‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Saturday, August 29, 2009

chocolate zucchini cake, finally

The kids are in bed. The MiL and the Queen Mum have retreated to their rooms. Chris is working. And I have an entire chocolate cake in the kitchen.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why I can't shed these last few baby pounds.

This cake used (part of) the last Giant Zucchini from our garden. There's just one small one left, which I've reserved for another zucchini and goat cheese pizza. This cake, however, is the reason I planted zucchini in the first place.

It's a Colorado Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cake and the problem with the recipe is that it's supposed to be made at about 7,220 feet above sea level. Not four feet above sea level. I Googled to see if anyone knew how to convert high altitude recipes to sea level, but there seems to be a greater demand for the other way around. It seems no one else knows church ladies in Colorado whose cakes have made people consider building oxygen-depleted kitchens in which to duplicate said cakes in their decidedly sea level homes.

It took me all summer to trust my reverse engineering. I finally made it last night, and am here to say that I will be planting zucchini again next summer.

Maryann's Colorado Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cake,
Trout-style (sea level version)
*

3/4 cup butter (room temp)
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and zucchini.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to egg mixture, alternating with milk (beginning and ending with flour). Mix well.

Bake in two, well-greased and floured 9" pans (round or square) for 30 minutes. When cool, frost with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Or just eat it.

Oh yes.

* if you just googled "high altitude zucchini cake," add an extra 2 tablespoons of milk, and use 1 3/4 tsp powder and 1 1/2 tsp soda. Bake at 375.

Friday, August 28, 2009

high maintenance trophy wife

This is the bathroom I moved into last year. I know, you're jealous. I haven't posted pictures before because I didn't want to make you sad that you didn't have a bathroom like ours. I also didn't want to hurt the feelings of whoever picked out the linoleum. In the 7os.

I'm over that now.

You may notice that the faucet area is exposed sheetrock. This is because a couple years ago the people who were staying downstairs objected to being scalded every time someone upstairs (me) took a shower/flushed the toilet/ran the kitchen sink just to hear the screaming. So we had a plumber come and take our house apart to access and remove the scald mechanism.

He did not put our house back together when he was done.

Have you ever noticed that you don't feel a great desire to take care of something that's already pretty gross? Yeah. Us too.

However! I asked for a new tile floor for my birthday, et voila!


Chris also threw in the tile in the shower for good measure. Actually, he wasn't home when The Tile Guru came by, so I asked that it be included in the estimate.

It's my birthday present! Hahahahahaha! What has become of me? The worst part is how much time I've spent sitting on the bathroom floor, admiring it. Italian tile! It's almost like getting pottery, right?

But wait, what's that? You want to know what on earth is on the walls of the shower? So you can duplicate it in your own home? Well I'm so glad you asked. It's a feature of Trout Towers. In fact, when I first went to go pick out tiles, I started to explain about our shower. He stopped me. "Oh, I know about your shower," he said.

It's cedar clapboard, rather like you'd find in an outdoor shower. I used to hate it. I hated it until I went to a friend's house for the first time and used her bathroom. I sereptitiously lured Chris into their bathroom and demanded one just like it. The shower area was separated from the rest of the bathroom, and there was a sliding glass door to the outside. An indoor/outdoor shower, if you will. It had wood walls, like ours. And plants! It was fabulous.

The funky quirkiness of her home has given me a greater appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of Trout Towers. When I see similar things in her house, I love them. Why is that?

When I told her about the tile, she asked if we'd taken out the wood. I told her no, and explained that I rather liked it now, since I coveted the one in her house. Turns out, she likes hers more since seeing the one at Trout Towers. What is wrong with us?

We still have a bit of work to do. Painting. Adding a vent. Stupid stuff. Oh, and there's still a huge hole in the wall.

There's always Christmas.

There is one small problem. Right after the tile went in, we discovered a puddle in the basement. The tile installation corresponded with the repair of our dishwasher (which had been broken since the last week the previous people were here - a year ago. I repeat, what is WRONG WITH US?) so there was some question about where the puddle was coming from. I first entertained the thought that perhaps a large farm animal had somehow fallen down the bulkhead stairs, peed, and found its way out. I hoped this was the case.

