Thursday, September 27, 2007

pugs

I've mentioned in an earlier post that I visit a little pug puppy named Jack every weekday at noon. Jack makes me laugh. He does a lot of cute puppy things like bounding around after me and clambering all over me and taking great leaps at my face to lick me.

One of the weirdest things I've noticed about Jack, though, is that he seems to have no joints. Whenever I carry him, his front legs splay straight out to the side. And he likes to lie down with his hind legs spread just like the puppy in the photo above. (Which I found on the internet - the photo, that is - and it just goes to show that Jack is not unique in his double-jointedness.)

All I can say is, how does he do that?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

croutons

Another really great way to use up stale bread is to make croutons. Years ago I became known in my immediate family as a great crouton maker. I spent a summer working for tree-planting camps - first as a planter in Northern Ontario, and then as an assistant cook in Northern Alberta. The head cook at both camps was a fantastic woman named Elizabeth Evans, who learned to make croutons at the knee of her Italian mama.

Elizabeth made croutons from any kind of bread - stale or not. She cut the bread up into long-ish pieces and then sauteed them in olive oil with chopped garlic until they were well-browned. They were liberally salted when they were done.

When I started playing around with making my own croutons, I stuck to hearty breads that were definitely stale. Lots of olive oil, but generally no garlic. A bit of salt, maybe. I served them in salads. (I was also known for my great salads.)

These days I've been making a lot of croutons again. When my bread gets stale, I break it into large-ish chunks (much bigger than those little cubed croutons you can buy in the grocery store, anyhow), and toss them around in a frying pan with a bunch of olive oil until things are nicely golden. No salt.

These taste AMAZING dipped into soups (which is how I've been eating them, lately).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

gazpacho(-ish)

When Mom sent me home on the weekend with the fresh, home-grown produce, it included a bunch of tomatoes. Yum.

I've mentioned in an earlier post that I love to buy this really great rustic, whole wheat bread from the local grocery store. Well, because I'm single and I'm the only one eating it at my place, it often goes stale before it's all gone. Doesn't matter. I love stale bread. There are all sorts of wonderful ways to dress it up and make it edible.

If you break some stale bread into small pieces, and pour a bunch of juicy, chopped tomatoes over top, and then drizzle everything with olive oil and add a dash of salt, you have something that reminds me of the roots of the cold Spanish soup called gazpacho.

I love rustic cooking for its honesty and its practicality. In many parts of the world, grains - whether they be served plain, or in a more processed form such as bread - are precious foods. In other languages, the name of a favorite grain is often synonymous with the word for "food," and you can't consider yourself fed until you've had your daily serving of grain.

In the parts of the world where bread is the favorite way to eat grain, no part of the bread is wasted. (Unlike here in North America, where generations have grown up with the idea that bread = soft, fluffy, squishable white stuff with no soul - and your bread doesn't grow stale, it just starts to grow penicillin.)

Anyhow, I've been enjoying using up all my stale whole wheat bread as the base for a cold (which is really a misnomer, since I never refrigerate my tomatoes - really they're kind of room temperature, I guess) tomato "stew."

ginger squash soup

Mom sent me home this past weekend with a bunch of produce from my parents' garden, as well as a HUGE butternut squash from a farm where Dad keeps some of his bees. In previous years the squash from this farm has been AMAZING, so I was really happy to get it, even though it's not one of my absolute favorite vegetables.

I decided to make some soup, since I like to have a couple of different kinds of soup stored in individual servings in my freezer. I didn't have any leeks (my favorite onion base for soups) on hand, but I did have a mild spanish onion.

1 butternut squash
1 large spanish onion
4 tablespoons dried ginger
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Peeling the squash is the hardest part. You can avoid peeling the squash by baking it in the oven first, but that takes so long and is messy... I prefer to slice the squash into two-inch-thick rounds, and then cut the tough rind off each round with a paring knife.

After you've peeled the entire squash, cut up the flesh into uniform chunks.

Chop the onion, and saute it in a very large pot with the olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add the ginger and squash chunks, and enough water to cover everything.

Simmer over low heat until the squash is cooked.

Remove from heat and puree in small batches in a blender or food processor. Add salt to taste.

This soup has a LOT of ginger in it. I like a really gingery bite. Adjust the amount of ginger (or leave it out entirely) if you're not as fond of ginger as I am.

