May 25, 2011

The meditative cherry crisp: A photo essay

Baking helps me think more clearly. Something about the way the chemistry has to be precise--everything patiently measured, leveled off, rolled, kneaded--calms my brain and forces it to slow down.

Lately I have been seeing beautiful, sweet red cherries popping up at produce markets so I bought an assload* of them (*actual unit of measurement). I settled in to bake a cherry crisp with approximately half the assload I had purchased.

The cherries were ripe and lovely and stained my fingers with crimson juice. But I needed a glass of wine after pitting all the goddamned things.

I hadn't had the occasion to use my pastry blender for awhile. I happily pulled it out of the difficult silverware drawer and started to use it to cut the butter into the flour, oats, and brown sugar--all the while admiring that I *owned* a pastry blender--when the damn thing bit the dust and snapped in half.

Notice a significant portion of the wine had been drunk at this point.

Apparently, I have to add 'pastry blender' to the existing list of ladle and whisk as kitchen utensils to be purchased.

Due to the setback/technical failure, I found it easiest to get my hands in there and mix it together the old fashioned way. I didn't take a picture of that because I had poured another glass of wine and was temporarily over the picture-taking thing at that point.

But it did come out very nicely.

And it made me feel cozy.

In hindsight, I shouldn't have used the chipped bowl in the picture. But I love these delicately-shaded purple bowls and, well, fuck it.

May 23, 2011

Maybe only appreciated by gamers (thus, 0.0001% of my readers)

Ivan plays an online, fantasy, player-versus-player game (a MMORPG, to be more precise) called Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). Admittedly and embarrasingly (because of my stereotypes about gamers) I've gotten into playing it in recent months, too.

Last night in the shower I was so furious with him for what he has done as I washed my still sore places that I was screaming at him in my mind. When I got out and dried off, I needed to do something.

I logged into his main character in DAoC, a known, templated, high realm-rank healer, Atreri, and went to the frontiers where other characters (or "toons") were getting ready to go off into the battlegrounds. I started going up to other people's toons and using the game's emoticons to make rude gestures at them, wave away their stench, and roll on the floor laghing at them. People started making rude gestures back and lots of them asked, "Dude, who the hell are you?" and "What the fuck is your problem?"

I finally announced in region chat that I was pissed off at my boyfriend and this was his toon so I was doing weird things with him. People found that amusing and one dude asked, "Hey, can I have his gear?" After that, all the toons around me started hugging me.

It was a weirdly touching moment.

On bruises that go away

I knew why he was a little less than crying. I knew very well, and I wanted to go to him and tell him that I had a little less than cried too, just like him....And look at me, Little Igor, the bruises go away, and so does how you hate, and so does the feeling that everything your receive in life is something you have earned.

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

May 21, 2011

It's amazing...

...the things that go through your mind when someone has their hands around your neck and is squeezing. For me, it was, "I do not want this television to be the last thing I see."

May 8, 2011

How socks have to be like

This morning when he emerged from getting dressed, I giggled at how Darius was wearing his socks rolled up in this fine fashion:

He glanced down and explained: "I saw this movie once. When I was little. Um, and a kid, um, had his socks like that. Rolled up. And, um, and that's how socks have to be like."

On Mothers' Day

And so it is Mothers' Day.

A couple of sweet and thoughtful friends have written in the last couple of days to check on me and to pre-emptively say they knew this day would be really hard for me. Strangely, it is no worse than any other. Maybe it's because I have never really gotten too excited about this "holiday." Maybe it's because I was still so new to the idea of thinking of myself as a mother. I don't know.

Today I will wake up with Ivan and Darius.

We will wipe away the crust from our eyes and brush our teeth.

We will drink coffee and milk, respectively, and I will make sure Darius ingests some sort of fruit along with his breakfast cereal.

Today we will admire yesterday's sidewalk chalk drawings (A volcano! That is erupting! Onto the playground! Next to the rainbow!) and re-visit the lopsided hopscotch board I created for surprisingly endless hours of entertainment on the part of Darius.

We will toast bread and eat the egg salad I prepared last night, and I will attempt to convince Darius that eggs are neither yucky nor smelly (even though I kind of think they are myself).

We will paint pictures and pick flowers, and we will send him home with gifts for his own mother for Mothers' Day.

