Friday, February 29, 2008

But in a hot way

I've decided that what's good for John Boy is good for me. I've taken up smoking (my pen) while I surf the internet. I like to hold pens (in case I need to take notes?) while I work on the computer, which of course makes about as much sense as smoking said pen. But maybe this black sharpie isn't the wisest choice. It is hard to explain marker mouth.

Fire Station field trip this morning. Fireman Brad(name changed to protect his identity), the "Mr. Rogers of the station" sat all the kids down and told them a story about his diminutive, mealy-mouthed 3rd grade teacher named Mrs. Black who grew tired of talkative boys and finally flew off the handle. He scared the crud out the kids at the conclusion of the story by quoting her screams of "SHUT UP!"

From this the children were supposed to understand that they should be quiet during the fire safety discussion to follow. Unfortunately, the fire safety discussion that followed, even with the inventive hand motions, was like many fire safety discussions, and did not titillate the children like the mild cursing that had preceded it. "SHHH," he warned. "Do you need to hear the Mrs. Black story again?" "YES!" they all screamed eagerly in unison.

I don't remember Mr. Rogers ever telling children to shut up and not play with matches. It seems more tough-love Dr. Phil, than be-my-neighbor Mr. Rogers.

I need to give Fireman Brad some credit, though. He didn't just show us the kitchen and the big screen TV, then leave us to ogle the ladder truck. He got down on the floor and tried. I think the kids learned something.

Maybe I am harboring bad feelings. When Sam went up to demonstrate the STOP, DROP, and ROLL, the fireman asked "What is your name?" Sam told him. Brad continues: "Okay, he... is it he...? She...? HMMM... Is going to show us how to roll." Poor Sam, saddled by his Mother with androgynous hair and name. Too bad. I'm not cutting the curls over just one comment by Brad-the-scare-tactic-fireman.

Yesterday I went to the cannery. I go every month to fill orders for food storage for my ward. I like it there. Everybody is working hard. Filling orders, filling cans, canning cans. Rice, weigh, It feels like a hive of sweaty worker bees. The poster bees for the hive on the seal of the great state of Deseret. I can imagine Brigham Young smiling down on our industry, even if he is a little sad that chunks of modern day Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Myoming, Colorado and New Mexico got cut from the proposed state. I hope he feels some vindication. Utah kept his bees.

There are all kinds of safety and health rules to follow at the cannery: wear closed-toed shoes, take off your pretty jewels, don't put your hand under there or you will lose two fingers like that other poor guy. Everybody is all dressed up: gloves (blue surgical style) and hats (hairnets) for all the ladies and gentleman. Yesterday I got to wear the fluorescent vest for the last hour. The vest is normally worn only by the Stake leader, and I will admit that the power went to my head a little. I felt a little royal, almost like the queen bee. Until I glanced in a mirror, and noticed I looked like a school crossing guard/cafeteria worker.
But in a hot way.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Apologize for Propagating Mormon Urban Myths but I Was Nearly Attacked by a Cat

So, in case you were wondering, John-Boy ain't a Mormon. You might have heard that he was, because that's what I've been telling people.

Saturday night 4 hungry women (Mom, Jen, Melanie and I) went to see Twelve Angry Men at Gammage. It is about 90 minutes of jury deliberation on a (fictitious) 1954 trial. I liked it quite a lot. It was short and interesting. I didn't have to pee, which always makes for a better theater experience. The acting was mighty fine, but as usual, hard to hear. Frank Lloyd Wright's theater design is beautiful, but his acoustics aren't great. I did have trouble with the climactic moment, where the final juror changes his vote. He needed a pause or some additional dialogue or something. I didn't believe him at all. It looked and felt like acting. Jen disagreed. She thought the quick change was the point.

During the play, star Richard Thomas (of Waltons and Democracy fame) lit up and smoked a cig. After the play, I asked "I thought he was a nice Mormon boy? Maybe he didn't inhale." Melanie told us there was no question he was guilty of inhalation. He was expertly blowing those fancy smoke rings. I wonder how Melanie knows so much about tobacky?

So I googled him. He's no Mormon. At least the internet doesn't think so, and we all know the internet is always right. I'm not really sure where I got the idea. Maybe because he was in Go Toward the Light, that made-for-TV movie from the 80's about the little LDS boy who died of AIDS, and in The Christmas Box. It doesn't really follow, though, because I also saw the 1977 Brigham: A Savage Journey, in which Bull from Night Court plays Joseph Smith, and didn't make the same assumption that Bull was a believer. In fact, his poor acting makes his Joseph Smith look like a Saturday Night Live parody. He is entirely un-believer-able. But funny, even though he wasn't trying to be. I think.

