Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hooked on DVR

I am hopelessly, ridiculously besotted with love for our DVR.

Before DVR, I seldom watched TV. The remote control resides in John’s hand whenever he’s home, oftentimes while he’s sleeping through his shows. He watches sports, Westerns, and precious little else, so I would happily sit in my reading corner and read books. If ever I had control of the remote I couldn’t find anything to watch, anyway.

But with the advent of DVR I’ve discovered there are shows I actually like! Property Brothers, who find and remodel homes that end up in the 700,000-800,000 range. Too-modern style for me, but amazing transformations. (They never would have sold me on the stinky cat house, though. Been there, done that, got the PTSD.) The Middle and Raising Hope, dysfunctional family sitcoms so absurd they crack me up. A couple of cooking shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

And then comes the feature I really love—the stopping and backing up of the show! The show is recorded and when a phone call interrupts or a husband snores really loudly or you go off imagining yourself using that amazing outdoor kitchen, you can magically back up the show and watch it again! It even works when you haven’t taped the show. You can pause and start again, or rewind. It’s amazing.

I think I’m DVR dependent, though. I find myself wanting to stop and back up in other areas of my life. The car radio: Should I be getting out of the car and lying as flat as possible in that wet ditch beside the road? Better take another listen. A fascinating conversation partially overheard in a coffee shop? Would be nice to know what happened prior to the point where the police were called on Aunt Phyllis.

I especially need a pause-rewind button for Sunday sermons when the pastor repeats something, repeats something with emphasis, repeats something with a little added part to it. After a few too many repetitions my brain goes off on its own, reminding me I need to stop for potatoes after church and that next Sunday I need to bring canned goods for the food drive. I notice, not for the first time, that the woman in front of me wears the worst scent since Evening in Paris, and those two little boys are poking each other with pencils and why don’t their parents notice what’s going on? Once again I’ve derailed and probably missed the important, the most important, the most relevant and important part of the whole sermon.

What are the times you could use a pause-restart or rewind button? Or is it just me?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Tree

I didn’t grow up with a lot of family traditions. My parents were so busy trying to keep up with eight kids some of the finer points got missed. We decorated eggs for Easter and danced dangerous pirouettes with burning sparklers on Independence Day, sure. But quiet gatherings around Dad as he read the Christmas story? No, it was never that quiet. Eggnog and cookies while eight kids pushed and shoved to decorate the tree? Would the living room even have survived?

My children, I’m sad to say, were raised pretty much like I was. Oh, I squeaked in a few more traditions here and there, but having three kids in fewer than four years will suck up most of the energy and good intentions you have. Avoiding accidental death and dealing with whining were the major activities. We’re lucky we all survived.

So now that I have grandchildren I pay better attention to traditions. Okay, I pay attention to the daughter who is very conscious of tradition-making. Now we do annual apple-picking trips, visits to the Christmas light village, and try to do vacations as a group.

I wish we had those fond memories to look back on, both in my childhood and my children’s lives.

But I’m very proud to have instituted a new tradition, all on my own. The Thanksgiving Tree. I printed leaf shapes on goldenrod paper, cut them out with a grandchild, hole-punched them, and tied on loops. Then at a recent family dinner (a weekly tradition), we all sat down and wrote the things we’re thankful for. Some wrote three, some four or even more, until we ran out of leaf shapes.

We read them out loud before hanging them on a little tree in the dining room. There are some other answers, but most say, essentially, “family.”

I think we’re doing okay.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gift Shopping Frenzy

The holiday season is almost upon us, and you know what that means. Everyone gets a gift!

I’m not good at gifts. First of all, I don’t like to shop. Unless it’s books or kitchen stuff for myself. Second, I am not good at listening to others and making note of the books, music or games they’re coveting, and have to ask outright, “What do you want?” or go with a (Thank-God-they-make-them-or-you’d-all-get-sausage-and-cheese-gift-sets) gift card.

Almost everyone collects something. Figurines, sports memorabilia, antique hat pins. Makes it easy to shop for them for Christmas and birthdays—just buy the latest bear figurine in the collection. But I didn’t collect anything. (Well, books. I find them everywhere—gift shops, antique shops, even in actual book stores. And, no, I’m not a book hoarder. Don’t listen to my husband; I never do.)

People have tried to force me to collect things. When I asked my 90-year-old grandmother for something meaningful to remember her by, she gave me an ugly frog figurine. People thought it was so funny my one heirloom was a hideous frog they started bringing me more.

