Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
So, I think I may be a horrible person. I have been getting "donation mail." A "charitable" organization sends me gaudy return address stamps and a nickel. They are sending me ugly stickers and five cents to help victims of scurvy of the blowhole. It's a very serious condition I'm told.
Blowhole aside, I take the nickel, put it in our change jar, and take the return address stickers into the office where I pay bills. Done and done. Groups that have charitably given me five cents are:
The Children's Cancer Research Fund
Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)
The Arbor Day Foundation
American Diabetes Association
Who the fuck decided this would be a good way to raise money?
But, it gets worse. No, I'm not going to start more sentences with prepositions. Well, maybe.
I hate people that come to the door to sell shit. If I needed it, I would be at Target buying it. I feel like all this stuff is scam-tacular and that to go there is to put a giant sign on my head that says "Take Advantage of Me."
Since I've already admitted to my sins, I guess I can add that sometimes I don't recycle. I'm really taking my life into my own hands saying that here in the East Bay. As it is, they have photocopies of my likeness up at Berkeley Bowl because I forgot my Earth-friendly bag and asked for plastic; don't fuck with hippies, they will mess you up.
And finally, I was mean to an old lady today. I felt like it was for a good cause. None of my pants are clean because the giant pile of laundry and I are having a staring contest. Wait, this is going to take too long to explain, suffice to say: I was a snot to an old lady today.
You do not have to be perfect to be domestically minded, or even domestically masterminded, you just need to be able to reconcile your decisions at the end of the day. Example: I have to decide to face the laundry or watch Scarface. It's a difficult choice, clean chonies or Al Pacino. Oye, when will Dan get home?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Another of several sleepless nights leaves me a bit haggard, but staunch and stalwart 'til the end I am here, wearing my homemade oilcloth apron and sock monkey slippers in addition to my Domestic Mastermind uniform. I've been reading far too much Wilkie Collins, and I've a lovely lump of sourdough rising in the kitchen. For a few weeks I've been circling a topic, writing and rewriting, never quite satisfied with what I have. This morning I awoke to a small notebook thrown haphazardly on the floor next to the bed. Indian jugglers did not put it there, for 'tis in my own hand, and upon it is written the key to my topic.
I've written about Dan, and Esperanza; I've written about the Yoseph, and even the poo-headed dude at Target. It is time I pay homage to the mama. My Ma.
Like Collins' Moonstone, of which I am so obsessed, she is mysterious and many faceted, though you may think her straightforward. My Ma is a small lady, with curly hair, and a ready laugh. She is the woman who good-naturedly chats with you in line at the grocery store. She lives to nap, loves to dance, and drives like the devil. She is a Virgo through and through.
Though I am an unholy mixture of both my father and mother (overbearingly bossy with a smile and a giggle) she has said more than once I was not born of her body, but rather, I was hatched; like a visiting alien forgot to take its shelled progeny back to the mothership.
Apologies, dear Ma, but all either one of us has to do is open our mouths and the secret is out: we are indeed related.
When home from work, she is a lady of leisure, choosing to read and enjoy Comcast's OnDemand "cinema." Gourmet for her is name brand cold cereal.
She calls farts "fluffs."
It is so ridiculously easy to make her laugh. We spend lots of time just cracking jokes and being silly. Human beings learn by imitation, and as that is the case, all of what I do, domestically or otherwise, is directly contributed to her love and attention. Every time I cut shortening into flour I think of her, or when I pluck my eyebrows. She is the standard of clean I try to live up to; my brothers and I call it "mom clean." This may be why I love the smell of chlorine bleach.
Her chilled-out demeanor is great because it means I get to swipe all her good kitchen appliances. And her sewing machine. And her vacuum. Ah, the beauty of the five-finger discount. When I was finishing college I used to klepto toilet paper, food, soap, pretty much anything I could smuggle out in a bag. Okay, who am I kidding, I still totally do it. Mostly because it cracks me up. Yes, thieving from my mom is hilarious.
It was hard adjusting to life without my dad. A bittersweet part was realizing that there are people that are irreplaceable in life. I am thankful for everyday I get with my Ma, and sometimes I get a little overprotective. I can't wait for the day that she holds one of my hatchlings in her arms, and the three of us wander away in my hooptie of a car, honking, stalling, cracking our asses up with a trail of wadded up snot rags behind us.
