Monday, August 31, 2009

Condiment Overload

I got back from work late Friday evening, only to discover some food that still needed to be put away in the kitchen. Normally, I would be annoyed; but given our recent vinaigrette fiasco, I could hardly blame Larry for his reluctance to cram more leftovers into our icebox. Really, only a trained professional should even attempt such a task.

So I did. And I came up with a diagnosis of our problem:

Obviously, a serious case of Condiment Overload. Specifically, 2 bottles of applesauce, 3 mustards, 3 strawberry jams, 4 (count them, 4) tubs of margarine, and (of course) 4 jars of salsa.

Naturally, I decided to take pictures. And it occurred to me, as I aimed the camera, pausing now and then to tweak the lineup, that if Larry happened to come downstairs at that point, he might wonder why I was standing in the kitchen at midnight, snapping photos of mustard and margarine. And he might also reflect on the fact that, although we have many posed pictures of foodstuffs in our photo gallery, we have almost no formal portraits of our own children.

[In my own defense, it is way easier to pose the food than the children - the applesauce, for instance, never sticks its finger up its nose at just the wrong moment; and the salsa would never make a demon face at the camera. But I digress...]

What can I say? It was one of those moments that can make you question your purpose in life - make you wonder, say, whether you were really put on earth to catalog the contents of your refrigerator for future generations. Is this what it's all about? I mused. Is this what it comes down to, standing alone in my kitchen while everyone sleeps, fussing over how to arrange the salsa?

Apparently, yes. Check out these close-ups:

Ah, Salsa, how we love thee! Keen-eyed readers will observe that only one open jar of Tostitos brand salsa was not enough - we have two. Our old standby Taco Bell Medium is also represented, and then David's favorite - Salsa Verde. Would any of you believe that I never even tasted salsa until I was 17 years old? No? My kids don't either. But it's true.

Ironic, isn't it, now that our milk-allergic Theo has flown the nest, that we should have 4 tubs of dairy-free margarine residing in our fridge? And now they've been joined by the tub of butter I bought at the commissary on Saturday (and there's more of both in the downstairs refrigerator). Do note how nicely these tubs stack on the counter - for some reason, they don't do that in the refrigerator. They're always falling off and knocking over defenseless containers of vinaigrette instead.

I can explain this! On the left is our regular brand of strawberry preserves, in the middle is the leftover jam from our vacation spot (yes, we travel with condiments!), and on the right is the jar of homemade jam that David opened when we got back. And now we have too many. I guess that really puts us in a jam! Oh, I slay me.

Let me say right here that I believe yellow mustard is an abomination. Growing up, I thought it was something that only Gentiles ate (that is, when they weren't putting mayo on their baloney sandwiches, Lord help them). Well, my punishment for marrying outside the faith is to have children who not only tolerate this weak imitation of real mustard, but who actually prefer it. For the record, I threw it out after the photo shoot. It was a "Do the Right Thing" sort of moment, you know? Another day I will have to discuss just how much I hate squeeze bottles. Stay tuned!

There are also the applesauce jars, but those already got a post all their own. In fact, I think they're getting a little swelled up from all the attention (or perhaps that's just fermentation). So we'll just ignore them for the time being. That's what I do best, anyway...

Friday, August 28, 2009

7 (Really) Quick Takes

  1. Gosh, I love putting that picture up there - makes me feel that my blog is a part of something big, something meaningful...
  2. Sitting in Starbucks, lo, these many evenings, has brought me into reluctant contact with people who talk loudly enough to let me (and everyone else in the vicinity) know all the intimate details of their lives. It's fascinating. I'm not getting much work done, though.
  3. Let me elaborate. Their lives aren't fascinating. What's fascinating is their belief that they should - nay, must - regale their (mostly silent) coffee companions and all the perfect strangers around them with the minutiae of their existence. How does a person get that self-involved?
  4. Says the person who has a blog all about herself and her life....
  5. Susie is saying she's bored. That is, when she isn't saying a lot of other stuff that is hard to understand, because my mind shuts down after the first few thousand words or so. Someone remind me - what does one do with a 4-year-old child who talks all the time? Answers may not involve duct tape.
  6. Why is August so long? Discuss.
  7. Larry's taking me out to dinner tonight. He just doesn't know it yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grasping At Straws

While adjusting this week to my oldest having flown the nest, I realized that while children do grow up and leave, there is still a relationship in my life that is until-death-do-us-part forever, a comforting constant in an ever-changing world; and it's a relationship that I have been sorely neglecting of late. Yes, that's right, ladies - my refrigerator has been crying out for attention, in the only way it knows how.

The other night Larry managed to spill an entire container of homemade salad dressing in my over-crowded, crying-out-for-help refrigerator. That's when I realized it was time to focus on my refrigerator's needs instead of mine for a while. Because, really? Green globe grapes doused in vinaigrette are not ever going to be the hot new thing in the culinary world.

So we both dove in and removed all the vinaigrette-drenched items, and I got to hear Larry say things like, "What's this second jar of salsa doing open?" Yeah, I know - he must live on another planet, right?

