Sunday, December 25, 2011

What Santa Brought

Well, not really Santa, but George, who sometimes is almost as hard to believe as Santa. My father is following a progression to which I can only aspire. At seventy, he learned to ski. At seventy-five, he decided he wanted to ski MORE. And since my mom was unamused by being left at home last year for over a month while he took off on a ski odyssey, dragging an air mattress around so he could crash wherever, she declared that he needed to buy a place where she could relax in comfort while he skied day in and day out.

So he bought a Tahoe condo. Yay! And a mountain bike. And then an all-wheel drive Subaru. Does he rock, or what??

And with it all he gets . . . my family. And me as his cheerful housekeeper and personal chef. But that's not all!

He also get his handy son-in-law as his personal ski tuner using this custom ski tuning bench recently installed in his garage,

along with bike and kayak hooks, shelving, and a custom-built ski rack. (Those are my new impossibly fat rockered skis five from the left.)

We also blinged out his condo in winter decor. We don't celebrate Christmas in the religious sense, and considering it winter decor allows us to keep it up at least through the end of January with no remorse.

The only things are are missing are George and Ruby themselves (they'll be up after Christmas) and SOME SNOW.

Squaw has killed themselves making snow, opening three lifts on the lower mountain. Still, parts of Red Dog look like a tiny Christmas tree farm.

We are concerned all these investments (condo, car, skis, season passes) have jinxed the season.

An upside has been a nearly empty mountain. I don't miss the crowds at all, and I can get a front-row seat at the fire pit on KT deck at lunch.

In the meantime, we'll keep skiing the scratchy machine-made junk while we wait for the real stuff. After all, we're outside, in the mountain, and on skis. We're grateful for digs in the mountains, family, and good friends.

Friday, December 2, 2011

So I updated my reading list. And bought a new camera. Camera is still in box.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On my mind at this minute

A friend recently asked me on Facebook when I was planning on coming back to the blogosphere to play. Good question—how pathetic is it when I cannot even remember my own account password to log on??

But the answer is that I don't know. Posting was beginning to seem like more of a chore than a creative outlet, my job became more demanding (current budget woes, layoffs on the horizon, fantasies of bagging it and becoming a detective), and all the digital cameras in our household went on the fritz. I'm just not sure where I want to go with the whole thing, but I'm thinking of a departure from mostly food most of the time (aren't there enough food blogs out there featuring food by people who can actually operate a camera??) and returning to a more personal sort of digital journal. You know, what's on my mind as well as what's on my plate or in my mouth.

And what's on my mind this very minute is this:


This royal nonsense has undoubtedly received way more attention than reasonable (I loved Mr. Darcy's Colin Firth's remark concerning the monarchy that he "really likes to vote"), but I cannot turn away. What the 'eff is going on here?? Two possibilities come to mind:
1. This is some kind of protest (remember I live in Berkeley), and the princesses are merely expressing family discord: "I hate you so much that I'm going to look as ridiculous as humanly possible at your wedding."

2. "Gaga wears shit like this all the time, and people love her."

The queen, on the other hand, looked absolutely adorable. She is a wonderful reminder of why I had my kitchen painted yellow. Yellow is a wonderful color.

So that's what's on my mind, although my recipe for seriously perfect brownies is edging in there. Two words there: browned butter. Maybe I'll steal someone else's picture and tell you about it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I comment on fashion:
An apparently annual event

I'm afraid it's that time of year again. You know, where I sit in my office in bike shorts and a sweatshirt and comment on people who mostly know how to dress. Or can at least hire people to figure it out for them. Or not.

So here goes this year's Academy Awards fashion round up but the person probably least qualified to offer it.

It's sort of like Battenburg lace, which I was totally into in the eighties, over gold foil. I keep squinting, but I cannot be sure. It really reminds me of this terrible linoleum in my laundry room.

No. It's wrong in all the wrong places.

The jewelry is a mistake.

The bottom of this dress makes me want to sneeze.

He so does not do it for me, and her dress is weird.

He totally does do it for me.
Didn't she used to date Tom Cruise once? Nice upgrade here.

