Wolf Whistle

The current state kitchen from big stainless steel fridge to teeny counter to old sink to more teeny to stove. Also some raggedy cabinets. And no backsplash.

There was that day, much earlier in this adventure, when we went appliance shopping. We needed to pick stuff out so it could be designed in. Like what if we wanted warming drawers or wine chillers or a pizza oven? For the record, none of those items were on my list.

Our contracting team sent us on the adventure to the fancy appliance showroom.  This was not Kenmore-land. Not big box Best Buy. It was quite fancy and a bit intimidating. But, first, we had to get there.

We made an early Saturday morning appointment, which bordered on stupid since we don’t normally travel together in the morning.  Except for those early mornings that marked the beginning of two weeks at the beach–also known as the pre vacation screamfest that takes fifteen miles to overcome. I know this because for as long as I’ve been with The Spouse–inclusive of those pre-nuptials years–whenever we drove up the I-95 corridor, like going to see the Orioles in Baltimore, visiting his family in Manhattan or trekking the rest of the way up to the Cape for those beach days on the island, whenever we’d near Exit 35 to Laurel/Scaggsville I would always say,

“Hmmmmm. Scaggsville. That’s where you’re from.”

And The Spouse would always reply, “That’s where I met you.” It’s part of our shtick.

And on those early mornings, after frantically shoving bags and boys and bikes and dog into the car. And after the inevitable disagreement at volume. And after me glaring out the window through hot tears and in cold silence, we’d approach the exit. And I’d wrestle with my righteous anger and vow not to talk. And then I would get this worry that if I didn’t say it this time, that it would break everything. And so I’d say, “Scaggsville, that’s where you’re from.” And he’d answer, as always.

But on this morning, the one I started writing about, we were driving up I-270, the other way north out of D.C.  We weren’t heading on a trip, but were still in the car in the morning, together. This time, there was no yelling. Well, maybe a little peckish huffing followed by some sighful puffing. Nevertheless, we made it to our appointment on time. Our appointment to check out major appliances.

Our architect had emailed a list of items to the sales consultant a few days before. She was well prepared for us.

We were early, the first clients in the showroom. We started with an offer of coffee. There was a fridge that had a built-in keurig coffee maker right in the door, near the water dispenser. It took a long time to brew.  It was silly and gimmicky. I asked who would buy it. In fact, they don’t sell very many of that feature. Us? We’re keeping our current bottom-freezer-without-French-door icebox. It’s fine and just a few years old.

Our guide steered us to our first event, the cooking surface. This was the only appliance that I wanted to invest in. I wanted high heat burners and low heat simmer. I was thinking five burners. It was going to be the jewel in my kitchen. It would make me a cooking star.

First, we learned the difference between cooktops (burner controls on the top) and rangetops (the top of a standard oven with controls in front). We went through the paces on a pair of GE’s to see the difference between the cooktop and range–especially in moving pots and pans across the surfaces. I was leaning rangetop. She then had us walk across the showroom to the far side. The Spouse ran ahead.

“Oh! It’s the Wolf! It’s the Wolf!” He was nearly jumping up and down.

I looked at the salesperson a little sideways. She was caught a little off guard, too.

“You know this appliance?” If I could have raised one eyebrow independent of the other, be assured I would be doing so. I think he saw the unnatural furrow above my right brow. He took his hands off of the red knobs, caught in his excitement like Dan Ackroyd gleefully sliding down that fire pole in Ghostbusters.

“I’ve used this at the condo in Telluride and at Sundance, too.” [Yes, Loyal Reader, The Spouse is way cooler than me.] He described the low and high burners. The model we were looking at had low and high on all six burners–yes six.

After we wiped the drool from our chins, we looked at the Viking. He knew that one, too. Was not as favored. Turns out he was right. They are in a quality spiral, and not in a good way. The Thermador? He knew that one, too.  But it was the Wolf that compared to all others. It was our new standard.

It was the all super hot and super low burners. It was the relighting feature. It was the clarity of the controls and the more obvious signs of being “on,” especially important for super low simmering. It was the promise of an amazing chocolate roux for shrimp étouffée, like The Spouse prepared for his colleagues in Park City.

“Do they all have red knobs?” The salesperson started to answer, but The Spouse interrupted.

“That’s their thing.” Turns out, though, that you could get stainless steel knobs if you wanted.

Today I old-school mailed a check for our new appliances. And in addition to buying the first dishwasher that I have ever owned (I know, right?!?), we bought the Wolf. That mighty fine Wolf. With the red knobs. Added to our repertoire, next to the exit.