It is a sad thing when a rogue farm animal in the basement is the best case scenario, is it not?

If worse comes to worse, we'll get the plumber to look at it when he comes to put in the new bathroom sink. Which my sister gave me. For my birthday.

It's been a good year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Candy

A very long time ago, Candy Meininger gave me a travel mug from Meininger's Art Supply. I dutifully filled it with coffee and brought it to work with me. Midway through the day, I realized the mug fit enough coffee to get any self respecting trucker across the country and back. I remember being unable to blink for most of the afternoon.

Why is this the first memory that pops into my head when I think of Candy? Maybe because she gave me something. That was pretty typical of Candy. I've never known anyone with a bigger heart.

And oh my stars was she funny. She had that diabolical twinkle in her eye that made one very glad to be on her side.

If you believe in heaven, heaven just got a good one. If you believe that heaven is where you find it, Candy made it just that much easier to find.

(obituary)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

large cats

So there I was at work, doing a little browsing on this awesome handbag site...

Wait, you're not supposed to shop for handbags while on the clock? Does that mean you shouldn't send your boss links to things you think she'll like? No?

Oops.

Anyway, I happened to notice these groovy keychains, with astrological signs on them. Now I generally don't like things with astrological signs because for some reason, people seem to think it's okay to let their design sense stay at home the day they work on astrologically themed products. Why is this? I have no idea.

However, I liked the design and THEN realized it was a Gemini.

Cool, huh?

So I snooped around a bit more (can't get the phone! Sorry! Shopping!) to see what mine was. I am a Leo. This is my keychain:


Good colors. Nice design... but wait, are we sure that's a lion? Is it just me or does my keychain look more like, oh, a cougar?

It has come to my attention that I am a woman of a certain age. An age which is, coincidentally, shared by cougars. I am, shall we say, a little touchy about this.

I am pretty sure no one would mistake me for a cougar. I think I'm more of an opossum, frankly. And there are no astrological signs depicting opossums.

So instead I will get myself a passport case. And feign an accent. And hire a towel boy to follow me around and carry my stuff.

Especially my keys.

Monday, August 24, 2009

when no one's looking

Today after work I went to join Chris, the kids, my MiL, and the Queen Mum at a park for a concert. And then I left them there.

Chris looked at me with puppy dog eyes and asked why I was going. I explained that I was feeling fidgety. That there were many things I needed to be doing and I just couldn't settle into my spot on the picnic blanket. Also, since I was driving his car, and his car was full of sound equipment (barely leaving enough room for the driver) (not an exaggeration), I couldn't bring anyone with me.

Here are the things I had to do:

Thing one.
Procure and consume a brownie sundae for dinner.

Do I need to explain this? It has to do with wanting something, but not wanting to let your kids know you want it. Also, not having to explain or justify it. Which I am doing now. I'll move on before I ruin my whole freaking evening.

Thing two.
Sit on deck, swat mosquitos and do absolutely nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all.

Okay, maybe I listened to the birds. And admired the eggplant. I may have noticed that the grass smelled like rain. I may have licked my plastic ice cream bowl. But really, nothing.

I didn't have to get up and get something for someone.

I didn't have to tell anyone to put their underwear back on.

I didn't have to figure out what to make for dinner.

I didn't have to tell anyone what I was doing.

I did all of this not-doing until I was good and ready to do something. And then I came inside to fold laundry but instead sat on the couch and read. Delightful, that.

And then the family came home and it was as if the sound came back on. And it went from black and white to color. And it was just exactly as good as a brownie sundae.

Trust me, I've compared.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

wind and waves, pt. 2

It's official. We live close enough to the ocean to hear the waves. Maybe just during hurricanes*, but still. Also, the smell of salt air woke me up and so, no matter what happens, I will be in a fine mood all day.

The yard is suddenly chaotic with birds. Loud, chirpy, fluttery birds. They sound happy enough, but they are seriously in full-on assault mode. They are flittering around in the sunflowers next to the door. They're in every tree. They are almost loud enough to cover the sound of ocean.

It eases the mind somewhat when the birds come and hang out, instead of trampling through (along with all the rabbits, squirrels, foxes, deer and household pets), trying to get the heck out of dodge. They are here and making themselves right at home.

