Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Casting pearls before lipstick

posted 09/13/08

SH and I were OK with going to a gumball machine and getting cheap rings just so we’d have something for the ceremony, but we had a chance to get nice rings last week when we were in California. We bought them at the same place where SH got the rings for his wedding to Imelda, only I didn’t demand a $4,000 custom-made ring but was happy with a simple white gold band off the rack. I did, however, notice and covet the rope of cultured pearls. I have a beautiful pearl choker that my dad got for me in Amsterdam for my 20th birthday, but have always also wanted a long, long strand of pearls that I can tie into a knot and look glamorous.

SH worried that getting our rings at Geoffrey’s might have bad karma, but we decided that we were going to create good karma by getting something completely different from his first ring. We also decided we would have the diamonds from his first ring reset into earrings for me. When life gives you diamonds, make earrings is what I always say.

Bad habits

posted 09/05/08

SH and I stopped to see my grandmother, who has been a little under the weather, on our way to and from the Apostle Islands last weekend. We were happy to see that she had gone to lunch and eaten her butterscotch pudding on Tuesday, as she has been bedridden and not eating. Still, nothing tastes good to her, which is a shame, because shouldn't you be able to eat what ever you want when you are old?

My aunt Rita, who is pretty much my granma's main caretaker, said that the home tried to put my grandmother on a restricted diet because the doctor said something about diabetes a year ago. My granma pitched a fit when they fed her that no-sugar, no-salt stuff and said she would move out if she didn't get some decent food. It must have been pretty bad for my mellow, sweet, go-along grandmother to protest.

Honestly. If you are almost 96 years old, what is the point of restricting your intake of anything? When I am that old, I intend to get fat, start smoking, and develop a taste for scotch. SH just wishes I would do all of that now.

Wedding prep #24

posted 09/05/08

It is all coming together. Flight plans and hotel reservations are done and the food -- ah, the food! One of my big nightmares is that I'll give a party and nobody will come; the second part of that nightmare is that I'll give a party and run out of food. I think I inherit from my mom's mother the idea that food=hospitality/love. I am horrified at the idea of a guest going hungry in my home, which is why I have been working on the menu for over a month.

But the menu for the wedding supper is done. Take a look at this, y'all. Doesn't it just make your mouth water?

Crab Napoleon
Crab Salad Layered with Fried Green Tomatoes

Bayou Chipotle Lime Caesar Salad
Roasted Peppers, Goat Cheese, Pumpernickel Croutons

Entree (guests will pick one of these options)
Pecan Crusted Grilled Pork Loin
Baked Apple Salad, Apple Garlic Cream Sauce,
Candied Sweet Potato, Haricot Vert
Grilled Sea Scallops
Roasted Red Pepper Puree, Haricot Vert, Wild Mushroom Risotto
Les Betes De La Mer Gumbo
Scallops, Redfish, Shrimp, Crawfish, Mussels in a Filé Gumbo
Served over rice

Chocolate Like Crazy Cake

But even more important than the food (as if) is that I got my wedding pedicure yesterday with my friend Kim. SH and I are in San Francisco. We didn't think we would get to see Luke and Kim this trip because of the other commitments we'd made, but at the last minute, our Thursday evening plans fell through, so after a wonderful afternoon taking the food tour of Berkeley (cheese! chocolate! bread! gourmet grocery store!) with the Bodacious Doc and Cheeseguy, who also happen to be in SF this week, I showed up pretty much unannounced on Kim's doorstep, my sandals in my backpack so I could keep my tootsies free of socks for hours after the painting.

She couldn't have been more gracious. We sent off the last of her charges (Kim runs a day care/school for two-year-olds*), had a little wine and Fresca with Luke, then traipsed down to the inexpensive pedi place, where we agonized over finding just the right red. Then she very generously treated me to my pedicure, telling me this way I would think of her on my wedding in two weeks, as if I wouldn't think of her every time I looked at my perfect red toes. How lucky am I to have such wonderful friends in so many places?

