Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Perfect Pear

P and I are a rather odd set to some. He's quite a bit older than I am, and often we are mistaken for a father-daughter duo instead of a married couple.

If I had a dime for every time someone mistook our relationship I'd have about... ten bucks.

It's not that hard to see why, really -- Peter has flowing silver locks swirling, in a Beethoven-esque fashion, around piercing blue eyes which are accented by sexy eye-crinkles. He's like a fine wine...that remembers what life was like before the Summer of Love.

On our first date, I was legal to drink by two weeks.

Apparently, when P first came home from on of his several "business" trips to my darling Chicago apartment, C, his trusty assistant (who is now my trusty sidekick when I'm not being her sidekick) got suspicious. Proddingly, she asked him what was going on. He blushed. Ever curious, she pressed on.

"Well, she's very young, you know."

Crystal, a twenty-something herself and undeterred, continued, "Well, she's not younger than me is she?"

Peter hesitated.

"How old are you, again?"

Several months later, I was imported to meet the family. We ticked them each off the list in short order:
  • kids, check.
  • cats, check.
  • brother, check.
  • three nieces and one nephew, check.

There was only one person left on the list, and it was C. When the day finally came, I was timid and C was cautious. We were each polite and standoffish. It was mutual, really. Neither of us really like other people, especially those of the female persuasion. We're both tough and hermit-ous by nature.

We had no idea how much we had in common.

Eventually though, with me safely returned to Chicago, Crystal delivered her verdict: despite all the obvious objections she could raise, after seeing us together, she knew we were the perfect pair.

And here's the proof, straight out of our courtyard garden.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hell's Kitchen

If there's one thing that gets me through in this world (in as much as I get through at all) it's lists.

This morning, upon waking bright and early -- well, bright anyway -- with unusual energy, I promptly made a very impressive To Do list which included the following things:

Kill the fruitflies
Kill the fruitflies
Kill the fruitflies
Finish the laundry
Kill the fruitflies

You may notice a pattern. I said it once and I'll say it again: If Hell actually has a kitchen, it's infested with fruitflies. Those suckers are impossible and disgusting.

Sure, we've been a bit lax these days (weeks) with regard to the immediate loading of the dishwasher . But I have excuses for that: it's no mystery that our dishwasher came special order from Oompa-Loompa land where things are efficient, yet tiny. And what with the waking up at the gruesome hour of 4:30 to get to 7am appointments in NYC (or 6:30 for later ones when I'm lucky) I'm plum tuckered out by the time after-dinner-hour comes around. Unending repetition may be just the thing for Oompa-Loompas, but Sisyphean labor is really not my thing.

I also understand that when we replaced the wonderful bright red tight-lidded simplehuman trashcan with the tidier-but-draftier under-the-counter variety, it may have sent the wrong impression to the clearly very impressionable fruitfly population. Here's the breakdown.

What I thought I was saying:
"Hello, insect population. This is a clean and tidy kitchen. It is a wholesome place. We're kid friendly and very G rated. Please, keep that in mind as you cruise past our viewing window on your way to procreate somewhere else in a galaxy far, far away."

What the fruitflies heard:

"Hey there, sexy. Lookin' for a hot place to settle in and make millions of babies? Fly no further. We've got a 24 hour buffet, dark quiet and stinky just waiting for you. When you only live 10-18 days, you may as well live it up in style. Infest, and multiply!"

As if that were bad enough.

Showing off one of his more charming talents, P poured me a very well-timed glass of brandy as I struggled through dinner preparations last night. He then went back in to his office while I wandered around distractedly muttering about a lost recipe.

My search led me to our bedroom, where, ta-DAAA, the recipe sat on the bed right next to my laptop where I had left it. (Or so it seems. I have the memory of a goldfish.) Relieved, I glanced at my computer screen. As I did so, a plaintive IM popped up from P, featuring a weeping emoticon accompanied by the heartbreaking message, "There are five flies in my brandy."

Disturbed, I looked down into my own glass. THERE WERE TWO FLIES IN MINE!

Let's do the math.

