are very likely to explore alternative routes to find your spiritual self.

Neptune Trine Pluto
You were born in a period when there was an underlying current of spiritual awareness prevailed. Collectively your generation has a desire to increase the depths of their spiritual self.

More About Cancer
Famous Cancers:
Bill Cosby, Henry VIII, Princess Diana, Mike Tyson, Julius Caesar, Nelson Mandela, Rembrandt, H. Ross Perot, Dan Aykroyd, Geraldo Rivera, Ringo, Buckminster Fuller, Alexander the Great, Estée Lauder, and Marshall McLuhan
Ideal Occupations:
Cancers are well-suited to be doctors, pharmacists, teachers, nutritionists, chefs, realtors -- any position in which they can feel truly useful.

Lucky Numbers: 4, 13, 22, 31, 40, 48, 57

Cancers Are Usually Most Compatible With: Scorpio or Pisces

Planet: The Moon

Element: Water

Star Stone: Pearl