It appears I may not have to go find Toto and head to the storm cellar after all. Bill may prefer Newfoundland this time of year?

* can't you just imagine the real estate description? Yeah, maybe they'll leave that part out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

waves and wind

Dear Hurricane Bill,

Please help yourself to the birch and two of the pines in our front yard. Also anything currently obstructing our view of the pond across the street. We would like them to fall AWAY from the house, please.

Also, please put all the toys back when you're done with them. We left a huge assortment on the lawn for you to chose from, including a tricycle, a whiffle bat, two soccer balls and about 500 beach buckets.

Our phones are charged, our laundry is done, the candles have been found and we have plenty of sterno for Chris' tea (we won't be making THAT mistake again). We have also posted to our blogs so if things go dark, everyone will know you screwed up on the trees.

Yours respectfully,

Susan




Thanks,NASA. I feel so much better now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

the more the merrier

You know how I'm always saying moronic things like "hey! come live at Trout Towers! We'll build a yurt! Plenty-o-room!"?

Well.

We have someone staying at Trout Towers. We shall call her The Queen Mum.*

Which brings our tally to:
One MiL
One Queen Mum
Two Friends
Two Us (because we still live here though marginally)**
Two Children
Six Chickens
Three Cats
A Quantity of Mice

And it's kind of awesome.

How, you ask, can it be kind of awesome? Because Chris loves The Queen Mum more than he loves me. Or perhaps he is more deeply shamed by her. At any rate, he scampered out and bought screens for our windows and now, as of, oh, AUGUST TWENTY, our windows open. Which is nice, since we have no air conditioning and if it weren't late and the Queen Mum weren't asleep in the guest-bedroom-formerly-our-room I would take a picture of our Ikea lamps to show you what this kind of heat and humidity, when trapped, does to a paper shade.

It's sad and should not be seen by sensitive sorts.

So! New screens!

Also, every night when I tuck the kids in bed and ask them what they are grateful for (because I am selfish and like to hear them rehearse all the marvelous things I've done for them during the day), they say "I'm grateful the Queen Mum is here."

Furthermore, since the Queen Mum is sleeping in our room (with a little reading nook I installed for her and why didn't I think of doing that before so I could hide from my family?), we are sleeping in the livingroom. Which is very much like going on vacation.

It takes so very little.

We don't know how long she'll be staying, which makes people freak out a little bit.*** Such planners, people are. Lucky for us, we are not planners. We are the proverbial Green Twigs. Except plumper. And more beige than green. But still very bendy.

In a metaphorical sense, since neither of us can touch our toes.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going on vacation. In my livingroom. New windows to fall asleep looking out! New art to wake up to! (Apparently I don't get out much.)

* Oh man do I owe her this. I have freeloaded off this woman for YEARS.

**sorry, I think this explanation is going to require its own blog post, so I can more thoroughly mock Chris and his box truck with style and grace.

*** just until she can get moved back into her own digs. Or when she's sick of us. Shall we place bets?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

nostalgia crasher

There is a bumper sticker around here that says "I'm not on your vacation."

I have no idea why people think New Englanders aren't friendly.

I don't have one of those stickers, because I'm trying really, really hard to be on people's vacations. Look through your own vacation pictures and you may find me, smiling, trying to blend. It is hard to blend when you are the color of poached fish and you live at the beach.

Anyway! We had a very vacationy day last weekend. We did a tiny bit of gallery hopping and then went to a friend's house to pick blueberries. Two gallons of blueberries. Our friends will probably not make the mistake of inviting us over to pick again.

In addition to the two gallons we brought home, Studley consumed at least two pints.

Have I told you about the pick-your-own strawberry farm my parents used to take us to when we were on vacation here? They'd weigh us kids on the way out. It probably took me 30 years to realize it was a joke.

If they had weighed Studley, they would have looked at the scale, looked at it again, scratched their heads and said "there must be a mistake?"

Since it was the weekend and since we were not the only ones out doing touristy things, I used my super secret knowledge of the area to take the backroads home.

This was on Saturday, aka "changeover day." On Saturday morning, the renters leave. On Saturday afternoon, the new renters arrive. All over the Cape.