A triad of an example that the apple, or apples, do not fall far from the proverbial tree.
I love you Ma.
Good day Masterminds!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Last weekend I made a lovely batch of Mixed-berry Oatmeal Muffins for Dan. I bet you'll never guess where the recipe is from!
Yup, this is straight out of my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I should write to them and tell them to cut me a check.
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 recipe Streusel Topping (optional for plain and sweet variations)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease twelve 2 and 1/2-inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
2. In another bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at one to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. If desired, sprinkle Streusel Topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.
Blueberry Muffins: Prepare as above, except fold 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and, if desired, 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel into batter.
Cranberry Muffins: Prepare as above, except combine 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries and 2 tablespoons additional sugar; fold into batter.
Oatmeal Muffins: Prepare as above, except reduce flour to 1 and 1/3 cups and add 3/4 cup rolled oats into flour mixture.
Poppy Seed Muffins: Prepare as above, except increase sugar to 1/2 cup and add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds to flour mixture.
Cheese Muffins: Prepare as above, except stir 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese into flour mixture.
Banana Muffins: Prepare as above, greasing muffin cups (do not use paper bake cups). Reduce milk to 1/2 cup. Stir 3/4 cup mashed banana and 1/2 cup chopped nuts into flour mixture along with the egg mixture.
Streusel Topping: In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts.
This is a great and easy recipe, I've whipped up batches for Dan to take to work in about 30 minutes. I usually make Oatmeal Muffins with berries. Fresh berries are best, but with a quick rinse frozen do just fine; I use mixed berries, and just pick out the strawberries that are too big to save them for smoothies. I don't grease or line my muffin pans because I stole those special non-stick plastic-looking ones from my Ma. They are crap to wash (I don't have a dishwasher), but are easy to bake with. The key with these pans are to let the muffins cool about twice as long so they come out nice.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
About five years ago I started to notice a bump on my bung hole. (Good morning!) I was positively convinced it was cancer and there would be Lifetime TV movies in my future. Shaking, I made an appointment with my OBGYN.
Feet set wide in stirrups, I was near tears when the doctor poked at one of my most private places and asked tentatively, "this?" I nodded. She put her hand on my knee and said, "honey that's a hemorroid." She could hardly stifle a laugh as I sat straight up and screamed, "WHAT?" I was 25 years-old, I was not, repeat NOT, supposed to get old lady hemorroids. What was politely disguised laughing turned into outright tears when I answered her next question, about my fiber intake:
So, what exactly is fiber?
Probably not what a doctor wants to hear. But if she knew that moment was pivotal in my gastrointestinal history, I'm sure she'd be proud. It wouldn't be far from the truth to say that I am obsessed with fiber (and pooping).
My dad used to say a good poo made him feel like a new man. Mostly, I judge a poo good or bad if I feel a size smaller or not. But, I understand what he meant. And if he were still of this earth, I feel he would be nodding wisely now.
So, this morning, when I was, ahem, in the bathroom, pondering what I should write about, while playing games on my iPod, it occured to me that, like farting, pooping will never be unfunny to me... and there is a limit to how much Frosted Mini Wheats I should eat.
So, with that, I hope you all have a great, fiber filled day, and be thankful dear Masterminds, that I did not take any instructional photos today.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I am running around trying to catch up from this weekend. Once again Monday comes and I'm left in dust and rubble. When Dan's here I don't want to be productive at all; we pretty much spend all our time nuzzling and cooing. As a result, I'm a good 12 hours behind on my blog. Dang it!
On Saturday, when we took my Ma to see a friends and family preview of A Christmas Carol, I asked what she thought I should write about. She thinks the fact that I'm writing about being domestic is absolutely hilarious and has told me (several times now) that she and my father thought I was a horrible cook when I lived at home.
She recounted to me, obviously memorable, a meal of sticky, undercooked spaghetti, which was paired with a spoonful of canned sauce. If I'd been faster, I would have asked where I learned such gourmet stylings, but only now it's come to me. :)
I can't blame my culinary insanity on her. My dad was the one that ate cold hotdogs in unwarmed flour tortillas and loved Vienna Sausages. This sort of fare was great when I was single and in school, but now I get to be dangerous in my own house with Dan. I almost took pictures of the wreckage from the Chocolate Chip Pie, but it was insane and I didn't want anyone to pass out. Note: Message me if anyone knows how to get melted chocolate off the ceiling.