But I mustn't rag on Larry too much. To his eternal credit, he discarded the reeking zucchini last week. I guess he was afraid that otherwise I would decide to start over by buying a new fridge. You know, I haven't forgotten that sweet little number with the French doors at Best Buy. Ooh, la la!

Where was I? Oh, yes, so I decided to stop moping about my missing child - a child, by the way, who happens to be of the male persuasion, unlike my friends' missing children, who are girls and don't mind communicating all sorts of fun information to their mothers back home. The upshot of which is I have endured all my similarly bereaved friends saying things like "Didn't Theo tell you about the orientation sessions? Vicky told me it was all sex, condoms, STD's..." or "Katie says the dining hall food is awful - what does Theo think?"

Just twist that dagger, will ya? I mean, Theo e-mails me; but it's more along the lines of "Thanks for the cookies" (What? He's been gone almost a whole week, you know...) or "Can you send me the CD's I left on the computer desk?"

But even though a guy doesn't communicate the way the girls do - with all those wordy-wordy words - he's still able to get his point across efficiently. As I cleaned out the refrigerator yesterday (remember? this is a fridge post - try to keep up), I came across a half-full jar of applesauce. And next to it? Another applesauce jar, opened by Theo the day before he left. Because how could he leave me with just one open jar of that stuff in my fridge? He never has before.

Who says guys can't be sentimental?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Learning All The Time

As regular readers will recall, I managed to land my dream job a couple of months ago - Editing! Work from home! Set my own hours! - a job I was determined not to look too stupid at.

So, that first week, when my supervisor and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't seeing what she was seeing on her computer screen....we e-mailed back and forth a bit and then she e-mailed, "Here's a screenshot - is your left column the same as mine?", it wasn't. Not wanting to be wordy, I decided to send a screenshot back. So I took a few pictures of my screen with my camera, downloaded them to my computer, pasted the best one into a Word doc, and zapped it over to her. I spent the rest of the day preening myself on my technological savviness. Yo, 21st-century! I'm all over ya!

When my husband came home, I proudly recounted what I had done.

"You didn't," he said.
"Yes! I did! I figured it out all by myself!"
"You didn't," he said.
"What? It wasn't so hard. Except for that flashbulb glare obscuring the top right corner..."
"You didn't," he said, and led me over to the computer, where he showed me the button that said Prt Scrn. As in, Print Screen...
"Oh," I said.
"Yeah," he said.

I guess that explains why my supervisor didn't have any flashbulb glare on her picture...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In Which I Sound Maudlin...

Theo's Larry said, "One launched, five to go!" Larry and I felt great yesterday, knowing that Theo was off to college with his ROTC money and the guarantee of at least 4 years in the military after that. We rejoiced that, for the time being at least, we could stop interfering in his life and let him try his wings.

I should have checked his suitcases and boxes before he left, however. It appears that Theo inadvertently took 18 years of my life with him, perhaps packed in among the bed linens (X-Long Twin) or maybe in the box with his winter clothes. He took with him the pregnant 28-year-old who worried throughout her first pregnancy that she wouldn't love her own child. He took the young mother who assiduously read aloud to him while he nursed, devoured all the parenting books she could get her hands on once he was born, and generally acted in a totally nauseating, new-parent, know-it-all fashion for the first 5 years or so of his life. He took with him the many-times-pregnant mom who taught him to cook by calling directions to him in the kitchen while she lay - felled by morning sickness - on the couch.

All that remains here with me, for some reason, is a middle-aged woman I don't even recognize - a woman who keeps remembering the times she yelled at her eldest, or expected too much of him, or otherwise totally messed things up. That is, when she isn't gazing fondly at his little-boy face in old photo albums...

What's up with that, anyway?


But the more things change, the more they remain the same. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the drawer full of abandoned zucchinis:

If you click on it, you get a better view of the fuzzy parts. Just be glad you can't smell it. The odor makes roadkill seem appetizing by comparison.

So give me a break, MadMad, with your pretty 4-month-old Easter eggs! You'll have to do better than that to run with the big dogs, you know...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vacation Advice