Then I confessed my loathing for squirrels (see my blog post Squirrel Dreams for my rational and intellectual reasons why), and certain family members now look for squirrelly items to torture me with.

So in self defense I decided on a collection I could live with, nightmare-free. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, I remind you of the Squirrel Dreams post mentioned previously. Now maybe you’ll listen the first time I tell you something.) I settled on salt and pepper sets.

But then I added a codicil. Not just any salt and pepper sets. They had to mean something to me, such as the oxen/covered wagon ones to honor my obsession with the 1800s pioneer journey west. Asparagus ones to memorialize the two summers I spent as a teenager picking asparagus for a cool $1/hour. Corn ones for the incredible sweet corn Uncle LaVern grew and shared with us.

My insistence that the s&p’s mean something to me, though, makes it nearly impossible for others to add to my collection. Oops. Kind of defeated my purpose. So last Christmas most of my gifts were books or gift cards to bookstores.

I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried.

Remember, if you don’t want a lovely sausage and cheese gift basket it’s time to throw obvious hints my way. Let the holiday shopping frenzy begin!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rolling with the Punches

I caught myself wishing it wasn’t drizzling with rain so I could grill on my Big Green Egg. (Don’t know what a BGE is? Oh, you’ve got to come to my house for a burger or my Unbelievable Chicken. I’ve tried the same recipes on the countertop grill and blah. The hardwood charcoal does something to the food. Besides adding carcinogens.)

Back to wishing. When it comes to weather, sometimes it feels like I’m wishing my life away. I wish the weather was cold so we could snuggle up in front of the fire—without the TV on, John! Or chilly so we could roast hot dogs over the metal fire pit outside. Or warm so we could eat dinner on the patio, or eat at one of the many sidewalk caf├ęs downtown. I wish it wouldn’t rain so we could enjoy the outdoors. Then I wish it would rain so we wouldn’t have to go through the guilt of wasting a precious resource to water grass, or the frustration of letting all that expensive “bought” grass die.

I wish a lot of things. I find myself wishing I had one of those automatic doohickeys that scoot all over the floor to clean it so I wouldn’t have to mop. Then I think, as long as I’m wishing, why don’t I wish for a cleaning lady who could do that dang shower, too?

I’m sure you have situations in your life you wish were different. Health, a love relationship, family strife, a sad or tragic loss. We find ourselves looking back and wishing things were different. One little change and life would be so much better.

You can spend a lot of time dwelling in yesterdays, what-ifs, wishing things were different. Or you can work through it, deal with what is, and not worry about how much better it might be if your wishes were fulfilled. Roll with the punches, and you may even enjoy some of the rolls.

I choose to roll.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Girl Directions

When I leave a restaurant bathroom I always turn in the wrong direction. I’ll admit it—I’m directionally impaired.

Getting lost has plagued me since childhood. I remember being on an expressway and thinking my dad was brilliant to navigate the roads. I thought that every time you came to a new overhead sign you had to make a decision on which way to go. Didn’t realize you simply stayed on the expressway until you were ready to exit. Duh.

Three years ago I moved to a new city and was trying to find my way to a writers’ meeting. I was so excited—I’d left a wonderful critique group in Georgia and was hoping to replicate the group here. I consulted a map, feeling like a grown-up as I tracked the route.

All went well—until the last road. It wasn’t there. I drove a half-mile past where it should have been before I gave up and turned around. Then I backtracked a mile. The road simply wasn’t there.

I consulted my map. There it was, big as life. So I tried again. But again, no road by that name or any other appeared where it should have been located. So I tried again. (I know, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. Have you met me?)

This time I noticed a very short gap in the commercial buildings lining the road and a miniature wall off to the side. I was on a bridge? The map hadn’t showed a bridge!

By the time I got to the meeting, 20 minutes late, I was babbling and a bit wild-eyed. Recently one of the guys mentioned that day, laughing: “I thought you were either crazy or just cute.” He still hasn’t told me his final decision—which, now that I think about it, probably tells me his final decision.

