Sunday, July 20, 2008

easy as abc

My travel day begins in less than 8 hours.  While I'm excited to get to see my man and my cat fishes again, I am sad to be leaving my family.  It feels like I've had very little actual time visiting and yet I've been away for two full weeks.  I know, though, that I've enjoyed much quality time (mainly with the delightful G) and I've added to my collection of notable quotables (my new favorite is Dad's "No time for laughter" and also G's "What?  Pie?" response to They Might Be Giants' tune "Fibber Island"...).  So I should be happy, not blue.  

Um, but, yeah, I haven't posted for a bit have I?  I almost blew you off again tonight but then I actually had two food related thoughts so I figured I ought to share.

The first was a sound bite from my brother this evening.  "Mom, how can your fridge be so full of nothing to eat?"  You would think this was the perspective of a unimaginative cook or a disgruntled teen, but in this case it was a simple statement of fact.  My mom's fridge is packed full of nothing to eat.  In part this is because she has a fancy shallow fridge, designed to fit in with the wall of cabinets.  Mostly, though, it is because she loves to keep aging produce around. So much so that two days ago she put back in the fridge a bunch of ready made salad after telling it, "Oh, you're getting bad."  Only last night did she begrudgingly, bewilderedly shuffle it off to the compost...  She knows she has a produce problem, but she doesn't care.  Mostly I just wish the fridge weren't an avalanche waiting to happen and that there was room for more than one or two Diet Cokes at a time.  But, in fact, tonight Mom made us a very yummy meal (after making a trip to the store for fresh salad).  My inner carnivore even caved as her pork roast seemed so not like dead pig and much more so like food.   But then technically the roast came from the freezer.  And my mom's freezer is actually full of real stuff to eat - it just takes a long time to cook it.

But the real food story on my mind is the sharing of Jelly Belly's Bean Boozled jelly beans. These beans feature identical coatings but distinctly different flavors.   There are some combos I'll risk anytime (such as berry or toothpaste or even plum or pepper) and others that are nasty no matter which way you go (coconut or baby wipes and black licorice or skunk spray).  For whatever reason, disgusting flavored candy is so up my alley.  I split a box with my brother a few days ago and that was just fine and dandy.  We were grown ups, taking chances, and laughing as we could tell what the other must be tasting.  I was disappointed I never encountered the rotten egg and got only one moldy cheese, but all in all it was quite satisfying.

This evening, however, I split a box with my niecelets.  (Well, with Savannah, mostly, and eventually Grace - Madisyn is way too smart to eat gross jelly bellys...) Since the girls were unwilling to even try the definite losers (the aforementioned licorice/skunk or coconut/baby wipes), I was stuck eating all of them. And then I discovered that though they might be game to try other colors, they weren't willing to swallow the gross ones.  And so I became the human garbage disposal, forced to consume the ABC (already been chewed) jelly bellys - much to the delight and disgust of my niecelets.  Some I would've salvaged anyway - no point in letting a good vomit go to waste - but others I could've lived without.  I must say, though, I was really proud when Grace branched out from the safety of the berry/toothpaste realm and encountered her first booger.  She's a trooper, that one.

Anyway, more on the evening with the nieces when I'm back on Californian soil and can process the photos I took of the amazing fort.  I am totally not exaggerating when I call it amazing. Grace told Uncle Kevin it was, "really really really really really really really really really really cool."  Madisyn told me she didn't like it, she "LOVED it."  Meanwhile, Savannah seemed pleased but soon decided it was insufficiently decorated.  She grabbed a roll of toilet paper and a roll of duct tape and the three girls made it spookier.  Sadly, we could only play together for a few hours, but it was a blast.

As for now, it's time for bed.  It's not like I need to be fully rested to hang out in the airport, but it would be nice to be chipper enough in the morning to earn more scorn from my dear dad...

Friday, July 18, 2008

breakfast bites

After a late night (fueled by possible design changes and assorted law school essay inspirations), I woke up early to see my family off for their last work day of my visit.  Looks like I caught on a little late, though, as breakfast was already eaten, the paper already read, and now the folks are already gone.

So I will have to amuse myself by recalling yesterday morning when my dad was annoyed by my rested, unemployed energy.  Like my hubby, my dad is a man of few words and 24 hours ago he used some to tell me, "We like quiet in the mornings," in an effort to dampen my enthusiasm. This was quickly followed by, "There's no time for laughter," directed at both myself and my mutually tickled brother.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

careful what you wish for

Tonight's update from home was a grim one.  Apparently Ratty Catty finally decided to test out the waterproof mattress pad I ordered last month.  Though the pad surely did its job, protecting the already peed upon mattress, it seems this was little consolation to Erik who still had to process loads of soiled bedding.  He was particularly bummed that Ratty has now christened the brand new comforter.  (We tossed all the previously peed on ones thinking the smells trapped within might be the primary target.  While we couldn't quite justify tossing out our $80 investment after just one pee, I know we both considered it...)  A man of few words, my beloved made the effort to mention the phrase "feral cat colony," suggesting that I might have to choose "which f*cked up cat" I liked best.  OC is reportedly growing more feral himself, upset as he is with the steeper security measures keeping him from my bed.  He's back to only showing up for meals.  Poor thing.

