Saturday, July 30, 2011

Edible Memories

When I was a snotty teenager, I insisted that I would never cook my own food. I hated cooking and swore I would have my own personal chef. I seriously don't even know who that girl was now. Sure, some days I'm totally lazy and eat Cheez-Its for dinner, but most of the time I love to cook. I pore over recipes online for hours and take at least a week to plan holiday meals. I talk about food endlessly with my friends who are as equally obsessed as I am.

It's not just the food or the taste or showing off at a party. I love the memories that go with the food. Certain smells evoke the memories in the strongest and most poignant way, but food memories are my favorites.

When I was really little, I'd hang out in the kitchen with my mom, handing her the items she needed. I sliced off a little taste of butter whenever I pulled it out of the fridge for her. I learned how to make chicken and dumplings watching her. I mean real southern chicken and dumplings, not those pathetic biscuit imposters. This was my grandmother's recipe. And probably her grandmother's. When I grew up, I only needed the ingredient amounts, but no instruction. For years D hated them, which made me sad. I had imagined this would be the one recipe passed down to my daughter and her daughter after that. She finally learned to love them like I do in the last year and my legacy is again alive.

As a kid, my mom made us whatever we wanted for dinner on our birthdays. I don't know why this was such a big deal to me, probably because it was the one day of the year I could reject less appetizing fare like liver and okra and lima beans. I always chose tacos. Every year. My sister always chose spaghetti.

I think visiting my grandparents in Mississippi is where I learned to equate food with love. We had dinner and supper, same-sized meals at different times of the day at a crowded, very full table. My mom said that my grandpa used to say that a meal wasn't complete without bread. He made the best biscuits and, for a while, my mom tried to replicate the recipe when we returned home. She never could and gave up after a few near-disasters. I'm still too afraid to try.

When we ate at seafood restaurants, I would get popcorn shrimp and hush puppies. I loved the name more than the actual food and hush puppies were one of the first comfort foods I attempted to make in college. I'm super snobby about them now. Yes, snobby about fried corn meal. It has to be done just right.

A trip to Disneyland isn't complete without a churro or two or three. I don't eat them anywhere else. D loves to go to the Mexican restaurant in Frontierland, not so much for the food, but for the view of Thunder Mountain at night.

In-N-Out. Oh, In-N-Out. I don't even care to debate this. It is just hands-down my favorite burger place in all the world. There are restaurants all over California and they have branched out to other states (but not Oregon, ahem. I'm looking at YOU, In-N-Out Corporate!). It wasn't always like that though. We used to go rarely, mostly when we went to the beach because we'd pass by one on those occasions. I had In-N-Out the day I bought my first car. It is probably the one thing I crave most often. Oh, In-N-Out. I love you so.

My favorite candy? Abba Zabba. If you've never had this delicious treat, it's like a bar of taffy with peanut butter in the middle. It's best frozen, but it also reminds me of going to the beach. I lost a tooth in one once.

Vacations are always about the food. In Victoria, it's afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens. Little finger sandwiches and scones and tarts and truffles and fancy tea! My summer cruise offered endless amounts of food but nothing on the ship compared to what I found in port. The Mexican resort provided freshly made tortillas and things I could never name, but couldn't get enough of. And fish tacos on a Mexican beach? There's nothing else like it. In Hawaii I had pineapple juice every morning and vowed to never eat mahi mahi anywhere else.

I love crepes and risotto and lobster, sushi and lamb and pretty plates of delicate pasta. But I also love fried chicken and fried catfish, bad, trashy food full of grease and fat and everything else that gives it a bad reputation. My favorite white trash food is Easy Cheese. You know, stuff that comes in a can that isn't really any kind of cheese at all. Easy Cheese and Pringles are the best snack to take for a day at the lake. It's good on celery if you want to pretend to be healthy. Last night I tried it on a hot dog. Omg, you guys. Try it tonight. Seriously.

