Place de la Ladd’s

September 13th, 2014

We were queuing in front of Tasty n Alder this morning, which I love, even though they glutened me. (It’s not their fault. Everything I ordered was wheat-free but they are not officially gluten-free or anything).

Franny asked me what my favorite word was, and I realized it has been flâneur for many years, I think partly because I like the word and partly because I’d like to be one. And then I took the picture and it seemed very appropriate somehow, like a lost Degas from the future. Maybe we were flâneuring for the moment, anyway.

P. brought up the idea of redubbing Frozen so it “didn’t suck.” I think he was just spitballing because we were kind of bored. We took the girls to see Frozen shortly after it came out and I was really underwhelmed. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and ultimately I feel like this article came the closest to what bothered me about it: The Problem with False Feminism. He and I were pretty much on the same page.

“GASP,” gasped Franny. “I didn’t think it was that bad!”

“Well, it’s just not very feminist,” I said.

“I guess I’m not completely a feminist,” Franny said. “Because I liked it.”

HOLD UP.

“Do you believe men and women should be treated equally?” I asked.

“Yes, but….”

“DO YOU BELIEVE MEN AND WOMEN SHOULD BE TREATED EQUALLY???”

“Yes, okay?”

“Then you are a feminist. Sometimes I like Eminem. This does not make me half a feminist or a bad feminist. OKAY?”

“Okay, jeez.”

Then we went to Sauvie Island and walked around in a nature preserve. It was really hot and I felt the effects of the gluten coming on me. My chest felt like it was being crushed, like a panic attack. Then I was very cross for about a half hour, and then I was anxious again. This after 2-3 weeks of preparing every meal at home.

Someone who is very dear to me told me recently that they hoped I was getting some good fall color and I had to explain that we don’t really get that here, and that it is still summer here. We were sweating like dogs and the pups were panting.

We’re staying at P’s father’s widow’s house, which is an old Portland home that used to accommodate servants. I have been having a very strange visit because I am losing some of the old apathy that I felt for so long. We went to our usual favorite store, Title Wave, which is the library sell-off store. I think of it as the anti-Powell’s since it is the size of a small neighborhood library. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. I get lost in Powell’s.

It was swarmed with people and we soon discovered that they were having a half-off inventory-burning sale. We got 40 books for $11.30. Franny even found some ten-cent zines.

I keep contrasting this visit with the last time we were down here. Most importantly, Strudel did not get hit by a car, but it’s different in other ways. I just feel happier. I was browsing the shelves with intent and purpose. All I found was an Ellery Queen mystery, but that feels like a huge triumph, to enjoy browsing a bookstore and to not be an ADD crackweasel about things.

I spent the rest of the afternoon on my own, with the dogs, while P. took the girls to see his mother. She’s one of those people who can reduce me to tears in about 30 seconds, so I tend to avoid visiting. However, I did not feel like I VONT TO BE ALONE, it was just nice. In April I wanted to hole up in my room and I did.

I never get tired of the dogs, though. Edith spent the afternoon patrolling the backyard and barking at invisible, far-off dogs.

I don’t know why she’s gotten all toughy all the sudden.

Foreign lands, I guess. They have the opposite effect on me.

There are pictures everywhere in this house, much like most houses where anyone has formed a connection to another human. There’s pictures of her first partner, too, who died a long time ago.

I think about P’s father as I knew him in his 70s and it’s nice to think I have a tiny glimmer of what Strudel might look like well after I am dead and she is an old wizened lady. If only if only we could time travel without seeing the horrible beach crabs and the moon all cracked up. This place is a bit of time machine since there are pictures of him everywhere and it makes me feel so sad. Not just for P., because he lost his dad, but also for myself, who has only had tiny doses of people who are like loving parents.


I know these ears; I live with two sets of them.

An Actual Thing I Actually Just Said

September 11th, 2014

Week Two: the situation turns much, much worse for our party.

It’s the second week of school. I had been counting down to this all summer. A little time alone, which I desperately need as part of my “GET THIS STRESS AWAY FROM ME” regime right now. A little time to write and nap. Shit.

Last Saturday at the farmer’s market Strudel started asking some questions.

“Mom, didn’t you say you could sunburn your eyes? My eyes are burning so bad.”

“You can, but it takes a lot of light exposure, like working on a reflective surface all day or being on the water usually,” I said. We had only been out for about a half hour.

“It really hurts.”

BAM: pinkeye. So I knew she wasn’t going to school Monday, or Tuesday, probably. It cleared up quickly, and Franny caught it as soon as she came back from her dad’s island on Monday night. So now she is home for her second day.

They were fighting in the kitchen, shouting and butt-paddling each other, which is a thing now. Franny was wearing no pants but an apron (making bacon like that, SIGH), so Strudel took the opportunity to paddle at will. What can you do when there is prime rump in front of you and revenge is on your mind? Things escalated and Strudel was getting it good, since her arms are shorter, and she started giving up and fighting dirty. I stay out of these dumb things because they don’t listen to me, really, and they are not really getting hurt.

Yelling! So much yelling I am flinching through my headphones, trying to get my goddam VPN to work…

“MOM TELL FRANNY TO GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN SINCE I AM WORKING AND SHE IS DONE. ISN’T THAT THE RULE MOM ONE PERSON AT A TIME?”

I had reached my limit.

“STOP YELLING SO I CAN MAKE MONEY SO YOU HAVE ENERGY TO YELL.”

???

Crickets. Franny went to her room. The remaining dishes were unloaded from the dishwasher with no further comment.

My new technique is to confuse them into silence.

WHEW SCHOOL STARTED; Or, In Which No One Was Killed/Died

September 5th, 2014

ONE.

JESUS CHRISTO MAN. I thought it was bad when they were little. This tail end of summer was probably one of the worst. But still, very survivable. I am in very good and even temper lately, for the most part. I still get into these hard black moods occasionally where I know I am white knuckling and not yelling at them veeeeery deliberately. Because that would just be mean and pointless. They are just kids, after all.

I did yell last night when Edith’s squeaky alien made its 36th reappearance in the kitchen while I was fixing supper after I had asked Strudel to play fetch outside. I have PMS.

Franny got out of her bitchy mood (mostly) by going to school, though she is very tired now and laments the long, standing-room-only, bus ride home. I try to remind her that if she went to her neighborhood school, it would be 40 minutes instead of an hour, and it would be on foot in the rain and snow (uphill both ways) and she gives me a YEAH YEAH LADY.

She has already made a passel of new friends and they are following her around. It was discovered on the first day that the freshlet group she has fallen in with does not smoke pot or cigarettes (so she says). I said, “Good, that will make it easier to not start, if you’re surrounded by healthy people.” Kids there have hair every color of the rainbow, so she fits right in, appearance-wise.