P.S. I got into my van on Saturday, and I heard a ruckus in the trunk. I leaped out of my seat, just in time to see Stripy-the-feral-and-more-than-likely-pregnant-cat fly at me over the back seat, teeth bared, hissing and screeching and trying to find her way out. I started screaming like a girl, which only made her crazier. She threw herself around like a pinball in a machine until I used my button in the front to open all the doors (I'll bet Honda didn't know this would come in so handy), and she tore out of the garage and back around to the side of the house, where she thinks she lives. I'm not sure who was more terrified, me or Stripy. I do know this: only one of us was so scared she peed on the van's carpet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Big Cat Love.

Someone once told me that when she began to hear phantom baby cries at night, she knew it was time to have another child. I always found this amazing, and wonderful. I've often thought that I would welcome this sort of family planning guidance. So the other night, when I awoke and clearly heard an infant cry, I froze. I thought, so this is it, and I lay there, perfectly still, listening intently. After a moment, the wailing baby outside my window started to sound angry and much louder. Then she started hissing and rustling around in the oleander. So I soon determined that instead of having a spiritual experience, I was just hearing that homeless cat outside my window again, only now she's in heat.

I figured it out fairly quickly. Tommy doesn't have a little sister on the way. Even so, the cats gotta go.

It all started with the little Stripy cat. She may not be much more than a kitten. Now she has 2 suitors: Big Black with the Big White Belly (who sorta scares me), and Brown & Angry. Sometimes one or two others. Juliet and all her Romeos have taken up residence in our side yard, which isn't the most picturesque or romantic spot. Does anyone have any ideas for getting rid of the cats that does not involve putting them in a bag and drowning them in the canal, or leaving poison hot dogs out there in her love nest (my recycling bin)? Tommy would certainly find some way to find and eat the deadly dogs, plus I really don't want blood on my hands, literally or figuratively.

I have about 30 pictures of frosting-smeared kids (maybe even yours) from Sam's party to post, but Jake took the camera to work again. Pues, no tengo los fotos. He takes it around and takes pictures of all the houses he has for rent, and the results are yuckier than you might think. He has close-ups of cracks in the walls, mold in the shower, and in one especially unsavory shot, a dead rat. (I'll be fair: I think he has good reasons for the photos, like sending them to the owners to show them what needs fixing.) So, those, coupled (hehe) with the pictures he took of the copulating cats (see above paragraph) in our front yard (unfortunately, he decided to go for the tight shot, and didn't get the two feline benchwarmers in the photo with the two main players, which honestly, was the best, and most disturbing, part), make it sort of scary to flip through the digital pictures, even if I could. But I can't, because he took the camera with him again.

You are dying to see the cat pictures, aren't you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jake Beeson. Givin' the lady what she wants since 1992.

Okay, well not exactly. We didn't meet until March of 1992, so any cards he sent me in February for Valentine's Day, I might have attributed to yet another stalker (I had a few at the time). In early February 1993 he left for the Philippines for two years, and extended a month, so he was actually gone for three Valentine's Days. My heart wasn't broken, though, because we were really more buddies than anything else (though I had some designs on him), and anyway, I generally boycotted the holiday and instead celebrated Arizona Statehood Day (February 14, 1912), which is altogether more inclusive of the single folk. I'm not saying I was some kind of Statehood fanatic. I wasn't going to turn down any symbols of my suitors' affections. I just never seemed to have any especially ardent suitors around February 14.

Just a minute, let me go climb up into the attic and find our correspondence...

Okay, I'm back. I have risked life and limb (for I am very klutzy, and it seemed likely I would fall to my death) climbing up a rickety ladder and perching myself over the hole in the garage ceiling. All in the name of LOVE, and making my readers happy.

I couldn't find my box of letters from Jake. Here are those I sent to him. I have not included any from his other pen-pal girls.

What's that Latin Proverb? History is written by the victor...

To Jake, From Kelly:


I seem to have dropped the ball a little in 1994. Maybe I was entangled elsewhere?
Whatever it was, didn't last, because I came back strong in '95...


