Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Drive by Wedding

In February, we attended a drive by baptism. This weekend, we are attending my cousin's wedding. She gets married on Saturday and I fly out early on Sunday for a meeting in Idaho. I won't be back until Thursday, so stay tuned.

We don't do drive by funerals, in case you are wondering.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Second Chance

I was on the phone the other day with a colleague, and she was asking me questions pertaining to a manager's meeting that we would be attending in a few days. I was trying to be as helpful as possible, given that she is new to our company, and has had the terrible misfortune of having her store opening date pushed back 6 months. A date was finally set, and was then promptly pushed back another week. I was at home during our phone conversation, and as I answered one of her questions I heard Butch meow at the back door. I opened the door and he strutted in and promptly went to the kitchen.

I continued my conversation until I heard the deep, gutteral growl of a cat on the prowl. I walked into the kitchen to witness Butch batting a goldfinch around the kitchen. I promptly screamed into the phone, (what I cannot recall), and proceeded to grab the cat and try to throw him outside. I was still holding onto my cell phone, and Butch kept jumping inside to get back to the bird. I just couldn't get the door shut fast enough to keep him at bay. I finally managed to lock him into the garage, and he immediately began to bang his head against the locked cat door and howl with indignation. I think I was still screaming at that point, and the woman with whom I was speaking asked me if everything was okay. I told her I didn't know, but I had a dead bird in my house and I would have to call her back.

The bird was in the corner of the kitchen, hunched over and breathing a death rattle when I walked over to inspect it. I then called The Rev. to make him come home and pick it up and put it away, anywhere but in my kitchen. I even thought about walking to our vet and having him pick it up and put it away. The Rev. was not sympathetic to my plight, and he told me to get a paper towel, pick it up and put it outside and let nature take its course. Part of me was actually mad at Adam and Eve because it it hadn't been for them, my cat wouldn't want to kill birds in the first place and I wouldn't be standing in my kitchen wringing my hands and trying to shut out the sounds of my cat giving himself brain damage as he continually beat his little head uselessly against the cat door.

I screwed up my courage and bent over to pick up the little bird. The second my hand touched it, it took off, beating its wings to the beat of my howling, girly screams. It gained enough momentun to fly down the hallway and into our bedroom. Visions of bird doo on my bed just steeled my resolved to get this thing out of my house. From the headboard to a picture frame, it flew into a mirror and dropped behind my dresser. I dragged the dresser away from the wall and once again tried to pick it up, this time with a cookie sheet/towel combo that was more bull fighter than bird catcher. After two more passes between the bed and the mirror, I finally managed to throw a kitchen towel over the bird and release it outside.

Second chances are good.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Powder Blue

In my last post I wrote about my grandparents who lived on a farm. I made a passing mention to my "town" grandparents, and I have very fond memories of making the trip up north to see them. My grandfather is a Lutheran minister. As I recollect thoughts about my grandmother, she will always be the picture perfect example of a 1950's housewife, right down to the ruffle apron and pearls. She was an Avon lady for over 40 years, and the closets at my grandfather's house in Saginaw have the perfume bottles to prove it.

I loved it when they came to visit and when we went to visit them. They always brought summer sausage and cheese, and to the present, Christmas is not Christmas without a tray of summer sausage and cheese from Kern's. Grandpa still makes sure that we get a little taste of Michigan, even though we live near the Pacific Ocean. Grandma had a sweet tooth, and I can recall a particular summer they came to see us and she bought us each a tray of cookies that looked like ice cream cones with marshmallow filling. I still look for those cookies when I am shopping, and if I ever find them, I will buy a case of them. At Christmas time she also made these cookies called "Raspberry Smoochies." They are a meringue based cookie made with a package of raspberry jello. So. Very. Tasty. Honorable mentions go to her Lebkuchen and chocolate covered apricots.

Grandma was a lady. Her bedroom always had this soft, powdery smell to it, and whenever she came to visit, she and Grandpa stayed in my room. When they left, my room had that same smell to it. I always thought of it as a powdery blue smell, and I am sure it came from Avon. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I am more like her than any of my other relatives. Come to think of it, when I was little, I was always a little awe-struck by her. Her cool, perfumed smell; the way she sipped her drinks through a straw; the way she held her hands while she ate. After she passed away, my aunt gave me a typed, 40 page copy of a journal my grandmother had written after she and a few girlfriends had gone to New York City. My aunt also gave me a copy of a postcard my grandmother had written to her parents in Michigan. In it she tells them what she and her friends had done and that they only thing she had purchased was a pair of shoes, which is proof that I am related to her. Whenever I travel I make it a point to buy a pair of shoes wherever I go. My mother is now in possession of the black velvet peep toes that were purchased nearly 60 years ago, and if you look at pictures of my grandparents after they were married, my grandmother is wearing those shoes.