Yesterday I was having a bad reaction to ghee I had made and was lying in my yard like a useless loaf, with brain fog and covered in fresh blisters that had ripped across my ribcage overnight. Franny came home and loomed over me, dumping her day on me and announced that she had picked her class schedule.

“Japanese, algebra, yoga, a history class where we’re going to design a game like Settlers of Catan but it’s about Ancient Rome, printmaking, and I don’t have time in my schedule for Black Studies and it’s pissing me off. Maybe Farm if I have space. And there’s no women’s studies this semester. Boo.”

“Can I come with?” I said.

JUST KIDDING. I said: “That sounds great, honey,” and then I started crying a little again, because 1. PMS and 2. I am so happy for her. I think she’s going to have a great time. I am so happy she did not choose our neighborhood high school.

“I have a tear,” I said.

“OH MOM. And I’m frontloading science because it’s BORING, so I can take mostly art classes later.”

I hope that this weirdo school makes her fall in love with science. That would be so awesome.

I guess I have less to say about Strudel, because she’s in the same school, just up a level. She’s in a 3-4 split, and is in a minority of fourth graders. The cool thing is that she is kind of over the moon with how respectful, thoughtful, kind, and engaged her new teacher is.

I was sad, sick, and tired in the last school year, and pretty up my own butt (I am still all of those things but in a different way right now), so I did not tell you how AWFUL Strudel’s third grade teacher was, I don’t think. I kind of couldn’t bear to write about the situation.

I nicknamed her Von Hoots because she had a long German name, and we had to make light of things somehow. I was a squeaky wheel about this teacher, sometimes squeaking from where I was stuck in bed, even. I wanted to go down there and arf arf at them in person when things were really bad, but I was having trouble walking when things were the worst. So it was email.

There was an additional complication in the form of an interim principal last year. I really don’t think that helped matters. Von Hoots was a yeller, and would call the kids names, like little brats and so forth. She had a bunny that she would bring in twice a week, which the class enjoyed. After xmas break she announced to the kids that the bunny had died of starvation because she went out of town and forgot to feed it. Strudel said there were tears in the classroom. I don’t think children should be shielded from all reality, but Jesus Fuckity. Sugarcoat the passing of the beloved classroom bunny A LITTLE.

Von Hoots was random about homework. Some weeks she “didn’t feel like” running copies. She didn’t bother scheduling spring conferences, not that we would have deigned to go. Strudel got very high scores on her statewide assessment tests, which was not communicated to us (or anyone) in the spring. We just found out that she qualified to take the advanced learning tests again this year. She takes them almost every year and has been falling shy by about a point or two each time. I am going to contest it this year and see if they have room for her. The kid is already complaining that there is only 30 minutes a day devoted to math. (“ASK FOR EXTRA!” I said.) She wants to find a Mathletes club like Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks. LOL times infinity.

“Today I heard Von Hoots yelling at her new class,” Strudel said yesterday.

“ON DAY TWO??” I asked.

ANYWAY, out with the asshole, in with the newhole.

TWO.

Gardening! I’ve been doing a tiny fragment of gardening. I planted an orange mint plant and a Greek oregano in my patio pots, and P. went out front and made some changes. I had started digging up the front yard but stopped because P. wanted to transplant the mature, large herb shrubs that were in that bed (rosemary, lavender, sage, some bonus heather). I HATE digging in this yard because you go down 4 inches and it is all rock. We have a theory that much of the rock from when this neighborhood was created got dumped in our yard, and topsoil was placed over the top of that.

So he dug holes in the back at the outside of the chicken pen and transplanted them! The yard is looking a bit more garden yardy nice, the way we like it, instead of serious mature shrubs and sad, vast patches of grass.

So here is the before, from when I attacked in July:

The left open square is now short sunflowers that were planted too late! But it’s okay. We might get a couple of blooms before October.

Here is now:

Winter greens surrounding the quince tree that we planted in the spring, and garlic to the right of that. I think this is the best use of the front yard. We also want to put up a grape arbor that will shade the living room window in the summer and admit light in the winter.

I was very glib about owning a house, and he agreed to do the paperwork, since I could barely think and was so le tired. Frankly, I was overwhelmed with terror about the paperwork. I think this was more bad brain stuff. I had a lot of anxiety with the bathroom as well, because OMG decisions. I said I would handle the decorating and the bills later, which I have been.

But now: I SEE A BENEFIT!! He planted weird trees!!!

HAZELNUTS, YAY! Okay, not so weird. But I have not lived in a rental here with hazelnuts in the yard.

They get to be friends with the cherry trees at the other end of the yard. We (okay, HE) is going to plant a medlar in the chicken pen. We also have plans for persimmon and gooseberry. We will can like it is 1899.

Also…I mean this for reals this time. BEES. Bees are coming. It was on my list when we moved in, but now I think we can pull it off.

THREE.

I am spending a lot of time with the dogs, as is my life plan, but now they don’t have the stimulation of work, nor do I have Franny to lean on to walk them. When she was here this summer I was having her walk them an hour a day, which was my sneaky plan to get her out of the house into the sunshine for a minute before she went back to Mario Kart and sulking.

I have been trying them out at dog parks, where they can run a bit and I can sit if I need to. Yesterday they made a friend. Cavaliers always find each other.

That is Jackson. His dog walker/sitter said, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. He always finds a person on a bench and sits with them, otherwise I do it for him while the other dogs run.” He hung with us. It was cool.

The spaniels enjoy the dog park, but they like to watch. Edith does a little frolicking but Horace stays glued to me and makes terrible singing noises of anxiety. He likes dogs he knows.


Here they are, creeping on the other dogs like ChiMos. Bonus: my teal boob.

They are such good comfort dogs, which is their point. I feel so lucky to have them around, especially in this past year. It is doing me really good to have living stuffed animals that I can hug and hug and that love this treatment. I felt bad when I was too sore in February to have them in my lap, but they adapted. They lay near me now, touching me, and get into my lap with permission. Before February, they would just assume they could jump up, but I said OUCH too many times when I was acutely ill.

Edith is SO SPOILT that not only does she get a lap during Citadels, she also gets a napkin chin pillow.


HELP I AM A TACO NOW

I thought he was alarmed so she put him down and then he begged for more by doing a little dance on the blanket, so she rewrapped him and he was very happy. When Horace wants something, he does a jolly tail wagging dance, and Edith spins in circles. I need to video this.

FOUR.

