Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
But, I’ll take the good with the bad.
We’re now heading into our fourth year in this house, and every summer I’ve promised myself a garden. The first year I was pregnant for Zip and too woogie. The second year I had a baby and toddler and it just didn’t happen. Last year, nothing. This past summer, I was determined to get something started, had bought all the seeds, and then severe water rationing was declared on our county, so, nothing.
Come September, I’d given up the idea that there would ever be a garden in our side yard. And then, the neighbors were doing some renovations, and several 2x4’s were suddenly up-for-grab on their lawn. Always up for a recycling challenge, I hauled the wood across the street and through our yard. Planter boxes were in order, and after building them and filling them with soil, I could no longer blame the yards clay dirt for being unsuitable for planting. It was time to start a winter garden. Since we’re definitely not going to get any snow, I said, “Why not?”
This week, coming along marvelously. (Now don't tell me you can't tell the subtle changes of light between the last few photos, but that's all we get folks, subtle changes of light.)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Earlier this fall, within two weeks time, both my dad and my mom arrived at my door with bags of apples (and a few pears) from each of their respective gardens. It was like a merging of the family trees.
When I was small, my paternal grandmother seemed ridiculously frightening. I quite literally thought that she was a witch. As I grew older, however, we both became more comfortable with one another, and toward the end of her life, we became very close. My grandfather always kept a very large garden, so on the afternoons I spent with my grandmother, I would help her cut and prepare vegetables, and listen to the stories of her youth.
She taught me how to wish on a star.
...I still would have been clueless to their meaning.
She would have me cut the apples into pieces, and place them in a large pot.
Then we would simmer them in a small amount of water, with a splash of vanilla, until they were soft enough to mash.
With a masher, it was my job to turn them into sauce, which she’d serve to me swirled with cream.
Friday, November 21, 2008
For my thirteenth Thanksgiving, when we lived thirty-five miles from the nearest store, my grandmother offered us up a turkey that she had stored in her freezer. After trekking into town to do the laundry, we picked up the bird, and headed over the river and through the woods to our house.
I don’t think it had been in the freezer for an inordinate amount of time, but when it thawed out, it was clearly quite ripe. Not wanting to waste a twenty-five pound turkey, but knowing it was in-consumable, my mom figured she’d put it out in the woods for the turkey vultures.
My step-father, who loved looking out at the woods, thought it would be hilarious to perch the bird on the brach of a fallen log that crossed the creek, and watch the animals attempt to haul it away.
The first night, he was amused by the sounds of a raccoon family, mumbling and growling, as they tried to figure out how to move the giant carcass. The next morning he watched as the cats walked out across the stretch of trunk and turned up their noses at the rotting foul. Later that afternoon, he witnessed the best sight of all. The owner of the compound was giving a friend a tour of the property, and was walking him across the log.
My step-father, who was known for his teasing, was thrilled by this sight. He lay himself low in the loft, with only his eyes peering out of the windows, and tried to keep from laughing aloud as he watched them stop at the branch and puzzle over the turkey perched at their feet.
For several days, whenever my step-father would pass the landlord, it was all he could do not to refer to the bird. Finally, he couldn’t stand it any longer, and he begged my mom to ask the landlords wife if she’d heard mention of it.
The next time my mother saw Jo-Ellen, his wife, she took her aside and said, “So, hey – Did Roger happen to say anything to you about the turkey in the woods?”
“Oh yes!” Jo-Ellen exclaimed cheerfully.
“He came home from his walk the other day, and said, ‘Jo, do you happen know anything about the turkey on the fallen log?’ I said, ‘Oh Roger, there are so many wild animals out in these woods, I’m sure it was just taking a walk.’ He said, ‘No Jo. This was a plucked turkey, on a tree branch, just sitting out there in the open.’ To which I said, ‘Oh Roger, you know Patricia, she’s such an imaginative cook. I’m sure she was just marinating it!”
However you plan to cook your turkey next week, baked, sauteed, deep fried in a giant oil barrel – I have just one word of advice – Make sure it’s fresh!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I think there’s merit to the advice that no child will starve themselves when truly hungry, and, while I’m sure that’s true in extenuating circumstances, a child who doesn’t equate food with hunger will go an awfully long time (and be awfully unpleasant to be around) if given the option to just not eat. I know this, because Tizzy could care less about food. I have really had to teach this kid to eat. I go to great lengths to hide nutritious morsels into his seemingly sparse diet, and, while I admit, it’s a pain in the ass, I also know he would happily live on rice cakes and bubble water. I trust that hiding kale in his burgers and golden beets in his scrambled eggs is effective on a cellular level and that, someday, he will wake up and say, “Hey guava, where have you been all my life?” But, if that doesn’t happen, at least I can honestly say I tried, and that he was properly fed in the growing years, knowingly or not.
That being said, it is grating and annoying to have ones child turn up their nose to carrot-infused mac 'n' cheese. I mean, come on, it’s mac 'n' cheese, already! So, I had to meet his grousing with humor last night, or I might have just thrown his bowl right out the window, which, for the record, my mother did to me when I was his age, and I never forgot it.
Tizzy: Um, no thank you, I think this is blech.
Me: You think this is blech? How can you say that? You haven’t even tried it?
Tizzy: I just know. I don’t like it.
Zip: Tizzy not like mac 'n' cheese. He not.
Me: You have to at least try one bite.
Tizzy: Mmm, no. I don’t think so.
Me: Well, this is what I’ve made for dinner. You’re welcome to walk down the block and see if anyone else is serving something a little more interesting.