Instead of contemplating my Sophie's choice (which is really no choice at all - OC wins), I turned to the two things which help me solve most of my problems - the internets and my credit card.  Next month's attempt at regaining my sanity will involve the use of a static charged scat mat (or two, as I bought an extension as well as an AC adapter - I never can just stick my toe in the water, can I?).  I also nearly purchased a tone based cat trainer, but having pulled the batteries from my overzealous smoke detector, I couldn't imagine spending money to hear the same type of noise coming from my bed.

But inside I feel a little bit guilty.  First, for disabling my smoke detector, of course.  I know this is foolish and dangerous but that is a whole other topic...  Second, for spending money I don't have.  Suze Orman would surely tell me I cannot afford my feral cat...  But mostly I feel guilty because each night as I went to sleep on my distinctly less comfortable waterproof mattress, I would grumble to myself, "Damn.  My bed is now sucky and sweaty and for what? No one has even peed on it..." Now I have gotten what I wished for.  My only solace is that I didn't give in to temptation and swap out the mattress pads...  Oh, and obviously I feel guilty that my husband married the crazy cat lady.  Who knew? Well, he probly did.

Speaking of crazy cat ladies, I am forced to realize that it is in my genes as I sit here in my mother's cat pee smelling house.  (Sorry, Mom, but it is true.  Usually I visit in the winter when it is unbearably cold and the only cat pee I notice is the fresh stuff I find.  The heat of this summer has cooked all the latent pee spots and the entire main floor reeks...)  In fact, I was a bit embarrassed today to have to show the cable guy around.  Turns out the smell of the house was the least of my worries.  After the cable guy determined he couldn't make the changes we wanted, I put him on the phone to explain it to my mom.  Wanting to include me in the discussion, he put the phone on speaker.  When my mom heard my voice return she assumed the phone was back in my hands, exclaiming promptly, "that cable guy is crazy."  He smiled and told her that he could hear her.  Good times, indeed.  While my mom's charm didn't succeed in convincing the guy to make any changes, surprisingly enough I was able to get him to give me a signal enhancer.  It may or may not help anything and we've still got extension cords running across doorways, but, heck, that's pretty nice for a crazy guy. 

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day working on a surprise for my absentee niecelets.  It's an arts and crafts project inspired by the tons of cardboard used to package my mom's new propane grill. (Which, by the way, I totally bailed out of assembling.  I helped my brother stage it but ended up wiped out in the process.  Turns out we both have the sense I was born with.  Not taking the time to investigate, we lifted the incredibly hot, heinously heavy grill up two flights of stairs.  Only after our herculean feat did we realize that the grill was holding ten smaller boxes we could've carried up separately...)  So now I am building a fort.  A kick ass fort - complete with stained glass windows made from crayon shavings and wax paper.  (Which bled onto the towel I was using to iron them through.  I was surprised.  My mother was not.  So often I wish I had the sense she was born with...  Looking at her ruined towel, I believe tonight she wished the same thing...)  Tomorrow I've got to work on a few more details (anyone know how to make rolling shades roll up?  It has a retractable roof...), but I also plan to spend the day with G.  I figure she won't mind playing at her cousins' house and she can help me test the fort's fun level...

It's a blessing that I have a play date with G at all.  It's only thanks to her dad.  As suspected, my sis still thinks I am a loser and is not exactly talking to (or even texting) me.  She's just begun a string of four consecutive graveyard shifts (which end the day my plane leaves), so I understand why she was bummed when I flaked out on her last available night off.  But I've got to be me. And I am a flake. Through and through.  Give me a glass of wine and a comfy couch over a crowded room and live music any day.  Especially when I am exhausted from being on vacation.

Speaking of exhausted, it's off to bed with me.  With arts and crafts and child care on the agenda, I've got to recharge my batteries.  


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

i'm a loser, baby

Tonight I am a loser.  Not only because I once again totally blew off my plan to post everyday, but more specifically because I bailed on my plan to attend a concert with my sister.  As a single mother with a full time job, she was not terribly sympathetic to my plea that my vacation has been exhausting.  But really, it has been.  So much so I am going to keep this brief.  I'm a loser.  That's all.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

couldn't do it

I knew full well when I went to bed last night that I was blowing off NaBloPoMo.  Convincing my eyes to stay open for even another five minutes was unthinkable.  And this morning, after the first full night of sleep I've had since starting my vacation, I still find myself fairly uninspired but I'm thrilled to feel rested.  

Much has happened that I could talk about.  For one, my sister brought my niecelet G along with us on our road trip so she could attend her first concert ever.  G had a fabulous time and was a great sport.  She made us laugh when she commented that Sting looked like Uncle Billy (which Mom points out must mean Billy looks really old...).  She made us smile when she boogied down with another 4 year old, a boy named Jack, in the aisle.  We even snuck in a little sign language practice - signing the colors of the lights on stage, the stars and moon in the sky, and the grass we were sitting on.  Finally, as Sue hurried home (due in Seattle very early the next morning) G went back to the hotel and had a sleep over with her Anti and Uncle, including a late night run to Wendy's followed by a 2 am bed time.