26.198 (Post #357)

A boy. On a hill. Wearing skis and a Washington Football Team jacket.

I can see the finish line. It’s just ahead. Just one day more, cue Les Miserables.

Tomorrow I’m going to post about what I’ve learned this past year (like the irrelevance in teasing you, my Loyal Reader). My retrospective, if you will. Today, though, I’m going to be prospective. What am I going to do?

You see, last year at this time, I resolved to write and publish. Every. Stinking. Day. For the entirety of 2016. This has taken up a good hunk of my life. Like 44 waking days over the course of the year.

So, what’s next? 

Well, one thing for sure is I will not publish a post every stinking day. But you likely already knew that. So let’s say I commit to publishing weekly. That is a decrease of 600%. (To be honest, I kind of made up that number. I don’t feel like doing real math. It might be a higher percentage decrease. See what I mean? Higher decrease?) 

When I started this challenge, I said that I wanted to produce as well as consume. Now, I want more balance. I want to read more quality writing. Read more books. Read more long form, more New Yorker. Oh, and read zero celebrity you-won’t-believe-where-they-are-today posts. I’m also cutting back on fake news. Just kidding there.

Third, I am going to use a bunch of my brain-space as we remake a hunk of this, our 103 year old, house. It’s going to be a big project. Even huge. It may kill me. It may have me killing The Spouse. I hope not. This will require extreme effort. But I’ve seen others succeed. We can do this. I’m going to set out a goal right now, no family bloodshed on the house thing. There, I said it.

Last, I realized that I’ve slacked off on volunteering my time and talents. We have a cool town here, and in addition to buying local, I need to do more to contribute local. It was easy when The Boys were in school. There were plenty of things that needed doing and plenty of people asking. I’m going to do some asking and then get about some doing.

Pretty much all of the above is ripe for future thinkings (that’s my code for posts). I expect that I’ll be incohate, insulted, insipid, inspired, inept, intrigued and infatuated. Not all at the same time, though. More spread out. Maybe some overlap. Maybe also some adjectives that are not as alliterative. Maybe. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, I’m poised and ready to start a new year. Sadly, for me, I’ll be spending a lot less time with you, my Loyal Reader. But I hope our time will still be good for you. Fingers crossed. 

Hics and Hope

A pile of oatmeal cream pies. Mine was better.

All I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch. Wrap that super soft fleece around my recently de-booted feet and pull it up to the edge of my chin. And then wrap my fists with the top of the blanket before I rested them on my chest, pushing the warmth to that edge of chin. This would be the moment punctuated by a great sigh, just when Tinkerbell raced across the top of the castle announcing the movie start.

But, no. Of course not. Instead I was accosted by the violent wrenching and expulstion of air that is a hiccup. And another hiccup. And, dammit, another. And they almost hurt. They definitely caused my body to writhe. And they interrupted my attempt to invite The Spouse to join me on the comfy couch and watch the movie. And now my chest hurts. Not a lot, but still. And there is another hiccup.

I tried to will it away. That may have worked in the past. But maybe the eruptions just passed on their own, and I was fooling myself. Thinking about it, any technique that “worked” was inconsistent. Sure plugging you nose worked. Then it didn’t. And drinking water from a glass backwards worked. That time. The spoon under your tongue while drinking a full glass of water? Works three out of ten times. The other seven doing nothing had the same effect.

I put the kettle on. I was going to make tea–between the wringings of my windpipe and throat.  I wondered if the oatmeal cream pie cookie would cure these GI contortions. The high pitched “hics” escaped my lips at irregular intervals. More to tease than anything else.

I added the sugar to my tea and waited for the next one. It never came. I thought it would, but it was done.

The episode started without an obvious cause and ended with the same unsatisfying mystery. Except. Except while the disposition of the mystery might be unsatisfying, suffice it to say that it was enormously satisfying to have those dastardly hiccups wind down to nothing.

I’m not going to wonder why. I’m just going to be glad it’s done. Movie time!

Holly and Jolly

My feet. In front of the Christmas Tree. The tree is lit.

So tonight we had a Christmas Party. It’s a party that we’ve thrown more often than not in my lifetime. This means at least two things. First, that we’ve had this party for many, many years. And second, my adulthood is now told in decades.

