Monday, April 23, 2007

Disaster of the Day

Okay, this isn't really my disaster. Well, it is. It happened to me, but it wasn't caused by me.

When I have time in the morning on my way to work I stop for coffee. I always go to the same place, primarily because of Mac. He is the older gentleman who mans the coffee station. That doesn't require much, so he's primarily there to talk to people. He keeps me informed about any local politics or issues I need to know about and I can always get the final score from the game last night. It's an important part of my morning and I don't tend to get my coffee anywhere else.

There is one small thing that makes my morning coffee experience a little trying. There is a person on the cash register who has no business being anywhere near it. I don't think I ever see her without something needing to be voided. The other day I had to convince her that no matter what the magic computer said, I did not in fact owe her $17.07 for a coffee and the newspaper. It's good coffee, but not that good. She is always completely convinced that she is right and I am wrong, making it necessary for the owner to come out of the back to fix it. They have a new tool that should help things a little. It's one of those scanners that reads the bar code on your item. Coffee is not one of the things that can be scanned, they just key in $1.09 and I give them money. She doesn't understand this at all. This morning she picked up my coffee and looked for the bar code to scan. When she didn't find it she turned the coffee upside down to look for it. I think you can guess what happened next. The cover came off, and coffee went everywhere. On the counter, on the floor, on her, on me, on the pile of newspapers on the counter, on the magic computer. Everywhere. She put the cup down and asked me for the $1.09 as if nothing had happened. I handed her the exact change (it really isn't worth trying to get money back from her) and then I went back to Mac who gave me paper towels to clean myself up, while he went up front to swab the decks. I poured myself a new cup of coffee, thanked Mac, and headed out. Until I hear the register girl screaming at me for walking out without paying for my coffee. She actually thought I should pay for the second coffee. I just shook my head at Mac and kept walking. I'd be afraid to go back in there tomorrow just in case she attacks me, but I'm guessing that she won't remember me at all.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Ahhhh...spring! Finally! I think. I mean, I hope this is spring. Is it? It's warm and sunny. How can you tell when spring has finally arrived?

There is one sure way to tell when spring is here. Spring brings out a certain male of the species known as the Loud Overcompensating A**. You can often spot them by their plumage, usually a sportscar, a large SUV or occasionally a motorcycle. No matter what outer plumage is chosen, the LOAs will have many things in common, starting with the amplified muffler. This is so females of the species can hear them coming from great distances. The female can then attempt to flee, but often the LOA is driving so fast that they can easily overtake her. Another way to know if this might be an LOA is by their mating call. This call can take many forms, but there will always be an undertone of bass that is capable of rattling windows from three blocks away. This may be done in an effort to stun the female of the species, rendering her helpless against their advances. When an LOA is without their noisy plumage, they can often be found in driveways and on porches, roofs and steps. In this environment you will often see beer bottles, frisbees, radios and lawn chairs. Don't be fooled, these are still LOAs. They will often be heard singing loudly and off-key to Bob Marley songs. (I have nothing against Bob Marley - in fact I'm quite disgusted in the treatment he receives from the LOA).

No matter what environment you find and LOA in, don't be alarmed. They are simply trying to distract you from the fact that they have extremely small brains (some say their brains are roughly the size of a walnut) and even smaller d**ks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I think that I should not make plans anymore. For anything. Whenever I do, it doesn't seem to work out. This will be extremely difficult for me to do, because I am a complete control freak.

My father and I have discussed my tendencies to control things, and we think we have traced it back to an incident when I was very young. At the time, my family was living in Los Angeles, near MacArthur Park. My parents decided to move back to Boston so my father could go back to school at Boston University. Obviously since I was only two years old, my opinion was not solicited. They packed our most necessary belongings into their Volkswagen Beetle, and had arranged for the furniture to be shipped. The only thing left was my crib, which I was sleeping in. Apparently I woke up and climbed out of bed and wandered into the empty living room. Every thing was gone. Nothing was left- no furniture, no parents, nothing. My father came back upstairs from the car to find me sitting on the floor crying, apparently thinking every one had left me. I say apparently, because the only thing I really remember about LA was the window in my bedroom closet, where I would sit and play and talk to the pigeons outside on the window ledge. I may not remember this particular incident, but according to my mother, from that point on I needed advanced notice for everything or I would freak out. She would come and tell me things like "We're going to go to the park in a while. When you're ready, come get your coat." When I had accepted the idea of leaving the house, I would bring her my coat and we would go out to the park. Any plans that we made that were cancelled could also cause me to panic.

I have made great strides since then, and I am able to come and go from our house freely, but some things just never change. Whenever plans are made, I analyze them to the last detail. I hate surprises. You can imagine my disappointment this past weekend when I had to make a decision about whether to go to Burlington for a GKD weekend fiesta. The weather was supposed to be bad, and one thing I cannot control is the weather. So, all our plans for buying Vermont yarn, looking at pictures of Alex when he was ten, reminiscing about silly things we did as kids, eating pie and having a few drinks were scrapped. I didn't freak out, but I am told I was a bit of a bear to have around the house for the weekend. M took me down to Salem, NH for some good old-fashioned shopping, which made me feel a little better, at least until I added up exactly how much I spent. I did get some Vermont yarn, in the end. Two skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Sock yarn, from Barton, Vermont. Very pretty, but a small consolation.

