Saturday, August 1, 2015

When Left To My Own Dinner Devices

A. took Cubby and Charlie camping for the night. They were very excited. So was I. Because with the three of them gone camping and the MiL away on a trip, I was left with no one but myself to feed.

Well, myself and Jack, but his idea of a balanced meal is pureed beets and yogurt, so I wasn't too worried about him.

I got some potatoes at the farmers' market this morning and I had great plans to cook some potatoes with cheese and maybe Swiss chard. Oh, and we have some leftover beets! How balanced! How healthy!

Yeah, who am I kidding? You know what I had for dinner?

Chips, dip, and gin. Hey, at least the dip was homemade.

I didn't even eat it at the table. And my dining companion was not required to wear pants.

He practiced his dry-land swimming while I ate.

I did manage to cook one of the potatoes, which I mashed and fed to Jack. So at least one of us ate reasonably well.

He approves of potatoes.

Based on my dietary choices when left alone, it's a good thing this happens about once a year. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


We often say in this house that you're allowed to complain about one type of weather. If you hate the cold, winter is your time to whine ceaselessly about the temperature (ALL annoying D.J.s on the radio, I'm looking at you). If the snow gets you down, feel free to make your displeasure known on those days when you can't step outside without sinking in up to your ankles.

But the rest of the time, you have to hold your tongue. Because no one wants to hear the weather-whines on repeat.

Now is my time to whine.

It was 93 degrees yesterday at 4 p.m. The only saving grace was that the low pressure hadn't moved in yet, so at least it was still dry and clear.

But the low pressure arrived last night, the temperatures are going to be well into the eighties today, and that means nothing but prickly sweat and misery all day until the blessed relief of a shower when the children go to bed. Thirteen hours from now.

I despise heat and humidity. Hate hate hate hate.

What's your season for weather whining?

Edited to add: This afternoon, while sitting at the table eating peanuts, Cubby slumped down in his chair and announced, "Mom, I'm stunned by this heat."

Me too, son. Me too.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Vegetable Vandal

We have an eggplant, uh, plant in a pot. Did you know you could grow eggplants in a pot? I didn't. The MiL didn't either, but she brought home this big eggplant plant from the nursery and stuck it in a pot, and lo! Eggplants! More eggplants than we have ever gotten out of any plants in the garden, as a matter of fact.

So now I have some eggplants to cook with, which is nice. I picked a couple to put on the grill with the hamburgers tonight, which I guess gave Charlie ideas, because he then picked a teeny eggplant only a couple of inches long and brought it to me.

So we had a little talk about not picking them until I tell him they're ready to pick, because that tiny little eggplant should have been left to grow bigger and blahblahblah . . . leave the vegetables* alone, okay, kid?

"Osay," said Charlie. Because that's how Charlie and his three-year-old pronunciation say "okay."

Fifteen minutes later, Charlie was circling the lone tomato plant that is in a pot near the grill. He asked if they were ready to pick. I told him no. There were maybe five or six that were almost ready, maybe a day or two more, but not all the way ready. Wait until I tell you to pick them, okay?

"Oooosaaaay . . ."

Did you guess how this ends?

No, he didn't pick them. Instead he squeezed them. Yup. Popped 'em all like water balloons. I went out to check on the grill and found every single almost-ripe tomato still on the vine but burst open and oozing seeds and juice.


He got another lecture, this one delivered more forcefully. I told him the tomatoes wouldn't get fully ripe now.  I told him they wouldn't taste as good. I told him I was angry that he had ruined the tomatoes I had asked him not to pick. Was he repentant?

What do you think?

I almost wish I had had a camera to capture the defiant look on his face. 

I threw the two least-ripe tomatoes right onto the grill, figuring that would help their flavor. The others I cut up and dumped into the vinaigrette marinade left from the eggplant. So it worked out okay.

Charlie shuffled off to the front porch to sulk. Then he snuck into the house and sulked in the living room for awhile, hiding there while I ran around outside calling him. When I finally did find him in the living room, I told him I was making the tomatoes into a tomato salad and he could help me pick the basil for the salad.

He did. The salad was good. Would've been better with riper tomatoes, though.

* Yeah, yeah, seeds on the inside means it's technically a fruit, as is a tomato, but who ever refers to eggplants and tomatoes as fruits? 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Twelve Years, Three Kids, One Way

At the time we got married twelve years ago today, A. was working as a security guard at a bank building. It continues to this day to be the job he always counts as his worst ever, but the one thing he got out of it (other than a modest paycheck to pay our rent every month, that is) was a priceless piece of advice on marriage.

It came from Clay. Clay was a black man who grew up as one of something like eleven kids in the hills of Arkansas. He played professional baseball before World War Two. He was in his eighties and still working as a security guard when A. knew him. He had been married for at least fifty years. So I think it's safe to say that this was a man with a lot of wisdom in general, and someone to listen to on the topic of a successful marriage.

What Clay told A. was this: "Ain't no your way or her way. There can only be one way."

What he meant, obviously, is that two people who choose to marry are choosing to live their lives together. And the only way to stay together over many years and even more changes is to commit to following the same path.