OK, so she has no waist, but she does have Warren Beatty.
Who needs a waist anyway?

So it's great that she lost that weight and all, but those boobs are all wrong.

Her first name is Busy. Really. Why didn't I think of that?

Think she smokes? Cause according to Wikipedia, she's only 49. Ouch.

OK, but how does she walk?

Who is this person? I mean, seriously.

Could she possibly look more bored? "Yeah, it's got a lot of, like, fabric." She should have stayed home.

Three things here:
1. Sharon is wearing waaaayyyyy too much eyeliner.
2. Never fail: Every year someone shows up in my 86-year-old MIL's hair.
3. I don't think she has made a movie in several decades.
Why does she keep getting to come to these things?

Who needs jewelry when you can look like this?
Kind of reminds me the Farrah Fawcett bathing suit poster,
which she is probably too young to even know about.

I know everyone liked Halle Berry's dress,
but I think Helen Mirren killed it in this.

Sooooo, who did you like? Hate? Laugh at?

Stay tuned for a tour of my freshly painted kitchen, which will feature a . . .

NEW STOVE!!!!!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Smelling it up

The other day I received the following email from my neighbor across the street:
Recently someone has been cooking something outside that smells wonderful, is it you? [Husband Across the Street] has been very envious.
Why, yes! As you know, I have been COOKING IN MY GARAGE. Want to see how this is working out? Look:

Here's the stove. I'm making chicken piccata, which is probably what was smelling up the neighborhood.

Here's the sink and prep area.

Here's the coffee station and dish rack. (Do you like my Murphy's bed–style fold-down ironing board in the background? I do. Not that I iron much.)

Did I mention that I also DO LAUNDRY IN HERE? I do! Although I have to move the dish rack depending on whether I want to access the washer or the dryer. It's INCONVENIENT, but that's how we roll these days.

Burritos are nice, but picking them up does not scratch my creative itch in the way preparing dinner does. So the night after the chicken piccata, I made Thai chili beef Thai chile beef, and then last night we had chicken chili verde that I made in the crockpot. And tonight? Oh, hell. Probably burritos.

Thanks to those who offered their condolences. After pictures coming . . . at some point.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No, I'm not dead

My kitchen used to look like this.

It was the happiest, busiest place in my house—the locale of homework, violin practice, conversation, cocktails, and dinner preparation. Coming home to start dinner was one of my favorite parts of the day.

Then it looked like this, which wasn't the absolute worst thing in the world because activities like California mission model building could still take place, and Sophie and I could chat with Husband through the plastic as he ripped apart wallboard (see him back there—the guy in the plaid?).

Now it is an empty echoing shell of a room as it waits to be painted. My camera is on the fritz, so you will have to imagine the top picture without the accouterments of daily life much less cabinet doors or drawers. There are new windows (fancy double-paned ones!), but they're not much to look at just yet without their trim.

All this has, of course, put me in quite a state, resulting in
radio silence on the blog
difficulty reading anyone else's blog if they talk about food
excessive crabbiness
general malaise bordering on an outright funk
Most people would either (a) move out of their house or (b) eat take-out food. But NO. We are not most people. We have less brains and less money than most people who take on this kind of work. We have simply done a little rearranging:

But before you think "oh, this might work," consider the three miles I walk to prepare nearly every dinner. I'm at the stove, I need butter. I walk out the garage door, through the front gate, under the tarps, and over the sandbags—what sandbags??

These ones!

The ones we have had across the front of our house since this clown, my husband, decided that while we were at it we might as well replace the ENTIRE FOUNDATION across the front of the kitchen (it had some problems).

So back to dinner preparation: I traipse through this mess, retrieve the butter from the refrigerator WHICH IS NOT VERY CONVENIENTLY LOCATED IN THE LIVING ROOM, and return to the stove, which you'll recall is IN THE GARAGE. Then I realize I need a spatula, which is IN THE DINING ROOM, which is where most but not all the contents of my kitchen are in boxes (some of this stuff is in the office, one of the bedrooms, or the hallway). So BACK OUT UNDER THE TARP AND THROUGH THE SANDBAGS. At this point, take-out burritos sound like a good idea. Thank goodness the car is still located in the front of the house so I can DRIVE AWAY.