Yesterday, as I wasn't blogging, G and I went to Portland's Saturday Market to pass the time while Uncle Kevin got a tattoo.  At the Market, G mastered the art of spinning a top (no small feat at her age).  Her enthusiasm was so contagious that I was moved to buy her the top that spun for her the best.  Unfortunately, this left us without enough money for even a snow cone, let alone lunch, so we played in the fountain before retreating to the car to seek out an actual indoor restaurant.  There she didn't eat much (though she did make soup of her ice cream - a favorite childhood activity of mine) but it didn't matter as we succeeded in cooling off.  We were also able to camp out long enough for Kevin's tattoo appointment to end, allowing the last leg of the road trip to begin.

Today's task involves waiting for the UPS man to deliver a new propane grill and then assembling it before dinner time.  Mom's bringing home salmon, a dish I generally find yummy but morally complex since I began my work with the sea lions...  I suppose I should go on about it (seeing as how July is about the food), but I think most folks understand the challenges of our place in the food chain so I don't feel the need to rehash the details just now.

What I do feel the need for is breakfast and a shower.  Perhaps not in that order.  And a bit of quiet time with my brother, not my blog, so until later... 


Friday, July 11, 2008

starting to peel

As my crispy fried skin starts to separate from my body, I am gearing up for yet another day in the sun.  Today involves a road trip followed by an outdoor concert followed by more road trip and a night in a hotel.  Somehow I accidentally woke up early again today.  It was actually pleasant to have the house to myself and have a chance to catch up on my soap opera...    

Having a few moments of calm made me realize that I was so whiny yesterday that I forgot to mention the good times that were had. Watching my niecelet paint her own finger and toe nails (for the first time ever) with my magic changing color glitter nail polish was priceless.  I loved how she insisted on painting from left to right (not up and down) and how Mom's nail polish remover was as old and ineffectual as her pancake mix.  Thus I can't be totally to blame that G's generously painted polish didn't dry completely and ended up rubbing off onto Mom's green couch.  We rubbed away the sparkles and figured Mom would never notice unless the couch got full sun (turning the subtle streak bright red).  Of course I later learned the couch does catch quite a few rays in the morning but not surprisingly Mom doesn't care.  This couch is, after all, in the pee room and has seen worse things than a smear of nail polish.

Also, I failed to mention how it was worth nearly two hours in traffic to spend 45 minutes with my other niecelets.  I feel so bad I have trouble hooking up with my brother's girls.  We still didn't get much quality time in but I did learn that the younger sister is a groomer.  I too love the popping of a zit or the pulling of a stray hair so I totally understand this primal urge.  So I entertained her by letting her isolate and pluck the gray out of my hair.  She only pulled a couple brown strands so it was worth it...

Anyway, I have nothing remarkable to say about food except that I learned today that my brother Kevin likes his coffee black.  Yuck.  I think the only reason to drink coffee is as a vehicle for sugar and cream.  But right now all Kevin cares about is getting me in a vehicle at all so I'd better go...    

Thursday, July 10, 2008

crispy fried me

Ow.  My boobs are sunburned.  Suddenly the things I love most about being fat are the most painful part of my body.  Besides being fried, I am also tired and generally frazzled after having spent a 12 hour day doing favors for various family members.

The first favor was making breakfast for my niecelet.  She complained (and I concurred) that the pancakes were yucky and weird.  At my mom's house it is a miracle I could make pancakes at all.  There is little doubt that the bisquick I used was well out of date...  I disagreed, however, that the scrambled eggs were burned.  I happily ate them all while Grace drank a "milkie" (pediasure meal replacement)...

My next favor was watching my niecelet not drown while my sister caught up with a friend of hers.  This lunch date would've been a lot more fun if not for the fact that I was reburning my burned boobs and if I were not dreading the next favor on my schedule.

The dreaded favor was driving my other niecelets and their extended family to the airport so they could go to San Diego.  It was my only chance to see them, though, and my mom wanted her car back so whatever.  And in fact I didn't have to actually drive to the airport - just back from it.  During rush hour traffic.  With a seat belt scratching my extra burned boobs.  

Finally, though, I had a favor done for me.  I met with my folks and my brother for dinner and drinks before moving on to the next favor.

But the day wasn't over.  After dinner I had to drive out to my other brother's house and fetch a few forgotten items.  Tomorrow I get to mail one of them to San Diego.

For now, though, I am done with favors and have moved on to playing cards.  In the darkness.  And it is delightful.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

sleep over snippet

My second night in Washington and already a sleep over.  After accidentally waking up way too early, I am struggling to keep up with my energetic niecelet.  Mostly I am wishing I could have another piece of pizza but my ex-brother-in-law ate more than his share.  So instead I will have an extra glass of wine.

Today's bit of wisdom, discussed over the rapidly disappearing pizza:

While ranking the relative craziness of my siblings and their spouses, we first decided the girls were in a tie for first.  Sister cuz she has too many pets and has allowed her ex to move back in, sister-in-law cuz, well, she married my crazy brother for starters...  This would put my bipolar brother in a solid third, which he was delighted to hear.  Then, by default, the insatiable ex-brother-in-law lands in fourth, mostly for being willing to move in with his ex.

Then, between bites of pizza, he says he is grateful to be living with his ex.