Everywhere we looked there were minivans and station wagons in driveways, with all the doors and hatchbacks open. People were carrying stuff into houses. Kids were out front throwing frisbees around. The First Day of Vacation was palpable.

I remember those days so clearly from when we were kids. We'd finally, FINALLY arrive at our beach house - the one we'd rented for two glorious weeks. We'd pile out of the car and run to pick bedrooms. We'd explore. We'd play with the beach toys in the yard. In later years, we'd go searching for summer friends who owned cottages nearby.

And then we'd all pile back in the car and go grocery shopping.

I have no idea why. I know we weren't alone because I see entire families in the grocery store now all the time. They're buying donut holes and burger buns, not kitty litter and grout.

I want to be buying donut holes and burger buns. I want to play in the yard and pick bedrooms and explore the neighborhood with fresh eyes.

My mom made strawberry jam while we were on vacation, and brought jars of it home.

Last night, I made blueberry jam. It tastes just like summer.

Hi. I'm Susan, and I'm on your vacation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

in which I am lofty

It is tourist season here on merry old Cape Cod. In tourist season, we have to adjust our normal routines a bit. We have to plan routes with no left turns. We have to get to the grocery store by 8am, unless we want to go with 5,000 of our closest friends.

As lovely as all those people may be, I would rather shop without them. Which is why I was at the grocery store at 8am yesterday.

I walked in, remembered the reusable bags in my trunk, and walked back out. On my way across the parking lot, I happened to notice two particularly white seagulls. With long legs. Flying across the perfectly blue sky.

"Hmm," I said, possibly aloud because my filters are skewed in the heat. "Those seagulls have awfully long legs and are exquisitely white. They are also flying toward the cove and not stopping at the dumpster. Is it possible they are not seagulls?"

I looked closer and realized that they were indeed not seagulls. They were egrets.* Two, effortlessly gliding egrets. I stopped and watched them, way overhead. And then something caught my eye and, behold, there were more! I watched several more approach, and then turned to watch them disappear into the morning sunshine to the east. It was like something out of a movie, these peaceful, elegant birds flying unnoticed overhead.

If it had been a film, the camera would start on the ground in the parking lot, and then move to a spot just above my head, looking down. It would zoom out, to show one person standing in the middle of a busy parking lot, looking up. It would pull away a little more, and show a blur of activity carrying on, not looking up. The camera would continue zooming out, until the person, still standing in the parking lot, became a small black speck, and the egrets came into view. And then it would just be egrets, with a background of busy, oblivious specks. It would be very quiet. And serene.

One of the specks would then walk to her car, get her reusable bags, and head back into the store with all the other specks.

And that speck would look like she was very happy she remembered her bags.

* I thought they were herons, and referred to them as herons all day until a friend corrected me. I am not an ornithologist, so I have a sorting system that is perhaps not as evolved as it could be. That sorting system is: all large, light colored birds are seagulls until proven otherwise. Seagulls with long legs are herons unless they are dark, in which case they are cormorants.

I try not to say anything out loud when we are at the zoo. The last time we were at the zoo, Sugarplum asked me what the little wormy things were in the plastic box next to the beetles. I told her that was probably their lunch. Which it was, if they are the kind of beetles that eat their own young. Ahem.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Boyce And Melinda Peterson's Investment Strategies For The Post-Money World" a Musical Investment Seminar by Gip Hoppe

The director of Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro (Massachusetts, not England) asked me to help fill the house at the premier of a new Gip Hoppe show. He did this because:

1) I ate a lobster at the clambake I crashed last summer and I owe him one.

2) The show's composer refers to me as Mrs. Crusher, which may have given the impression that I have some sort of clout.

Which I address thusly:

1) the lobster was delicious.

2a) A few years ago Chris was playing this online shooter game and his screen name was Crusher, which is hilarious if you know Chris even a little. If Chris sat on a butterfly, he would rush it off to Wild Care for treatment. So I fired off an email to all Chris' friends for whom I had email addresses, letting them know that Chris would like to be known hereafter as Crusher. Very nearly everyone ignored this email. Very nearly everyone, that is, except Chandler. Chandler has called me Mrs. Crusher ever since. Which I rather like.

2b) But I do know people who write things. I know you, for instance. The only person I know at the New York Times is their perfume critic which, although completely unhelpful in this instance, is splendid fun to say.