There are too many disasters to repeat here. Many instances of billowing clouds of flour, baking soda, salt flying over my shoulder for luck, splattering sauces and endlessly burned, scalded and ruined pans. I should be sheepish, but you know what, fuck it. I'm just going to own my craziness.
I remember just after I moved out of my parents house, I was 21 or 22 years old, I called my dad because I wanted an egg over easy like he made it. I tried and tried but would only over cook dozens of eggs, end up with scrambled messes and be bummed in general. He suggested that I try steaming it in a bowl with a bit of water in the microwave. I thanked him, hung up and immediately tried it. The part he forgot to tell me is that if the yolk isn't poked with a fork, it becomes superheated in the microwave... and explodes.
I thought I was in a driveby. Once I crawled out from under the bed I looked in the microwave. Oh, it was cooked all right. All over every wall in there. I called back and we had a good laugh.
It is not solely cooking that I can bung up. I have forgotten Sharpies in loads of laundry, which isn't too much of a problem in the washer, but becomes an artfully painful masterpiece in the dryer. Followed by the loss of several thousand brain cells when I used acetone to get it off the drum.
Beware of bleach. And that's all I have to say about that.
Anyhow, I am taking my unpredicibility in stride. Everything is a learning experience and I am truly lucky to have the chance to learn.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Yup, you read right, today I made Chocolate Chip Pie. It's a recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid, definitely a crowd pleaser. I decided to make one today because it was either that or throw rocks at passing cars and make a bonfire from the neighbor's junk mail pile. I thought pie would be better because I would get to share it with you! Yay!
It. Is. Hella. Easy.
Chocolate Chip Pie
1 cup butter or margarine
Beat 2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
Mix and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake for one hour at 325 degrees F.
Okay, the recipe is mysteriously abbreviated. I will tell you what I do: I use butter and I keep it to 1/2 cup. I'm lazy so I soften the butter a little so I don't have to work so hard. I use pecans instead of walnuts, unless I don't have them (again, lazy). And, though I didn't use any for this pie, I bet a little vanilla would rock this.
Above is the pie before baking. I haven't crimped the edges of the crust and will be using a little aluminium crust protector so it doesn't get over donezo.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Many months ago I unknowingly began a tradition that has been helpful during these unstable times.
As a result of a pretty serious back injury I had to quit my job serving at Pyramid's Alehouse in Berkeley. Furthermore, I probably would not have been waiting tables if the economy hadn't tanked. Those two factors helped Dan and I decide to move in together. Money, bills, and the electric pain shooting through my back and legs were sore , ever-present subjects that I could not escape.
I tried to keep myself busy looking for work that would be suitable for my injury, regardless of my years of sacrifice for school. The rest of my time was spent cleaning and trying to be useful at home.
Somehow I stumbled on to The Price is Right. Yup, that selfsame gameshow that Bob Barker hosted for all those years is still on CBS every morning, but is now hosted by Drew Carey.
I wasn't watching the show regularly at first. In fact, it wasn't until we were packing for our next move, here to Richmond, that I started to take a break religiously at 10am, Monday through Friday, to watch contestants scream and carry on. I would be sweaty, dusty, and just plain grody--usually sitting on the floor of our room cracking my ass up.
For an hour, I would get to step into a bright world where everyone laughed and cheered. You could see reflected in the eyes of people there the bright lights of the set and the palpable possibility.
I told Dan about my secret little ritual, and how it was such a great escape from the stress of packing, job hunting, and the failing economy in general. He added The Price is Right to our Tivo's list of recorded shows so I could miss it if I was busy and fast-forward through the commercials. (He's so considerate!) Before long, we were watching together everyday when he got home from work. Still now, every day when Dan gets home, I get him a glass of raspberry lemonade, or sometimes a Jack and Coke, and we watch as regular people hope for a moment of glorious escape.
A close look may reveal a garish, consumerist mechanism of perpetuating consumption. I just love when people are delighted at the idea of hope, even just a small chance that in a moment, their luck could literally change.