Food. Memories of food. So many of them. College means popcorn and rice and fresh strawberries from roadside stands. After 52 hours of childbirth, I rewarded myself with french fries, ranch dressing and a chocolate shake. My ex and I went out for sushi the day our divorce was finalized. I taught D how to crack crab legs the day she got her first pair of pointe shoes and we had pizza when she got her braces off.

Food is family, love, birthdays, drunken Friday nights, beginnings, endings, celebrations, compromise, sometimes regret, more often pure joy. I've loved people with food. I've laughed over food. I've been comforted by it and had invaluable conversations during delicious meals. The best thing about all of this? There is just more to come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

World Fucking Domination, Ya'll

So I was talking to my friend A about zombies. I guess I had zombies on the brain. What? It's totally normal to discuss zombies on a leisurely summer day.

Okay, so actually it stemmed from a conversation about dead squirrels and spiders and spiders who eat birds and the number of black widows I've found in my house. But that's just kinda grossly boring.

What isn't boring? Zombie. fucking. spiders. Right? A asked if zombies in general aren't worse. Um, no. We all know what to do with regular zombies that just start out as dumb people. Especially the redneck ones. He then suggested zombie birds, but I said no way. Birds start out cute. Spiders are never cute. They are creepy and sneaky and crafty to begin with. Imagine that with zombie added in. Fucking scary, right? They can hide in your shoes and behind the tv and jump out when you walk by. Even their webs would be fucking creepy. Fucking seriously.

Dude - if I was going to take over the world, I would totally do it with zombie spiders. Watch out, ya'll.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Because He's Like Us

D decided today that she wants another frog. She had one a few years ago for a few months. Phoebe/Jade/Jasmine (her name was progressive) was a cute little green tree frog. I managed to keep her alive while D was gone for a week and then she promptly killed her when she got home. What is it called when you dehydrate a frog? Frogslaughter? Involuntary by a minor? It was sad. I cried and couldn't even look at her.

Anyhoo, we went to the pet stores today to scope out the amphibians. Wandering down the rodent aisle, we came across a "fancy" hamster running on his wheel. He was noticeably retarded. As he was running, he'd lean his head over to the side, but the crossbar would bump into him every rotation. It was like he was trying to decapitate himself. Run, bump, pull back, run, bump, pull back, over and over. Then he got off and we thought he had figured it out, but no. He jumped right back on. Run, bump, pull back, run, bump, pull back. D practically shrieked, "Can we have HIM?!?" Because he obviously is one of us. He would totally fit into our household. I could even put some vodka in his little drippy bottle and then he'd be just like me. Drunk and not learning from his mistakes.

I was seriously considering it until D pointed out his balls. Giant, elephantitis, dragging-on-the-ground balls. I just can't have that in my house. I think he even tried to high-five me through the glass when I saw what he had.

There were no frogs, but we tried to think of a name for the future frog. D thinks that Penis is a good name. "Do you want to see my Penis?" "I have a little Penis." She thinks that she might want two so they can be named Penis and Balls.

You know, there are some things I just never said in front of my mom.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Children of the Corn

I hate my neighbors. Most people know this and anyone who has ever been to my house agrees that they are redneck trash. I know, that's not nice. But you would agree if you saw them smoking on their front porch, or noticed the car that has been sitting in the driveway for months with a flat tire or ever heard them beat their kids.

Speaking of the kids, they are even worse. Last summer their thing was to throw their toys over the fence into my yard. At first I threw them back, but I quickly tired of that game and started throwing them in the trash.

This year their thing is to come over any time we're outside and try to talk to us. I ignore them but they repeatedly chatter, "Hi. Hi. Hello!! What's your name? What are you doing?" They accost anyone who comes to the house.

Last week they started breaking into cars. Or just letting themselves in. The Wife caught her the first time. It was the girl, trying to get into her back seat. What kind of kid just helps herself into a stranger's car? Obviously her parents haven't properly scared her.