Which is when we realize he's obviously taken over third place.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

out the door

Just a quickie post today as I am nearly out the door to begin my trip to Washington. I kinda dig my brand new but still bottom of the line luggage. I was happy to find it was on sale (though I wonder if it is just always "on sale"...) so I resisted the urge to comparison shop. That would have really let the errand eat up my day. As a result, I got packed up and in bed at a reasonable hour.

Since July is all about the food, I will report that the only creatures that have been fed so far today are the hummingbirds. Their food is only good for a week and I'm gone for two, so I figured best I could do was feed them this morning... The kitties are about to get fed, of course, and if there is time I will eat something... Come to think of it, I should've picked up more cat food while I was out and about yesterday but I didn't have the heart for a second stop. Besides, I know Erik will feed them way less often than I would've and he'll cycle in the really cheap stuff. Poor kitties.

As far as a kitty update goes: Monkey smells less like pee since he's stopped sleeping in it. OC knows I'm leaving - he has been sweet and attentive and even slept in the bed last night. Ratty is just Ratty but we did have a little play session last night. Guess that's all I can hope for.

And Erik, poor Erik, is nursing a wounded knee and ankle and trying to catch up on sleep lost to work and the holiday. I've got to get him up now as he is driving me to the airport.

So I guess that is your update. Bags bought. Birds fed. Cats crazy. Husband tired. Pretty typical day around this beach bungalow.

Monday, July 07, 2008

packing problems

Okay, so my first packing problem is that I haven't really started yet. My flight departs in 25 hours. My trip begins in 19 hours. My laundry is mostly clean but not folded. A list is made but it is ambiguous and incomplete.

But my big packing problem is the one I just discovered. My luggage smells like pee. I know, I know. There's really no denying I am the crazy cat lady now. The question is, when and how did the luggage get peed on? It seems to have happened when the bags were nested (as the two biggest bags / outer layers have the stench) but they are almost always stored on end, and this is too much stink to be from vertical marking. This happened horizontally. The bags have been on their side since last night (Monkey has been sleeping on them, thus he too smells of pee), but nothing is wet. Just very stinky. So the stink must be old. Hell, for all I know the bags could've been peed on in one of the crazy cat houses I was in last (my mom's, my friend's...), but really, the evidence suggests this is not necessarily true and even if it were, it would only be marginally comforting.

I guess when and how it happened doesn't matter. And why we'll never know. The real question is, what do I do now?

I suppose I could run out and buy a new big bag. I needed new luggage anyway. The last time I flew with a "Damaged" sticker wrapped around my bag to hold it closed and one of the pockets was sewn shut where a second zipper had failed. But I planned to get something cool off the internets, not something equally crappy from a department store, and I really don't want to spend all day going out to SLO spending money I don't have.

I could have used my old duffel type bag for supplementary space but that poor thing was peed on and tossed out long ago. (That culprit was OC, who did the deed right in front of me...) And I already "donated" all my super old (pre college era) luggage to the thrift store (sadly, just this year...).

I could spare the expense and just pack really really lightly. Oh, how proud would Dad be if I only brought carry on? I'd probly end up checking the bag anyway. I hate being burdened by real life personal baggage (in and out of restrooms - yuck, up and down escalators - scary, bonking around stores - discouraging...) and I can never really lift it safely into the overhead compartment... But really I just can't see myself packing that lightly. My favorite oversized sweatshirt would pretty much fill the only non-stink bag that is left.

I could just cry. As my pee stink covered cat snuggles my lap. As I wonder why I agreed to be away from home for two weeks anyhow? I hate traveling. I always have. And now I hate it just a little more.

After I cry I guess I will go to Costco. I sure hope Monkey doesn't still smell like pee when I get home.

Oh, and just cuz I should make some token effort to tie in the food theme - the only thing that's gotten better about traveling lately is that airlines seem less likely to serve those icky honey roasted peanuts. Why they would serve anything so wretchedly aromatic in such an uncomfortably intimate environment is beyond me. Hooray for all the poor peanut allergy sufferers who have spared me any future torturous inhaling of a hundred people's collective peanut breath.

And just so I don't sound super whiny, I did once get a really cool airplane snack. They were little goldfish shaped like airplanes. I think I was on Southwest. I loved the idea so much I kept the package. Cuz I am a pack rat.

An overweight crazy cat lady pack rat with a drinking problem and bad hair, who needs to go shopping for luggage now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

unintentionally ingested

Today it's tough to write about food as I am incredibly preoccupied by the one thing I ate today that wasn't edible.

As so often happens during seal rescues (or in this case, seal goose chases, as our rescue call turned out to be inspired by a perfectly healthy SWIMMING harbor seal... can you see why we are often reluctant to investigate second hand reports, especially when they are nearly an hour away?), my crew and I encountered a bunch of trash. The garbage today seemed particularly abundant - perhaps because we are in a holiday weekend, more likely because our "sick seal" was near a popular fishing spot... And so, although we had left many of the grossest pieces behind (an abandoned sock, slimy plastic bait tubs, a chocolate covered candy bar wrapper), we just couldn't walk past the plastic grocery bag stuffed full of unmentionables. Actually, I suppose we probly could've walked past it, but I made the case that we shouldn't, as plastic bags are my weakness. I cannot leave them behind. Plastic bags, fricking balloons, and, of course, fishing lines or lure - these are the things I will always pick up.