Speaking of things I cannot eat right now, like tacos, my sister and I went to Leavenworth on the 25th last month. We tootled around for about eight hours, and had a late dinner. I had most of our bottle of wine, since I was not driving, and then I lost my noodles and ate two pieces of bread that were left on the table.

I had been doing so well ordering the right things all day, and ignoring crackers at wine tastings, etc. And I thought, PFFT, who cares, I will have a bummer day tomorrow and then get over it. Well, I slept 12 hours and then struggled out of bed. I was shaking, had cold sweats, a fever, and broke out in blisters on my torso. My brain was sludge and I was instantly depressed. I have drunk more since then and have not felt hungover or flulike the way this was.

So that was my last bite of bread for a long while. Maybe ever. I wrangled P. up for a Whole30 this month, and Strudel is voluntarily joining too, though I am sending her to school with kefir in her lunchbox. She seems okay on fermented dairy. She knows wheat bothers her, as I’ve mentioned, and she said she suspects corn does too. So we will readd that in October.

I did my first Whole30 in May. We’ve been doing Paleo-ish for a few months now, but I let wheat creep back in incidentally, by not checking labels and going out to “unsafe” restaurants and rolling the dice with being cross contaminated. Let me say, I believed all allergies and Celiac was very real, but I thought diets with strict proscriptions and industries around them were extremely unappealing. I remembered Atkins from its big wave of popularity, and thought it sounded CRAZY (I don’t think that anymore now that I understand more of the science around it). Worse, I thought it was a temporary fix, and then where did you go from there?

I am rarely more than 20 pounds overweight (I usually hover between ten and twenty over), but I tried watching my diet for so many years, not really to lose weight, but to feel good and get more energy. I tried counting calories to see what I was doing wrong. I could not shake the last ten pounds even when I was training like a maniac to take the cop physical test in ’08. One fall I tried going back to healthy vegetarian, as opposed to the “french fry” vegetarian I was in college, and I felt worse and gained weight and bloat. I ran screaming back to meat.

Ultimately, sadly, the only diet that was working for the past 2-3 years was to eat as little as possible throughout the day so my stomach wouldn’t hurt. I worried about how little I ate sometimes and marveled at how I still didn’t lose weight. Perhaps I had shot my metabolism, I thought. I was afraid of “acid stomach” (searing stomach pain that could last 24 hours) and producing room-clearing gas in public and at work. I started my day with a giant coffee, a yogurt, and a shot of apple cider vinegar, which was a hack I’d found for preventing the acid stomach and heartburn (another attempt to chip away at my symptoms, like tea tree for my rosacea). I let myself eat on the weekend and felt horrible. This chart could have been written about me.

Meat, LOTS of veg, some fruit and nuts is working. So this diet I can see doing for life. No measuring anything, except eyeballing proportions of carbs/fats/proteins. No calorie counting. I am not bothering with “gluten-free substitutes.” I had long lost my taste for pastries and those kinds of sweets, anyway. I think I knew on some level what was making me ill. My hair has stopped falling out. People who see me often have complimented the state of my skin, which looks better than it has for ten years. My spark still comes and goes. There is nothing like brain fog to kill your joie de vivre. Sometimes I am sad and sometimes I have okay energy and have to tell myself “Okay grandma, don’t overdo.” The diet aspect is pretty easy because we’ve been doing GF in fits and starts with the girls to see if it helped their stomachaches (it always did).

My clothes are already looser, and it’s not just bloat lost. It might be weird to be thin, since I have pretty much looked the same (carrying my winter coat around with me) since I was about nineteen or twenty. I gained that weight in college and I remember my mother panicking about how “obese” I had gotten (that lady is just a delight). I just accepted that I was kind of round. I yam what I yam, I figured. So that is a smaller consideration. I still wake up marveling that I don’t have a splitting headache every day, that I can drink moderate amounts of wine with no hangover, that I don’t spend all night rolling over on a huge puffed stomach after dinner. I keep touching my skin, which is smooth, unless I have a hives day. Hives day used to be every day.

ANYWAY. Whew, coming down off the soapbox. Also, no judging. And no Crossfit. I like my walks and yoga, thank you. I don’t care what you do, as long as it’s right for your body.

I forgot to bring my camera to Leavenworth, so we went and had our likenesses made. I need to find a frame, because this is going in a place of honor in my house. My face already looks less puffy than it does here. This picture is extra special, because it is also secretly August 25th The Last Day I Intentionally Ate Wheat. I will never have a Victorian year again, unless it’s a gluten-free one. HA.

She Ain’t Heavy she my Strudel

August 30th, 2014

I’m lying in bed, not an uncommon occurrence nowadays, though I am cutting myself some slack since it’s early on a Saturday morning. I got up to feed and water the chickens since they were up and making their cranky “WE ARE AWAKE ATTEND TO US RESISTANCE IS FUTILE” noises.

As an aside, it’s been fun being home “with” them. They get so excited the second I appear in the backyard, since I often have treats or scraps for them. I hear their noises change throughout the day and sometimes I call to them and they call back. Or they yell at birds or squirrels. Sometimes I see them seeing me through the window, while I’m working. I am reminded of the first summer I had chickens, before library school started, and I could just kind of hang out with tiny Franny and my teenaged sister and watch them and experiment on them all day long.

I guess I was lying here thinking about how the summer went. We had a big meal last night that seemed very sad and Farewell to Summer since it is both the last holiday weekend and supposed to be cloudy all weekend. We ate tomato salad and ribs and watermelon, and some pretty unsuccessful potato salad with eggplant that I would not recommend at all. The eggplant went right to mush.

Strudel’s been off wheat for the whole summer, with occasional “oops” moments here and there. I think it took her backsliding a few times to realize the immediate results. I packed her lunch for camp all summer, which was challenging, since camp was a “nut free zone.” If you aren’t eating wheat and you can’t bring nuts or do nut butter, and you’re packing a lunch for all day, including two snacks, you’re looking at trying to transport and store some cold things, like cheese, meats, salad, and the little jars of milk kefir I have been making.

I tried sending her with gluten-free, nut-free bars, but of course they came with the CYA labeling business of “may have at one time been driven by a facility that was thinking about processing nuts” and were sent home again. I tracked down one brand (which I will not bother linking since adherents will know it and no one else cares) that made bars in a “DEDICATED NUT FREE FACILITY!” The upside was that the ingredients weren’t awful, kind of like nutless Larabars, but they had names like “chocolate brownie” that made them sound very treat-y.

This year there was a counselor who had a large and firmly lodged stick up his ass, and the skinny was that the kids pretty much hated him, but it was becoming increasingly obvious over the summer that he had a real boner for messing with Strudel. He saw these bars (I actually sent the box in with them so they would have the full NUT FREE literature to peruse) and somehow deemed them unacceptable for a snack. The idea was that a bar and a piece of fruit could be her afternoon snack, since by then the cold things in her bag would need to be eaten earlier due to the fact that her ice packs only remained frozen through noon or so.