So, I guess I forgot that I was making crafty cards before it was cool to make crafty cards. All I had was construction paper and a big crush on a cute boy. Soon, though, I stopped as everybody else started making fancier, professional-looking cards. I can't compete.

Beginning in 1996, (by then he had been home almost a year, and I had hooked him with my wiles, and we would be wed in July) I have always received a little something from my Valentine. (Below is our engagement photo).

One year Jake got me a pink ipod mini with "Happy Statehood Day" engraved on the back. That was very techno-romantic. Last year I received a Greg Olsen picture of a little boy who looks like Sam. Sam took one look at it and asked: "Hey, why am I sitting there looking at a picture of Jesus? Why am I not wearing any pants?" The boy's shorts are indeed short, almost non-existent, really. Sam seemed disoriented for a moment, like he was having an out of body/out of pants experience.

Do you know why ladies get lots of flowers and candy for Valentine's Day? Because they totally dig them. I do, anyway. Thank you, Jake! (That's 1.5 pounds of See's you see below. It is down to about 1 pound now. I actually don't feel so good.)

This morning I gave Jake his chocolate bass that says "you're a keeper!" on it, and has romantic fishing trivia on the back.

The kids got heart shaped strawberry min-muffins, served on my fan-shaped 1950s snack trays, with the ruby cups.
Happy Valentine's Day, Jake. Here's to many more!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Want You (She's so Heavy)

My Dear Sir Paul McCartney,

Tommy just climbed down from his high chair via the computer desk in the kitchen. On the way down he stopped to open my blog and turn on some itunes and grease up the keyboard a little with his hot-cereal-encrusted hands. He chose I Want You (She's so Heavy) from your Beatles Abbey Road album.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about this tune:

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)", is a combination of two somewhat different recording attempts. The first attempt occurred almost immediately after the "Get Back/Let It Be" sessions in February 1969 and featuring Billy Preston on keyboards. This was subsequently combined with a second version made during the "Abbey Road" sessions proper, and when edited together ran nearly 8 minutes long, making it The Beatles's second-longest released song ("Revolution 9" being the longest). Perhaps more than any other Beatles song, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" reveals a pronounced progressive rock influence, with its unusual length and structure, repeating guitar riff, and "white noise" effects; the "I Want You" section has a straightforward blues structure. It also features one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesizer to create the white-noise or "wind" effect heard near the end of the track. During the final edit, as the guitar riff continues on and on, Lennon told engineer Geoff Emerick to "cut it right there" at the 7:44 mark, creating a sudden, jarring silence which concluded side one of "Abbey Road". The final overdub session for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" would be the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together.

Like Tommy, I think Abbey Road is one of the best rock albums of all time. I'll have to say I Want You isn't my favorite song (I'd have to give it to the medley on side two, a collection of short, unfinished songs written during The White Album recording sessions. My favorite is Golden Slumbers.) Apparently, John liked the more polished singles on Side 1, while you preferred the medley on side 2. So I guess Tommy is John to my Paul. So, then, who is Yoko? Jane?

Love, Kelly

P.S. I'll bet I know Heather Mills' favorite song on Abbey Road: You Never Give Me Your Money. Paul, don't let that soon-to-be-ex-wife of yours take the bucks I paid you for Abbey Road. That's all for you. If you want, you can share it with Ringo. (Or maybe Michael Jackson, if he still owns the rights).

You can listen to our (Tommy's, Heather's and mine) favorite Abbey Road songs in the player at top right.

What is your favorite Beatles album and song?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Social History, Arm Whiskers and Weird Al

This whole church at noon thing is wreaking havoc with our nap schedules. Tommy absolutely must go to sleep immediately upon our return home at three o'clock. He is a zombie baby. Jake and Sam sleep too. I read. Jane and Ross may do whatever is silent. We are strict on that. They aren't allowed to play twister or make frosting like their cousins at Jen's house. Anyway, the sleepers have just awakened at 6:30 pm. This could be a long evening.

During Sacrament meeting today Sam leaned over and whispered in my ear: "Mom, your whiskers are getting long."

"My what?" I replied, suddenly self-conscious.
"Your whiskers. You know, here, on your arm." he explained.

Apparently he thinks I'm sasquatch, but I swear my arm hair is well within the normal range. I'm glad he wasn't referring to my face. A 5 o'clock shadow at noon is so embarrassing.