I goes beyond that though. The show is so idealistically American, it somehow escapes being ridiculous, if a little frivolous, and represents possibility. Every night when we watch, Dan and I discuss the models, Drew's suit and tie choices, we make up catchy phrases for our shirts if ever we tried to get on the show, what we would and would not try to win. We judge the contestants, laughing at the spazzes and feeling outraged when a deserving person doesn't win.
It's so silly that an old gameshow can be so influential. Before it became part of our weekday evenings, it just reminded me of morning breaks in a crowded employee lounge with mismatched plastic chairs and the smell of stale coffee. Is it solely a silly gameshow?
The Price is Right has somehow, between stale coffee and reaching for my own dreams of the future with Dan, made it okay to hope again.
Until tomorrow, I encourage you all to hope beyond reason.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Close your eyes. You are in a warm kitchen, savory smells assail you. Heat from an oven blankets your frostbitten fingers and basks the room in a rosy glow. It sounds like those over-emotional tomato soup commercials. But, this is so much better.
Meat pies. Yeah, I know it sounds scary. I probably would not have gone there if it wasn't at the request of my dude. He says in New Zealand they are all the rage. I didn't even bother to look up a recipe, even just as a guideline, I'm just free cookin' it.
We make a lot of chicken pot pies. So super easy. I figured it couldn't be much different. I took a little over two pounds of cubed lamb, cut it into even smaller pieces, browned it all with onion and cumin, in a little butter. Then I made some instant gravy (Tony Cachere's). Four foil pans, a double pie crust, and voila! Meat pies.
Dan and I like to have these sorts of things ready and waiting in the freezer. I throw them in the oven at 350 degrees F, or there-abouts, for around 30 minutes. Baking them sets the crust and cooks the meat a little longer. Then I let the pies cool completely, and put them in ziplock baggies to freeze.
The chicken pot pie version has been home tested, by Dan and I, and is super delicious. Whole chickens are a lot cheaper than parts. So, I take a whole chicken, either fresh, or thawed, and put it in the crockpot. Sometimes I just toss it in there with some beer. I have also seasoned the outside of the chicken and placed it on three loosely crumpled aluminium balls, to keep the chicken from sticking to the crockpot. I usually do the beer option because I handle the raw poultry less and it makes the whole house smell good. (Side note: roasting your holiday turkeys with a can or two of cheap beer is easy and delicious.) Depending on the size of the bird, and if you crockpot it on high or low, it can take anywhere from a few to several hours (all the way up to 10 plus) to cook through.
Once the chicken is cooked, shred it before it's completely cooled. This makes shredding and sorting through the offal a lot easier. Then I make package gravy, throw in some chopped carrots and frozen peas and cook that until it looks like the right consistency. Into the homemade pie crusts... and cook as above.
If you are cheap, erm, frugal, like me, this is a great alternative to frozen dinners.
The drawback: from completely frozen these turkeys can take an hour, or more, to reheat. I haven't tried thawing one out first, I'm too much of a perfectionist when it comes to my pie crust. Just the idea of soggy crust is soul killing. I have also tried freezing them without baking first. This usually bungs up the crust. Again, something my ego cannot stand.
Any way you want to look at it, a hot pie full of magical goodness is awesome on a cold, drizzley autumn day.
Bundle up Masterminds. :)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
1 cup Sourdough Starter
5 and 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 and 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Measure Sourdough Starter; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 and 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. Heat and stir water, sugar, butter, and salt just until warm (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F) and butter almost melts. Add water mixture to yeast mixture; add Sourdough Starter. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Combine 2 and 1/2 cups of the remaining flour and baking soda; add to yeast mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (45 to 60 minutes). Punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease two baking sheets.
3. Shape each dough half by gently pulling it into a ball, tucking edges underneath. Place dough rounds on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each round slightly to about 6 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, make crisscross slashes across loaf tops. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 30 minutes).
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. (If necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.) Immediately remove bread from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
So, I was having a nice cup of tea with Oprah the other day, and she wondered how things were going with my blog. Okay, it was more like, I was taking a break from a spaz-tastic cleaning frenzy of the house, and drinking iced tea with a straw straight out of the pitcher, in my underwear, as usual. My blog is going well, Oprah girl!