* She is going to expand into parenting consulting, which she would be fabulous at, because there are way too many parents who put up with the foolishness Kim saw at the grocery store: the little girl was begging mom to buy her candy. Mom repeatedly said no, but finally yielded. (Lesson: if you whine and nag long enough, you'll get what you want.) Then after mom paid for the candy, she gave it to the girl with the admonishment that she couldn't eat it until after supper. Girl then proceeded to pitch a fit, so mom gets down on girl's level to explain very patiently why girl has to wait for the candy. Right. You can negotiate with a four-year-old as easily as you can negotiate with a terrorist. Sheesh. You don't have to be a parent to know bad parenting when you see it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relax, # 45

posted 09/03/08

Now that I have written my four-page project plan for the wedding and our guests (yes, I am a listmaker and just a little bit of a micromanager -- why do you ask?), I am feeling a lot less stressed out than I was. Nothing like getting everything down on paper to make me feel as if I am in control. Now I can think about how fun it will be to have everyone here in a few weeks.

My mom was teasing me, saying that I should stop worrying already! everyone could eat sandwiches and they would all be OK, but she's the one who set the bar so high. My mom is a wonderful hostess. Anyone who goes to her home feels welcome and comfortable and that's what I want for my guests. Hence the worry about what they like to eat (I have been pestering SH with menu ideas since early August, asking him if his mom and dad would like this, or that, or something else), what sleeping conditions they prefer (I was appalled when Patrick and Ilene stayed with us and I didn't ask how the sofa bed was until after their second night, which was when I learned that there was a problem that I could have solved), and what they like to drink (I'm not a drinker, but I keep liquor for my guests -- same reason I keep a coffeepot and coffee -- just because I don't want it doesn't mean I expect my guests to go without).

I am also stocking up on chocolate and current magazines to put in the guest room. Flowers in the guest bathroom, of course. Martha says also a few bottles of water in the room. It's all in the plan.

Render unto Caesar

posted 08/25/08

Dear State of Wisconsin (or County of Milwaukee, whoever is in charge of these things),

Thank you for doing so much to improve race relations and to reduce the divorce rate – all in the same process! Perhaps you could start collecting taxes from couples who apply for a wedding license and get yet another function under your roof. Oh – wait. You already are doing that. One hundred dollars for a wedding license. Let’s see – for what other contracts does the state require the participants to buy a license? Hmm. Nope. Can’t think of any, although I’m sure you find a way to take what you consider your fair share from every private transaction between two willing makers of offer and acceptance.

But I really appreciate your keeping track of the races of the couple about to be married. Tracking intra- and inter-racial marriages surely is an important function of government. I look forward to the report every year about which color is marrying which and I can certainly see how this would be valuable information for all the other functions government performs. This is probably how you decide where to build roads and schools and other essential things to promote the common welfare.

And your anti-divorce strategy: Good job! Making us get the license at least eight days before the wedding and still making us come back to the courthouse to pick it up – yep, that should keep people from making those impulsive, Britneyesque decisions to get married right now. It’s not enough that we have to wait eight days for the license to be valid – that certainly wouldn’t prevent people from marrying in haste and repenting in leisure. No, it’s the having to return to the courthouse next week to pick the license up – that’s what will give pause to the prudent – or perhaps imprudent – couple.

Of course, we always have the option of paying an extra ten dollars to have the license mailed to us. Not that that’s just a way to increase revenues because surely the process of mailing the license costs way more than the process of your employed for life with better health and retirement benefits than anyone has in the private sector where revenues actually have to exceed costs dressed in a tacky, old, faded t-shirt and sweatpants clerk pull the license when I return for it. (That is, after I have gone through the metal detector again and had to pull my – wait for it – tweezers from my purse to prove that I am not going to be stopping random, bushy-eyed people to pluck their eyebrows.) And not that my providing you with a stamped, self-addressed envelope would be an option. Or – hey! – generating the license while I wait. Nope. You are going to wipe out divorce.

You save revenue generation for the new parking meters that don’t allow me to use an unexpired meter. After all, the main function of government is not to provide for the common defense and then make forced governmental functions run smoothly and easily for us citizens, it is to make money. That’s why we hired you.


Someone who wishes she had eloped in another state

Eloping is still easier

posted 08/24/08

Serious Honey and I took his pastor out for supper last night to talk about the wedding. We picked our readings. I wanted the one that starts,

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.,

mostly because I know how much it annoys people who really don’t pay attention what it really means, but also because I like what it means.

I also liked this for the gospel because SH thinks I use way too much salt. I told him even Jesus knows how important salt is:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

We are not going to have any music. (I asked my brother to play the piano, but he claims to be too much out of practice, and SH asked his parents to sing – they are fabulous singers – but then we decided that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea: they sang at his first wedding and look how that turned out.)