I don't know where Clay is now, or if he's even still alive. But he gave us a great gift that day he told A. his opinion on marriage. Because here we are, twelve years later, and still going our way.

Happy anniversary to A. I don't know where the hell this way we're on is going, but wherever it is, at least we're in it together.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Theology by Cubby

I will preface this story by informing you that though I was raised Catholic and was very active in the Catholic church through college, I am not now. At best, I could be considered a dispassionate agnostic. The MiL sometimes takes Cubby and Charlie to her Presbyterian church, but that's the extent of their religious exposure.

Which is why the following conversation was a little surprising. It started when I wouldn't let Cubby put the couch pillows on the filthy floor to "camp" inside.

Cubby (in a very petulant tone): Daddy lets me.

Me: Well, Daddy isn't here. I'm in charge, and I say no.

Cubby (still petulant): Well the Lord says yes. Jesus Christ says yes.

Me: Jesus Christ has nothing to do with pillows.

Cubby: He has to do with everything. He made the world.

Me: Right. And He gave us free will to make choices, and I choose not to put the couch cushions on the floor.

Cubby: But He forgives us if we do something wrong.

Me: Yes. But it's best not to do anything wrong that requires forgiveness. So don't put the couch cushions on the floor.

Cubby: Hmmph.

And then he flounced off.

Jesus and I both love him, but I make the rules. So there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If You're Eating, Stop Reading Now

I know it's never going to be anything good when I catch The Smell. That particular Smell with a capital "S" that means one thing: a decomposing animal.

This time The Smell was located within smelling distance of the dining room door. I caught the scent a few times while I was going in and out, yet I found myself not-so-strangely reluctant to seek out its source. But knowing that nothing good ever comes of ignoring The Smell, I went on a search and destroy mission.

About ten feet from the door, behind the magnolia tree, I found it. It was the remains of some kind of rodent, a rat or a chipmunk maybe. So little remained of it that it was hard to tell its original shape, thanks to the fact that it was literally writhing with hundreds of maggots.

Oh yes. It was just as vomit-inducing as it sounds.

Charlie heard my exclamation of disgust and came over to investigate. I instructed him not to touch it and grabbed a handy shovel to scoop the whole mess up.

It broke in half.

I KNOW. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more foul, I end up with half a maggoty corpse on a shovel and the other half splatted on the ground with maggots wiggling away all over the place.

Do you want to throw up yet just reading about it? Yeah, me too.

I asked Charlie to grab a stick for me to push the rest of the filth onto the shovel, which he obligingly did. Then I asked him to take a nearby watering can, fill it with water, and wash all the maggots off the stone while I went to the gully to dispose of the horror on the shovel.

He got most of them washed away. I completed the flooding with a large bucket of water and then decided to share the whole happy episode with you.

Hey, at least I didn't take a picture. You're welcome.

Edited to add: Oh, BUT WAIT! There's more! About twenty minutes later, I was up on the front porch with Jack when Cubby wandered down to the front lawn by Otty and said, "Yuck. There's some gross meat here that Otty brought." It was a big piece of a deer lung or something. God knows where she found it. It was already covered in flies and starting to get The Smell. Back for the shovel and a stick for scooping, then flinging. 

What a beautiful day this is turning out to be.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Disappointment Was Keen

Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but the thought of s'mores pretty much got me through yesterday. I helped coach Cubby's soccer practice. I shuttled children back and forth from the beach. I spent more time than I would have chosen on the blazing hot beach holding Jack and jumping him around and dangling his feet in the water.

It was really hot, and I felt like I was sweating from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.

But! I was going to have s'mores after dinner! Anything can be endured with the promise of s'mores.

At 5:30 p.m., I gathered together all the supplies for our hot dog and s'mores cookout and we hauled everyone back down to the beach. Cubby and Charlie found sticks to carve with their knives to make the perfect marshmallow roasting implements. I bounced Jack around and found some smooth sticks for him to chew on. A. got the fire to the right state of embers for cooking. I held Jack up by the hands so he could practice standing. A. put the hot dogs on the cooking grate. I picked Jack up and walked around with him as he got increasingly irritable. S'mores were just around the corner . . .

And then Jack was done. Too fussy and tired to hang out on the beach anymore.

So I brought him up to the house to put him to bed, leaving A. in charge of the cookout. Jack went to sleep.

For thirty minutes. Curses.

When it was clear he was not going back to sleep anytime soon, I figured I might as well just bring him back to the beach. At least that way he'd have something to distract him from his unhappy, non-sleeping state and, most importantly, I could have my s'more.

But when I got down to the beach, I found that Cubby had eaten the entire chocolate bar. And there is no such thing as a s'more without the chocolate.

I was way more disappointed about this than I should have been. As evidenced by the fact that I just wrote a whole post about it.


But Cubby really, really loved his s'mores.

Edited to add: 10:45 this morning. Cubby and Charlie with A. on the beach. Jack asleep. I did this:

A microwave s'more. Not the same as real campfire s'mores, but I felt a certain vindication nonetheless.