A couple of days later, my car was in the garage. Stupid me, I left the garage open for half an hour. I found my car's back door open. How creepy is that? Some little imp is crawling around in my car? While it's in my garage?

Yeah, I'm not trusting them. They're giving me the creeps. Sure, they're three feet tall, but I've seen the movies. That kid in Pet Sematary was like two feet tall, and he was fucking creepy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Explaining the Concept

I got bored today and turned on something I haven't seen in years, Days of Our Lives. D asked what it was and I told her I used to watch it all the time. In fact, I first started watching it with my mom when I was three. Her eyes grew big, "It's THAT old?" Oh, children have the most delightful way of making one feel older than Egyptian dirt. The rest of the conversation went something like this:

D: Oh, that's Ali from Biggest Loser!
Me: Yeah, she's been on here a long time.
D: Really? She's that old?
Me: Well, she started as a teenager.
D: What's a soap opera?
Me: It's a show that was made when women stayed home so they'd have something to do while their husbands were at work.
D: It's on every day? What if you miss one?
Me: Too bad. There aren't reruns, it's new every day.
D: WHAT is the point of that?? Is there someplace you can BUY old shows?
Me: No.
D: What? What is the point?? I don't get it! That's so dumb!! That is the dumbest thing I ever heard.

Followed by peals of laughter.

Oh fuck, I am old.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cheesy Tourist "Fun"

Two years ago I went along on a bike ride with Bend Cruiser Ride.
We started at Riverside Market, rode over to Old Mill and ended up at the top of the parking garage. That last part was the only miserable part. I am not a bike rider and not in shape for it. Still, it was a lot of fun and reminded me of a college party.

So last Thursday, The Wife said it's time we go again. The theme for the week was "cheesy tourist" so off we went in search of the appropriate costumery. Wifey ended up with a fanny pack, Mickey Mouse trucker hat and a Betty Boop camo t-shirt that spelled out "Major Hottie." Yes. However, I found The Perfect, Bestest Shirt Ever. One wedge of cheese is taking a picture of another wedge of cheese. The cheese with the camera says, "Saaay people!" Get it? Cheese? Camera? CHEESY TOURISTS!!! Am I only amusing myself here?

We show up at Riverside Market to meet the rest of the riders. We feel ridiculous. Wife wants to immediately bolt and go back home. Stupidly, I convince her that we are going to Do This. We meet Josh, who is hard to look at in neon pink and yellow, but he's a nice guy. A couple of other people introduce themselves to us, we approve of the Hawaiian shirts and black socks with sandals. The argyle socks with sandals are my favorite.

Starting out is fun. We cross the bridge over the river, and ride around over to the west side. Yay, fun. There's music, I'm not the only one dressed like a dork, riding is fun! And then we're going uphill. Up Mt. Washington. This was not part of the deal. I am dead last. I can no longer pedal without feeling like barfing. I am afraid I am going to puke, and fall off my bike into a pool of my own vomit. I get off and walk my bike. Cars drive by and I feel more pathetic by the second. In my faded-denim (so out of style!) shorts and socks with shoes that shouldn't be worn with socks. Walking my bike like a total wimp.

Of course we lost the rest of the group. C came back to get us and adjusted my bike seat. Which wasn't the point by then. I didn't want to die so much as cut my thighs off from the rest of my body. And throw up. We finally made it to the resting point, at the top of yet another hill. Someone commented that we should have warmed up for a ride like that. Really? No shit.

I did have some alcohol before we left but it was obviously metabolized on my hellish ride. I didn't feel it at all. And by that point, it was just too late. I was sober, exhausted and feeling very old. Remember that college party feeling I had the last time? Yeah, not so much anymore. I'm too fucking old for college parties.

I made it back down the hill because it was downhill. I made it almost to the Wife's house before I had to get off and walk again. So. Lame. I did not make it downtown with the rest of the group and I certainly wouldn't have made it to the top of the parking garage. I could barely walk down the front steps without feeling like my legs were going to give out. Fuck me.