I was challenged by a friend last night, during someone else’s holiday soirée, to look good. So I put on my most fabulous red dress and my princess shoes. I didn’t name them princess shoes, I had a contractor on staff a different set of years ago who named them. His designation wasn’t wrong.

Anyway, I really do not want to miss writing a post because we had a party. On the other hand, I used up all of my creativity making a party. Well, maybe used up is wrong. Creativity is unlimited, so it can’t be depleted. It’s more like exhausting, as in being tired. If I really, really, really needed to be creative, like to save a life, I could do it. It’s there. But to be more easily available, it needs to have some regeneration time. I used alot today.

So there were people here. Some were little people who played tag in and outside and who were sorry that The Beast was not running around with them. They don’t know that he is a great party foul perpetrator. Like he’d eat that cookie from their hand. Without aggression, mind you, but also without remorse. That’s just who he is. And is also why he is isolated during parties. He’s now resting his heavy head on my shoulder. Very calm once we’ve move past festivities.

There were some big people here, too. And returning to the decades thing, I introduced a friend of twenty years to a friend of thirty. I guess they are both old friends. Some people drank red. Some drank white. And some hit up the keg. It’s always fun to have a keg at a party. That’s why we do it. And The Spouse likes having alot of beer.

Speaking of alot, there was the Ham. We always have the Ham. It has been known to flip new vegetarians back to meat. Sadly, for at least one, their second slip was a double mcCheeseburger. The Ham was also partook by a guest who doesn’t eat pork. Since this was a guest, I did not correct her. She was enjoying herself. And, for the knowing meat eaters, suffice it to say that it is enough to keep them coming back. Year after year.

Someone asked if I made the most amazing dessert of the chocolate thing on top of the mini pretzel. First, the dessert snack offering was brilliant. And second, I don’t make dessert. It is either bought or brought. This one was brought. If I new the elf who made this simple ambrosia (where ambrosia=food of the gods), I would kiss them on the lips. So, it’s likely they are happy to remain anonymous.

Last, and apropos of absolutely nothing, the Big Guy gave me a Baby Ruth, after everyone left and the remaining scraps of food were refrigerated and I was sitting on the couch trying to scratch out this post. I ate the entire candy bar. Even thought it’s very late. I’m now going to brush my teeth and turn in. Okay. So that’s it for tonight. And a good night was had by all. I hope yours was a good one, too, Loyal Reader.

 

Outside In

There’s a tree in my house. Like INSIDE my HOUSE.

It is tall, way taller than me. It is green. It has thousands of tiny needles, which is its version of leaves. It has little, browned leaves hidden in its boughs. It stands upright in a small red metal vase filled with water that it thirstily drinks. It smells of winter, of cold, of outside.

It will be in my house for the next few weeks. Tomorrow it will lose its wildness. I will string bright lights on its branches, pushing some deep inside so that it glows and leaving some on the outside so that it shines. I will hang a hundred or so trinkets on it, some are as old as me, some as old as the boys and some even younger than The Beast. I will top it off with a star.

It will scent the house with pine and outside. It will hit us square for the next few days, then it will be the background smell, taken for granted. It will cause us to change our paths through the room, walking around its fat bottom, bumping into it and making the bells that I hang low jingle.

It will protect the boxes and bags that will be stacked underneath it on Christmas Eve. It will watch over us as we have parties, imbibe, nibble and feast. It will hear our secrets, our disagreements, our barks and our love.

And then, after the New Year, it will be gone, leaving an invisible mass that we will walk around for a few days, until we forget. It will hide a few needles in a corner, between the floorboards, camouflaged in the pile of the rug. And I will pick a needle out of the bottom of my sock sometime in July and remember that there was a tree that finished it’s own time inside of my house.

Amazing Blues

Football is a game of inches. It’s a game of forward motion–you can be knocked back, but usually you get credit for as far as you got before you were touched. It’s also a game of spots. There are humans that decide how far you got, and they put the ball on that spot. It’s a little squishy.

Football is about where the ball is, not where the player is. Except, of course, when the player is in bounds or out of bounds. Then it’s all about the number of feet that touched the ground on the correct side of the line, even if the ball itself is physically out. Scoring, though, is about where the ball physically is–has it crossed the line?–plus where the player is, plus whether he has a good hold on it.

So you could have the ball in the scoring area, but be in the air and float out of range. No score. You could be in the scoring area, have both feet in bounds for a hot nano-second, but bobble the ball as you hit the ground. No score. It’s hard for the player catching the ball, who has to have an amazing sense of exactly where he is while accomplishing a crazy-amazing athletic feat while having people trying to knock him down. Respect!