So, okay, yeah, we are discouraged to have no seal to rescue (especially cuz at this time we are still wondering if the seal was there for us earlier and we blew it by showing up too late) but at least we've done our good deed, right? Feeling good, I begin securing the lightweight trash in the back of my cab. I loosen a bungee cord to run it through the bag's handle when suddenly it slips. The cord flies out of my hand and as it whizzes past my face it fills my mouth with sandy salty muck from the outside of the bag. Yuck. It still makes me gag. I'm a good two hours from being able to go home and wash my face and brush my teeth. I don't want to drink anything to wash it down as I don't want to ingest any more of it than I already have. I spit. I whine. I tell myself it is okay. Surely the mystery liquid is just ocean water - not fish guts or urine. I want to cry.

I must say, though, I am grateful that my incompetent bungee handling did not result in the injury of myself or my rescue partner. I have seen those things do some wicked damage and though it is funny when it is not your and not your fault, I would've felt awful if either of us had taken an actual hit. So I put everything in perspective, mostly.

And then I remember many of our sea lions are suffering from leptospirosis this year. Lepto, that icky bacterial infection that is contagious to dogs and humans, is passed through contact with infected urine. So now I am really hoping that was sea water I ate, not pee water. And I Google lepto to see how long it incubates. I should know in as little as two days or as many as four weeks. But it was just sea water, right?

Anyway, then I go back to the site and treat the sea lion we do have (the one who really does most likely have lepto) and I am delighted to see I can actually get fluids into her tonight. All by myself. No other boarder to protect me. Nothing but me and my super quick hands and super calm demeanor. So I am feeling awesome (albeit still disgusted) until I try to get her into the kiddie pool to offer her fish. Now I just look like a bungling fool who is bound to injure her back, pushing and prodding at 55 kg of dead weight. Finally, after way too long, I give up and let the poor girl go back to resting. But not before picking up the smell of dead fish on my hands (which happens how, exactly, when I am wearing gloves the whole time?).

So now I feel like I have ingested pee and I smell like fish. But I take this NaBloPoMo thing so seriously here I am posting before I shower. Cuz I'm good like that. Or gross like that. Not sure.

Um, so is fish and sandy mystery liquid enough of a reference to food? I sure hope so. Cuz I've really got to hit the shower.

Oh, but while we're thinking of pee, our not-so-beloved Ratty Catty has officially already peed on our recently cleaned carpets. I am only glad because it was not my fault (I wasn't even home and he wasn't even trapped) and because I didn't have to clean it up (being not home and all). Still, I am sad for Erik, who did have to clean it up after apparently inspiring it, and I am sad for all of us cuz, you know, what the hell? When will this end? At least he's got me all warmed up for my pending visit to my mom's house. Her pee cat Ginger will make me feel right at home, I am sure.


Anyway, yeah, got to pack, got to travel. But really really got to shower.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

not who i thought i was

The arrival of Erik's aunt and her grandson has called in to question my very sense of being. Having a lifelong relationship with my own father's cousin, a genealogy buff herself, I felt confident I could accurately define the boys' family ties. I insisted that my hubby is a second cousin to his cousin's son. Still, it sounded odd to assert that I was right because, "My Aunt Kathy is my second cousin." This prompted a rather entertaining separate conversation about a friend's cousin who married his step sibling, resulting in complicated, duplicitous familial titles... Perhaps more surprising is the fact that I too know married step siblings. I had always thought it was funny that my pal's stepdad was also his father-in-law, but I had never realized this meant his nephews on his wife's side were also his cousins in some way.

Anyway, the debate carried over to the next day as we pondered the possibility that the boys might be first cousins, once removed. Unable to determine what "once removed" refers to, I wondered if we might both be right - if the "removal" might be from the first degree to the second... A quick visit to a genealogy website confirmed that the boys are indeed first cousins, once removed, and thus I am not the second cousin I always thought I was. (Much as I would love to sum up my newfound grasp on the topic, I think it's simpler for you to just follow the link if you really care...)

All that cousin talk inspired me to make a quick call, for the first time ever, apparently, to my own first cousin once removed, and my now second (not third) cousin, her daughter Carrie. They've been on my mind quite a bit lately as they live south of me just a couple of hours, very close to one of California's countless wildfires. I learned the flames have been even closer than I would've thought - a mere five streets away. Evacuation was imminent enough to inspire the packing of the car... Yikes. Thankfully, the fire has since changed direction a bit, so it seems they are in the clear. Besides, I know the blaze has been receiving the highest priority response, given its proximity to such a heavily populated area, so presumably it will be fully contained soon.

But what does this all have to do with food? Well, yeah, nothing so far. Who thought food would be such a difficult theme to stick to? Today I am finding food especially uninspiring as I'm still stuffed from yesterday. Since I'm sure you're dying to know how it all worked out, and because I need to tie in the topic, here's a quick rundown of my efforts:

It turns out that although my sangria was indeed a bit scary, it got yummier the more I drank. Next time I won't use as many oranges and I'll save room for soda water. Oh, and I will so ditch my "secret ingredient" - rose water. It's great in ice cream (mmm... my favorite Persian dessert), but in the wine it just made me think I was drinking soap.