Wife and I decided we must go again. We can't be "those really slow girls that never showed up again because they were obviously too wimpy and not cool enough to be here." But looking at the schedule, the next time that I can go is scheduled as lycra/spandex night. Somehow I don't see that happening.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Favorite Weekend of the Year

July 4th weekend is the Best Weekend of the Year. It's summer and it's all about food and drinking and hanging out. I was going to say that this was the most disappointing weekend, but then I reread last year's post. At any rate, here's the low-down for this year.

Friday -
What I did -
It really has to start with Friday night. Daytime is boring. I went to First Friday with the Wife. We meant to go see ESO, but missed them because they actually played at 6:00. Wtf? When does anything happen at 6:00 and when is a band ever on time? Off to Silver Moon we went where a cute boy said he "knew" me because I had spanked him at a birthday party. Only I didn't. Not that I wouldn't have, that just wasn't me. Later I wondered if he thought I was a stripper. Should I be horrified or take it as a compliment? That one is still up for debate.

I ate, I drank a beer, I walked The Pug home. The end.

What I ate -
A slice of pizza, gorgonzola cheesy fries.

What I drank -
Vodka and soda, a beer

Saturday -
What I did -
I spent the day in the sun and it was glorious. I finished a book, read magazines. The Wife came over to bbq and we watched The Bachelorette. It was mellow and cheesy and perfect.

What I ate -
Chicken nugget happy meal, grilled corn and artichokes, roasted garlic bread, artichoke dip.

What I drank -
Gallons of water, two bottles of champagne

Sunday -
What I did -
I got up early to go to the dog show in Redmond. This could have been awesome. I say could have been, because making out with strange dogs is one of my favorite activities. It's like a hobby. It's easy. You don't even have to introduce yourself and dogs just go for it. But show dogs and show dog people are a different breed. Like, literally. I own purebreds (well, at least one of them is) and I'm not good enough for this crowd. I'm like the riff-raff that got in through the hole in the screen. The only dog I made out with was an Afghan Hound. Not my favorite. My favorite was the fawn Frenchie with the cute little round butt.

I went shopping. I can't afford shopping at my current three-figure salary but I can't say no to shoes. Shoes and dogs. Good day so far.

I went to a friend's birthday bbq. I thought it was a birthday, but her birthday isn't until next month. So apparently the band was an early birthday present and an excuse to have a party. Fine. But bluegrass bands should not sing The Clash. That is just wrong. Just don't.

Bbq number two was next. I was pleasantly buzzed by this point. Also? The first thing anyone said when I walked in was, "Hey - I have some pills for you!" It wasn't what I hoped for, but a nice offer. Oh well.

Next we went to Riverside Market so the Wife could play with her boy toy. Some douche-puppet tried talking to me. He made sure to tell me that he had a girlfriend and wasn't hitting on me. He was offended when I shooed him away. Yes. As in, "Shoo fly, don't bother me." Buzz kill.

What I ate -
Gross Sonic breakfast (as much as I could stomach), chocolate goldfish, guacamole, chips, potato salad, chicken salad, hamburger, a bite of a rib, strawberry-rhubarb pie, half of a cookie.

What I drank -
Copious amounts of water, a Coke, vodka and Gatorade, watermelon mojito, a beer.

Monday -
What I did -
Oh, glorious 4th! You are here!
Going to the Pet Parade is one of my favorite things of the year. Watching cute little canines strut their stuff is just Happiness. Actually being in the parade is pure torture. I am not even kidding. Not one little bit. The wife had to be in it because of her job and, by default, that meant I had to be in it. Because I love her or some stupid shit like that. It was completely unorganized and I wanted a drink five minutes after putting Remy on his leash. Why did I not fill my bottle with vodka? Because I'm stupid. Because I thought of hydrating my fucking dog first. I'm a good dog mom or something lame like that. The parade was humiliating. And lasted forever. Remy loved it. It was like a butt parade for him. Yippy skippy.

