Monday, January 30, 2012

more novel synchronicity

Yesterday I chose a movie to watch instantly, Restoration, starring Robert Downey, Jr. Restoration takes place during the reign of King Charles II, mid-17th century England . I had never heard of this movie despite loving RDJr and old English period pieces. The Restoration Period, I learned from the internets, occurred during the second Reign of the Stuarts, the "first kings of the united kingdom." The Stuarts were restored to the throne following a brief, early period of parliamentary rule headed by Richard Cromwell.

So. In the midst of my internets history lesson, I came across this brief timeline of British rule:

1066 - 1154 The Normans

1154 - 1216 The Angevins
(The first Plantagenet kings)

1216 - 1399 Plantagenets

1399 - 1461 The House of Lancaster

1461 - 1485 The House of York

1485 -1603 The Tudors

1603 - 1649 and 1660 - 1714 The Stuarts

1714 -1901 The House of Hanovarians

1901 -1910 and 1910 - Today Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and The Windsors

My eyes settled on The Plantagenets. Strange name. Never heard of this family or tribe or whatever they were. Or if I had, it hadn't sunk in. But I corralled my impulse to go down yet another wormhole of TMI and instead resumed watching my movie.

Fast forward to later that night. I'm in bed reading my latest novel, The Quincunx, set during early 1800's England. About 30 minutes into my reading I come across the following description,

"My own people, the Bellringers, he went on with considerable bitterness, are connected with some of the most ancient families in the kingdom. The blood of the Plantagenets runs in my veins."

Bizarre coincidence or mystical synchronicity? Maybe not so bizarre considering my interest in early England, both in novels and film. But to have researched the who's who of the British throne the same morning as the Quincunx paragraph the very same night? (I'm typically not that industrious).

I think that is eerily weird. And as I've said before, this kind of synchronicity isn't all that unusual with me. It happens once or twice a month.

My husband, Sam, told me he doesn't want to hear any more of my mysterious mind events until they involve a long string of numbers. As in lottery winning numbers.

But of course I have to share. So the next day (this evening), I tell Sam my latest happening. And I give him the background of the rulers pre-Plantagenets, the Normans and the Angevins by way of timeline.

To which he gets a strange look on his face.

You're not going to believe this, he says.

This morning he had the very busy task of sitting at a remodeling client's house, the entire day, waiting for a city inspector to show up (who never did). In his boredom he picked up a National Geographic from the living room (friends of ours, these clients) and what does he read? A piece about historians' increasing understanding of the early Anglo Saxons, the early Angiven people, the Normans and ... Ok, no, not the Plantagenets. He doesn't recall reading that name.

But still. The Plantagenets were direct decendants of the Angivens.

Maybe not all that freakish, but pretty dang close, right? Random National Geographic read during a random day of waiting on an inspector in a random living room.

So what do you think, reader? Do I have some kind of special extra-sensory power I should try to harness? Or are we just a couple of nerdy, boring Anglophiles who read too much?

Friday, January 20, 2012

project to do lust

I was looking in my many cookbooks online for a chicken and dumplings recipe, a dish made to Daring Daughter's perfection by the mom of her BFF.  I can't seem to duplicate the dumplings to DD's satisfaction no matter how many different ways I try.  But try I may.

In the midst of my dumpling search I stumbled across Karen's Quaint Cottage.  I used her recipe for broth, give or take.

And here is the BFF mom's recipe for her amazing, magic dumplings:

2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3-3/4 Tablespoons Crisco
1/2 - 3/4 cup ice water

Mix well and roll to desired thickness.  The original recipe says to chill the dough - I NEVER do that - and besides it's easier to roll the dough when it's room temperature.   Cut in strips/squares/rounds/ etc.... and put in boiling broth.  Cook til done. BFF likes them very thick and chewy.  They are super easy and super good!

Seems innocent enough, though, right?  A mid-morning search for a recipe?  Until I hit the scroll bar and saw Karen's many, many woodworking projects.  Projects that make me moist drool.  Projects I would very much like to build my hubby to build.

When we were dating, one of the things I was so taken by was Sam's carpentry skills.  That he had built tables and bookshelves and bed frames and even an armoire for his first wife, all of which she took with her in the divorce.  I listened to his sad tale of a lost love, of various attempts at marital therapy.  I saw the helpless, confused and devastated look on his face.  And the part that really captured my heart?

 Armoire. He can build an armoire.

Come to me, my preciousssss.