He told her she had to eat the bar with lunch as “dessert,” but I knew other kids had granola bars for snacks and things that looked healthier, but I am sure had just as much sugar. Most of the counselors were aware that most kids brought lunch but there were a couple of allergic kids who had to pack in morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for themselves, since they couldn’t eat things the camp would pass out, like Goldfish crackers.

I sat down and wrote a letter to the director that night, which I felt was necessary but incredibly lame. I always have these conflicting twinges of “HOORAY I AM MY CHILD’S ADVOCATE” mixed with the shame of “ugh I am helicoptering.” I think I get these feelings because I was raised on the “Go play in the street, kid” side of things.

I got jumped on the bus when I was in second grade by three older boys. Black eye, clumps of hair falling out from being pulled out, generally terrified. I got off the bus crying and my mother picked me up.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I got beat up on the bus by some boys.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

FIN.

WHAT THE FUCK. I got in trouble later for biting one of them in self defense. Since my mother didn’t call the school or get involved, and his parents had, it was assumed that I was the perpetrator. He and I made friends later in high school in government class, when I was a junior and he was a senior. We sat in the back together. I was stoned every day because A. it was right after lunch and B. it was HELLA BORING. He used to make fun of me for being a stoner and then…he discovered pot himself.

“I get it now, I’m sorry,” he said. He showed me the faint scar on his forearm that still bore the impression of my dental record at eight years old.

SHIT WHERE WAS I? Okay, so I drafted this sad letter to the camp director, about how Strudel cannot eat wheat, and the challenge of packing one full meal and two light ones without bread products or nuts. I said I respected the nut rule, and I hoped her limitations could be accommodated, including letting her eat a snack bar as a snack and not “dessert.” It was granted. It was all very silly, but whatever it takes to make this work right now.

Friday was swimming day at camp, and on her last Friday she was going to be a late arrival so she asked me if she could just wear her swimsuit under her clothes at camp. I came into her room to ask her something, and was struck by how tall and lean she looked. Then I realized: for the first time ever, she didn’t have a rock-hard, distended belly. I had found myself wondering when she was going to grow out of her belly, since it seemed like that little kid pot belly was sticking with her much later than Franny’s had. I remember my mother prodding mine at Strudel’s age and saying things like, “Wow, you’re getting really chunky!”

A couple of times during the last school year Strudel had even asked me if I thought she was fat (what is that sound? Oh, it’s my heart breaking a little). There were vague references to this stemming from conversations with girls at school who thought they were fat, and it made Strudel think about her own body. We had talks about how athletic she is and how eating and having some fat is critical for your body and brain. We got to the bottom of it, and she was becoming self conscious about her belly. I pointed out that it was firm. I showed her my stomach, and had her poke through my squishy places, down to the muscle underneath. “Here, feel this. This is what fat feels like. You’re not like this. And even if you had some fat like me, it’s really not the end of the world AT ALL. Big deal. Your body works GREAT, right?”

Well, this was true overall, but it seems like her body was not working quite as well as it could. Stomachaches were normal, and daily, just like my childhood. I didn’t know she was having diarrhea regularly, and thought that was normal. And she was a VERY rough customer. She was crabby a lot of the time. I have posted videos of her having ten or twenty minute tantrums years ago. She has turned over furniture–lamps, tables, dressers. Trying to do something simple, like get her into the shower, or put her clean clothes away, would turn into a five minute shouting match (a one-sided match, though, really). I learned to get her motivated faster by being kind of a wall and never letting her bait me. She had her sweet moments and her great moments, but she was a very testy person, and a screamy baby.

It’s like a switch flipped this summer. We’ve tried the wheat-free thing before, most notably a couple of years ago, but I knew she was cheating A LOT, so her stomachaches were lessened, but there was no significant change. Now she is being very diligent about her consumption on her own, because she can see the difference. She is a delight to be around, and unless she is overtired, is in a great mood. She had a breakdown last night over something that happened while we were playing Killer Bunnies, and I realized it was after nine and she was getting non-functional.

“Okay, bedtime,” I said. I braced myself for an explosion and for the air to turn blue but it didn’t come.

“FINE,” she said, and semi-stomped to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Then she went to bed. It was like magic compared to the past, as recently as springtime.

After she dressed for her last day of camp (camp was going on for two more weeks after that, but I was keeping her home with me and her sister through the start of school) I brought her in and said I’d see her at the end of the day. I picked her up and I could see from her eyes that something had gone down and it turns out it was with the counselor who had the stick up his ass.

“You won’t believe this! I was talking to [Favorite Counselor] and I found out she can’t eat wheat either! And [Counselor Asshat] heard us talking and he said ‘Oh, you’re weird like Strudel’ to her. And then…the director walked by and heard him and FIRED HIM!”

I am so glad she got to witness that.

Now I am going to embarrass P. and say that he forgot what time our anniversary dinner was on Sunday, which he had planned. We were going to have a multi-course Medieval meal at a place an hour away. By the time he looked at our tickets we realized we would be late for our seating and would miss a lot of it.

I had to ask him the awkward question, since he’s forgotten about our last few plans/date nights/family dinners together unless I really keep on top of him. We sat in the bathroom, dressed up, and talking about what to do and what had happened. It wasn’t a fight, but I think we wanted to parley quietly, out of earshot of the children. Should we drive anyway and be very late? Should we go somewhere else? Should we bag it and stay home? That sounded depressing.

“Uhh. So. It seems like you enjoy spending time with me at home and like seeing me. But maybe do not want to go out with me places?”

He told me he honestly could not remember, and that was about as deep as it went. He wasn’t trying to send me a message or anything.

I was sad and I said so but I regrouped and made quick reservations at one of my favorite places that is known for being local, organic, seasonal, and very difficult-diet friendly. I had gotten results from some blood tests a few days before that indicated it is likely I am Celiac (yes, I have buried this boring lede. I am still thinking about whether or not to pursue an endoscopy. Probably should to assess the damage, and I am still going to an endocrinologist next month.). I thought this restaurant would be better for me, though would probably contain 100% fewer lute players and people shouting “huzzah!” alas.

I told P. that it seemed like his memory was getting worse. He agreed wholeheartedly that it has been, and he was having trouble at times even tracking conversations due to brain fog, which sounded a lot like me.

“Do you want to maybe try doing what I’m doing and take a break from wheat?”