Monday, September 24, 2007

porridge

I love eating cooked grains for breakfast. It's an ayurvedic thing, I guess. Hot foods in the morning are supposed to stoke your digestive fire, or agni.

(Although don't tell my Scottish ancestors, but I hate oatmeal. It makes me gag.)

My favorite cooked grain is quinoa, but it's kind of pricey, so I often make do with brown rice. I cook it up into a porridge very similar to the mild, Asian rice porridges that are considered healing or "invalid" foods.

I add some quick-cooking lentils to the porridge to make the protein more complete, and I often add a little bit of curry powder for the healing properties of turmeric, which has become a popular herbal remedy touted for its anti-inflammatory benefits.

I make a large pot of the stuff, and then put it into glass jars in individual servings, to store in the fridge and eat over the course of a week or two.

3 cups brown rice
1 cup lentils (I like Indian black or yellow lentils)
9 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon curry powder

Put all the ingredients into a large pot, and cook over medium heat until the water begins to boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Keep the pot lidded at all times. Stir occasionally. (Figure that one out!)

Take the pot off the heat at the end of the cooking time, and let it stand for five minutes before serving, or storing in containers in the fridge.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

driving

One thing I will always be grateful to my ex-boyfriend for is the amount of time during our relationship that I got to spend driving on country roads to get back and forth between my place and his.

Today I made another trip - and it was a gorgeous day for a drive. The fall colours are just starting to turn, and the rolling hills between Toronto and Barrie were amazing.

There are two landscapes that tug at my soul: the flat fields of southwestern Ontario where I grew up, and the hillier version in central Ontario where my ancestors homesteaded.

Friday, September 21, 2007

wi-fi

Until I started blogging a year ago, I was a bit of a technophobe. Correction. Techno-ignoramus. It wasn't so much that I was afraid of technology, I just didn't know how it worked.

There's still a lot I don't know. I don't own an iPod, or a PDA, or a cell phone that takes pictures. (I think my cell phone can text, but I've never tried it. I'm allergic to phone bills that are more than $60 per month.)

I am loving Wi-Fi, though. Here I am, hundreds of miles from my home and my high-speed modem (I'm writing this while visiting my parents), and I'm posting a blog entry.

How cool is that?

I love laptops, too. Laptops with Wi-Fi.

My parents' cat is sitting beside me on the kitchen table, trying to figure out what this alien contraption on her "stage" is.

(I have the sneaking suspicion she's shedding lots of hair into my keyboard, too.)

I wonder what I'll know how to use 20 years from now?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

barbie as the princess and the pauper

One of my favorite things to watch on YouTube is—wait for it—clips of the songs from the digitally-animated movie Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.

My niece fell in love with this straight-to-DVD release a year-and-a-half ago, when her cousins lent her a copy. I was kind of aghast when my sister told me that Meghan was watching Barbie movies. My feminist-indoctrinated sensibilities were offended by the thought of our little girl growing up with Barbie as a formative role-model.

(Let's just forget, for the moment, that Barbie was my absolute favorite toy as a child.)

My sister pleaded Barbie's case. Apparently the songs were catchy. She (my sister) had already memorized the lyrics, and found herself humming snippets of the songs all day long.

I decided to reserve judgment until I saw the movie for myself.

So, the next time I visited my sister, Aunt Michelle and Meghan sat down to watch Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. (By then Meghan had already tired of the film and wasn't especially interested in watching it with me. Didn't matter. I made her.)

I was enchanted.

I'm a classically-trained singer with a pretty low tolerance for badly-written or -performed music. I was grudgingly impressed with the song-writing—especially the lyrics, which celebrated Barbie's talents, individuality, and self-development. Who knew?

The best moment, however, came while I was watching my niece's response to the songs. Caught up in the joy of the music, she sang along boldly and un-self-consciously. And I was awestruck to see her mimicking, gesture for gesture, each choreographed Barbie movement.

At one point Meghan raised her tiny little hand to the sky and wiggled her fingers; tears sprang unexpectedly to my eyes when I saw butterflies alight on the Barbies' onscreen fingers moments later.

I don't pretend to know what's really good for kids and their development. But I remember craving magic as a little girl... and I can't deny my niece the same magic.