Grandpa is my only living grandparent and I am aching to make the trip to Michigan to see him. I keep mentioning to The Rev. that we should make a trip up there to see him, and it is just hard to fit it in to schedules that require us to be everywhere but where we would really like to be. I need to find out if he still keeps a box of Ludens throat drops in his pocket and a freezer full of ice cream. He'll ask us if we want a drink, a Martini or a Manhattan, and if we are hungry. I gain five pounds whenever we go to visit. Perhaps I can convince my parents to bring him out here with his sister some time next year. There is so much for me to share with them, and it is so hard to do when one is 2200 miles away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Candy Dish

In my simple, childish mind, I always put my grandparents in two categories: farm and town. My maternal grandparents lived in a white clapboard farmhouse in Edna, Texas. My grandpa was a cotton farmer and my grandmother was the farmer's wife. Perhaps my adult obsession with food was germinated at that farm house, because I have vivid memories of the kitchen table being covered in pecans during the fall and with cantaloupes during the summer. If I close my eyes right now, I can feel the soft, gray-black dirt between my 4 year old toes as I run along the rows of cantaloupe asking, "Is this one ready to be picked yet?"

I loved their house, and I will always associate the smell of a gas stove with their kitchen. Whenever I step on a concrete floor, I remember the cool concrete that supported the washing machine and the dryer in the lean-to attached to their home. The squeak of hinges and the slamming of a screen door will always cause me to remember running in and out of their house. Pecan trees, swings, and all night card games with aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, fourth cousins twice removed, and all other in between are tucked into my book of childhood memories.

The parlor of the farmhouse was the "good room." The room where you didn't put your feet on the furniture and you most certainly did not bring a popsicle. It was home to a blonde, upright piano, a light mauve, angular sofa set, a coffee table with deadly sharp edges, and a cut glass candy dish that was always full of Brach Pick-a-Mix. When my grandmother passed away, I took the chair that was part of the sofa set. It sits in the garage, legless, and someday I will finally get around to getting it recovered. My brother owns the coffee table, and he probably will until he gets married and his first child gashes their head open on one of its angular corners. My mother has the candy dish, and it sits on an antique secretary from my paternal grandmother.

That candy dish holds many memories. It is made out of cut glass, not particularly valuable, and if I looked really hard, I am sure I could find a brother or sister to it in one of the many junk shops in town. It has a distinct clink when you lift the lid, and many a summer afternoon was wiled away as we tried to sneak a butterscotch or a coconut neapolitan or a jelly nougat out of the dish without making any noise. Inevitably, someone would hear the clink and yell, "Kids, get your hands outta that candy dish!" And we would slam the lid down and run outside (slamming the screen door), usually with a piece of candy in our grimy little hands.

Yesterday I was at the grocery store and there was a Brach Pick-A-Mix stand near the produce section. I was so struck by it. I can't explain why, but I walked around it at least four times, taking in how it has and has not changed. They still make the white, waxy, jewel studded jelly nougats; the pink and brown neapolitans are the same. There are more sugar free offerings now, and sour jelly worms for the younger generation. You can even put your change into the small lockbox and get a sample, three pieces for a quarter. I remember begging my mom for a nickel to buy one. I loaded up. Jelly nougats, butterscotch, neapolitans, cinnamon disks, caramels, and orange slices all went into a paper bag. I ate four or five pieces in the car driving home, and then deposited the rest into a crystal candy dish on our coffee table. I felt better just looking at it.

I don't know that I will eat any more of that candy. It will probably go stale in a few weeks and I will have to pry it out of the dish, but yesterday, of all days, was the day that I wanted a little bit of childhood simplicity and a happy memory. I will never forget standing in the hallway next to my classroom door trying to digest the news that a plane had hit the Pentagon and then two more hit the twin towers. I will also never forget having to watch with a classroom full of freshman as the towers came down before our eyes. Try explaining what a terrorist is to a naive 14 year old. Try explaining to all of their idealistic, adolescent minds that there are people in the world who hate their country, hate their freedom, hate them. For a brief moment yesterday, I was able to put away that memory I have recalled nearly every day for the past five years, and remember being five years old. It put a little bit of sweetness into a bitter day.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I have a twenty pound cat named Smokey. He is the embodiment of "I'm a lover not a fighter." On any given day, he will lounge around the house, rolling over on occasion to have his belly rubbed and meow loudly when it is time for his snack of dried salmon or tuna flakes. Yes, tuna flakes. He was purchased after The Rev. and I got suckered into the Henderson County Animal Shelter's Adopt-a-Pet day at our local pet store in Nashville. We walked by out of curiosity and Smokey (then named Bullitt) stuck his paw out at us when we stopped to admire his gray coat. He came home with us and immediately staked out his territory in my closet, right in between my heels and a leather handbag. A shared loved of accessories will cement a relationship every time.