While this madness is occurring at super speed, some old guys in zebra suits are looking to see if the player crossed into the scoring area before being knocked down (knee positioning is critical here) or pushed out, and that the player actually was in control of the ball–seriously, this whole thing is out of control–and, if there are any opposing players nearby, that nobody is mauling an opponent. That’s pass interference. It can happen either to the receiver or to the defender. There is frequently much motioning to the old guys in the stripes that the other guy was mean. Really, I don’t know how the old guys in the stripes can make their decisions so quickly. Game speed is fast.

But really, why do we care about it so much? Why do we spend hours watching men with helmets and pads that make their huge selves even more huge and that we identify by the color of their shirts and the numbers on their backs?

Seriously, I have no flipping idea. All I know is that I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. I’d watch with my Dad. It was me and Dad. Nobody else in the family watched football. I don’t know how it started. Likely I just sat down and found the entire game curious. I’d ask him a lot of questions. He’d patiently explain the rules and what was happening on the field.

We liked the same teams–which wasn’t a big surprise since he introduced me to his teams. But still, we shared many Saturdays watching the Wolverines play. That’s where I learned to hate the team in Columbus. It’s a rivalry. It’s like an infection. We are all zombies for our teams.

I didn’t have a clue about college, except that I intended to go. Nobody in my family had done college. When I selected a school, it was based on my love for the football team. Probably not the best way to choose a college. But it was a state school. They seemed to like smart people. I applied. It was good I got in, because I didn’t apply anywhere else.

So this last Saturday, I pulled out a twenty-five year old Michigan sweatshirt–the light gray one with the dark blue letters. The blue one with the gold letters isn’t a sweatshirt anymore as much as a thinning pajama top. I plopped myself in front of the TV for the noon kick off. And the officiating went all haywire. Forward motion, ball placement, the location of butts and shoulders and arms and hands were in a primordial stew of a set of overtime rules that were more akin to a soccer shootout than a college football game.

It seemed like none of my teams are winning this month. I don’t like losing. I am really full of character right now. But I’m thinking that if I was watching this game with my Dad, he would have been so mad. Even madder than me. Every time I saw a replay of the call that was blown by the old guys in the stripes, I know Dad would be calling them dumbshits. That was his exclamation when something went wrong with his team. And thinking about that, for some reason, made me feel just a little bit better.

We so had it. Go Blue. And thanks, Dad. xoxo

Shade Friday

The beast. A bit too relaxed. On the couch.

I didn’t go shopping today. In fact I don’t know anyone who did. But that could just be because I stayed close to home.

I rolled out of bed and made some coffee. We have three different coffees available. I knew it would be a volume day, so I used the grocery ground. It is too fine for the french press, but so be it. It was the first of three pots this morning. Know well that I shared.

I finished the book that I began a few weeks ago. Remind me to never again read a dystopian novel around election time. I think I read too much into it.

I went to the post office. I asked the Big Guy if he wanted anything there. He said, “some stamps.” And then doubled over with laughter, as if he would ever use a stamp.

I mailed my niece her birthday present. Her birthday was in July. She’s a baby. She doesn’t know any better. I told the woman at the post office that I bet she’d get her Christmas present by her next birthday. We both thought that was funny.

I held the door for a man as I was leaving the post office. He wouldn’t look at me. I motioned for him to walk through. He looked away as he told me he could hold the door for himself. I let the door go. As I walked down the steps to the sidewalk, a man on the other side of the handrail told me that I could hold the door open for him, any day. I took that as a compliment.

I ate a piece of pizza. It had more things on it than I generally eat. There was pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, olives and sausage. Truthfully? It was excellent. After all that I ate yesterday, you’d think I would be full, but I just wanted to eat more. I stopped at one piece, though. Seems like I was exhibiting moderation.

I drank a can of Dr. Pepper. It wasn’t even diet. Full-sugar baby. I love Dr. Pepper. And the sweet effervescence encouraged a most amazing belch, from the depths of my belly, traversing my esophagus, out of my mouth and through my nose at the same time. Baby Bear looked up. He was quite impressed.

I decided it was now the Christmas season. I asked Alexa to play some Christmas music and she obliged with Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and Brenda Lee rocking around the Christmas tree. Damn that Alexa, she totally gets me.

I tried to get The Beast to relax. Wait. No. He was relaxed. Me too.

And that’s how I do me some Black Friday. Easy.