I finally bought my husband a GPS which lives in my car and which he doesn’t have a clue how to use. Without the GPS, I need girl directions. Don’t mention compass points, mileage, or bank names. Tell me to turn left at the dead-end, go straight until you pass the big school on the right, then at the next light, where there’s a gas station/car wash, turn right, etc. I will fill up a page with handwritten directions and I will get there. Someday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bless the Dress

When I was eighteen, my mother went ballistic at me for going braless on a date. Hey, it was the early 70s and that was the style for hippie-wannabes like me. Mom and I didn’t have too many fights. I mostly behaved until about 17, and then usually snuck my bad behavior out of the house without discovery. But this time Mom caught me and got Dad involved. They said some things parents shouldn’t say to their daughter, and I’m sure I said things a daughter shouldn’t say to her parents. Not a night we talk about when we reminisce around the dinner table.

And I am over it.

But I was reminded of the event Sunday as a pretty, young girl, maybe 15-16 years old, sat in the church pew ahead of me. She had a knockout figure—a trifle full for today’s bone-thin standards, filling out her Jessica Rabbit sheath dress and then some. The dress was skimpy on both ends—strapless and mid-thigh, with ruching (a kind of gathering/tucking) at the hips, in case your eyes needed help noticing that part. I assume the conservatively-dressed woman sitting beside her was her mother. As I told my Facebook friends, I didn’t know who to slap first.

I’m not a fan of strapless or even spaghetti straps in church. I think many males have trouble following a sermon if the female in front of them is sticking her thumbs in the bodice of her dress to yank it up over her boobs again and again. Or if lingerie straps are peeking out. Or missing. Actually, I have a whole list of church no-nos: see-through clothes, mini skirts, skimpy shorts, tight tops. Also, if your full skirt has a tendency to get stuck where the sun don’t shine, wear a slip! The people behind your behind don’t want that image stuck in their heads as they rise up to sing to God.

I know short, tight and sexy is the style, but just like back in the early 70s, just because it’s in style doesn’t mean your parents should let you wear it. Especially to church.

So, gentle readers, tell me how you feel. And if my parents somehow see this, I swear I don’t go braless in public anymore.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Public Toilet Dreams

I have deeply paranoid dreams about public toilets and huge, maze-like hotels. Recently, the two combined forces in a dream that had me trying to find my room, racing against a deadline, and dealing with terrible public toilets, as well. That’s just not fair! If one of those nefarious squirrels from another bad dream had made an appearance, I probably would not have survived to whine about it all.

I used to ask people if they have public toilet dreams. Too many people drew away as if to escape the fearful darkness that they must have thought emanated from my being, so I quit asking. But I know I’m not the only one. Just Google “toilet dreams” and see what I mean.

Some of my classics? A row of stalls with the doors cut so high that as you sit, you’re exposed from the waist down. An outhouse lying on its back, so you have to lie on your back to go. (Think about that for a second. Gross, eh?) A huge bathroom built like a stadium, with toilets in ascending rows, and no privacy anywhere.

The literature on the subject (and by literature I mean Google hits) says that toilet dreams indicate feelings of embarrassment and vulnerability. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

The maze of hotel rooms stems, I’m certain, from my inability to find my way around in the world. Coming out of a restaurant bathroom I’ll turn the wrong direction every time. Before the invention of GPS I knew only one way to get somewhere. Or maybe not even that. One memorable time prior to cell phones I was trying to drive from one mall to another without going to “home base” first. No matter what I did, I’d end up where, instead of the road I swear showed on my map, I’d be facing a lake. After three tries, I found a payphone, called John and said, “You’re going to have to move the house. I can’t find you.”

Any recurring dreams in your life? And all you public-toilet-dreamers, I know you’re out there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hell on Wheels

Recently we took our annual 700-mile, life-sucking, everlasting car trip to visit family Up North. We stayed in a hotel two nights at my insistence—once on the way up and again on the way back. If my husband was still the boss of me, we’d drive the 12-hour trip in one go, with infrequent pit stops for fast food and to stumble, stiff-legged and blinking, to nasty rest area toilets as necessary. We stop overnight now, because I have learned the hard way that after eight hours in the car, one of us is going to be exceedingly not happy.

For years John ably filled that role while I hunched my shoulders and plugged my ears to the cursing and huffing emanating from the driver’s seat. We’d swerve and slam through heavy traffic, brakes and gas pedal stomped abundantly, all the other cars manned by, ahem, orifices of the anal kind. Eventually I got older and meaner, and quit tolerating his behind-the-wheel transformation from The Quiet Man into The Hulk. Now he tries to keep it in check (“You won’t like me when I’m angry,”) because he knows if he doesn’t he’s going to hear about it from The Hulkess. You’re welcome.

Lately, though, the exceedingly not happy person in the car is me.