Like many things that have more power than they should, I have mixed feelings about Ms. Winfrey. However, the best home advice I have ever learned was from her show. She had organizational expert Peter Walsh help some families that had trouble with hoarding. My Virgo-ness is pretty much the antithesis of hoarding, but he said one thing that really stuck with me: Put like with like.
Take a minute to swallow that.
It's so simple, it seems a little too easy.
When Dan and I moved to Richmond, I really tried to take this idea to heart as I set up our place. It's not a rigid, hard-and-fast rule, but a great guideline to go by if you have trouble being organized. If anything, it helps you to just put everything together that goes together. It's surprising common sense that really works.
All of our books are in the office. All of his comuter stuff is in the office. There is a whole drawer under the TV in the living room that has our gaming gear, and the drawer next to it has all of our board games. All of the kitty things are downstairs by the litterbox.
Organizing this way makes it really clear for those people in our families who are not quite as obsessive, erm, organized as we are. They can't all be born Virgos. This system has really helped Dan, who was messier than I was, when we met. Now, to my chagrin, his side of our room is frequently neater than mine.
I used some fancy gift boxes, that I just didn't have the heart to get rid of, for clearer organization also. With the help of my P-Touch, I labeled them each for batteries and lightbulbs, respectively. Okay, I get a little crazy with the label-maker; exhibit A, the label that says "Computer" on my laptop. Whatever, clarity is key. :)
Sticking to this rule has been really helpful when I clean; everything has a place now. Go forth, and organize.
Until tomorrow, dear Masterminds, adieu.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
There once was a handsome man,
Who answered to the call of Dan,
He met a cute wench,
That made a big stench,
They were married in the land of the Can.
Okay, we weren't really married in Canada, but I was looking for a word to rhyme with Dan. He's really the source of all this domesticity, letting me get creative with our bills so I can stay home.
He truly deserves a spotlight all his own; he is positively magical. Dan has an obscure degree from a tiny little liberal arts college but somehow has made a place for himself in the animation industry. He works as a program developer for a up-and-coming animation studio. The last film Dan worked on, he wrote the programs for all the virtual cameras (and stereo cameras because it is in 3D), and literally made each shot of the movie possible.
Hell yeah, I'm gushing. My man has his own IMDb.
That's just one layer though. He's is a ridiculously moral, sweet, and caring person. He's not afraid to cry, or to be outright silly with me. Dan's ridden in the AIDS Lifecycle (twice) and has snowboarded in New Zealand and Switzerland. He has seven tattoos, with more on the horizon.
Dan isn't afraid to let me drive, or hang pictures; he'll make cookies for me if I ask and kills all spiders that threaten my peace. He says "I love you" and writes mushy love letters to me. He isn't afraid to speculate on our future loin fruit. He loves my Ma.
He doesn't care that I curse like a sailor, get sweaty a lot, burp, fart, and spaz out. We frequently crack each other up for no reason, play competitive UNO, and rock the xbox together. He is my best friend, and the sweetest man I've ever known. He's agnostic himself, but knowing I get to have someone like Dan in my life makes me wonder if I should be lighting candles or thanking Jesus.
He told me last night that my last fart smelled like mustard. I said, email that to me, I'm going to make it the title of my next blog.
So thank you Jesus. I love it when my farts smell like mustard. ;)
And, PS, I'm wildly in love with Dan.
Masterminds, I salute you.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Oye, this is a Monday through and through. It's four-o-clock and I haven't brushed my teeth, taken a shower, and I'm not sure if I plan on getting up to do it anytime soon.
We went to my cousin's wedding yesterday. It was in BFE. She looked lovely. He looked handsome. My uncle threatened to find a nice quiet patch of desert to leave the body.
My husband and I unabashedly gloated that we got married at San Francisco City Hall. Tee hee.
We drug our asses back home and passed out (still gloating, of course). Now I'm left with a house in rubble and absolutely no will to move my booty from the couch. This is where we are today.
Hey, I could make it all roses, but this is the way of it kids. I can't call myself domestic or a mastermind today, it's more like Sleeping Turkey, or the Lazy Boulder.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
It's Sunday, and I am so excited to be going to my cousin's wedding later. It's going to be awesome to have all us crazies together. My family is loud and boisterous. So fun!