Why do I keep watching the Barbie videos on YouTube? Because I want to be like this modern-day Barbie: bold, courageous, self-knowing, compassionate, and fulfilled.

Have a look for yourself, here.

youtube

I love YouTube.

I visit YouTube frequently—perhaps too frequently. I am thankful to all the people who upload the videos that I enjoy watching.

I don't own a television. I made a conscious decision to do without one when I moved to Toronto. In fact, when I moved to Toronto I had already more-or-less stopped watching TV for over a year. I found that TV sucked up too much of my free time, and was a poor substitute for what my body was really craving whenever I sat down in front of the boob tube: i.e. sleep, rest, relaxation or meditation.

But after being TV-less in Toronto for several months, I accidentally discovered how much "TV" I could watch online.

I like the interactive aspect of YouTube (as opposed to the mindless randomness of channel-surfing); I like being able to search, find and select what I'm watching.

It's just as hard to tear oneself from the flashing screen, though.

Hmm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

de nile

How many things (besides my ex-boyfriend) have I been in denial about lately?

Scary thought.

I always assumed I had a pretty good handle on what was going on inside my own head.

I'm definitely in denial about the fact that I need bifocals. That would plant me too firmly smack dab in the middle of "middle-aged."

Oh well.

As my choir director Brainerd Blyden-Taylor pointed out to me last Thursday night, when my arms holding my music kept stretching further and further in front of me (and the notes coming out of my mouth whilst we were sight-reading kept straying further and further from what was on the printed page), "De Nile is a looong river, Michelle."

what I love about my life

I'm sitting here in the edge of my bed (a pristine, white-sheeted mattress on the floor—very "French country" meets "Japanese minimalism"), my laptop on a small wooden stool in front of me, my legs tucked up under my chin as I stare at the screen and key away...

And I realize it doesn't get any better than this. I love being self-employed. My schedule is my own. I'm editing a paper for a client at the moment, but I'm doing it at my own speed, on my own time.

I'm wearing yoga clothes. The same yoga clothes I'll be wearing later in the day when I leave my apartment to do some dog walking. The same yoga clothes I'll be wearing a couple of hours after that, when I help an organizing client clean out her basement.

I love my life.

I'm comfortable, and I do work that I love.

it's called a breakup because it's broken

I bought this book yesterday. It's a good book—and a funny book (thank goodness!)—but it's also a hard book to read.

I'm finally coming to terms with the fact (which has been obvious to my long-suffering friends and sister for several months now) that I'm still pining for my ex-boyfriend. In fact, I wish he and I were still together.

(And if he came to me right now and said he'd made a horrible mistake—that I was the woman of his dreams, and he'd be lost if I didn't take him back RIGHT THIS INSTANT—the only thing I'd say before jumping into his (not-so-)ever-loving arms is: "What took you so long?")

Correction.

Would have said.

I am reformed(ing). If you've been dumped, read the book. It will show you how crazy you are.

(Or in my case, were.)

It's Called a Breakup Because it's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

per • spec' • tive

It's been an interesting week. I just lost a new friend due to a misunderstanding, and I'm really, really, REALLY beginning to realize just how much my ex-boyfriend doesn't want to have any kind of friendship with me, either.

(Note to self: don't add ex-boyfriends to your Facebook friends list. It's too painful seeing what they're up to in the long stretches between your infrequent telephone conversations.)

So this morning when I was out doing the car shuffle I was in a kind of pensive mood. Then I noticed one of the trees I was passing as I walked the block back to my apartment. It was a chestnut tree, much taller than the others around it. I immediately wondered how high it was.

I thought about a book I had pulled off my shelves yesterday; I browsed through it before napping. It's called Meetings with Remarkable Trees by Thomas Pakenham, and is full of the most amazing photographs and descriptions of noteworthy trees in Great Britain.

There is a woods in my hometown of London, Ontario where there is an oak tree that is estimated to be at least 700 years old. (That's a picture of it, above.)

700 years.

Suddenly my week doesn't seem so important...*

*Although I just remembered – my ex and I spent one of our first days together as a couple underneath that oak tree. Crap! Back to thinking about him again…

Monday, September 17, 2007

the kindness of strangers

I genuinely expect tiny miracles to manifest themselves in my life daily. (It's always lovely when external circumstances actually coincide with that dream.)

