Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Real Grownup Cries Sometimes

I worked for Child Protective Services for 14 years. I saw less abuse than neglect. And neglect kills or injures more than abuse. The nice thing about neglect is that it gives you a little time to remove the kids to better care.

But tonight I am crying, both for a kid found dead now,and a kid I didn't realize was being abused, and she's dead now. Years dead, It's just there are similarities.

Both were about the same age--2. One was a boy. One was a girl. One was with a parent. One was not.

Other than their deaths, and the way they died, perhaps there is little similarity. This boy in the news now was abused over weeks, months. One of the police officers, clearly upset, said it was hard to imagine how you could dehumanize a person enough to inflict the damage he found. This boy was never under public scrutiny.

The real similarity is that two children who could not defend themselves were killed by the very ones who should have protected them. One of these kids was my case, years ago. One is now someone else's. And whether the parents cry or not, we professionals do.

The similarity of both cases, beyond the ages of the victims, was the disbelief of the killers that they had killed. So they called 911. And ultimately were arrested.
I see that. I remember that. And it still hurts. It hurts the current officers and CPS workers, who took the untouched birth child of the killers from them as authorities sort out what they did and if possible, why they did, consistently abuse their cousin's child to death. We always talk about the victim. Have you read
"The Boy Called It"? I keep wondering what damage it does to the kids not abused or killed to see it happen.

The kid I remember is a pretty little girl with brown curls and a pretty dress who said little when I visited her. I had too many cases, but I saw this girl. She was unbruised, and height/weight appropriate. I met criteria. Cold, that, when the child is dead.

The mother actually called me on the way to the hospital. She said her daughter was not breathing from a reaction to strawberries, and she had strawberry marks all over.
Her daughter was already dead, though neither of us knew it, and the strawberry marks were beatings.

So I kind of understand the 911 call of the folks who brought this boy in. They had been abusing him for months. Why was he dead now?

Yes, I've seen it. It hurts. It hurts. We go on.

You know, caseworkers don't get paid much, especially in Texas. Police officers, more. Attorneys, most. And in the case of this current little boy,whatever the dollars, the pain is the same.

Doing the job means it hurts. And maybe I am not the only one who cries after.

(Addendum, one day later: there was a vigil to honor this abused little boy last night. It was arranged by the EMT who brought the boy's body to the hospital. No, I'm not the only one who cries.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cooking To Please

You know your granddaughter REALLY liked your garlic mashed potatoes when she carefully gets the pot out of the refrigerator and reheats a bowl of them for breakfast the next morning.


I cooked from childhood. I was always very good. From 1996 to 2006 I quit cooking.
And I am still trying to get my groove back.

That decade turned out to be seminal for many things cooking-wise. Foods disappeared, changed, became available only in pre-packaged form.

I've gotten much better. And I have gone back to my natural tendency, which, I hear, is a big national thing now (I'm never original) to buy local, in season. and as cheaply as possible. Duh/ It is at its peak. It is delicious. And your point is?

One of my things these days is to find old cookbooks from women's groups in the past 50 years. or longer. I have my mother's 1935 Joanna Circle cookbook from the First UMC of Alamogordo, NM. Stoves then didn't have thermostats. The cookbook also includes my grandmother's hominy chili pie. It requires grinding the round steak and hominy. Hamburger wasn't that available at the time. I've never made the pie. I am sure it is delicious; everything she cooked was. ( tapioca. don't get me started on tapioca.)

A friend of mine just had family visitors from the East Coast. They spent 6 hours at the Fort Worth Zoo. Their children did not require medical assistance. Boy, their hydration is GOOD!

Today, I just stayed in. Grandkids are home. Gracie is really bored.
She is peeing on outings, though. I have leftovers. No need to cook. (Note to single young folks: yes, I have Lean Pockets. Ech!) I have leftover rotisserie chicken, green salad, black-eyed peas with snaps, garlic mash, baked ham, bacon and home-grown tomatoes...not to mention fresh strawberry cake and dark chocolate...

You know, with all this heat, I was feeling a little down. After reading the above, though, life seems right good.

Ya'll hug, gnosh, visit, and chaw, y''all. Comfort is what it is. I enjoy the food channel. I just don't buy into lots of pricy ingredients.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Growing with Gracie

I'm sooooo tired. I planned to sleep till 7 today.

New puppy Gracie, who does sleep through the night (she said proudly), nonetheless decided that 6 a.m. was a really good time to get up. You know how we devise these diabolical routines to get the kids up? Gracie figured if she started gnawing on several somethings I had to sit up or get up and take away from her, sooner or later I would get up. At 6:30, she won.

Huh. Along about 8:30, she took a little nap. I don't have time today.

For awhile, at my house, chairs are not for sitting. My two granddaughters are mostly in residence this week, and the chairs are for storing their stuff out of Gracie's way. Gracie knows she's not supposed to mess with their stuff. But as she grabbed a sock and ran merrily into the next room with me in pursuit, it's just so much FUN!

I have gotten some vet reccomended chew sticks. That is helping a bit. She can finish one in about 20 minutes, though.