I told him about the great mental clarity I’d had in May when I did a Whole30. He agreed it was pretty harmless to try it, and went off wheat that night.

Well. I was shocked how much it affected him, since he seems to tolerate wheat well. He had a fever, sweating, gastrointestinal distress, and by Wednesday–a sharper brain and better recall than he’s had in months or years. He’s been eating very well, veggies, meats, salads, nuts, so he is not plugging his empty gluten hole with junk. He woke up this morning and told me he remembered a dream (very rare for him) and it was something about forgetting to write an item we were out of on our chalkboard list.

“It was paper towels,” I said.

“Yes! We ran out of paper towels.”

“You remembered that you forgot something. That is huge,” I said.

“Before I wouldn’t have remembered that I forgot something.”

We are like 90-year-old dementia patients coming out of a haze. A whole house of freaks. FUCK!

“I’ll go to bed when I feel like going to bed. Don’t tell me to go to bed you fuckin’ lyin’ cocksucker!”

August 28th, 2014

There was a terrific fight this afternoon in front of my bedroom door. I was trying to get some rest after going in to work for a couple of meetings, which were, somehow, unexpectedly draining. I guess I say “unexpectedly” because that is what I used to do all day, work and go to meetings, and being there for three hours felt just as tiring as being there for eight-plus. I don’t know how I functioned as a zombie for so long. (The answer to that is: “not well.”)

Franny was in my doorway trying to ask me something, when Strudel interrupted her. I saw Franny give her that “NOT NOW, SHUT UP” look, which immediately piqued my interest. I knew something was afoot and decided to watch it play out.

“I just want to know,” Strudel said, “when you are going to finish walking the dogs so I can come with.”

“I finished,” Franny said.

“Uhh. Mom says to walk them for an hour and that was not an hour. I checked the clock before and after we left and that was 30 minutes.”

“I know how to tell time!”

“So do I!”

“Does this fight need to happen in front of my door?” I asked.

“She’s MAKING THIS UP,” Franny said.

“Why would she make this up?” I asked.

“I DON’T KNOW!”

“I just assumed she was splitting the walk into two like she does sometimes,” Strudel said.

This carried on for a couple more minutes until I broke it up.

“You,” I said, pointing at Franny. “I’ve noticed you’ve been cutting corners with the dog walking. I said an hour a day for the rest of the summer. I check the clock when you come back, and it’s usually anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. Which is not an hour. So I do wonder if either you don’t know how to tell time or are being a lazy corner-cutter. Based on my OWN PERSONAL OBSERVATION I believe that you cut the walk short today.”

Tears. Door slamming. It’s kind of fascinating to see them get into this death match where neither will back down and it’s obvious one of them is lying. If I think I know which one is lying, like if I have some kind of proof or prior experience like with this chore, they get SO PISSED on being called out. I think in the moment they absolutely believe whatever crock of shit they’re trying to peddle to me.

It took Strudel a couple of weeks of her sister being gone visiting her dad to finally grok the idea that she couldn’t knee-jerk blame everything on Franny because SHE WAS NOT HERE. I even saw her start a couple of sentences and them bite them back. “Fran—” No. Nice try.

I wandered into the kitchen after lying down for about 90 minutes and puttered around a little. Made myself a panfake. Futzed with today’s batch of water kefir. (Yes, it is that bad now that I am making water kefir like all those woo woo online hippies I hate. Thanks for the recipes, hippies. No thanks for quoting Joseph Mercola.)

While I was cooking, Strudel hit me up for chores to do so she could earn some money to fuel her current obsession, which is owning a goldfish. I had to decline, because they did chores for me a couple of days ago to earn money, and I tell you what, I did NOT get what I paid for. “No thanks,” I said. I asked her to wash her own mac and cheese lunch pot, which she agreed to. I think she knew how tired I was because she even offered to do the other dishes.

“No, no, it’s okay.” I hated refusing, but I knew she would kind of wave the sponge at them and put them in the dish drain dirty and soapy, which is what happens when she washes more than, like, two things. I am so tired right now I am at “IT’S FINE I WILL DO IT MYSELF” parent because I don’t really have the juice to hardass them about doing jobs right. And they know it. I should have recorded myself giving lectures before I got sick. Man, I gave some good ones.

Strudel scooched out of the kitchen and I saw the lunch dishes, powdered cheese mess on the counter, and two open soy milk containers in the fridge. I opened the older one, to confirm that Franny had indeed opened the new one, and I realized the older one had gone bad. I immediately assumed she had found this out this morning as well, and rather than pour it out, had moved on to the new container. My brain was going seethe seethe “I AM NOT A GODDAM MAID” and “ARE THEIR ARMS BROKEN” and other assortments of things that would be right at home in a Lifetime movie about someone’s nightmare mother from when they grew up in the 60s or whatever.

I thought about writing up a list of rules to post in the kitchen to keep me sane this week and going forward, and it was going to be LONG. And detailed. Then I realized, you know what? These little shitbirds just need to GO BACK TO SCHOOL. And that is about to happen in less than a week.

I love them but between their fighting and their thoughtlessness, they are making me insane.

But panfakes make everything better: whip one egg with one ripe banana, fry like pancake, eat, be less homicidal. Add ins include: cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, nuts, coconut chips. Good with almond butter on top.

Advance to Dream Speaking

August 15th, 2014

Twin Peaks! I went to Twin Peaks. And then I didn’t write about it until two weeks later. I am making a resolution to blog more, because I think it will be good for me right now, like when I was whacked out of my mind on steroids a few months ago. I drove the El Camino, which is VERY comfortable on long trips, and enabled me to have many conversations with 60-year-old white men, as usual.

I stayed in Fall City this time. In case you are not familiar, there are a few towns that are close together that were used as Twin Peaks filming locations, and Fall City is one of them. I stayed at the Roadhouse, which was the exterior site of the Bang Bang Bar in the show.


A river side room

My room was called a “river side” room and technically it was, I am aware there is a river out there somewhere. I just can’t see it. I suppose it would not do to call this the “biker bar and burned-out gas station view” room.

Friday night was Lynch movie night, and the fest was showing Fire Walk with Me, which I have never seen on the big screen. Charlotte Stewart sat right in front of me and Chris Mulkey was nearby. I didn’t want to bother him, but he was being monopolized anyway by a guy who writes TP fan fic, which is definitely an avenue worth exploring. I assume in his universe, Agent Cooper and Audrey Horn were crashing the custard truck from about day one, and if not, someone (cough) should rectify that.

I sat next to two men from Sweden, but I was feeling introverted so I kept my nose in my book since I arrived pretty early. Movie night is a long night that involves shorts and special features when the VIPs are there, and then the movie afterward. It can easily go four-plus hours in the most uncomfortable theatre seats known to man.