Today I will open my bedroom drawer and check on my child's ashes in the terrible little white plastic box the funeral home returned her in.

And I will go on.

My house. Where difficult silverware goes to die.

When I was growing up, one of my main household duties was the nightly task of washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. God, I hated it.

My mother's silverware drawer was a constant annoyance to me. On one side, our spoons, forks, and knives sat neatly in their little trays. The rest of the drawer was a chaotic mess of other, less frequently used cooking- and eating-related utensils: vegetable peelers, spatulas, corn on the cob holders, and so on. I quickly termed this the "difficult silverware" because these items were hard to organize, often oversized, and seemed to require endless rooting through the drawer to find.

In my adulthood, I have tried to alleviate this problem by having a large ceramic container sitting on the counter that holds and provides easy access to all the larger items. I, too, have a mass of garlic presses, measuring spoons, fondue forks, and shish kebab sticks messily taking up space in the other half of my silverware drawer. But at least I have made some progress on the organization front. My mama didn't raise no dummy.

I have noticed that Ivan has very little interest in my personal system of silverware organization. (The same could be said for his position regarding my systems for washing dishes, arranging the medicine cabinet, cleaning the bathroom sink, and putting away groceries, but I suppose at the moment that is neither here nor there.) We share the task of washing dishes, but in recent weeks and months when I have not felt well he has cheerfully born the brunt of it (unless we played cards and placed bets on who had to wash the dishes and I lost--also neither here nor there).

Ivan's kryptonite is putting the clean dishes away. He hates it. He is brought to his knees. He will beg and plead and cajole me that he will wash the dishes if only I will put the clean dishes away. Some days this sounds like a reasonable request. Other days it does not. If left to his own devices, he will put away simple items like plates and bowls and cups. The rest he stacks randomly around the kitchen or else takes a wild guess as to where it might belong and stashes it there. On some level I find this amusing, but when I am in the middle of cooking and politely looking for an item ("Where in the hell is the mixing bowl?") it makes me crazy.

This is how the ladle and the whisk have disappeared.

Really, it could be so easy! They could be proudly sitting in the container on the counter, ready to be called to duty again. Instead, I root through drawers and cabinets complaining, "How far could the goddamned whisk have gotten?"

To which he replies, "Which one is the whisk again?"

They have both been missing for weeks, and to his annoyance I never miss an educational opportunity to remind him of their usefulness and to bemoan their unknown whereabouts whenever I can.

I think about them sometimes even when I am not cooking. I like to imagine they are now free from servitude and pursuing other, non-functional interests and talents they might have. I suppose they will turn up eventually. Maybe when I move out of this apartment. Or, sure as shit, as soon as I decide to replace them and buy new ones.

I call this one "Sans Ladle and Whisk."

May 3, 2011

Future tense

A: "Voy a preparar su ensalada en diez minutos."

(P.S. My Spanish RAWKS!)

(P.P.S. Is that right, Cindy?)

May 1, 2011


**A warning to my father--and everyone else, for that matter--that I discuss my hoo-hoo (and more) below**

Money is pretty tight these days, so it is a rare and wonderful treat to go in for waxing. Gone are the days when I went to the little Vietnamese salon down the street to see the lovely and always surprising Penny (read about examples of that here and here).

No, no. Once I got serious about the waxing of the vagina I started investing in a nice salon--one with bright lights and numbing spray and fancy purple wax. Stephanie is now my go-to girl for my hair removal needs.

I love Stephanie. She is also a lawyer who volunteers her time in the public defender's office. She is interesting to talk to, has an amazing memory for the random things I've told her, and makes the scary and potentially humiliating experience of a Brazilian bikini wax almost...enjoyable. This time, as with last time, I decided to really go for it--have her take it all off. No landing strips; there are no airplanes here. Get this shit OFF.

So yesterday Stephanie finished up the entire front area and was ready to work on the "back door" as she calls it. I took a sip from my glass of wine for strength and sustenance.

"Can you lay on your stomach and reach both hands back and spread your butt cheeks for me?"

I laughed nervously while getting into the requested position and said, "I am pretty sure no one has ever asked me to do this before."

"Well, at least now you know you can," she answered as she worked. "This way, if we're ever taken over by aliens and this is your only way to eat, you know you can do it."