This morning while I was busy in the kitchen, she started attacking a bag of dry supplies on the floor. I kept telling her no and stop, and then I realized I was calling her Cam, the last dog's name. She ignored me completely. When I finally said, "No! Stop, Gracie," she stopped, looked at me directly and then went back to the bag. So she knows her name. And I moved the bag. We both learned something.

I have a big back yard. I'm beginning to think I need to put in a doggie playground, with pipes to run through, things to jump, and maybe a strong rubber tug attached to a strong post so she can play tug of war. I won't do it, though. I WILL look into the dog park and obedience classes. She's really missing canine companions, and most of the dogs in the neighborhood have made it clear she is the puppy, they are in charge and she should just run along.

Better go make my cake. Fortunately, I don't think ear-splitting yaps when she chases her squeaky balls will make it fall.

Thank goodnessszzzzzz.....

Friday, July 8, 2011

I finally found my forever dog

I have an announcement worthy of learning how to get photos in my blog. I've planned to for a long time. It's good for my blog. It will mean I can write about more things.

But the magnificent reason is: I have a puppy. An awesome, smart-as-a-whip puppy that at 9 weeks of age, is edging into becoming a fulltime chewing machine. I am already keeping house better.(No perishables or chewables lower than two feet.) And believe me, I am putting my leather shoes on high surfaces (I don't trust her not to figure out the closet door.)

Yes, her. A nine-week old girl Welsh Corgi. She has a mostly golden coat with white muzzle, feet, and neck. The tail unfortunately was sacrificed to fashion.
She has a friendly, fun, outgoing take on life. She thinks the world is a friendly place full of good people. She's not quite so sure about really tall dogs that are fascinated by her taillessness and want to sniff her butt again and again.

She does think. She learned to play fetch and return the ball in about 10 minutes. She adores my granddaughters and vice versa. I've had her two days and nights now, and she hasn't whimpered at night. Just sprawled on the cool wood floor next to my bed, although I have already gotten her a truly magnificent dog bed which she uses to lounge in while attacking her squeaky toy rabbit.

She goes to the vet today; she's started scratching since exploring my lawn, and the fleas are very bad this year. She's too young for most treatments but the vet has some stuff.

A nearby community center has obedience classes on Tuesday evenings, and I am thinking she and I may go. One thing I've learned: her nature is so circumspect that I have only myself to blame if she doesn't behave well. Queen Elizabeth would like her.

We must have tried 100 names in two days before I decided. I thought for a while it might be a kick to have a dog named Kitty. But wiser heads prevailed.

Here is where I should have the portrait of my alert, big-eared puppy.

Her name is Gracie.

Pictures as soon as I learn how to put them in.

Since my main web teacher took off for the Pacific Northwest this morning (hmmph!) It will be a week or two.

Blogs will be a might short here and there--she's learning the concept "no", but I am trying to be as preemptive as possible and head off the nos.

More later!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summertime, and the pigging out is so easy

It happened again. It does every year.

The other day I finally bit into my first perfectly vine-ripened tomato of the year, just a sprinkle of salt, and POW!!!! my mouth exploded in this total absorption of sweet, tomato goodness. Firm texture, juicy, oh, and bright red. Bright red counts.

For me, NOTHING else tastes that good. Nothing!

I remember blogging about a similar event a few summers ago. It seems that one involved a smidge of venison summer sausage as well. Same overwhelming reaction.

Huh. So my favorite food is fresh garden tomatoes. Now I know.

It just sounds a trifle....mundane. (Never mind that my eyes involuntarily close in orgasmic bliss.)

But wait! My favorite food is not just tomatoes, good though they are. My absolute favorite is a perfect, vine-ripened tomato. And that's different.

Actually, my favorite food is pretty much anything fresh. with tomatoes heading the list. They don't have to be organic, but more and more often, they are. Baby spinach. day-old free-range chicken eggs. a perfectly ripe peach. (Ohh, the aroma of a tree full of ripe peaches! and the smell isn't even fattening.) Fresh peppers and chiles, fresh onions, baby squash, zuchinni and okra. Fresh green beans. We can't get them here, but I grew up eating raw about half the English peas I was sent out to pick for dinner. We do have black-eyed peas with snaps. Our cantaloupe are flavorful beyond what most soil can produce.

Fresh cheeses. Increasingly in Texas, we can find the soft, yummy, Mozarella and a host of others cheeses, if often at pretty prices (for the seller.)

I like my meats freshly butchered by a pro. I wish Texas had more affordable lamb, which I love. Conservationists stock more and more of our lakes and ponds with tilapia,which cause our water to taste better and are tasty themselves when caught. Catfish is fine, too. If you are from other climes, you may not know about hush puppies, little balls of cornmeal and chopped onions fried in deep fat to accompany the catfish.

I love my romaine. Some pickled stuff to go with the greens are any kind of olive, artichoke, jicama or water chestnuts. MMM.

In summer, several friends confess and I agree, celery and carrot sticks are sometimes preferable to crackers or bread just because of that fresh thing.

Texas has some very nice-flavored blueberries and blackberries, if not the size of the same produce in greener states. We have our pecans, which unfortunately are becoming so popular in the world our own prices have gone up a bit.

Anyhow, the next time I get one of those questionaires that ask my favorite food, I no longer have to write, "yes." I just state, "fresh."

Golly, gee, that even sounds trendy.