In other news, I have been neglecting my blog for three reasons:

1. Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart. I am loving every minute of this delicious turn-of-the-century tabloid thinly veneered as social history. (Which is perfect: too thick a veneer and it might become tedious.) Alva, the domineering mother, effectively forces her 18-year-old daughter Consuelo, America's richest heiress, into marrying the 9th Duke of Marlborough, who needs the Vanderbilt railroad cash to fund some home improvement projects (to Blenheim Palace, his home.) Things go awry between the two early in their European honeymoon. But Consuelo and Alva eventually become suffregettes on both sides of the Atlantic, sans husbands. (That's a real tune change, Alva. From selling your daughter into extremely well dressed white slavery to militant feminism in fewer than 15 years. Not that I'm complaining about the enfranchisement, ladies. Thanks.). That's as far as I've gotten. It's a real nail-biter. This will probably put me back into another biography phase. Does anyone have any reccommendations? I find, in the case of life stories, I am partial to the ladies.

Above: Jen and I at Blenheim in 1994.
Above: Winston Churchill's grave in the churchyard next to Blenheim. Winston was Consuelo's cousin-in-law and close friend. He was second in line for the dukedom before Consuelo's sons were born. She is buried right next to Winston.
Above: Blenheim Palace. Nice digs, Consuelo. Love what you've done with the place.

2. I've continued FamilySearch Indexing. My last assignment featured some middle and upper-middle-class families in what I think is the Greenwich area of Manhatten. I was feeling bad for one mother who had eight children, each two years apart (afraid she might possibly suffocate under all that laundry), until I noticed they had FOUR nannies. Or maybe a cook, a maid and two nannies. Or maybe a manicurist, a masseuse, a spiritual advisor (in-house guru), and a dog-walker. Who knows, but there were two Janes, two Elizabeths. I noticed her husband was worth 40K, which in mid-nineteenth century dollars isn't quite a bazillion, and she probably wasn't hanging out with Alva Vanderbilt, but nobody was going hungry, certainly.

In another superior bit of sleuthing (I'm practically Nancy Drew now), I found a silversmith with an almost indecipherable last name. I could tell it started with DU. So I googled him and found a silversmith mark by "Dunn" who was active in NYC in 1850. I also found where a semi-famous jeweler was buried with his extended family. When I can find them somewhere else, I can check the spellings and I know I've got it right.

3. I spent one whole evening watching Weird Al videos on YouTube. I had about 20 years worth to catch up on, so it took some time. I enjoyed White and Nerdy (featuring Donny Osmond), The Saga Begins, and Ebay. Am I the only one who thought Weird Al retired after Eat it?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dinner in your pants, and The Complete Jane Austen

O happy, rainy day.
O blessed day of no fevers, and healthy children.
O pleasant offspring who go to school so that Mother can go to Costco!

Is it weird that I cry with joy a little when it rains? I guess it is odd, but unsurprising because I cry at everything. I am misting up a bit just thinking about how rain makes me cry. Today, Tommy, Sam and I got decked out in our winter coats (Old Navy-or as Sam calls it, Old Lady-sweatshirts) and we piled into the van and headed to Costco, listening to my Joshua Radin CD. I even went to the Williamsfield Costco so I could enjoy the rain and the music a little longer, and avoid mean, crotchety Superstition Springs Costco patrons. Was phenomenal, exhilerating experience. The sights and smells (from the tasty samples) were almost overwhelming. Costco is great, because you can see, say, a travelling pool table show on display, and think, wouldn't one of those be fun? But, no, I don't see that on my list, and I hadn't planned on spending an extra 1700 dollars this morning. Instead, I'll just get myself a new novel and a Sonicare toothbrush. I'm totally saving 1573 dollars. I am such a prudent and thrifty shopper. (Costco just got me to buy $124 toothbrush and more barbecue sauce than we can drink in a year, and I am thrilled about it. They are friggin geniuses.)

It is exciting to get out of the house. But this isn't my first field trip. Friday night I decided to go see 27 Dresses, so I called my regular movie date, my sister Jen, who's almost always up for a good time, and chatted her up a bit, before I asked her out. Turns out, she's lying out on her private, beach view veranda, in Cabo. Again. She has the audacity to be ticked off because I told her to read The Road, but didn't warn her that it is so depressing it might ruin her vacation. (What, no stomach for a little cannibalism?) I really didn't need to hear about her vacation woes. I was quite down myself, and self-sorry. So I called around some more, but then I stopped because I can't take very much rejection. So I headed out on my own. First I stopped at Steve's Krazy Sub and ordered an 8 inch turkey sub, light mayo, which I estimated would fit nicely into my coach purse. Except they accidently make me a 12 inch, and they can't understand why I seem perturbed. So I mutter that I should have brought the fake Chinatown Dolce and Gabana bag, which could easily accomodate an entire Thanksgiving turkey, probably with some of the trimmings and a pie.