It’s a shame, because the music in SH’s church is so good. None of this Marty Haugen baloney. Last night, before church started, they had a hymn sing, which is when everyone just sings whatever they want. Same song at the same time, of course. No one asked for Marty Haugen, Instead, they requested standards like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Lutherans definitely got the good music at the Reformation. Hmm. Maybe we’ll just ask everyone to open their hymnal and sing anyhow. We can’t let that good music go to waste.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday rant

posted 07/31/08

Two things:

1. Stop calling your breasts “the girls.” It sounds stupid and juvenile. Do men call their testicles “the boys?” Maybe they do and I haven’t heard it, but either way, what’s wrong with “breasts?” Or any of the traditional nicknames like boobies or bazoombas or titties? Are they still “the girls” when you are 90? Or do they then become “the saggy old ladies?” “The girls” has no connection to the actual word and just sounds plain idiotic, so please stop.

2. Is it tacky to have a cash bar at an event you are hosting? Suppose you throw a party (a wedding reception, perhaps). You can either offer beer and wine and invite an extra 50 friends or you can cut those friends and include hard liquor. Or, you can include the friends and the liquor if you have a cash bar.

My feeling is that you entertain at the level you can afford and that your guests graciously accept that level of hospitality. Someone who shall go unnamed but who lives in the same house I do says what about the people who want tequila or scotch when they are out?

Sorry. If you can’t go one evening without a gin and tonic, then you have a problem that's not mine to solve. We don’t offer cash dessert bars to those who might hate, hate, hate with the heat of a thousand white suns the bananas foster that are being offered as a dessert.

We don’t say, “If you don’t like the food we are serving for supper, you are welcome to step over to the corner where we have set up a cash short-order cook to make you a hamburger or a grilled-cheese sandwich.” Yes, a host should consider a guest’s dietary restrictions (although if the mere whiff of a peanut will kill you, then please do the rest of us a favor and stay home), but the desire for liquor instead of wine or beer (or any alcohol at all if the hosts cannot afford to offer it) does not fall into that category.

Because we are AMERICANS, darnit

posted 07/30/08

Me: You didn’t come to bed until 4?

SH: I had some work to do to prepare for my meeting today.

Me: Then why did you go out to sing last night?

SH: Because I was determined that I wasn’t going to let having to make this stupid last-minute trip to see a customer ruin my week.

Me: But you only got four hours of sleep and now you have to drive to Chicago.

SH: I had to get that work done.

Me: I would have skipped going out rather than lose sleep.

SH: But that would be letting the terrorists win.

Because I said so

posted 07/30/08

SH: You opened that new box of cereal!

Me: So?

SH: But you’re supposed to finish the other boxes that are already open first.

Me: Says who?

SH: It’s the right thing to do. Didn’t your mother teach you?

Me: I don’t care. I wanted this cereal.

SH: If we had kids, would you let them open the new boxes before finishing the old ones?

Me: Nope.

SH: Would you open the new box?

Me: Yes.

SH: What if the kid said, “How come you get to open it and I don’t?”

Me: I’d say, “When you’re paying the mortgage and buying the groceries, you can open whatever you want.”

SH: But that’s different rules for kids and for grownups.

Me: So what?

Midwestern time vs Southern time

posted 07/28/08

Midwesterners! It is just as rude to arrive early as it is to arrive late!

Handyman #2, you did not impress me by showing up an hour earlier than I told you to be at the apartment on the day we moved. Instead, you caused me a great deal of stress and aggravation.

Why? Because you screwed up my meal planning. I had already taken all the food from the apartment to the house except what SH and I were going to eat on moving day. You showed up at lunch time. When we were about to eat the only food we had left in the apartment. My mama didn’t raise a rude person who would ask someone to sit in her home and watch her eat, so of course we offered you something, which you took, even though you had come straight from your part-time job to a job you knew would run to 6:00 p.m., so why didn’t you stop at Subway on your way over or were you planning to do six hours of physical labor on an empty stomach?, but it meant we ate less than we wanted of decent food and had to fill up on the cookies* in the freezer that Imelda had sent SH five years ago in an attempt to win him back.