  1. Before making the spontaneous decision to hike up the highest mountain on the island with the 4 younger kids, take into consideration that one of the children is only 4 years old, you yourself are wearing flip-flops, and a trail labeled moderate by the National Park Service might be anything but.
  2. When, against all odds, you get to the top of said mountain and espy the parking lot full of cars driven by people who are apparently too fat/lazy/smart to drag themselves up the mountain the hard way, do refrain from snatching the cameras away from these people's faces and shouting, “You have to earn this view, dammit!” Such behavior embarrasses your spouse.
  3. Laundromats are expensive. Go naked.
  4. Menfolk, please realize it is the menopause talking when your wife spends the first evening in your nice vacation cottage crying because the top sheet on your bed is not only rust-colored with an ugly floral pattern but also has a ruffle that sticks in one's face.
  5. Remember to pack every container of leftover prescription medication that you can get your hands on. Otherwise, you may find yourself midweek regretting that half-full bottle of eardrops you left home in the medicine cabinet. You may also find yourself using a Qtip to insert antibiotic ointment into a suffering 9-year-old's ear. (Ever-skeptical Larry, upon hearing of this particular incident, asked, “What's next? Using the nail clippers to perform an appendectomy?”)
  6. Do not, under any circumstance, expect your teen daughter to express awe or wonderment in the presence of any natural marvel, be it mountain or sea. To do so would be to violate the hallowed code of sullen adolescent behavior, a code to which she steadfastly adheres.
  7. Understand that, if this same teen daughter (for the first time in her life) offers to do the family's laundry, she is not motivated by any sort of laudable desire to help out and be part of the team, as it were. Rather, the laundromat down the street boasts free WiFi.
  8. Make sure your loud and articulate 4-year-old understands the proper nomenclature for whatever carbonated beverages you may treat her to. Else, you will hear her announce to whomever is within earshot that Daddy bought her a beer.
  9. Do not assume that your husband is a tyrannical despot when he berates your teen son (on vacation!) for having hair that is “too long.” It just may be his own lame way of springing the news that said son's long-hoped-for Army ROTC medical waiver has just come through. (Oh, happy day!)
  10. It is most assuredly time to go home when your educational family vacation (natural wonders! geography! history!) degenerates into Uncle Matt teaching all the kids (including the 4-year-old) the ins and outs of poker.
  11. Those zucchini in the lefthand vegetable drawer that you forgot to clean out before you left? They're still there. And it ain't pretty.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bon Voyage, For Real...

I'm really taken with this piece.   I think it's fascinating not only for what it says about marriage, but also for what it says about those of us at midlife. Read it and discuss...if I can find a Starbucks along the way, I'll join in. 

Trip?  Oh, yes - Larry's outside, trying to pack the car.  And I'm inside, goofing off.   I ran up and down the stairs approximately 1700 times yesterday, packing and doing laundry and being generally disorganized.  When I wasn't running up and down the stairs, I was feeding children and bathing children and sorting knitting...

I deserve this break and no one's gonna guilt me out of it.

Our neighbor (the one whose cartop carrier we're using) offered to lend us a portable TV/DVD player for the car.  We turned her down.  I have a feeling we're going to regret that particular piece of stupidity around about 4 hours from now. 

I checked the weather report for up north.  It's ridiculous.  "Sunny and pleasant"...."Beautiful"...."Cool and breezy"....who writes these things?  We don't have those sort of days here.  We have "hot"..."humid and hot"....and (one memorable August) "HOT!"

The word "hot" doesn't look right - is it English?

Lord help us, I think we're ready to shove off here.  Pray for us.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Adieu, Not Good-bye

Forget it, guys; just forget it.  I was going to write a chatty post, all about world events (Bill Clinton? Has Hillary let him out?) and the latest gov't estimate of what how much it costs to raise a child (last year's estimate debunked here) and the fact that our house came this close to burning down yesterday.

When you teach your children to cook, do emphasize the part about not leaving the room when there's a pot (with oil) heating up on the stove.  It's important.

But we're leaving tomorrow (tomorrow!) and I still have to finish going through my stash and deciding which yarn to bring; and then I need to locate all the requisite knitting needles; and then I'll be running to the store to pick up a new pair of snips (because I can't find the 16,000 pairs that are hidden in this house).  Along with doing umpteen loads of laundry so we can pack our clothes and cleaning the house so I'm not embarrassed posthumously....

So, y'all will have to carry on without me.  I'll miss you!  (Weird, but true...)

Monday, August 03, 2009

I Blog, Therefore I Am

Is everyone away or are people just tired of me? Do you miss the vomit, is that it? Ah, well, I've been fairly busy myself, packing and trying to mentally prepare myself for 13 hours in the car with the kids. I've also been steeling myself for an impending 12 days without the Internet.

I don't know if I can do it, folks. The lack of Internet, that is...I mean, what if while I am away, I miss something like this gem? [posted at The Opiate of the Masses]

How did we entertain ourselves before the advent of the Internet, anyway?

Larry took the entire crew to the teens' workcamp reunion picnic, leaving me home alone to work in the blessed peace and quiet. I don't know if the younger kids were actually invited, but guys can get away with being clueless like that. And they brought brownies.

By the way, all you husbands out there - listen up! When your wives remind you to take all the freshly-baked brownies to the picnic? "All" means "all but two." Got that?

Good. Now go away, all of you - I'm supposed to be working...

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Shocking, but true: I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket! See? Right up there? The thing that looks like a worsted manta ray? Imagine my dismay, after laboring 145 days (well, off and on) completing a 12-day knitalong, to find that my finished project did not resemble a wearable garment.

Nevertheless, I persevered; after more configurations than one would believe possible for a single piece of knitting, I managed to properly align this magnum opus of mine into a jacket-like posture. Again, ta-da!

No buttons yet, though...don't rush me...

[And yes, all you sharp-eyed knitters - the gauge is totally off, even though I sized down on the needles. What do you get when you knit something at 4.5 stitches to the inch instead of 6? I'll tell you what you get - you get a baby surprise jacket that fits your 4-year-old, only with very short sleeves. But that's all right - my friend has a pleasantly plump 8-month-old baby who won't mind one bit wearing a maxicoat this fall.]