1. P pours 2 glasses of brandy at 7:10pm in the kitchen where 50 fruitflies have taken up residence.
2. P delivers 1 glass to me, and takes 1 glass to the office. At this point there are 0 flies in either glass.
3. P and I walk in opposite directions to extreme wings of the house (note: we were about 73 steps away from each other. For some reason having to do with either testosterone or self-pity, he counts this distance on a regular basis and conveys it to anyone within range).
4. Suddenly, at 7:34, we have 7 fruitflies succumbed to alcohol poisoning.

I hate math, but I can tell you the answer. Fruitflies equal war.

We've stationed a Lysol guard, we've set up a sticky-fly-tape special unit and we're evacuating the area of all possible fruitfly resources.

Do you smell that? Do you smell that?! I love the smell of Lysol in the morning.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Movies

I just came out of the movie "500 Days of Summer" which was pretty cute but not very original. Worth seeing? Sure. But it is really just a John Cusack movie without John Cusack in it. I do love Zooey Deschanel, so that made up for part of it.

Sometimes I come out of a movie (usually one with an especially good soundtrack) and just want to float around in it for a while. You know, like, live in the movie for a few days, or at least a few hours. Not because it is an especially good movie necessarily, but because it is transportation to a different universe for a while. A universe that has the comfort and security of a beginning, and middle and an end which someone has really thought about. Sometimes life just seems like a series of days. Good days often enough, but there's no plotline. One yearns for plotline.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Before. Please God, Let There Be An After.

Wow, it's so overwhelming. I absolutely adore my house, but it is in desperate need of some serious gardening.

Last month, we paid the last bill for our building contractor. That means no more 7am jackhammer alarm clocks; no more strange, dirty men wandering in and out leaving muddy paw prints; not more frustrating conversations with my passive-aggressive contractor; no more frantic phonecalls to the financial planner ("what do you mean we didn't win the lottery?!?!).

So now I can address the pathetic bareness that is my landscaping.

I'm going to start with a list of plants that I like. Then I'm going to sit around and obsess about what my beds should be shaped like for...oh, a decade or two. Don't want to rush into anything. Then, I'll fret over whether I should suck it up and do everything myself (let's face it, in my world, the women do the manual labor) or hire someone to do it for me.

If I hire someone to do it for me, does that mean I'm spoiled?

When people gasp in awe of my gorgeous setting, and ask me, breathlessly, "Did you do all this yourself?" do I still get to answer, "Why... yes." And toss my hair nonchalantly?

Would I be failing at the job of teaching my darling children the value of sweat and elbow grease?

Well, these are the questions. Or at least a taste of the first fifty thousand questions. Aren't you excited??

Here goes...somethin'.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chaos Cookies

One of my many goals in creating a lovely home has been to teach HC independence in the kitchen. Her love of baking really is the cherry on top of many a "Home Sweet Home" kind of days, emphasis on the "sweet".

Last night was no exception. After finishing her first week in public school (as a freshman in high school, no less) HC felt her sugar tooth ache and Tedward was beckoning.

Side note: Tedward is the name HC gave my kitchen aid stand mixer.

I was proud to watch her crack a few cookbooks looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, and measure everything carefully. It has taken some work to fully comprehend the idea that actually *following* the recipe helps the final product. I was impressed when she softened the rock-hard brown-sugar alone, and after keeping half an eye on her steady progress, I was mildly surprised to have her beckon me over to Tedward's side for a look.

"What do you think?" she asked, a bit hesitant.

I peered into the metal bowl and noted the spatula attachment deep in the thick batter. Very deep.

"Seems like a lot of cookie dough for 12 cookies," I mused, reaching for the package of chocolate chunks. It was completely empty.

Indignant, HC defended herself while I inspected the recipe: "I followed the recipe exactly this time!! I double-checked and everything!"

Apparently, that was the problem.

"HC, did you notice it says 'yield: 6 dozen cookies'?"


By midnight we had chocolate chip cookies coming out the ears!

We'll survive. In fact, they're helping us survive. This morning, several were eaten to calm a threatening nervous breakdown by one member of the family, and I had a couple as sustainance while cleaning the house. Several more were shared during a very serious planning and logistics conversation I had with P, and one or two were consumed with milk by A after he returned from his first experience working out with the other Marine recruits.

So here's the question: is the dwindling pile of chocolaty yumness helping keep chaos at bay, or simply a symptom of the chaos itself?