No, I don’t cuss and swerve and huff and puff. I squirm. And writhe. And try in vain to find some position that doesn’t hurt my behind. You’d think with all this padding I’d have the most comfortable seat in the car, but that’s what you’d get for doing your own thinking. Something happens after eight-plus hours on those leather seats and I cannot sit there one minute longer. My bottom hurts and the arm rests make my hands fall slap asleep. If only my behind would do the same.

How about you? Do you love the open road, embrace long trips with much enthusiasm and a bag full of snacks? Or rest in the comfort of your La-Z-Boy and never leave home?

Friday, March 25, 2011

That’s Another Thing I’m Never Going to Do

What movie/TV show was that from? Two guys making all these elaborate plans, and then they start laughing: “That’s another d___ thing I’m never going to do!” The line makes me laugh but I don’t know what it was from. Anyone?

I’ve gotten to a point where I realize there are some things I’m
just never going to do. I’m never going to walk the Appalachian Trail. I’m never going to finish that quilt. I’m never going to fit into my skinny jeans.

Some things are just not meant to happen.

I’ve decided to embrace this time in my life. Okay, I haven’t completely given up on the quilt. I still hope to finish it before the fabric disintegrates. It probably would go faster if I ever actually worked on it.

But organize the photos into albums? Live in a big city? Buy a small farm to grow my own food and raise my own meat?

Honestly, did anyone ever see me as Farmer Valerie? I dig in the dirt about as much as the Queen of England does. And I kind of hate animals. (Don’t judge me. I have very good reasons. They stink and you have to clean up their poop.) But I’ve always had this image of me with a big braid of thick gray hair down my back, dressed in long skirts and shawls. “Little House on the Prairie”—but with central heat and good plumbing. And I’m finally, officially, letting that go.

Anything you’re jettisoning from your life-plans? Some wishful-thinking kinds of things that you finally accept that you're never going to accomplish or experience? Add it to the comments below and free yourself. Say it with me; "That's another d___ thing I'm never going to do!"

Friday, March 11, 2011

World Enough and Time

I never thought I would say this, but there’s too freakin’ much out there to read! And not nearly enough time.

For Christmas, I was the thrilled recipient of a Kindle e-reader, and promptly loaded it up with books. I also received several bookstore gift certificates, and a 26-volume set of Time-Life “The Old West” books, which I love, and am on the second volume. I can’t read just one book at a time, so I’m reading a nonfiction book on writing and a novel set in Georgia in the 1960s, too. When I’m walking (okay, I’ll get back to it soon, I promise), cooking, or sewing, I listen to a novel or memoir on an MP3 player from the library—currently, Ape House, by the author of Water for Elephants.

I am on a lot of email lists: cooking, writing, health, church committees, and several people’s “forward” lists. (Gotta admit, one person’s mass forwards get almost automatically deleted. Bless her heart.) Occasionally, I get an actual personal email. For my writing’s sake, I follow many agents on Twitter, and when they’re not tweeting about the weather/kids/pets/sushi, they’re linking to articles on writing and publishing. Which I feel compelled to read.

And somewhere in all that reading, I’m supposed to write, volunteer, do laundry, clean house, shop for groceries, cook, be a good wife, mom, and grandmother, floss my teeth, and, oh yeah, search for a part time job.

I know of some people who actually look for things to do. Things seem to find me. Okay, I admit, I volunteer for some. But others appear on my doorstep like orphans, with arms reaching out and “Please help me!” scrawled across their little buntings. And I love to help—I am kind of a do-bee. I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t factor in down time, time to write, read, plan, and ponder, I will turn into someone else, someone I don’t like. The not-happy Valerie.

I’ve never yet found the perfect balance. How do you balance your life? Do you leave enough time for you to be you? Are you in a phase of your life that simply doesn’t allow much time for that? What can you do about it?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Cutting Edge

I cut myself on the face while shaving.

And no, smart-alecks, I wasn’t shaving my face.

I was shaving the hair on the back of my neck—sometimes it gets a little scruffy between haircuts and I have to clean it up. I do it while in the shower so the hairs don’t stick to my neck and itch. Got it?

So, as I was transferring the razor from my left hand to my right, somehow my chin got in the way (?), and slash! Splashes of blood hit the shower floor and spattered like a horror movie. I rushed, worried that I might run out of blood and faint, naked. in the shower, and EMS would be called. That’s my idea of a horror story. Probably the EMS squad’s, too.