On the other hand, the jello shots were ideal, causing me to wonder why I ever over complicated the recipe in the past. The remaining shots are calling to me from inside the fridge but I am on seal call in just two hours. I know as soon as I give in to temptation the phone will ring with a drive on rescue. And if I resist it will be a quiet night.

The corn muffins were, as usual, a big hit. I'm particularly pleased that this time we had the forethought to store the left overs in the fridge. (Being very cheesy they are quick to grow mold...) And I think the mild version was yummy but I haven't yet done a head count to see if one flavor was more popular than the other.

The peach and pineapple salsa and the cobbler were also both great. In fact, Erik enjoyed them so much he refused to take them to his brother's, ensuring he'd have plenty for later. The cobbler was indeed runny and, in fact, also undercooked, but it made for an interesting, if unintentional, consistency. I mean, really, you can't go wrong with fruit and sugar and crust, right? But I could've done better. And the salsa could've been hotter, for my tastes, but you just never know how hot those serrano chilies are until it is too late, so I played it safe this time...

Ironically, once again my 4th of July lacked any corn on the cob. Though we always buy plenty of it, Erik never seems to make it around to grilling it. This twisted tradition would be funny by now if it weren't so darned tragic.

Meanwhile, the half flat of strawberries and the watermelon suffered similar fates of being not worth the prep time they required. The watermelon will be delightful on another day but it seems the strawberries aren't saving well. I know this is because I get them from the biggest farmers at Farmer's Market, thus they are simply not as fresh as the other more expensive vendors... When will I learn that it isn't worth saving a couple bucks when you throw nearly half the berries in the trash?

Anyway, my beet and carrot salad was, I guess, too scary for my carnivorous guests. No problem there. I'm so digging the leftovers.

And then Erik's got plenty of his ham, steaks, and sausage goodies to go with the rest.

So all in all, another successful holiday. In fact, I also enjoyed the added peace of mind of being fortunate enough to trap both OC and Monkey in the house before we left for the beach. Even more fortunate was the fact that neither of them used the litter box during their captivity. All peace and no pee. Ratty Catty was, of course, on his own, but I'm sure he was more comfortable outside than in anyway. Speaking of Ratty, today, I am happy to say, I got to pet him twice - without even breaking the new "don't make Ratty pee on the carpets just so you can snuggle him" house rules. He's taken to hanging out on his old chair in its new location. Apparently it gives him a false sense of security, so I can get very close to him before he thinks of making his escape. Meanwhile, it is a tad difficult to escape from, so I have more time to swoop in. Thus I was able to get a quick swipe in earlier and a full session just now. I know this means he'll be too jumpy to approach tomorrow, but since I am leaving town in a couple days I figured what the heck...

Oh my god, I'm leaving town in a couple days. I sure hope I have a quiet seal day tomorrow so I can get some packing done. Ay yi yi...

Friday, July 04, 2008

finally finished

My fridge is full of goodies, my house is pretty clean, and my nails are freshly painted. I figured I'd take this, the calm before the storm, to make my obligatory post. Sadly, I'm more exhausted than inspired, but I guess I will start with the token nod to this month's theme - the food.

Yesterday I made:

Some scary looking sangria. Too much wine, too much fruit, regretting the addition of my secret ingredient, rose water. Also regretting not spending enough on a nice infusion jar as the cheap ass sun tea jar I have is literally bursting at the seams. Very scary especially considering it seems hubby has plans to transplant our party five miles north to his brother's house...

Only one batch of jello shots. Without the test run, I was reluctant to use the peach or berry blue flavors and stuck with black cherry and black cherry rum...

Chipolte corn muffins as well as a batch made just with mild green chilies. I have a feeling not everyone likes them hot and the mild ones seem to have turned out great.

Beet and carrot salad. Probly pretty bland and probly all looking like beets after a night together in the fridge, but fresh is good, right?

Peach cobbler. Forgot to bug Erik to fetch the cornstarch down from the high kitchen cabinet (grr - I hate when he rearranges my kitchen without my input... though I must admit there are always more improvements than obstacles...), so this cobbler's going to be pretty runny.

Peach and pineapple salsa. After buying a whole box of peaches at Farmer's Market, I found I still didn't have enough for the salsa so we had to wing it with the fruit that was in abundance. I think it will be a wonderful improvisation.

Is that all I made? Seems like so much more. Still have strawberries to prep and whipped cream to make - but those are usually Erik's tasks - and he's still got to grill the zucchini and corn today...

Anyway, now is when I have my party anxiety. Not sure what to wear - especially if I won't be at home in easy reach of my closet, bummed I won't likely be able to lock the kitties in for their own safety - the beauty of staying here is increased odds of encountering them, sad that I probly ought to drink my own sangria - maybe it is better this morning? Also, Erik's mom and aunt and second cousin are coming, which should work out just fine but definitely adds to the claustrophobia our house feels when filled with so much food and people.

Oh well. I'm sure it will all be fine and fun even, but right now all I want to do is go back to bed...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

victory never tasted so bittersweet

Not much time for posting today, ironically because I have to make food. I talked myself out of the deviled eggs and in to a nice beet and carrot salad instead. It still takes up room in the fridge, but it lasts longer on the buffet table. So far nothing is prepped - no sangria soaking, no jello shots jelling, no muffins baked - though Erik has the meat marinating. At least the house is fairly clean and the party doesn't technically start until the evening...