The attention that got made me think I better act fast. He was already half way out the door. I had no time to lose.
Me: You might want to think about it however. Kids are made to eat far stranger things than mac 'n' cheese. Did you know that some kids have to eat cow's tongues for dinner?
Zip: Cow's tongues? Ha-ha-ha-ha!!
Me: It’s true. And some kids have to eat sweet meats. You don’t even want to know what those are.
Tizzy’s shaking his head, no, no, no.
Me: How about blood sausage? Does that sound like a tasty treat?
Zip: Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho... *chortle, snort*
Me: Chicken's feet, and pork rinds, shark fin soup and rattlesnake. There are all different kinds of foods that people eat, and they like them too.
Zip: *Guffaw!* Chickens Feet?! Hee-hee-hee!
Me: Do you know that people pay good money to eat fish eggs on a cracker?
Zip: Fish eggs – on a cracker?!
Me: Pureed goose liver, snails cooked in butter and garlic, raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed! (I was starting to make myself hungry.)
Tizzy, shaking his head no this whole time, but eating nonetheless.
Me: When daddy and I were in Mexico, before you were born, there was a man on the beach with a cart. Inside that cart was a boiled cow's head. The man would lift up the flap of its head, scoop out the brains, and people would buy this from him as a SNACK!
Zip falling off his chair: Ahh-ha-ha-ha!!!
Tizzy: No mama. People don’t eat that stuff.
Me: Oh, but they do honey. They do.
Thinking about all the clever ways people have come up with feeding themselves, I realize that we all do what we have to do, and, in being resourceful, we’ve been quite inventive. At the same time, in thinking of all the creative ways people have managed to feed themselves, Mac 'n' Cheese does seem pretty Blech!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As subtly as the seasons change in California, fall has always been my favorite.
This past summer, however, I found myself hanging onto the long, hot days... trying to stretch the sun-filled hours out just a little longer. The boys are at a perfect age, young and playful, no longer babies.... They can run, they can play, and every day they are expressing their individuality in new and profound ways.
Last night, as Zip knocked on our door, longing to be babied, but tired and needing sleep, Tizzy crept out and took him by the hand, led him to his big boy bed, and they rejoiced in their brotherhood, cracking each other up with the indecipherable jokes that only siblings understand.
I found myself wanting to check on them one last time, but, needing sleep, I trusted they were fine and woke this morning to a child-free bed for the first time in what seemed like ages, and we all were better for the uninterrupted slumber.
We are nursing colds. The kind that seep deep into your chest and linger. But, it’s cold outside, threatening rain, so it’s just one more excuse to stay in our pajama’s, snuggle in bed with popcorn and hot chocolate, and watch movies 'til we just can’t stand movies any longer.
Now that daylight savings has ended and the day is dark before it seems to have even started, there is no denying that winter is creeping near. So, we’re painting egg carton wreaths and printing our annual hand prints – hand prints growing larger before our eyes. We're getting ready for the winter's festive celebrations.
Celebrating one another most of all.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
At four years old, I was the proud owner of a toy toaster oven. One that plugged into the wall, was lit by a light bulb, and unlike many of its counterparts, had full frontal access that could be filled to capacity. My mom was terrified by its house burning potential. I however was four, and regardless of how many times I was told that I was not allowed to plug it in, continued to do so because, well – I could.
She finally cut the cord.
Until recently, my boys have been fairly uninterested in pursuing the arts, preferring to spend their days performing circus acts and hair raising stunts. In fact, I was quite surprised to discover at a Halloween library event, that Tizzy could actually hold a pair of safety scissors, and knew how to use them. (Thank you pre-school.)
About two weeks ago, Zip started showing great interest in the artists easel that’s been standing, unused, in our living room for the past two and a half years. Great works have been springing up on a daily basis, so when I discovered a masterpiece of enormous proportions, drawn in black ink, covering the entire surface of our side table, I assumed I knew the artist.
“Zip?” I summoned. “What have we got going here?”
Zip walked up to the side table, and quizzically looked at the swirling creation.
From across the room, Tizzy stopped, mid air from his triple somersaulted decent off the couch – big smile splashed across his face – and shouted:
“It was ME Mama! I’m the one that did that!”
“You did this?” I asked.
“But Tizzy,” I exclaimed, sitting down next to him on the couch, “We’ve talked about this SO many times. You only draw on paper – Not furniture.”
His happy face, now scowling, looked up at me, forefinger raised, and replied, “And don’t YOU ever do this again! GOT IT?!”
A few minutes passed and he joined me in the kitchen.
“I got an idea!”
“What’s your idea?” I asked.
“Less just erase it!”
“Good idea, I said, but not so easy.”
He picked up the sponge, went out to the side table and wiped it down.
He returned smiling, held up the sponge – “There. Done.”
Now – Where can I hide the pens?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
We had to go to the mall today, which is a fairly unusual occurrence, in order to make a return.
Christmas trees and promises of Santa were luring them in – drawing the boys to the window displays.
We walked past Victoria’s Secret. Scantily clad mannequins were leaning on door frames, laying on tables, and slumming it on lounge chairs...
Zip stopped dead in his tracks.
“WHAT’S SHE DOIN’?!”
Standing frozen in front of the window he looked the mannequin up and down.
“She’s in her UNNERPANTS! Why she doin’ that?”
Again, very seriously, looking up and down...
“he - he - hee - ha - Ha - HAH - HAH - HO - HO - HO!!!” – he started dancing in utter delight –
“She’s SILLY! She’s SO silly in her UNNERPANTS!”