So what could I do? Some of you who know me well have already guessed.

Dinner in your pants.

In college, my roommate Kari and I went to the Provo Movies 8 to see something that sounded like High in a Tree. This was when you had to call and listen to movie listings. (Turns out, it was Highlander 3. So when we got home we had to go rent the first two, just to figure out what had happened.) Anyway, we were hungry and only had a few dollars between us, so we decided to stop at the Albertsons across the street and get food before the show started. The fresh french bread was just out of the oven and the scent was intoxicating. This was also in the days when it was okay to eat anything that was low in fat, and we actually considered entire loaves of white bread diet food. It took daily step aerobics to undo the damage we were doing with pots of rice and gallons of frozen yogurt. Don't even get me started on all the disgusting fat free cookies we made with "fat free butter," a substance which looked and tasted remarkably like vaseline. The memory is making me cry a little, too, but not with joy.

Sorry, I can't seem to stay on task. The french bread went in the waistband of my pants. Please try to imagine the very high-waisted pants I had that began just under my still high and perky breasts. They were very, very tall pants. Z Cavaricci's, maybe. With today's low-rise style, I was barely able to accomodate the foot long sandwich. The french bread would not have worked at all.

Now, this dinner in my pants seemed more dangerous and sneaky than it did back in 1995. I mean, what if the theater employee asked me to open my coat, and confiscated my sandwich? I can imagine a patron behind me yelling, "Ah, come on! Give the poor, approaching-middle-age lady back her sandwich and leave her be. She's all alone and obviously hungry." Many things seem less spontaneous and quirky and more pathetic as I grow less young and less hot. (Just barely, but still...)

Is anyone else watching the Complete Jane Austen on Masterpiece (please don't try to tell your Tivo that it is Masterpiece Theater. It ain't, sister)? I am loving every moment of it. Last night was Jane Austen Regrets, which was good, but might have been better if Jake hadn't been parroting Jane in a mocking, pseudo-British falcetto. Fictionalized portrayals of Jane's barely-existant love life are serious business, husbands. Do not mock it, but allow your wife to revel in it. She might want to kiss you, later, if she has been allowed to watch, swoon, and pine, unmolested. Which I was not. I recognized some bits of Jane's letters from the Letters from Pemberley and More Letters from Pemberley that I read last week. Next week is the Pride and Prejudice with Collin Firth as Mr. Darcy. He is not so serious, dark, and handsomely brooding as most Mr. Darcys, but who doesn't love Mr. Firth? I totally heart Collin.

From last night's program:
"There are such beings in the World, perhaps, one in a Thousand, as the Creature You & I should think perfection, where Grace & Spirit are united to Worth, where the Manners are equal to the Heart & Understanding, but such a person may not come in your way, or if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a Man of Fortune, the Brother of your particular friend, & belonging to your own County."

letter to Fanny Knight. November 18, 1814 [109]

I am afraid that the best part of my week could already be past! Jane Austen, rain, Costco, and In-n-Out. All before 12 o'clock Monday. Sigh.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Some New Books, Roasted Tomato Soup, and The Stopper Family

So I've been sitting at home for nigh on two weeks due to illness (mine, then everybody else's). It is mentally unhealthy to go straight from the excitement and pleasures of New York City to sitting at home all day, with only grumpy, ailing children for conversation. (To be fair: last week I was the grumpy ailer.) One minute Tommy is his usual pleasant self, bringing me his high top Converse shoes as a goodwill, olive branch-y sort of guesture. The next, while I'm trying to wedge one on his fat foot, he grabs the shoes and chucks them at me, then throws a complete tantrum with arched back and all the trimmings, because he thinks I'm dressing him against his will. Schizophenia is rather tiring. Is like living with Sybil.

The best news is that Ross actually appears to have brought home an entirely new bug (we've grown immune to and tired of the old one), because yesterday morning he 'played well' (opposite of 'playing sick') so he could go to school, but threw up on the playground before he even made it to the classroom. This is the first day of school Ross has missed in three years. In addition to a strong constitution, he really, REALLY wanted the medals they give out at year's end for perfect attendance. He has two already. I guess he can give it another go in fourth grade.