The wife and I went to lunch because we badly needed a Bloody Mary. Badly. We went to Olive Garden and I know, it's commercial and horrible and whatever. I didn't care. It was quiet paradise after the fucking parade. And they had alcohol. And our waiter, Shane, was the cutest thing ever. He told us he has a duck and a goose and takes them floating. I really need to see this because I can't imagine it. Are they on a leash? Why wouldn't they just swim away? We loved him for this and because he gave us extra bread sticks with our leftovers.

It was time to float but when I got home, Ruby looked so cute sleeping on my bed that I had to lie next to her and then I fell asleep. Because I'm old like that. And because I hadn't slept for two nights. And because I'm just old. By the time we finally did float, it was just a comedy of errors. I forgot my float, it was late in the day and not very warm. Actually, I was freezing. My ass was in water the whole way and was frozen along with my thighs. Why was I in water? Because my fucking float died. The armrest was the only thing holding me afloat. I got out of the water and it was just limp. Limp is not my favorite way for anything to be.

The rest of the evening continued this way.

We went to the wife's ex-boyfriend's house. Mistake. Awkward. Worst of all, they had already eaten. We left after a polite, tortuous hour.

Went to 10 Barrel to meet some friends. Who were already drunk and I was disappointingly sober. Drastically sober. Loved on The Pug and promised to make dinner for my drunk friend. When a guy in a dress suggested a leather belt, I remarked that it was the second time in the weekend that someone had brought up spanking to me. He said, "Oh, sure, if you want to be spanked. But I was talking about choking." Holy fuck, seriously? How do these things even happen to me?

It was after nine and we were hungry and still hadn't figured out where to watch fireworks from. I wanted a french dip so we went to Deschutes. Which no longer has french dips, what?? Luckily, we had our second awesome waiter of the day, Moshe (?). He said the beef brisket just makes him happy so we got that and we were happy too. Especially when my first bite was the most perfect, juicy piece of fat I have ever had. The fireworks started so we asked for to-go cups for our beer. Because that should totally be a thing, right? Awesome Waiter said no, but he would watch our beers while we went outside. So yeah, we watched the fireworks on the street with cars driving by. At least the beers were safe. He even covered them so "we wouldn't be roofied. By him."

What I ate -
Bad pastries, portobello ravioli, salad, breadsticks, alfredo sauce, an olive, beef brisket sandwich, salad number two.

What I drank -
Vodka (before it was ruined by nasty river water), two beers, a glass of water.

In summary, I didn't drink nearly enough and I'm not sure why. But I think I laughed enough to make up for it and I made out with the sun, if not dogs.

Until next year....

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Loving My Life

I woke up this morning to sunshine and warm summer weather and the realization that this is my favorite weekend of the year. I said that if I had any money I would totally love my life. The famous (and obviously wise) ML told me to "Love it anyway". So I will.

Here are the things I love about my life. Not in order (so my kid can't take anything personally.)

I have choices. Even when it doesn't seem like it.
I eat ice cream for dinner whenever I want. Or cheese and crackers. Or vodka.
My friends love me and let me be me and don't judge, even when I think they should.
My daughter feels comfortable enough and trusts me enough to tell me things I don't always want to hear.
I live with puppies.
I can order my pizza without meat.
Making mistakes isn't as scary as it used to be.
Booze exists, is delicious, legal and I'm not allergic to it.
I'm a food whore and will therefore never die of anorexia.
I know that knowing what I want isn't wrong.
My kid is really awesome when she's not annoying me.
I can be alone or with a girlfriend or a room full of people and I'm okay with all of it. Most of the time.
My sadness is temporary.
I can keep the covers to myself.
I can let the dogs on the couch or on the bed because it's all mine.
Laughter is usually just a text away.
I'm still surprised. Often.

And now I'm going to go continue loving my life in the sunshine. Cheers!
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