The RR Cafe, across from the theatre.

I tuned in and out of my book, eavesdropping on the conversations around me, especially the Swedes who were next to me. I gleaned that the one nearest me was a scientist, and had been working in another state for six weeks. His friend left during the intermission and when the theatre was almost empty the scientist let out a loud yawn and stretched a little.

“Oh, don’t do that,” I said, startling him. Whoops.

“What?” he said, looking alarmed.

“Yawn,” I said. “Sorry. It was a joke. You’re going to make me yawn.” And I did.

“Oh, I thought you meant don’t do this.” He yawned and fake stretched. “Like I was going to put my arm around you.” It made me laugh so hard.

“I am only offended by yawning,” I said.

I REALLY want a copy of this game.


The back of the instruction booklet.

Saturday morning I came down to breakfast at the restaurant below the inn’s rooms too early, before they had opened. The inn allows access to the dining room from the front stairs. I encountered a very nice waitress there who let me sit for the fifteen or so minutes it took to properly open, and she even poured me some coffee while I waited. I had spoken to her yesterday while I was waiting for my room to be ready, and she grilled me about the events of the festival.


An empty cafe with HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN? posters outside.

I was working on a Lawrence Block book, naturally, since I always buy him second-hand in whatever city I’m in. It’s vacation reading.

A few minutes later the other servers showed up. One woman who was not my waitress had a lot to say about the bus tour that would arrive twice that day.

“And they get out, and they take a picture of a WALL, and they get on the bus and leave. They don’t even come in. It’s about the dum–”

“SHE’S with the festival,” my waitress said, by way of dropping hint anvils on her moronic coworker. I looked up from my book to find the nice waitress pointing at me.

“Hi there,” I said, giving her a little wave.

“Oh but the festival’s awesome though,” the other woman finished.

“They kind of rush you on and off the bus,” I explained. “I did it last year. There’s a lot of sites to visit.”

“And now, look, she’s staying here this year,” my server said.

“Did you watch the show?” I asked the tour critic.

“No, that was the one with John Corbett, right?”

“I think you’re thinking of Northern Exposure? That was filmed in Washington, too.”

“Oh, okay, right,” she said. “What should I say if I see some of them today?”

“Ask them if they’ve seen Bob,” I said.

“Okay. Have you seen Bob,” she said to herself.

“And I’m not yanking your chain,” I said.

“Ha ha! I guess you could be and I’d have no idea!”

On Saturday afternoon I noodled around and ended up at Snoqualmie Falls. Last year when I was with Morgan, the hiking trail was closed due to rain, but it was open this year. I knew I would be exhausted but I was compelled to go anyway.

I was greatly reminded of the last time I had hiked in a beautiful park on a warm day, which was in Maui in February. I thought about how my calves were seizing up and my system was shutting down that day, and barfing and a high fever was eminent. I felt nervous but like I had to keep going.


No one knows who built these pipes or what they are for. Pudding?

I hiked down to the falls, slowly. I climbed over the wooden railing to the “emergency falls access” like dozens of other people were doing, including hugely pregnant women, people with toddlers, dogs, and so forth. It didn’t seem like a big deal, even though strictly speaking it was not allowed.

I triumphantly slumped on a rock in the middle of the river, an unenticing, tired mermaid. “Sure, steer your ship to the rocks, what do I care?”

My hair is so dry right now. I know I am still growing out bleached hair from a few months ago, but what is coming back in is finer and dry. Also it is coming out in clumps and wads. It’s maybe hard to tell from the picture, but my face was also swollen. Normally the cartilage at the end of my nose is kind of articulated and makes a divot. Totally gone here.

I found a Sophie Kinsella book in a second hand shop that morning and I chucked it in my purse in case I wanted to sit somewhere and read something mindless that did not involve pistol-whipping and triple-crosses. I pulled it out at the bottom of the falls so I could sit in the sun and listen to the whoosh whoosh sound and dip my feet in and out of the river when I got warm. What a mistake. I should know I only like romance novels for men, like Max Allen Collins or Block.

As an aside, I am watching The Sopranos fifteen years after it was popular, and there is so much he-said, he-said that it is like a butchy Desperate Housewives. Except they do actually blow up and start punching and shooting each other, which I guess separates it from chick lit.

So I did all this hiking in flip flops and a denim pencil skirt, because I am an idiot. I only scraped my knee a little and cut my hand on the “emergency access only past this point” sign.

This is “The Bookhouse,” a secret club in the Twin Peaks universe for good guys. I talked to the bartender about it and he said last year during the festival, there was a dust up with a squatter who was living there. I told him we had been shouted at by the squatter and we heard he was brandishing a gun, though I didn’t actually see it. Shortly afterwards, he had been chased out, and now it stands empty. Adjoining businesses have tried to purchase the lot, but the landowner won’t sell.

I felt safe approaching it from the Roadhouse parking lot this year.

When I came back I took a shower and loafed around for a bit, trying to decide if I was going to the banquet or not. I figured I had pretty much used up all my gas for that day, but I put on my dress and lipstick anyway. I have been trying to force myself to do social things since my desire to interact with other people has pretty much vanished for the moment.

Ultimately I decided I had had enough fun for one day and that it was too hot to bother. I took off my dress and lipstick and put on my summer robe, and cranked up the tiny AC unit in my window. Plus I figured the buffet-style dinner would be a lot of cheap stuff, like pasta and bread, that I couldn’t really eat. I heard later that the community center where they have the banquet was miserably, boiling hot and I felt that affirmed my decision.

I dressed later and went to the bar and had a Laura Palmer (tea, lemonade, strawberry puree, vodka), a salad, and some lamb chops. I took a walk around Fall City, nibbling blackberries off the vine here and there as the sun set, and then relaxed in my room, reading.

Unfortunately, I slept very poorly because my door kept rattling due to a vacuum effect from an outside door in the hallway. So when I woke up on Sunday morning at 6:30, I decided to skip the cherry pie picnic and just come home and see my people. I’d had my fill of solitude at that point, though I found it very refreshing to have an excuse go alone and noodle around. Next year Franny wants to come, so I will do more festival stuff then.

Franny, my sister, and I also have plans to do a viewing of Fire Walk with Me, and the recently released “missing pieces” soon, which will double the length of the movie and supposedly makes it all more understandable.

I was happy to come home to a giant crock of fermenting pickles.

P. said he was going to clean up before I came home (the kitchen had exploded some) but I was too early. I was glad to be home, mess and all.