So I tried reading to fill my time: started Love in the Time of Cholera. I starts out pretty boring, but I can handle all kinds of boring. I have a special talent for sticking with stuff that's boring. (Enjoying it, even. I like to luxuriate in pridefulness, telling myself that very few readers could force themselves as far into this snoozer as I did. I feel like member of a very elite, tenacious clique.) Soon enough, though, it also got creepy and nasty. So I put it down, regretfully. There were some nice images of intense romantic pining that would have been very tintillating back in my single days, when I was was like a professional piner. Also read The Deception of the Emerald Ring. I had high hopes for this one because a reviewer called it "History textbook meets Bridget Jones." But I think the reviewer should amend it to say: "History textbook meets Bridget Jones and Danielle Steele." You get the picture. I also read Letters from Pemberley, which was better than watching reruns on Tivo or a poke in the eye. Last night Jake and I resorted to watching two episodes of the British Office on the internet on a laptop computer.

Tuesday I cleaned my house. That's what I do on Tuesdays. If you want a real eyeful, you should stop by unannounced on Monday afternoon. Actually, you shouldn't.

Wednesday I started FamilySearch Indexing, which is sort of addictive and I did 84 names from the 1850 U.S. Census from Royalton, Niagara County, New York. It took me a really long time because I kept stopping to look people up on the already searchable 1880 census to see what became of them. One German family named Stopper had recently arrived from Bavaria in August 1850, and their last child had been born only 5 months before, here in America. The father was a shoemaker, and didn't yet own any property. In 1880 they had all moved to Wisconsin where apparently there were fortunes to be made in shoes. There they welcomed many American grandchildren, one of whom was named after son Peter, who doesn't show up on the 1880 census. I daydreamed that Peter the Elder met his untimely end trying to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and so his brother named his first born after his brave but stupid brother. It seems more likely that Peter thought the American dream included more than shoes and living under the same roof with four generations (grandma came, too) in the cold, and tried his luck elsewhere.

Thursday, I thought: If I'm going to be home all day, again, I should cook up something really tasty. So I spent the whole day making roasted tomato soup and making 8 loaves of bread. Then I presented the feast to my sickly crew, who didn't eat any of it. They were too sick.

Today all the kids are home. Today is blogging day.
I thought I'd write this recipe down this morning so I won't forget it again next time.

4 14 oz. cans of tomatoes (mine were tomato halves from Costco). I use the ones already canned with basil, onions, garlic, etc.
salt and pepper
1.5 -2 sweet onions, diced
4 carrots, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
6-7 cloves roasted garlic
olive oil
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
heavy cream (add about 1 cup or more if adding before. I like to leave it out and let people add it themselves.)
Grated parmesan cheese

Drain tomatoes and reserve liquid. Spread tomatoes evenly onto jelly roll pan coated in olive oil. Drizzle with more olive oil, then add pepper and a little salt. Roast in 200 degree oven for 5.5 hours (or longer, just don't let em turn black) turning mixture once during cooking. Put a whole head of garlic with some olive oil in a little aluminum foil and let it roast, too. At the end, you can turn up the heat to 350 degrees or so and roast the garlic longer if it isn't soft enough.

Sometime during the 6 hours you've got to kill before dinner is ready, chop onions, carrots, celery. Cook them on low in butter until they are just soft.

You will also have plenty of time to make bread and read a book. Nurse (care for, not suckle at your breast, though I guess that's okay too) any small, sick children you might have lying about.

Place tomatoes and veggie mixture into large stockpot. Add reserved tomato juice (I cooked out some of the water just for something to do), chicken broth, roasted garlic (squeeze out some softened cloves), bay leaf, butter. Simmer on low about 20 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Using a blender or handheld immersion blender, blend to your desired consistancy, from very chunky to super smooth. I like it well blended but with a few chunks. I add more pepper to taste and salt if needed (probably doesn't if you used canned chicken broth instead of homemade). Stir in lots of finely chopped fresh basil or serve it on the side with parmesan cheese and heavy cream.

Seriously, don't forget the heavy cream or the basil. You will regret it.

My soup is creamy, licorice-y. It tastes like it is full of sin, but really it is full of healthy veggies. And cream, and cream = sin.

I'm getting hungry. I am going to go have some leftovers.