This past summer, one of other tenants on my floor asked if I'd like to use her parking spot for four weeks while she was away on a road trip. Her offer was a boon to me, as you'll appreciate if you've already read this earlier post.

For four weeks I didn't have to do the car shuffle! I was in heaven. Every single day, as I parked my car in her spot, I told myself that I was the luckiest person in the world.

Turns out I don't have long to wait (13 days!) until I finally have a spot of my own on the building property. But in the meantime, until September ends, I'm still doing the shuffle...

This morning as I turned my car around to head over to the street a block away where I can park all morning, this same tenant (my parking angel) stopped me on her way to her own car, and asked if I wanted to park in her spot while she was away at work.

Yes!

(It also meant I didn't have to drive into the rising sun with a foggy windshield. You know it's fall when... your windows are covered with too much wet every morning.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

leek and potato soup

olive oil
3 leeks
four potatoes
water
salt

I'm half Scottish, so leek and potato soup is a no-brainer comfort food for me.

I love soups in general—they're easy to make, inexpensive, and a great way for me to consume my veggies. Plus they're easy to freeze, which makes them convenient. All I have to do is stick a frozen container of soup in my fridge the night before, and I have an almost-instant meal the next day.

Another thing I love about leeks is that they add a really subtle, distinctive flavour to soups that onions can't match. Leeks are always my first choice when I need an allium-family base for any soup.

To make the soup, I first wash the leeks (today I used the whole bunch of three). Leeks need special cleaning, since they're often grown in sandy soil and need to be thoroughly rinsed.

I cut off the tough ends of the leaves (anything that's dark green), then cut off the root end. Next I make a slice down the length of the leek, without going all the way through.

Under running water, separate the individual layers without actually taking them apart, and make sure that you rinse away any visible sand or dirt.

I puree most of my soups, so I don't worry about how nicely chopped everything is. Just make the pieces small enough so that they don't take forever to cook.

Heat some olive oil (I use about a quarter of a cup) in a large soup pot. Add the leeks, stir to cover them with the oil, and then turn the heat down to low and let them simmer for 5-10 minutes, until they soften and start to wilt.

Then add four chopped potatoes (you can remove the skins first if you want, but I often don't bother. I like the rustic texture of bits of skin in my soup. Today I used new potatoes, and left them unpeeled).

Fill the pot with enough water to just cover everything, and put the pot on the stove to simmer until the potatoes are cooked.

Instead of plain water, you can also add any vegetable stock that you've got. I usually save the cooking water whenever I cook vegetables, and freeze it in jars to use in soup-making. Today I had a bit of carrot water to add to the soup. I don't like using commercial stock powders since I find the taste too harsh, but do whatever's convenient for you.

After the potatoes are soft, take the pot off the stove and puree the soup in small batches in a blender or food processor. I'm a pretty hearty risk-taker and puree everything while it's still steaming hot, but you may wish to let the soup cool first before pureeing. When pureeing soup in the blender, I make sure to add extra water to each batch if needed—enough to cover all the solid food chunks thrown in the blender jar.

After the soup is pureed, add salt to taste. This time I tried out some of the smoked salt I re-bottled yesterday, and it was an amazing addition to the soup, giving it a dense, rich flavour.

When my soup is done, I put it in individual wide-mouthed Mason jars and freeze them. (Make sure you cool the filled jars overnight in the fridge, before putting them in the freezer. And be sure to leave enough space in the jar for the soup to expand a little as it freezes.)

This soup also makes a great base for a number of other dishes. Add some cooked vegetables and you have a great vegetable soup. A favorite variation of mine is adding chopped fresh tomato.

Add a LOT of cooked veggies, and you have a stew.

The soup can also can be used as a white sauce over veggies, or as a hot dip for a hearty, rustic bread.

Mmm...

bread and olive oil

More about food.

One of my favorite treats lately is this really chunky, hearty whole-wheat bread from Dominion. They sell it in the fresh-baked bread section. It's got a really earthy texture. Chewy, like home-baked whole-wheat bread.

I take a slice and tear it into chunks, then drizzle extra virgin olive oil all over it. Yum.