In Other News

Okay, so, obviously I have gotten my thyroid results back by now, and they are “high normal.” This means that some endocrinologists will not see me at all. I have found a “liberal” one who is interested in the fact that my grandmother had hers out and my mother has Graves’ disease. Unfortunately he is booked until October. For sanity until then, I am back on my off label self-medication that kills a lot of my inflammation. My nose divots are back! I don’t want to stick my head in an oven due to pain! An infected wound that would not heal is finally flat and painless, healing! FML! I am also going to get allergy testing done on Tuesday, so I will be able to eliminate some foods as a ramp up to seeing this endocrinologist.

The basement is creeping along. Yay! P. bought some goop from Florida that is a by-product of juice oranges. It’s basically super Goo-Gone. It ate the mastic off the floor that glued on the sad, ugly floor tiles.

We’ve decided to acid etch/stain the original floor. This is going to be quite an experiment.

Hello, HR?

August 12th, 2014

SJ 10:25 AM Do you remember when we were talking about bad butt implants?

Coworker 10:26 AM lol no

SJ 10:26 AM Umm
Who was that then???
Sorry

Oxtail Enchiladas for no reason really

August 10th, 2014

I know you woke up this morning and were like, “SJ, I have too many hours in the day. I need a dinner that takes at least 4+ of them.” And I’m like, “Yo doggy, I am here for you.”

Sometimes I like to make little cooking challenges for myself, and Saturday’s was, you know what, I have never had enchiladas with oxtails. Let’s makes this happen. I got inspired at the store because I saw one of my favorite things in the world, Hatch chilies. My only bummer is that I feel like oxtails are more expensive in the past couple of years. NUTS. I’m writing this down because I’m sure I will not remember what I did by, like, Tuesday.

So here is what I did, without a million pictures, because I am not Pioneer Woman and I trust you have not been sucking on a tailpipe. However I do like to roll like Chris KimBOLL so let me tell you a wacky story. Oxtail soup is one of the first things I made in my Victorian year. The recipe was so greasy and awful that to this day majorly shitting yourself in this house is called “making oxtails.” Bon apetit and wacky Vermont local color in the hizzle.

OXTAIL ENCHILADAS

Ingredients:
3 lbs oxtails
2 yellow onions
4 oregano sprigs
6 Hatch chilis
2 bell peppers, anything but green
28 oz. can ground peeled tomatoes
garlic paste or 6 garlic cloves, chopped
ground cumin
paprika
8 oz. feta or queso fresco, crumbled or shredded
bunch of cilantro
10 corn tortillas (6-inch size)
olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Set oven to 500. Place oxtails upright in a heavy pan with a lid (like a dutch oven), if possible, or something that foil can be wrapped over tightly. Set oxtails in pan–it helps to have a pan that the oxtails fit in pretty well, since you’re about to make a meat/veg parfait, and you’re going to want to separate part of it later. Slice one onion and scatter over oxtails, then sprinkle half the chopped garlic or about a tablespoon of garlic paste over the onions. Set oregano over the top of the mixture. Pour pureed tomatoes over the top. Even if there is a lid, I recommend a tight foil layer to keep in moisture. Cover and place in oven and immediately turn down to 325. Cook for 3.5 hours.

2. When oxtails come out, let it cool without a lid for a few minutes. Steam is not your friend. Pick off oregano stems and using a slotted spoon, scoop out as much tomato and onion as possible into a bowl or blender (avoid oxtail grease at the bottom if possible, but don’t go crazy). Use tongs to pull oxtails out onto a plate, spread out to cool slightly.

3. In the meantime, set oven to broil and halve 4 Hatch peppers and quarter one bell pepper. Toss them in olive oil on a cookie sheet, and place them skin side up. Broil for 5-6 minutes 4″ from heat or until they are pleasingly charred. When they are finished, drop them in with the tomato mixture that was spooned off the oxtails. Set the oven to 375. Add about 1/2 c water, 1-2 tsp salt, and some black pepper to this pepper, onion, and tomato mixture and then blend into a sauce (I like an immersion blender for this, but a regular blender or small food processor would be fine). You should have between 2-3 cups of sauce. It should be fairly thick. Eyeball it, don’t panic.


Fire roasted!

4. Wrap the tortillas up in a sheet of foil and put in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. The goal is to make them a bit more flexible.

5. The oxtails should now be cool enough to handle. Separate the meat from the fat and bone to the best of your ability. If you have never worked with oxtails, you should know they are slimy, treacherous, delicious bitches. Shred up larger chunks of tail meat.

6. Chop remaining onion, Hatch chilies, and bell pepper. Saute onions in olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they get semi-translucent. Then add peppers and the rest of the garlic (three cloves, chopped, or another T garlic paste). Saute for another 3 minutes or so. Toss in oxtail meat, 2 tsp cumin, and 1 T paprika, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in half of the cheese. Salt and pepper this mixture to taste.

7. Spread about 1/2 c. sauce in the bottom of a 5.5 qt rectangular dish. (This is like the baby cousin of the 13 x 9 casserole. If you don’t have this size, you can go larger and leave some room or you might be able to squinch this into a 9 x 9, the world will not end.) Load this filling into the shells, fold up, and place in pan seam side down. I ended up with 2 rows of five. Cover with the rest of the sauce.

8. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top, and bake for 10 more minutes to brown the top slightly and crisp up the exposed edges of the shells (so good). Let set up for 5 minutes and then serve with Uncle Tapa, cilantro, and sour cream if desired.

Sad Clown Good Summer

August 1st, 2014

I have been waiting to tell you for almost two months–I have quit my job. Well, I tried to quit. I handed in my resignation letter and everything. My last day in the office was yesterday.


I cleaned out my cubicle, which sent the message “how about send me an email instead.”

I was feeling a lot better around the time I resigned. I felt like I had a lot of clarity. That generic life kind of clarity and a lack of brain fog. I probably felt about 85% healthy at that point.


This is the closest I come to an Instagram filter.

And then they offered me a short-term contract that I could do in 15 hours a week until the end of the year. I’m only like medium stupid so even I knew that was a good deal. I’m keeping my hand in and avoiding a gap on my resume.

In the meantime, I will be writing. I have a terrible pornographic vampire novella to finish. I would also like to edit an unpornagraphic short story I wrote in a laundromat around xmastime when I had time off that I will kick out under my real name. So I need to see if I can do this–write and edit and self-publish when I have concentrated blocks of time. If I can consistently make enough royalties, then I can leave Techworld…FOREVER.

Now as an extra-curricular activity I will be working on my health too, which was another hard thing for me to do in an office.

So things could be a lot worse. I could live with someone who writes messages in eyeliner when my toothbrush head gets ancient.

Wait, that is me. I do that to people.