2c) I don't even know what this show's about. All I know is Gip is a genius and the music is hilarious. They've been mixing it here at Trout Towers and I've had to stop myself from running in and hugging them. It's what I do when people make me laugh really, really hard.

2d) but I do know that it's a financial seminar, set sometime in the future, after the banks have fallen in upon themselves. With music. I'm picturing something akin to the Tom Cruise character in Magnolia. But funnier.

3d) if you know anyone who writes for anything, can you let me know? Maybe we can crash the clambake together this year.

"Boyce And Melinda Peterson's Investment Strategies For The Post-Money World"
a Musical Investment Seminar by Gip Hoppe. Starring Julie Perkins and Gip Hoppe, with original music by Chandler Travis. Opens Thursday, August 20 and runs Thursday-Saturday, through September 5. Curtain 8pm. Tickets, $25. Discounts for Seniors, students and teachers. Call Payomet Box Office or go to payomet.org.


Gip Hoppe (left) and Julie Perkins (right) as Boyce and Melinda Peterson
Photo by Phil Richardson


My job here is done.

p.s. Gip's play, Jackie, was on Broadway. He's totally not a hack, despite my involvement.

p.p.s. Well now there's a coincidence! Both the composer and the perfume critic are named Chandler. Why did I not notice that before? It's a sign.

Friday, August 14, 2009

a day of Lindsays

The lovely Rock and Roll Mama, who just learned to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, sent me an email a few weeks ago about Bill Janovitz (of Buffalo Tom). She found his website and, knowing I dig Buffalo Tom, passed it along. I can't believe it took me so long to swing by and see what was up. I went digging through his archives and found things like his cover of Bell Bottom Blues, one of my really old favorites. I think I will be lurking there a lot.

And then I popped by The Lindsays, where Sue is chronicling her 100 days of practice and discussing zucchini along the way. A girl after my own heart. Today she clarified that her zucchini had come from a CSA. I thought about joining a CSA in the spring and oh my stars am I glad I didn't. I would have to start sleeping in the car, to make room.

The day after Sue's produce pick-up, she played a gig at a farmer's market. Would you like to know how they paid her?

It seems my dream of paying for everything with zucchini is not so far off, after all. Especially when things like great songs from Bill Janovitz are FREE.

(I am writing this post with impunity because Brighton is on vacation.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

oatmeal zucchini cookies

Overrun by zucchini as we are, I have been in the mood for a certain sort of zucchini cookie. I've made a few, but they haven't been The One. Finding the right zucchini cookie is a little like dating, you know? You go on the briefest of descriptions, hoping it works out, and then realize there are Critical Elements missing that are deal breakers. If only you had looked over the ingredients and noticed, for instance, that there was no oatmeal. Or maybe you'd notice that right after 1t vanilla it says "four parts pathological liar." And then you say "fine, I'll just make my own." Which is why if you look carefully you can see where Chris is stitched together with dental floss.

What I wanted was an oatmeal zucchini cookie with chocolate chips and maybe some other stuff. I wanted it to not make me feel guilty for eating 12 of them. This, a concoction from the Kitchens at Trout Towers, is that cookie.

Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies

3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. applesauce
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more)
1 tsp. salt (plus a couple grinds of sea salt just because)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups oatmeal
4 cups total of any/all of the following: chopped nuts, raisins, choc. chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add applesauce, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and eggs. Mix in grated zucchini. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, and oatmeal. Mix into butter/sugar concoction. Fold in nuts, raisins, chips and whatnot. Add more chocolate chips if you're me.

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Lumps should be roughly the size of a pregnant ping pong ball. Wet the palm of your hand and flatten the lumps. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or until they look almost done. Take them out of the oven, but leave them on the cookie sheet to finish baking. This, my friends, is the secret to everything.

Notes:
It was 10 minutes in my casino oven (wherein you take your chances), so keep an eye on them.

I used large eggs. If you have small eggs, such as this one, you'll need three or four. Isn't it the cutest thing you've ever seen? It's from one of the rookie chickens.


Also, how you get 2 cups of grated zucchini is your own business. I grated one of ours and ended up with half a gallon of grated zucchini. Heaven help us. You might be just fine with one normally sized zucchini.