The fact that, twenty years later, I am still without a custom built armoire is of absolutely no consequence.

What. So. Ever.

Long years of love and loyalty and lollygagging on our living room couch count for something, right?

Using my psychologist expertise I have deduced that, in his mind alone, building one's wife an armoire is a certain precursor to divorce.  Bad karma.  Marital voodoo.  A case of CPTSD*.

So instead of merely focusing on dumplings I cannot perfect or the armoire I shall never have, I've decided to construct a list of other things I'd like to have constructed.  Things without a traumatic history.

Not a Bucket List.

A Build-It List.  A Project To Do Lust.  He will be so glad I found this blog.

1. simple wooden laundry hanger (emphasis on simple, right honey?)

2. simple wooden cabinet drawer for my baking sheets, cake pans, loaf pans, muffin pans, and assundry other pans I will use once every seven years.

3. simple wooden canvas art project  for my daughters' bedroom.  See? It isn't always about me.

And that is as far as I got.  Stay tuned.

An inappropriate disclosure:

I have always considered my self a "1" on The Kinsey Scale. Karen and her woodworking skills?  Bump me up to a 2.

Post Dumpling Review:  

Not so good.  Subtle eye signals exchanged between DD and Sam told me not quite right.  They did say they prefer broth with no onions,  carrots, or celery. (To which I think, what's the point?)  In my husband's words, dare he say it, like Mama used to make.   

No explicit pronouncement on the dumplings per se although I may have heard someone mutter chewy under their breath.  My son gave it an unenthusiastic It's alright.   Compliant Daughter doesn't like anything all mixed together such as soup or stew or chicken and dumplings.  She ate two bites and tried to sneak away from the table, undetected.  But I caught her by her belt loops and sweetly suggested she Sit down, clown. If one of us has to suffer through my dumplings we all do.  

*Carpentry Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Friday, January 06, 2012

in which she mandates chick flicks and cute puppy videos

So many times in my personal life and in my office I get asked some version of the eternal question, Why is he so selfish? A wife or partner of a man tells me that while she is always thinking of his needs, he seldom recicprocates.

I hear things like,

I go to his action movies but he refuses to come with me to a chick flick.


For weeks I think of the perfect present for him but he barely remembers my birthday.


After twenty years of marriage why can't he remember that I don't like mayonnaise on my BLT?

Ok, so that last complaint is mine.

The point is, women are often frustrated and hurt by the lack of compassion and understanding they get from their men. The fact that lesbian couples are also frustrated by their partners for the same reason is besides the point and will be largely ignored for the purpose of this discussion. Big wink here.  

Why, I often ask myself, are there so many of these complaints? Are men less compassionate? Or are women overly needy and overly sensitive ? (Insert lesbian examples here.)

I type this knowing my question is largely rhetorical among so many readers but I ask so that I might suggest ... what we have long suspected...

It's in the biology.

Or so says Dr. Paul Zak, PhD.

So his PhD is in Economics. He's validating my long held theory so I'll take it.

According to the research cited by Dr. Love, as he has been dubbed, testosterone inhibits the release of the  cuddling hormone, oxytocin. I will say that again.  Testosterone inhibits the release of oxytocin.

Many situations contribute to the release of the bonding hormone.  Women release oxytocin when they breastfeed and when they have sex. Especially when they have sex. When we are moved to tears, when a small child snuggles against our neck, when we see, at the end of The Way We Were, Hubbell looking wistfully at Katie as she smooths back his hair.

It's that warm, grabby, squeezy feeling in the chest.  The feeling that makes us want to get close, to hug and connect with someone (or puppy), take care of, protect, soothe their hurts.

So, says Dr. Love, in the presence of testosterone, or extra testosterone, feelings of compassion decrease.  Administering additional testosterone to men also leads to them become "more selfish."  However, men who watched videos designed to elicit compassion were found to release more oxytocin.

Ok, so what is the practical advice here?  How can we oxytocin soaked wommens get our menfolk (or women partners) to crank up their oxytocin levels?  Take them to sappy, romantic chick flicks, that's how. Expose them to sensitive, caring pictures.  Videos that make you go, awwwwww.  Give warm hugs.  Show appreciation.  Compliment them, authentically, especially for loving deeds or a job well done.  And - always good couples therapy advice - cut back on the criticisms. Way back.

Oh, and one more... have sex more often.

Not a bad exchange when there's a chick flick in the bargain.