Which reminds me, I was in Greektown with a friend on Friday night, and we stopped by a natural foods store on Donlands near O'Connor (forget the name of the store). There was a salesman inside, demonstrating an organic brand of olive oil from Greece. He was a hoot. He encouraged us to sample the olive oil by dipping chunks of bread into an open dish of the oil. My friend declined, but I was right in there. I love free samples...

I won't kid you—the oil tasted amazing. Really mellow, but rich. Anyhow, then he tried to sell us some of the oil—which went for $17-$29 per bottle. We both said we had full bottles that we needed to use up first, and he pointed out that if we bought his smallest bottle we'd have a "starter kit" of his oil.

I had that running through my head the whole night. This guy and his olive oil "starter kit"...

another egg story

I first posted this true story on Facebook. My status update that day read:

Michelle is cleaning up a royal mess after doing something UNBELIEVABLY STUPID involving a stovetop and some raw eggs.

So, the story.

Okay... so I wanted to hardboil some eggs, and I set everything up the way I always do: filled a pot with water, put it on the burner, put the lid on, turned on the burner...

I also put four eggs on another burner, ready to add to the water once it was boiling. I like putting the eggs on a burner—that way they don't roll all over the place.

Can you see where this is going? Yup, I turned on the wrong burner. *$&#*!!!

I was working at the computer and smelled a burning smell, but figured it was just an old spill on the burner under the pot of water, and would burn off quickly.

Then I heard a loud POP, and ran to the kitchen in a panic, afraid that something had exploded and my stove was on fire. Something had exploded all right—one of the eggs, sitting on top of a fiery-hot burner! The other three eggs also proceeded to explode.

(Sigh)

You know that really vile smell that burning eggs make? That's what my apartment smelled like. And I don't have a stovetop fan.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

eggs and salt

I'm a vegetarian, and while I've flirted with veganism (not eating any animal products at all) over the years, I currently consume eggs and dairy.

I love eggs prepared any way. My favorite is hard-boiled. Every four days I boil four eggs, and then eat one of those eggs per day until they're all gone. At which point I boil four more eggs...

When I moved into my current apartment I nabbed a shaker from my parents' kitchen, filled with six different kinds of salt. My dad got it as a Christmas gift, I think. It sat on their spice shelf unused for a couple of years. When I asked Mom if I could take it, she gave me the nod. (She barely tolerates Dad's foodie acquisitiveness.)

Of course, what did that shaker do but sit unused on MY shelf for nearly a year? Good thinking, Michelle.

This past week I finally decided I needed to use that salt or re-gift it. I mean, I'm a professional organizer, for heaven's sake! What would my clients think?

(Umm... that I'm human?)

Anyhow, I opened up the individual sections and transferred the salts into tiny Mason jars that I will be more likely to use. (I like to sprinkle salt with my hands, not from a shaker.)

As I transferred, I tasted. It was kind of fun. There was some fleur de sel, which I already have, and some coarse grey sea salt. Then there was some fine, free-running Italian sea salt. Those were pretty normal.

The cool salts were crazy colours. One was coarse and red—Hawaiian clay salt. Another was golden. It was smoked. The final one was powdery pink, and the label said it was European black salt. It had a really sulphuric flavour that made me think of eggs...

So I've had some on my hard-boiled eggs the last couple of days. Yum.

Friday, September 14, 2007

choosing a blog template

Creating a blog is really simple, especially when you use a blogging platform like Blogger.com. They have a few basic templates to choose from, and all you have to do is pick one.

Choosing the template for my first blog was easy. I loved one called Minima Black, because the starkness of the black background, simple layout and minimalistic fonts appealed to me.

When I created my second blog I stuck with the same template because I liked it so much. Same with the third. And the fourth. And the fifth. By then I had come to realize how great the colours of my artwork and photographs looked against the black. And I loved how the darkness of the blogs gave the content a kind of cinematic or theatrical feel, sucking the reader into a quiet womb where they became transfixed by the screen in front of them, seduced by my organized, eco-friendly and colourful world. I felt I could create anything—give my reader any experience.

It just so happens that there is another Minima template offered by Blogger. Minima White. You're looking at it. Same layout and fonts as the black version, but this time... well... in white.