Finally, I happen to love a little sea salt in my sweets, so I added more chocolate and a couple grinds of salt to the second half of the batch.

My final ratio was 2 cups chocolate chips, 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped walnuts. I used walnuts because I couldn't be bothered to open the bag of pecans.

If you are not planning on eating 12, use a full cup of butter and omit the apple sauce.

Now eat them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eva Gabor strikes again



We just ate corn! From our garden! We are frontierspeople!

I had to go to the bank today because we cannot as yet pay for everything with zucchini. On the way I, as usual, got stuck in vacation traffic. It wasn't all vacation traffic, of course. The jeep in front of me, with the sign in back that said "I'm having a nice day. Please don't screw it up" was probably from here. We are nothing if not colorful.

So I come home through the mobs of people who are here for a civilized beach vacation and put a big pot of water on, to boil the lunch I have grown in front of my house. Right in the middle of their vacation wonderland.

And then I have to figure out how to extricate the ear of corn without damaging the stalk because did you know that each stalk grows two or more ears? It's a miracle! Food! Free for the taking! Our tiny plot will feed us as much corn as we usually eat in a summer.

While I'm working out the harvesting technicalities, Sugarplum's shouting "Google it, mommy! Google it!" Google is how we learned how to tell when tomatillos are ripe, as well as pretty much everything else because we are dumb as rocks when it comes to things like survival skills.

And yet, we've given away three zucchini today and still have more than we know what to do with.

Chris says we should chop down some trees and add more vegetable plots. We are obviously in the honeymoon phase of the vegetable garden. Not in the "man cannot live on snap peas alone" phase. (Although one can certainly try.)

By the way, and not to gloat, but, that corn was the most delicious thing we've ever eaten.

One of these days, I'll tally up all my vegetable garden expenses. I will do this if Chris threatens to make us quit our day jobs and become farmers. You will hear the shrieking when this happens.

Until then, I'm a little busy harvesting corn.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

things that seem to be true

A few days ago I mentioned some rockyness as my reason for not writing.

I tend to think of myself as a very private person, despite the fact that I relate the minutia of my day here. As a very private person, I do understand that not everyone wants their story told. Besides, this particular story is evolving. It's not right to publish it any more than it's right to publish a rough draft of a book. Or to base your opinion of a friend's fiance on your memory of him as a 14 year old. There are things that need to be left behind, as the real story unfolds.

There are also things I don't want to forget. This post is about those things.

one
The other day I needed to find a happy place for my kids, so I called a friend. She is not a bff. We use our last names when we call each other. But when I called her, she opened her home to my kids without blinking an eye. When I arrived to pick them up the next evening, they were just sitting down to dinner. And they had set a place for me just in case.

two
I've felt like Moses lately. Seriously, I've had to travel on and off the Cape at peak tourist migration times and it's like the seas are parting before me. Thank you, traffic gods.

three
One night I crept away under cover of darkness and slept at home, here at Trout Towers. I love my home.

four
You know how you're always like "dang, I wish I could live in a normal house, with a normal life for a change?" and then you discover that there are no normal homes and you scurry back to your weirdo house and weirdo life and it feels like a well-worn t-shirt? No? Uh, okay, me neither. Nevermind.

five
I have no idea who's been taking care of things while I've been gone, but I'm grateful to whoever's been doing it. Thank you, shoemaker's elves. There is a special place for you in heaven.

six
No matter how odious the task, if you do it with someone you love there is room for comedy. (sorry to everyone who had to deal with us. We think we're HILARIOUS.)

One final observation.
The universe does not want me to save the world. In fact, it is irritated that I am reducing my driving this year and has forced me to actually drive MORE. I expect when I go outside tomorrow, there will be a Hummer where my fuel-efficient econobox was parked. I will perhaps park it in the back and turn it into a guest yurt. If I've learned anything over the past week, it's that friends should stick together.

(clicks heels together thrice)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yes! I want pictures of you all eating cake!

---


from Kristin, at Going Country

Friday, August 7, 2009

the architecture of small things

Yesterday, I made egg salad at my mom's house. I like making egg salad at her house because her egg slicer is the awesomest. It's the one from my childhood and no other egg slicer has ever quite measured up. Simple, elegant, probably made of lead or maybe zinc. They just don't make them like they used to. We, for instance, have broken two egg slicers in the last month.