So Handyman #2, I meant it when I told not to arrive before 8:30 a.m. last week. Given your history, I guess I should be glad you arrived at 8:20 instead of 7:30, but didn’t my repeated refrain of “Not before 8:30! We’ll still be in pajamas.” mean anything to you? If you arrive early to someone’s house, drive around the block until the desired time. Go get some coffee. But don’t ring my doorbell earlier than I have told you.**

* They weren’t even homemade, so she couldn’t have been too serious if you ask me. Not that I mind filling up on cookies, but if I am going to be lifting and carrying things, I want to eat protein and complex carbs, not sugar.

** That’s not why you’re being fired. You’re being fired because you slopped paint all over the bricks. We don’t understand – the rest of your work was so painstakingly careful and then you go and get oil-based paint on the brick, which is almost impossible to get off, unless, of course, you grind off a layer of brick, which is what you did after I pointed out the problem to you, but as you would probably agree, is not the most desirable solution. So it’s back to our doesn’t call and doesn’t show up when he says he will contractor because even though he is unreliable, his work is immaculate. If we have to pick between a handyman who shows up when he says he will (and earlier) but does sloppy work and one who shows up when he feels like it but does absolutely perfect work, we’ll put up with being surprised.

The road to hell or Sing, Planet Earth, Sing

posted 07/27/08

Things I do for which I don’t get Liberal/I Care About The Environment credit because I do them for the wrong reason:

Mow our lawn with an old-fashioned push mower
My reason: It’s cheaper and easier than a mower that uses gas. I don’t have to go to the gas station and fill my (non-existent) gas can every couple of weeks. I don’t have to figure out if the darn spark plug is connected or not and is that why it isn’t starting? I don’t have to wear shoes or long pants while I use it.
Right reason: I Care about The Earth and don’t want to pollute.

Leave the grass cuttings on the lawn:
My reason: I’m lazy.
Right reason: The clippings decompose and provide Valuable Nutrients for The Earth.

Hang the laundry on a clothesline instead of drying them in the drier
My reason: I like the way they smell and it’s cheaper than using the drier.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and don’t want to waste energy.

Take cloth bags to the grocery store
My reason: They are easier to carry and hold more stuff than plastic. I can also use them for library books and other junk. Also, they were free.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and don’t want to use disposable products that just fill landfill

Use paper bags instead of plastic when I don’t have the cloth grocery bags with me
My reason: I used to work for a paper company and I won’t get my pension unless it is still in business when I am 65, so I need to do everything I can to promote the consumption of paper.
Right reason: I care about The Earth and paper is less evil than plastic because at least paper is organic and eventually decomposes.

I'm not a parent, so what do I know?

posted 07/27/08

Woman at the gym, after telling us she hadn't made her kids wear bike helmets because she didn't want them to look like nerds: You know, parenting is the hardest job there is.

Me: Harder than fighting oilfield fires?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Missing you

posted 07/26/08

Sophia: Where are you?

Leigh: I'm at Aunt CF's house.

Sophia: I want you to come home soon, kay?

Leigh: Did Daddy tell you to say that?

Sophia: Yeah.

Leigh laughs

Sophia: But I want you to really come.

Leigh: OK, sweetie. Do you want to say "hi" to Aunt CF?

Sophia: Can't you talk to Daddy now? I'm done.

Says the woman who lives next door to where the guy got shot in broad daylight last week

posted 07/25/08

Leigh: We never hire anyone to do our yard work because every time you see “America’s Most Wanted,” they say the guy did “occasional yard work.”

SH's Transformers ladder

posted 07/24/08

SH: You can’t put the sealant on the balcony with that ladder.

Me: Yes I can.

SH: No. It’s not tall enough. We need a higher ladder. Look at this one.

Me: What is that?

SH: You can change it to what you need – stepladder, extension ladder.

Me: But we have a stepladder. And Bruce is getting us an extension ladder.

SH: But it changes shapes!

Me: We don’t need that.

SH: It folds up so it doesn’t need to be stored in the garage.

Me: Why would we care that we have to put a ladder in the garage? Isn’t that where you keep a ladder? And we don’t need the sawhorse function. When’s the last time you needed a sawhorse?

SH: Never.

Me: When’s the next time you anticipate needing one?

SH: Never.

Me: So if we have a stepladder and an extension ladder and all we really need is a taller stepladder, why would we spend $150 on this fancy ladder?

SH: But it’s cool!