Maybe I shouldn't plan it again. Maybe I should just get in the car and show up in Burlington some weekend. No, that would take all the fun out of planning it...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pee Eye Ee

I bought another cookbook. Various and sundry social plans had been scrubbed by one thing or another during the week, and I was feeling sorry for myself. In an attempt to offset grouchiness, we traipsed downtown for maple beers (one sign of spring around here, even if nothing else seems in synch), a good burger and a stop at the bookstore.

We wandered, not so aimlessly... magazines, fiction, stuff on sale, craft inspiring reads... ah, cookbooks. If I close my eyes in that aisle, and take a deep breath, I can almost smell the test kitchens. Just like (most of) the food that they help bring into being, cookbooks soothe my soul. This one said PIE in big letters on it's big, fat, thick spine. I like to eat pie, but I also really like to make pie. Bless you Ken Haedrich, for this book. I will spend as much time reading it as I will trying out the recipes. So many recipes! Presented in a way that makes the art of pie accessible to anyone with a hankering to make one.

Mmm. Pie...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Eats

It's springtime in New England (or so they tell us - don't look out the window), and my thoughts turn to seasonal goodies. Not just chocolate bunnies and jellybeans, but the earthier stuff... asparagus, fiddle heads, rhubarb. Grilling season quickly trumps these foods for me, so I'm reminding myself to relish them this year.

Asparagus is at my grocery store year-round these days, which makes me a bit sad. I miss the days when the appearance of those green spears in the produce aisle were a herald of spring along with the first robin. When asked why I ate things at my grandmother's table that I wouldn't eat at home, I swore to my mother that the asparagus from my grandparent's garden tasted better. I don't think she believed me, and why would she? I'm the child that told her I was too full to finish my dinner, but my ability to eat sweets was not impaired because my "dessert stomach" was not full.

I like to cook asparagus with salt, butter and lemon. I chop any leftovers to stir into potato salad with chives and dill. Everything's better with cream or butter in it, and I think dairy and asparagus compliment each other nicely. I mix the spears with grated asiago cheese and marscapone, in a buttered casserole dish. Some bread crumbs (I like panko for its crunch and lightness), pine nuts and a bit more cheese on top and baked until heated through - heaven. You can also cook the tenderest part of the spears in butter and white wine, puree, and reheat (adding cream to taste of course). It looks healthy and springy, but is rich and creamy like soup should be during mud season.

Fiddleheads are good in a foil packet with butter, salt and pepper, tossed on the grill to steam. Don't tell my mother I eat local greens (some of them right out of the woods!) now. I gave her so much grief as a kid when it came to vegetables.

Oh that I could match my grandmother's rhubarb pie. There's a trick to solving the pie soup problem (gelatin, tapioca or flour), but I've not mastered it. Rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream is all I can manage, and it's pretty good. The sweet tart smell of cooking rhubarb reminds me of late afternoon sit-down dinners with my grandparents, and the flower patterned tea cups for coffee that were set out next to dessert. Being a "grownup" brought about two changes in my life - I got a cup and saucer of my own at my grandmother's table, and my mother no longer felt she must set a good example and served pie and coffee for breakfast. I highly recommend fruit pie, hot coffee and a good book on a sunny front stoop in the morning.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm a chicken around birds

I came home for lunch last week, and was changing my shoes to go for a walk when a rustling sound stopped me in my tracks. Was someone going through the mail I had just brought in? (I tend to assume the worst since the weekend someone broke into our place when the Better Half was away and I was home asleep.)

Completely frozen, I listened and figured out with a great amount of relief and an equal amount of irritation that there was a bird in our apartment. We have a non functioning fireplace, and while we try to keep it blocked, i'm sure that's how the little bugger snuck in.

I'm not a big fan of birds. There are two birds I like. They belong to a friend of mine, and we've had lovely conversations through cage bars. I'm comfortable with that. No pecking, no flapping. This bird was clearly freaked out, flapping at windows and making awful thunking noises with his head and beak. I propped open the front door to let him out, and didn't get out of the way fast enough. As he flew at me, I fled out the door, one shoe in my hand, one on my foot... running serpentine down the walkway should he be right on my heels. I have an odd and very real fear of getting bats, bees or birds stuck in my hair (the bee actually happened!), and that motivated my exit from the apartment.

I went back inside and looked around. No bird. But I didn't trust him. I put on my other shoe and went for a walk. When I got back, I was armed with a fattening coffee drink, and called the BH at work about this bird thing. I really am not one of those wives who calls because... I missed my plane and don't know what to do/ the kids have dropped all of their legos through the porch floorboards and I can't get them out/ the toilet is clogged with a banana/ or there's a spider in the house. Those examples are all real phone calls I answered and redirected to appropriate spouses at my old job years ago. I remember each of these callers very clearly, and apparently joined their ranks last week. Steve's boss answered the phone, and even though I limited conversation to "Is Steve available?" he handed the phone over and said "Uh-oh". Did I sound that bad?

I said that I thought I let the bird out, but he should get home first or the bird and I would surely terrorize each other into some form of paralysis. He did get home before me, let the poor thing out, and for his pains got a pile of creosote, soot, and broken masonry dumped on his head when he checked the chimney flue. Lucky guy. Glad it wasn't me.

We are still scrubbing panic droppings off of things... my coat, our comforter, the window blinds, the floor, the curtains, the shirt I'd ironed for work. A little suprise every day really. A bird proofing site calls starlings "pest birds" and uses words like "muscular" and "bullies". Many thanks to them for helping me to rationalize my fear of something a tenth my size.