I stuck toilet paper to the cut and tried to get dressed, but one wad of toilet paper didn’t begin to staunch the flow. I had to press toilet paper against my chin for, oh, fifteen minutes before the flow slowed to a trickle. 

I've had other bad experiences with sharp objects. Last year when the whole family gathered, I dressed the three granddaughters in pillowcase dresses (handmade by yours truly, thank you very much) and took pictures out front on the wicker rockers. I’d cut my hand with a paring knife just prior to the photo session and stuck several bandages over the cut. A few minutes into the photo session I guided one of the girls into position and a bright red stain showed up on the dress’ shoulder. Oops. Son-in-law Jeremy did some quick first aid, taping and binding my hand into immobility, and I lived.

On Thanksgiving Day I was chopping up turkey thighs to roast (makes a gravy to die for—literally) and wham, another slip of the knife. John wanted to take me to Emergency for stitches but I refused—the work-intensive gravy would never get done, and I didn’t have a Plan B. He cleaned and bound the nasty cut, making dire predictions about poultry diseases, and took over the gravy preparations. The following Tuesday at the dermatologist’s I was told, “Your husband was right. You needed stitches. Too late now.” It hurt until February.

So when I cut my chin recently, five-year-old granddaughter Ella asked, “What did you do to your face?” 

“I accidentally cut it. I have a little trouble with sharp things.”

“Yeah, because you always cut yourself with them!”

The next time she saw me she greeted me with, “So, did you cut yourself again?”

What about you? Are you known for something as stupid as impaired knife-handling? And if you ever want a blood-brother (or sister), I always stand ready.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Booby Prize

I like to think the best of people. I’m not suspicious, and kind of take people at face value until they prove themselves unworthy of my respect.

John says I’m gullible.

Last week I got a phone call—I’d won a chef for a night! Woo-hoo! Chef Ray reminded me that I’d filled out a card at a Taste of Home Cooking Show (lots of vendor tables and I’d filled out lots of cards) and my name had been drawn! The show was a few months back, so my BS-O-Meter should have twanged, but no. He told me to invite a few other couples and he’d bring his own cookware and food, and would see me on Friday night. I often haul my own cookware along when I rent a beach house, so again, the BS-O-Meter remained in hiding.

When Chef Ray began hauling in, unpacking and arranging pots, pans and other equipment, the truth began to sink in. This was a salesman demonstrating cookware. Now, I love to cook and at least one of the other guests loves to, also, so I thought, okay, so he demonstrates his cookware. Unethical to represent it as a chef-for-a-night prize, and I was hideously embarrassed that I’d invited friends without warning them this was a sales pitch, but I’m basically a kind person who doesn’t throw people out of her house even when the situation warrants it, and I hoped my friends would accept my sincere apologies afterward.

He’d promised we eat about an hour after the guests arrived at six. After an hour of oohing and ahhing, still no food cooked in his fancy-shmancy cookware. Lunch was a distant memory. I dealt with my creeping annoyance by plotting ways to mock the whole night on my blog.

Finally he started cooking. At eight I was getting a little light-headed but the food was ready—and then he held it hostage in those heat-holding pans of his while he witnessed to us about what Jesus had done for him. Finally the BS-O-Meter sets off alarms.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a Christian. I have been known to tell someone my faith story. But I’ve never told someone she won a prize as a way to get into someone’s house to sell them something. I’ve never used a sales call as a vehicle to witness to someone else’s guests.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me in front of my friends, shame on you even more! Bad enough I was clueless, but I invited friends to my home to be held hostage by this guy and his outrageously overpriced cookware (electric skillet $580, small set of cookware $1400). Seriously. Want the big set? $2300.

To my friends who politely sat through that evening, please forgive me! I’ll cook for you soon and will not try to sell you anything, I promise.

And to everyone else, tune up the BS-O-Meter. Chef Ray is out there.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Making a List

Every morning, I make a list of things I’m never going to do.

Of course, that’s not my intention as I make the list. I honestly think I’m going to dust all 21 window blinds today. I think I’m going to clean out the fridge, mop the kitchen, shop for replacement cabinet hardware and hot-tub supplies, complete all the tasks on my list and go to sleep tonight secure in the knowledge that I’ve done everything in my power to keep my life perking along.

I’m Valerie Norris and I’m a listaholic.

I love making lists. Each morning I make the day’s to-do list, with everyday tasks such as laundry, mopping, making a meal plan for the week, errands, etc. Also, I have a list for those big, pesky tasks that could take days/weeks/months to complete, such as that quilt that’s going to disintegrate before I finish it, or filling out the “Grandma” books, or putting photos from the last 30 years into some semblance of order. You know, the things I’m never actually going to do.