Me: You want it just because it has all these gadgets on it.

SH: So?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Home improvement

posted 07/22/08

Did you know it is possible to get paint* in your hair even if you are just painting the baseboards?

Do you know how hard it is to get oil-based paint out of your hair?

* The guy who renovated our house and gave us things like very tall cabinets without shelves and ugly basement and uglier upstairs carpet over hardwood floors (it should be illegal to carpet hardwood floors) was good enough to leave -- and label** -- all the paint he used. But why did he feel compelled to use oil-based paint instead of latex for the basement stairwell baseboards? This is what I want to know.

** I didn't label my paint in Memphis because I was absolutely positive I would remember where I had used it.

I didn't.

I also did not label leftovers in the freezer until SH bought me a Brother P-touch labeler that I love, although now I don't have the excitement of finding that quart of Cuban Pork and Okra Stew that I was sure I would remember (I didn't), the pint of gumbo I also knew I'd remember (also didn't) or the half-dozen Molten Chocolate Cakes. Not that chocolate needs a label. But the element of surprise is gone from our freezer meals.

The C food diet

posted 07/20/08

SH: What are these?

Me: Brownies.

SH: Why are you eating them?

Me: Because it’s Sunday.

SH: ?????

Me: Sunday starts with “S,” which means I can have sugar, snacks and seconds.

SH: I guess someone who wants cigarettes is out of luck because there’s no day of the week that starts with “c.”

Me: “S” is also for “smokes.”

Hedging my birthday greetings

posted 07/20/08

Just have to give a shout-out to my friend Lenore, who is the first person to bring us housewarming cookies (her fabulous madeleines, which we learned how to make at the cooking school we attended in France, and which SH pretty much inhaled when he got home last night after a ten-day trip to California, and then had extra when we got back from live-band karaoke at 1:00 a.m., where SH got to sing about seven songs, including a duet of "Let's Stay Together" with the only other person at the bar who could sing, this gorgeous woman named Steph who has a pierced tongue, a tat, plays roller derby and belted out "Crazy" with such grace and talent that I think every man and maybe some of the women in the place fell in love with her), even though she is not even a neighbor.

What ever happened to neighbors welcoming the new people with a plate of cookies? I made brownies for my new neighbors in Memphis. Yes, my new neighbors are nice and the next-door neighbors made sure to introduce themselves and the wonderful backyard neighbors, who told us we didn’t need a $2,400 sump pump system in the basement but just need a length of PVC pipe to jam in the sewer drain when it rains, mowed the lawn for us – I’ll take that over cookies any day – but honestly – it took someone from Chicago to bring us cookies? (Todd and Andrea did give us a gift certificate to a restaurant, so I guess I better quit my whining. It isn’t like we don’t have some really nice friends here already.)

Anyhow. Lenore visited me and as always, showed up bearing fabulous hostess/housewarming gifts. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such great friends. Patrick and Ilene came for a weekend and stocked the cheese and chocolate drawer and not with the cheap stuff, either. Bruce moved all my stuff out of storage and just informed me that he found an extension ladder for us at one of his estate sales. And Lenore brought, in addition to the cookies (and flowers – and cherries – and cute new dishtowels), a snow shovel! What a great idea. It’s something neither of us had. I didn’t need one in Memphis (you know, because it only snows once a year there) and SH was in an apartment. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy one until after it had snowed here.

Which would be fine because hey, I would just walk – or drive, because yes I am that lazy and I do drive to the gym and would drive to the gym even if it were three blocks away – to the hardware store to get one, but guess what? It’s illegal to leave snow on your sidewalk for more than 24 hours and it would take me at least that long to be motivated to get my butt out of the house.

So it’s illegal, you’re saying. So what?

If it’s illegal, the city will clear the snow for you.

Well good!

And then they’ll send you a bill. And you know they’re going to charge you union rates with a break and everything to shovel that snow.

So it’s a good thing Lenore gave us that shovel. She thinks of everything.

Oh. But the real reason I was writing about Lenore was that tomorrow* is her birthday and I want to wish her a great one.

* I think it’s tomorrow. I used to remember my friends’ birthdays but now things flee my mind like the sands of time. I remember birth months now. Most of my friends have July birthdays, so I am safe. Happy birthday to all of my July friends. You know who you are. I am not sure exactly who you are any more because I am old and my brain is turning to mush.