I mention the awesomeness of this egg slicer to mom.

mom: Daddy gave it to me.
me: um, as a gift?
mom: he got it at the commissary.

My dad was in the Army before I was born. Before, in fact, he married my mother.

"Mom, did dad give you this when you were dating?"
"Yes, he brought it to me the first time he was home on leave."

She does not use the same tone of voice I would use if I were telling someone about the egg slicer my boyfriend gave me when we were first dating. There is tenderness in her voice.

I can picture my dad spotting it in the commissary and thinking how cool it was. It slices eggs! In four directions! So simple! Yet perfect! Brilliantly engineered and exquisitely crafted, it was the perfect gift for the woman he loved.

I wonder what mom said when she received this gift. Was she gracious? Delighted? Mystified? Over the years she would come to understand the genius of my father. I imagine he took some getting used to. Or was she so smitten that the quirkiness escaped her? Perhaps she giggled and thought maybe the egg slicer meant he wanted her to make egg sandwiches for him forever and ever.

Which, obviously, he did. (but it was also a small piece of mechanical greatness)

I go on and on about my dad - partially because he was so great but also because he's gone and it's my way of keeping him around. I don't go on and on about my mom, because, well, she's HERE and I don't have to make her more here. But I couldn't help but hold that egg slicer and realize I hadn't given her the credit she's deserved.

I hope I am as gracious, and tender, if I am given an egg slicer for my birthday tomorrow.

At least it's not a wireless router.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

pining

One of the chickens loves me. Like “Lassie, Come Home,” loves me. If I were to fall in a well, she would totally find a way to save me.

I know this because whenever I go into the chicken yard, she comes over and stands next to me until I pet her. No lie. I try not to do it because, you know, the neighbors. They think things.

Actually, my neighbors think things like, hmmm, I wonder if Susan is going to bring us fresh eggs now that she has more chickens. They also may think it's marvelous when we don't clean up our yard, because it makes them look better. For all anyone knows, there's a crack house on down the block. Really, who would notice a crack house when there's US? Us with our chickens and our home brew diesel still, hidden in the stump of the old tree....

Not really, but there's still time for that.

Anyway, I have a pet chicken. A friend of mine told me to break it off with the chicken. It's not a good idea, he says, to have them as pets. Because of the children, don't you know, and the inevitable heartbreak.

Which is hilarious.

In spite of all Sugarplum's sugarplumness, she will totally rock bio lab. And physics. If a hawk were to fly off with one of our chickens she would say “oh no!” and then she'd start puzzling over the torque and velocity required to lift a well-fed chicken into the air. And then she'd explain to me what torque is.

She takes good care of our chickens, but she realizes that hawks and foxes are taking care of their families, too. In bio lab, she will probably like looking at the insides of a pickled frog, lest she ever be in the position to stop a frog from choking.

When I was little, my dad ran over a chipmunk with the lawnmower. Not on purpose. He didn't even know he had done it. I found the bits and went on a Don't Ever Mow the Lawn Again rampage.

What I am trying to say here is that I am not a rational human being.

Spending so much time away from my family is making me even less rational. I know it sounds co-dependent, but I really like it when Sugarplum tells me everything's fine. I like it when Chris sits there doing something completely unrelated to my problem, and then says the exact perfect thing I need to know. And Studley is just Studley and I miss his Studleyness.

I also miss my pet chicken. But perhaps it's best this way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dear cherished yet woefully neglected invisible friends,

There is Stuff going on - the least of which is an incredibly sporadic connection to the internet. I hope to be back soon, but until then, I thank you for your patience and your prayers (if that's your thing).

No need to fret. I'm just helping a friend through some rockyness.

All is well. All will be well.

xxoo
Susan

Saturday, August 1, 2009

help

I may participate in an open mic thingy in a couple weeks. It's a friend's deal and, well, he'll probably give me a cupcake if I show up. But I need your help.

1) talk me out of it
2) help me pick a blog post to read* (I'll do some tweaking)

in that order.

Thank you.

* unfortunately, I think it needs to be one of mine.