Smokey is also known as Smokestack or Bear, or as of late, "big gray tick," because he has a little bitty head attached to fat body. He definitely possesses the skill of prowess, and the bird feathers scattered in our yard are a testament to his killing ability. If Smokey were a man, he would be Luther Vandross. He has a way with the Ladies.

Smokey's adopted brother is Butch. We also call him "The Butcher," because his hunting prowess is even more devastating than Smokey's. I told The Rev. that we should start calling the backyard "The Death Trap" because several birds, rats, gophers, and lizards have found their way to our doorstep in various stages of dismemberment. Nothing says love like the head and rear-end of a finch. Butch is a lean, mean scrapper with a deep love for soft cat food and a crazy-mad addiction to catnip. He has a lovely scar across his nose and as of now, his left ear is in the process of healing from a nasty rip. If Butch were a man, he would drink PBR and drive a beat-up truck. It's just his personality.

I appreciate our cats, and I know they have adjusted to life in SoCal. Dixie, our dog, has not adjusted as well, and I know she misses having The Rev. keep office hours from home and the frequent visits from friends and sundry relatives, especially the small ones that drop food on the floor. She is at the vet as we speak, getting her teeth cleaned and having a tumor removed from her shoulder. She was not happy with me this morning, especially after we ate breakfast in front of her, the cats ate breakfast in front of her, and she was given a bowl of water. She kept trying to escape from the vet's office, and I am sure I drove a stake of betrayal into her heart when I lifted her up and put her in a cage. She started shivering immediately and I felt like the worst pet parent in the world. If you have ever looked into the eyes of a dog, you will know the kind of looks they can give you. She looked at me like I was abandoning her forever. I can't wait to get her back. The house is not the same without her.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not really a wine snob--yet

Part of my Labor Day involved sitting on the couch mindlessly watching t.v. with The Rev. We flipped around to programs we liked, but we would change channels when the program would pause for a commercial break. I re-thought my loyalty to a few television shows that had Arbor Mist wine/malt liquor for a sponsor, and one particularly heinous commercial showed a couple dining al fresco with a bottle of Arbor Mist in plain site. The man started to propose marriage and the woman interrupted when she gleefully noticed that he was proposing to her over a bottle of peach flavored Chardonnay. I turned to Rev.:

"If you proposed to me over a bottle of Arbor Mist..."

"You would have said 'yes' faster than you actually did."

"It would have been even cooler if it had been a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

The Rev. is back from dove hunting, but he broke the wife's cardinal rule of hunting and fishing: Yes, Honey, you can go shoot Bambi/catch Nemo, but you must bring back something home to the family. He came home empty handed. He shot his shotgun once, and missed. He claims that the dove that were shot were eaten at the camp, but I have a sneaking suspicion that everybody had bad luck and they sat around the camp fire eating hot dogs and drinking PBR. I only laughed at him for a few minutes.

I am sure most people fired up the grill today as one last hoorah for summer, and we did too. We grilled a pizza though, and I must admit, it was quite tasty. We drank it with a Bogle Petite Syrah, and I would highly recommend it as a nice bottle of red. It's a commercial winery, so be on the lookout for it at your neighborhood liquor store. With cooler weather coming in some parts of the country, it would be good with a pot roast or a beef stew. I would even say a nice plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, we live where it is grilling weather 11 months and 3 weeks out of the year, but I have purchased a pumpkin spice candle to force the feeling of autumn. It covers up the smell of smoke from the grill. If anyone out there wants to make fun of me now for acting like a Californian, please do so directly. Remember, though, that you will have to pry the keys to my SUV out of my cold, dead hands.

We also took a few moments today to fill out our emergency contact card in case an earthquake causes a crack in the earth's crust big enough to swallow our half a house. What disturbed me more than the thought of an earthquake was the picture on the front cover safety manual: six smiling, ethnically diverse children waving cheerfully against a backdrop of houses lying broken amidst the rubble of downed telephone poles and power lines. All they needed was a dog on a leash and one of the kids to be holding a bowl of goldfish.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Left to my own devices

The Rev. left yesterday for an overnight dove hunting trip. My coworkers were appalled until I told them they had not lived until they had eaten breast of dove stuffed with jalapeno and onion and then wrapped in bacon. Bacon! Anything with bacon has to be good. They weren't buying it.

Today also happens to be my day off, and I am excited at the prospect of what today may hold. I can do whatever I want. There is what I should do: laundry, bills, dry the comforter that has been sitting in the dryer since last night, clean the fridge, go to the gym.....And then there is what I am going to do:

Now don't get all huffy and think that I will be doing nothing. I'll be doing something, I just have to figure out what. I do know that I have to make a pot of jambalaya for the faculty at our parish school, especially since the back to school picnic was yesterday and I thought it was today. Oops. I will probably use a gift certificate to get a pedicure. I will probably start the laundry. I may even get my workout clothes on and workout. It's just the possibilities. I could spend all day thinking about them.