Well, technically, everything is clean in the house except the new cat chair. Yup, sure enough, little Ratty Catty peed all over it when I accidentally startled him last night. I had the audacity to walk by with a laundry basket in my hands. I should've known better, I guess. Anyway, at least he likes it. I'm used to cats giving new toys the cold shoulder. Ratty gave this one the warm bladder. And for once it seems the Nature's Miracle has soaked up the stinky pee smell, though it left behind an even bigger stain of its own... Best of all, for the kitties that is, Erik has agreed to only banish the other pee chair to the lesser used room, not entirely outside. So now they have two places to nap and pee.

I think I am behind on my party prep because I have been obsessing on my brother's LSAT score today. I woke up early just like it was Christmas and promptly logged on to his account - nothing. I then logged on every hour on the hour until his results were finally posted (at noon). The good news is: I do not have to suffer a humiliation as he did not beat my score. The bad news is: he didn't beat my score. I really thought he would (he mopped the floor with my SAT score, after all) and I'm sure he could've trounced me had he enjoyed the same freedom to study full time as I had. So yes, the victory is bittersweet, as I knew it would be when I was rooting for both sides. But, really, with scores just 4 points apart, we are both in the 99th percentile and we're bound to have an interesting admissions cycle. I think Kevin is pleased with his performance (it tracks with his average prep scores and was in the range he predicted), but he might've sounded happier about it had Mom not put him on an extra bit of emotional roller coaster. Though she played my voice mail three times, she swears she heard me say he got a 178, which Kevin knew he couldn't have with 8 missed questions. So he then called me, figuring one or the other number had to be wrong, and I had to break the news. Only our mother's poor sense of hearing could make a 172 feel so disappointing.

Anyway, kitchen duty beckons, but I just wanted to share the good news. My smarty pants brother is a confirmed smarty pants. Oh, and I know I didn't go into great detail about the arrest and incarceration of my other brother, but I did learn yesterday that the incident in question happened after he was unknowingly off his meds. That's one very expensive oops, I'd say. Too bad they don't make bipolar medication in a patch like they do birth control...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

devilish thoughts

Erik and I are hosting our third annual 4th of July BBQ in just a couple days. I just learned that I don't have to make potato salad since our guests are bringing this yummy weird cheesy potato bake that features a corn flake topping. Why, then, does this tempt me to make deviled eggs instead? I should rejoice in not having to keep a mayonnaise based side dish cold. I should delight in having one less thing to do. And, in fact, I've only ever made deviled eggs once in my life, so it's not like all my effort is guaranteed to taste good. And besides, eggs are ridiculously expensive these days so seriously, I need to let go this devilish plan.

So instead I am focusing on uncovering the living room floor. While I decided to spare the robot kitty from the garage sale fate, I did banish a number of rather nice sweaters and a whole bunch of lesser used board games. I'm also proud to say I rearranged much of my clutter to find myself more desk space. (I had forgotten what a lovely piece of furniture it was until I saw it empty again.) Best of all, I finally got to toss out the peed on cat chair (super cute kid's recliner turned scratching post I found at Wal-Mart years before) and install the stylish new replacement version (found on the internets - with free shipping). I'm not sure anyone has actually been in the new chair yet, though the cat toys that were sitting there are distinctly disturbed.

I am hoping to have enough energy post clutter sorting to make a trip to the grocery store. Erik thinks we can both shop and cook tomorrow, but it would be so much more relaxing to be able to get some stuff out of the way tonight while he works. Besides, then I will have the perfect excuse to swing by Subway for an easy meal I don't have to fuss over. I think if they still had the Subway Club card that I would be embarrassed to realize how often I eat there.

Anyway, since July is all about the food, here's what I think I am serving on the fourth:

Sangria - ran out of time to test the recipe. Am thinking I should head to Trader Joe's for some two buck Chuck. Am afraid of the very cheap red I picked up at the grocery store. Am too cheap to want to spend too much more on a wine I am just going to drown in sugar and fruit. But then I realize, with gas and aggravation, that a couple of bottles of local six dollar wine might just be the perfect compromise. Besides, Trader Joe's is like Costco - you always walk out with more in your basket than you had on your list...

Chipotle Corn muffins with honey butter - fast becoming my own party staple. It's a twist on the jalapeno corn bread I used to serve at Zachary's. Yum.

Corn on the cob - debating whether or not to buy the fancy new red kind. They are distinctly overpriced and I wonder how much of the color they might lose upon cooking. They do make me long for a great purple potato hook up. Oh, Berkeley Bowl, I miss you so.

Peach salsa - our first year we made mango salsa only to discover our guest was allergic. They're also allergic to chocolate - shocking, I know.

Peach cobbler - this is banking heavily on the peach guy being at Farmer's Market tomorrow. Sure there are always plenty of peach vendors, but oh, this one farm - simply the best.

Fresh whipped cream - this is Erik's contribution. Perhaps we will put it on strawberries, perhaps on the cobbler. I am not ashamed to admit we often just put it on a spoon.

Fruit salad - because it can't all be about the calories and because fruit salad is yummy.

Smoked ham - apparently. This is Erik's newest plan for his smoker. Never being much of a ham fan, and being an alleged vegetarian, this will not find its way to my plate - no matter how much Sangria I need to soak up.