I still love the black, but the white seems almost like a breath of fresh air. Like waking up from a dream and joining the conscious world again. A little more boring, a little less atmospheric, but a little more... hmm. Can't find the word...

what I had for breakfast this morning

A modest bowl of curried rice and lentils.

(Okay, and a few other things.)

Five almonds.
Seven celery sticks. (They were leftover from dinner with Tricia last night.)
Seven black olives. (There's nothing special about that number. It's just what I scooped out of the jar.)
A chunk of Brie. (Also from last night's dinner with Tricia.)

I think I may also have had an early-morning snack. Something's tickling my memory.

Oh yeah.

An ice cream cone.

(Yummy new flavour: Fried Ice Cream by Breyers. It's like Mexican fried ice cream, only all mooshed up.)

the car shuffle

I live in Toronto. Toronto is crazy for lack of parking spaces. My apartment building has only a limited number of surface parking spots, and none of them are mine.

You can park on the street overnight in Toronto if you buy an overnight parking pass. You have to go to City Hall to get one, I've been told. And you need all sorts of documentation to prove that you need to park on the street. City Hall can't always guarantee you a permit. It depends on whether or not there's any available space left on your street.

I have a safe place to park overnight. I can't tell you where it is; the official proclamation from City Hall is that there is NO FREE OVERNIGHT STREET PARKING in Toronto. But I do have a safe place to park overnight.

The hassle comes in the morning, when I need to move my car to another spot. Toronto has a really Machiavellian street parking system (in case you hadn't already guessed). On some streets you can park on at certain times; other streets you have to leave clear at certain times.

Every morning before 8:30 a.m., I have to move my car to a street where there are no parking restrictions. I can't park on the street in front of my building between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (It's a school zone.)

After 10:00 a.m., I can park further down my street—just not in front of my building. I can't stay in those areas after 10:00 p.m. without an overnight parking permit.

So the routine goes something like this:

First thing in the morning I move my car a block away, to a street where there are no overnight parking restrictions.* When I need to use my car later in the day, I have to walk a block to get to it.

When I come back to my apartment before 6:00 p.m., I have to park half a block away from my building. Sometime after 6:00 p.m.—but before 10:00 p.m.—I can move my car back in front of my building.

We won't talk about where I park my car overnight.

The most useful thing about this whole procedure is the hat that I wear on my head first thing in the morning when I go out to move my car. It covers my bed head.

*Why don’t I just park there all the time? That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? The fact is, there’s an uposted law that says you can’t park on any Toronto street between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. without an overnight parking permit. So I can't safely park there overnight.

hats

I wouldn't call myself a hat person. I don't acquire hats the way some women acquire shoes or handbags. But I appreciate the value of a good hat.

What's a good hat?

One that covers my bed head.

(Yes, even people with this little hair can get bed head.)

My hats run toward the snug-fitting, alternative-lifestyle variety. Toques, we call them here in Canada. Watch caps. There's a name for them in Australia, but I forget it. (I was told by an Australian guy here in Toronto last winter.)

I make my own hats. Most of them are hand-knit from Icelandic wool. In varying shades of blue. (Or occasionally "natural.") They are itchier than you can imagine. I tolerate it, somehow.

Hats are good. They make me presentable first thing in the morning, when I have to move my car. (That's a whole other post.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

my lap

My body is a child-friendly zone—for children of all species.

I just got back from my daily dog visits, which included a half-hour love-fest with a pug pup named Jack.* Jack is about 13 weeks old, and one of the liveliest creatures I have ever met. He also seems to adore my lap. All I have to do is sit down on the ground near him, and in seconds he is clambering all over me. I apparently make an ideal puppy obstacle course. It's a good thing I dress very casually for the dog visits, because I look like a mess when he's through.

Glancing down at my t-shirt just now, I noticed that I am still covered with short, blond dog hairs. (As well as some blotches that are probably dried pee stains. I take him outside to pee when I first get there, and when I pick him up afterwards to carry him back inside, he uses my t-shirt as a blotter.)

I think I have a very high tolerance young things wiggling all over me. (If a slightly lower tolerance for stains.) I first decided this when my niece and nephew were small. My arms were tailor-made for corralling exuberant gestures, and my lap gives every indication of being the perfect combination of soft and bouncy. With a child (or a puppy) on my lap, I feel at one with the world.

Must be a hormonal thing.

*not his real name