Anyway. I think I will be off the wifis this weekend in Twin Peaks, and I’m not really going to seek it out, so I’ll be out of touch. I’m bringing my laptop and I’ll probably be writing offline. And I will take pictures, lots of pictures. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.

Once more with phlebotomy, OR, Asshole, Heal Thyself

July 27th, 2014

Up betimes Saturday morning and off to get blood labs done again. Honestly, I don’t think the results will bring answers, except I am guessing they will show I am inflamed again (CRP results), but probably not as bad as in March. I will be interested to see if I am low on any kind of vitamin, that should help.

I was having thoughts about this as I was troubleshooting the Elco this morning. It leaks transmission fluid, just a little, and slowly, over time. It’s the kind of thing I could spend thousands on (replacing the transmission) or hundreds on, at least, trying to locate the source of the leak. Or I could spend $7 on a bottle of tranny fluid every few months and roll with it. It runs great. It kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong with the transmission.

You see where this is going. I’ve found a handful of things that seem to be working, and it kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong, even if they could figure it out. I sometimes take a drug that acts as an anti-inflammatory (though that is a very off-label use for it, and yes, I wish it was bourbon or Darkside Skittles but it is not), and it seems to make the engine go okay. As long as I am eating well also and eating very little sugar, in the form of cake or booze. What’s going on with me looks like hypothyroid, or Hashimoto’s even, but I bet it’s not to do with my thyroid. I bet my thyroid levels will be normal.

This is all fun guessing, though. I will find out for real in a few days. Sometimes I just like to throw a message in a bottle where I cannot retrieve it and see if I was right later. One thing I’m thinking of doing is getting an allergy test(s), because it is obvious I am very intolerant to certain foods.

I was feeling VERY sorry for myself and pathetic on Friday because it hurt to move and live and I knew I was going back to the doctor so I went to a coffee shop and got a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, which is something I have not had in months and months. It was SO FREAKING DELICIOUS and I relished every bite, and even licked cream cheese off the wrapper, hunched down in my car like some kind of disgusting garbage-eating sewer kobold. I spent the rest of the day sick like a dog who finds a whole pie and gobbles it up. Yes, I am so dumb. A boatload of dumb.

Soooo. I need to watch what I eat and get onto something anti-inflammatory that interferes as little as possible with the weird science project that is my body. I am looking into medical marijuana now as an anti-inflammatory, and if nothing else I think being stoned a medium amount of time would greatly improve my outlook.

In the meantime, I keep cooking and noodling around my house, even if I can’t eat all of it. This weekend’s ice cream is Baracky Road and Elvis (the fat years).

Franny requested Baracky road, which is a lot like what it sounds like (rocky road). The ice cream base has caramel added to it, and there are walnuts instead of almonds. I kind of blew it and didn’t add the dark chocolate to the base like I was supposed to, so it was much sweeter than it was supposed to be, which greatly pleased the girls. I added more dark chocolate as “chips” at the end when it was done spinning as a compromise. It’s much more of a kid flavor than most of the recipes are intended to be.

P. went to his gaming night last night and brought a store-bought bucket of Heath bar crunch to be a nice guest.

“It was gross,” he said. It is so easy to get spoiled with homemade stuff.

I was home with the girls and we watched Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It is hard for me to express in my native language or in any other how terribly, terribly, incredibly bad this movie is. They are excited to see the fifth and final one in the series. :[ FROWN TIMES INFINITY. Yet it’s kind of hilarious how into it they are. I was thinking about how I was blogging recently about what a garbage disposal I was for any sci-fi when I was a kid, up to a including dandelion porn. So I guess I can relate. (They see classics, too, I swear.)

The Elvis flavor is interesting to me. I see it referred to around the web as “peanut butter ice cream” but the only peanut butter is in the bacon peanut brittle. The base is really banana flavor.

It all starts off pretty dark, because you cook bananas with brown sugar, kind of like bananas foster. Bananas foster is a thing I used to see mentioned in passing in old books and yearned to try in college, when I was on cultural ice in Phoenix, pretending it was 1959. Restaurants in Phoenix and Seattle did not serve it in the 90’s.

I think I even searched ye olde internets for a recipe sometime around that time and it was just not up on the linkable web yet. I was not smart enough to go find a cookbook from the 1950s then like I might now if there was no internet. I go find those cookbooks sometimes anyway, for fun. You know.

So you have this banana slurry, which is awesome and smells amazing. The recipe says to add the banana slurry to the egg and sugar mixture, which becomes the custard when you add hot cream in the other recipes. I didn’t think adding something so thick to the egg yolks and sugar would go as well as adding it in once you had your normal custard. I was afraid I’d end up with hot sweet scrambled eggs, basically.

So I did as normal and added half the hot cream mixture, taken off heat, and whisked it into the eggs and sugar as usual, and then added the banana mixture. It’s a small quibble but I didn’t want to have to unbreak custard. Yuck. Jibblies. The banana base is in the fridge now, and I will spin it tonight and fold peanut bacon brittle into it, which is sitting on my counter now, lying in wait to clog everyone’s arteries, but especially my sister’s, who is coming over to have Indian food tomorrow night.

I made paneer for that.


Start with hot milk.


Get excited like a fool as always when the cream melts and creates a butter galaxy.


Then add the juice of three lemons and be horrified when it encurdinates. Cooking is gross, special magic.

Then I strained it in a butter muslin and captured the lemony whey out of it. I let the paneer block sit for another hour with this pot and a gallon of distilled water on it so it would keep pressing and draining. Now it’s chilling and waiting to be sacrificed to a curry tomorrow. I am supposed to make naan dough as well, but I have exploded the kitchen and there is no more room. I do not feel like doing dishes. I AM A CULINARY ARTISTE MAN.

I doled out some of the whey into bowls and gave it to greedy animals, who were thrilled. The rest goes back in the fridge in a milk bottle where I will continue to give it out as treats all week.

There is some balking because it is so tart.

This morning I loafed in bed before the dump opened (my life is G-L-A amorous flossy flossy this summer) and watched Michael Pollan talk about why cooking has become alternately something people don’t do, or completely weirdly fetishized. I thought about it again when I dropped a couple of Bon Fronklins and didn’t even leave with any junk food. ARGH. Now that I have seen into the processed food portal that is Trader Joe’s I know I could be spending less money and less time…. INFINITY ARGHS.

I have to remember that I may not live longer, but at least I will feel somewhat better as I do live on. I really, really, really hope that at least one of my children picks up cooking. I know too many people without any interesting, just for the fuck of it skills. It’s a bummer.

Til next time, Upper Northeast siders.

xo,
Asshole Girl