Jello shots - this is a maybe item. They take up a lot of room in the freezer and again I failed to make a test batch. I am tempted to try to make them inside of orange rinds for fancy presentation but I doubt they will look as good as they did on the web page. And I bought a new kind of flavored rum that I am only hoping is not disgusting. I suppose if I made some tonight I could find out for sure with time to tweak the recipe, but there's that whole sloth thing going on...

I guess that's all I know about for sure, though I am also toying with making some sort of black bean and roasted corn dish and we usually serve olives to our olive loving friends. Right now, though, I must go for OC is in need of more Fancy Feast. If I don't act fast he'll make enough noise to wake Erik up. And besides, I need to get back to my clutter.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

lemony goodness

So NaBloPoMo, that insidious entity which has reached out from November to infect other months, is calling to me once again. Just post every day for a month, they say. It's that simple. And July's theme? Irresistible - it's food. When do I not have something to say about food? I don't mind admitting that I equate food with love, that I plan dinner while eating breakfast, that I am the most hypocritical vegetarian of all time. Food, what do I not have to say about it? And so, I suppose, I will try. Or, in the words of Yoda, "There is no try, only do." So I will do. I will post every day in July and I will post about food.

After all, clearly I have not been very motivated to post on my own. My seal stories have not brought me to the keyboard - even though last week I had a most fabulous adventure involving the nuclear power plant and a very cute man with a very big machine gun. Even in the midst of much family drama, I have held back. As I see it, some stories are not mine to tell - at least not until they are fully adjudicated. Besides, I might as well save some of the good stuff for the Christmas letter... But just because I don't want to leave you totally hanging, here's a hint - a snapshot of the rear end of my sister-in-law's very smushed, very expensive van, taken via a recent iChat I enjoyed with the only brother I have who has never been arrested on felony charges.

And yet as much as I know I need to post and as much as I love food, I find myself tonight thinking only of cat food - the 200 cans of it I bought this week that I still have to put away. The 200 cans that make me feel ever more like the crazy cat lady. The 200 cans that will not even make it through the end of July when I return from my vacation. The 200 cans that I charged to the credit card because expenses are expected to eclipse income this month.

On a more pleasant note, I considered posting about something that isn't actually edible but which smells a bit like food. At long last, the sweet smell of something other than cat urine permeates my house. Though the carpet cleaner finished nearly twelve hours ago, the tangy citrus fragrance of $159 well spent still dominates my humble abode. The humility of said abode is particularly pronounced this evening. As the carpets slowly dry, all the crap from the two giant cat boxes bedrooms is dominating the only remaining living space. The treasures that I found so cute when arranged just so are now menacing, suffocating, discouraging. Even so, I struggle to imagine parting with even a portion of it. A friend of mine is having a garage sale this month and after today it seems she may get to sell my robot cat and my skull bank, but other than that it mostly gets to stay. But is posting about clutter in a room that smells sort of like food truly in keeping with the NaBloPoMo theme? I think not.

And so, I suppose I am left to post about the grand day of take out I enjoyed today. It started with a trip to my favorite breakfast joint, Kitty's, where Erik and I first fled to avoid the fumes. Kitty's is the land of the hangover helper: one potato pancake and a half order of french toast. Good thing I wasn't actually hungover, though, cuz today's waitress was the one who doesn't bring a full half order of french toast - she brings a third of an order, which is really just weird. Still, she is possibly preferable to the other waitress, the one who brings a half order but charges for a full order. But ideally it is best to be hungover when the owner is working, as the half order of french toast is not actually on the menu and only she is able to hook me up with the right amount at the right price. Of course, when I am truly hungover, Erik is generally fetching me my starchy savior so who knows or cares what I pay, right? Anyway, today I was hangover free so I branched out and had a half stack of blueberry pancakes instead. Yum.

Then, returning to the lemony fresh house, I was amazingly spared the traditional post-Kitty's food coma. Instead it seems it was Freaky Friday, for Erik is the one who spent the rest of the day in a carbohydrate-fueled slumber. I sat here, hating my stuff, resisting the urge to walk on the carpet. Finally, after four hours I couldn't take it anymore. I had to walk on the carpet for no reason at all. My poor socks told me I had made a mistake. There are very few sensations I like less than a wet sock. And so, lesson learned, I returned to my incredibly shrunken world and continued not blogging.

Though surely Kitty's was enough calories to keep me going all day, I still sent Erik out to Thai Boat at sunset. After all, the kitchen is crowded so who wants to cook? And besides, it is Tuesday, and Thai Boat is "Open 7 days, closed Wednesdays" so if I remotely think I want Thai Boat on a Tuesday, I find I better order up or pay the price jonesing for it all day Wednesday. But again, just to mix things up, I substituted my usual pineapple curry for a peanut butter based param curry. Of course, I still ordered my staple - the Pad Prik King with Tofu "very, very spicy" - though tonight, I must say, it was really only "spicy." My nose hardly ran at all and I could actually taste the flavors. As I think I've mentioned before, I believe I actually prefer it that way, but I am reluctant to lose face after training the Thai guys to give me all the fire I can get.

Anyway, I guess that's it for food today - cat food, lemony goodness, breakfast date, Thai take out. Not a bad day, I must say.