The good news in all this? I have been driving way. A lot! In selfless support of my daughter's ski racing career, I have spent numerous weekends in the mountains with her, while Husband toils feverishly at home. This has so far resulted in the following ski day count:
Me: 18
Husband: 11
Sophie: 21
Not bad for the beginning of February, no? Especially for folks like us who live down the hill. So maybe I should stop my bitching. Nah. It's what I do best.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The advent of crabs

Pictures are coming soon of the enormous catastrophe that happens to the homes of many people married to general contractors. For a while, the cobbler's children have no shoes, and then one day the cobbler says "Dang! Let's make some SHOES!!" But instead of just making one simple pair, he decides to turn the house into a SHOE FACTORY. So that's sort of where I live.

How would you feel about imposing holiday decorations on a construction site? I could easily skip the whole shebang, but the ten-year-old in my house hangs her heart on tree this time of year. So off to buy the tree we went. And the construction site I live in is now somewhat appropriately decorated.

To give myself a break and to celebrate the winter season, I indulged the other weekend in a local delicacy: fresh Dungeness crab. The season has officially opened to rave reviews of this year's crabs: large and plentiful. It's nice to see the local fishermen catching a break after being deprived of much of their salmon income the past few years. But did I catch at break in procuring said crabs? Hell, no. Because I wanted them on Sunday, when my local fish monger is closed, I was forced to brave

The Market from Hell

Some people really like this Asian market chain. Not me. It is always crowded, and people push a lot. Look where I was in line to buy my live crab:

Fuuuuuuuuck . . . . . . .

And mind you that most orders take at least five to ten minutes each because many people want things done to their fish.

Violent and bloody things.

My order is quick: Four crabs. Live, all the claws. Don't do a damn thing to them. I'll kill them myself.

They don't look happy here, do they? I'm really doing them a service.

In the meantime, I wander around the store looking at all the interesting things you do not normally see at a grocery store.

Would you eat these? I'm one of those people who stranded
on a desert island would surely starve.

How about these? I thought Hello Kitty only made stuff out of plastic.
Maybe I'm right.

I had one of these dolls when I was a kid. Cute! Sort of?

Look—a fish for me!

I am such a giver. Anything for my family. Well, almost.

On weekends we are home, we have the MIL over for Sunday dinner. She often shows up with a game—dominoes, Scrabble, cards—that she, Husband, and Sophie play over cocktails while I finish preparing dinner (I hate games). This Sunday she showed up with something different:

Religious indoctrination material provided by the MIL's church,
which Sophie has attended about four times

The MIL has always been active in her church, but since the death of her husband, who was openly hostile to anything that diverted her attention from him, it's sort of like she's making up for lost church activity. She sings in the choir, goes to meetings, plans meetings, hosts meetings, writes biographies of church members. And she wants to share. Fine, but not this with us. I do not know what part of "We are atheists" she has not heard. We have made a concerted effort to be respectful and supportive of her choice in this area, but I'm not feeling the reciprocation here.

It's not like our choice is one borne from disinterest or apathy. My journey has been a long one from a childhood and youth of regular Congregational church attendance to where I am confident of my ability to raise my child to be a compassionate and ethical person without belief in a deity. So whereas it's nice that my MIL's church thought of Sophie, giving her a handbook that includes, among other things, prayers to a god we have taught her does not exist gets up my hackles. And it's not that I think we need to shelter her from things we do not believe; on the contrary, I think it's useful to talk about different beliefs. This, however, looked too much like my MIL attempting to take on Sophie's religious education, probably with the opinion that I'm not doing too good a job of that myself. And who knows? Some day she may choose Christianity as her belief. But while she's my kid, I'm going to teach her what I believe to be true. We talk, we think, we do. We don't pray.

A couple of weeks later, the advent book has been mostly abandoned, although the chocolate from the accompanying advent calendar has been consumed with something resembling religious fervor. In our house, it's the not the season of divine birth but merely regular birth of a probably remarkable man. It's the season to forgive, although not to forget.

And the season to break crab.

Happy merry.