But the other day I actually crossed something off my long-term to-do list. It was an historic moment. Tears stood in my eyes as I held my pen aloft in a moment of respectful silence before inking a solid line through the listing, knowing that the task itself was not that big a deal, but the fact that I had finally done it—priceless.

Most people don’t make lists of mundane tasks. Most people don’t have my tendency to—ooh, something shiny! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, lists. I tend to get caught up in whatever’s in front of me, and soon the day disintegrates like the fabric in that quilt I can’t seem to finish. So my lists keep me on track. Even if I only cross off half of the items, I can see that I accomplished something. I didn’t “p--- away another day,” as my long-retired parents say. And for some reason, that helps me.

Are you one of those who somehow remembers that the hot tub needs to be checked regularly, or that you need to plan and shop prior to the Superbowl party or your guests will be eating that frozen fish that never sounded as appetizing after you lost the article about Omega-3s? Or are you a list-maker? Let me know which type you are. I’m making a list.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unfiltered Valerie

Have you ever found yourself with someone who was spouting off or misbehaving, and you just sat back and thought, wow. Yeah, that’s what I used to do. When I was younger, I kept my head down, didn’t make too many waves, performed my role as middle child fixer of all relationships, even let my husband be the boss of me for awhile. (Right now John is getting all misty-eyed, remembering those bygone days.)

These days I’m more likely to laugh, comment, or even respond in kind. I don’t know if it’s maturity, hormones (or a lack of them), wisdom, a sense of justice for the oppressed, an inability to suffer fools gladly—but let’s call it maturity. I was in the grocery store one day as a scowling middle-aged man pushing a grocery cart was followed by his obviously browbeaten wife. As soon as he saw me blocking the aisle on the far end, talking to another woman, he made an even worse face and hunched forward as if to mow us down. We had plenty of time to pull to one side before he got near, but he still looked murderous as he pushed past, mumbling about us blocking the aisle. I laughed and said, “If that’s the worst thing that’s happened to you today, you’re having a blessed day.” His wife’s eyes widened and she scuttled past like I was contagious. I hope I was.

Just this past Sunday I was in a meeting with a church group and the subject of a Mission Statement came up. “You’re a writer, Valerie! You would be good at helping us come up with a Mission Statement.”

I made one of those rude, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me huffing noises. “Just shoot me now.”

“You don’t believe in Mission Statements?”

I said, “Oh, I believe in them. I’ll get behind whatever Mission Statement you make. Just don’t make me sit through another meeting with a group of people trying to come up with one. I hate those meetings.” A respectful silence followed my words. Or else most of the members of the group were saying a little prayer for my soul.

The filter seems to be gone, doesn’t it? Instead of my edges being rubbed smooth with age, I sometimes wonder if some of them are being honed even sharper.

What about you? Are you more open about your opinions? Do you react out loud, or have you learned to keep it to yourself? How is aging—I mean maturing—affecting your “filter”?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Trashing the Kitchen

Had a fabulous time talking cooking when my brother and sister-in-law visited. Pam mentioned gadgets and pans (“I have this jalapeno pepper holder for pepper poppers from the grill! Oh, have you ever cooked on wooden planks?”) and we tried to find an open kitchen supply store in Greenville this past Sunday, January 2. No luck—one was closed for inventory, the other just to tick me off.

Pam has the amazing talent of making meals look effortless. You imagine that behind her orderly, streamlined kitchen there’s a real working kitchen, where minions toil silently and ceaselessly, sliding finished dishes through a hidden cupboard. When I cook for a crowd it’s like a cartoon—I knock over pans, stack baking sheets in precarious piles, and dirty more utensils and pots than most people own.

I’m not sure when my love of cooking developed. Early on in the marriage I made stuffed green peppers from The Joy of Cooking, and found no joy in it. “After all that work,” I lamented, “it’s just—stuffed green peppers!” My husband said, “You don’t need The Joy of Cooking. You need the I Hate to Cook Book.” But at some point I began reading and collecting cookbooks, learning more about the science of cooking, and trying more recipes than the few my mother taught me. My collection of cookbooks began to overtake my pioneer history books, my books about writing.

What about you? Love cooking? Hate cooking? Are you messy like me, or so tidy your relatives surreptitiously check your trash for takeout packages?