Loud and boisterous may work for us, but it may not be so good for our downstairs neighbor. We live in a duplex, at one point I'm sure it was simply two units. It has turned into three, our neighbor on the other side of the wall has an entire half. We have the upper floor of the second half, and there is a studio underneath us.
The last apartment I had by myself was on a middle floor. I had upstairs neighbors, and downstairs neighbors. So, I feel like I am a really conscienscious tenent, having known what it's like to hear people stomping at inappropriate hours.
The ladies that live in the other half of our duplex are so super cool; laid back, really friendly, and just nice people. You know, neighbors that say hi, and offer to feed our cats.
I still haven't met the tenet downstairs. My polite landlady wasn't too forthcoming with information, except to say that the woman downstairs was old for her age. Hmmmmm. Not long after we moved in, both our ears would prick at a strange, repetitive, but irregular sound. Sort of a sighing. I thought it was an exercise machine, maybe a rower or something. My husband says he thinks it might be oxygen. Maybe it's a really sophisticated vibrator?
The singular time she's spoken to us was through a window crack as we were trooping upstairs with some Taco Bell. She said that the fan we had on a table vibrated through the floor, keeping her up all night. My first instict was less than neighborly, but my husband is a sweetheart, and asked her earnestly to tell us if we were ever bothering her.
This is all I know. Everything else has been manufactured by our imaginations, clues we receive in the form of random sounds, and a weird, weed-pulling episode in our backyard one random night. We were a little intoxicated, and too chicken to say anything, so we just peeked outside the window to try and figure out what the hell she was doing.
It's funny where your imagination can take you. And how, at least for me, my first instict is that it's all about me. She's mad because we're loud. She's banging cabinet doors and pots around because we're having the newlywed sexy time. In my mind she's been built up to this grouchy monster, and sometimes I feel like I'm a little louder to spite her.
This morning I woke up hyper, as usual. I asked my husband if I should "run around crazy" while he was making his morning poo. Of course he said yes. So, I proceded to start running around our house, back and forth down the hall. If we had the whole half of the duplex, I'm sure we would be so much louder. But, there is this tiny, nagging feeling that I don't like this weird hermit lady because I don't know her.
[Grudgingly] I guess the next step is going downstairs, knocking on the door and just saying hello myself. When I get the balls to do that, you, my darling Masterminds, will be the first to know. Until tomorrow!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
As a testament you, and proof positive that I am a dedicated blogger, I am up before 6am on a Saturday.
I can't take all the credit. Every morning my eyes just pop open on their own, and the steady stream of spazziness just starts by itself, like a ticker tape in my brain that is always on. Consequently, the chain reaction of atomic friction is felt 25 feet away in the living room by my ever-hungry kitty Yoseph, making him begin his morning ritual of going insane until he gets his wet food.
This morning was no different. My eyes flew open. Then I crept as quietly as I could to pee. Totally unsuccessful. So, I'm sitting in the dark, once again in my panties, clicking away on my beat up laptop, a fan blasting cool air in my face, and the steady music of Yoseph yowling in the living room. My butt is stuck to the naugahyde ergo chair I inherited from my dear friend before she moved to Portland. Ah, and everyone is not positively delighted by each moment of prosaic domesticity?
I would go out there, put on some NCIS re-runs, and type happily away with Chairman Meow, but I can't move my computer. Yes it's a laptop. Maybe I should back up to better explain.
You see... long ago, in a small town far east of Richmond, lived my sweet parents. Back when I was in community college, I had a laptop that started acting up. I did all that I could, but finally I had to go to my father. He wanted me to give him the computer so he could have it fixed for me. This was his way of tacitly approving of what was alien to him; that I had any interest in what he thought was a superfluous degree. I frantically tried to erase all traces of porn, and uncertainly gave him my most important appliance at the time (see "Love at First Sight" 08 October 2009).
My worst fears were realized. It was not salvagable. However, through his secret, black magic he obtained a new laptop for me. And honey, I don't look a gift 'puter in the mouth.
The years have passed. And my dad has since closed his eyes. But I still have this laptop. It's a little sketchy. Yeah it made it though community college and my transfer, my subsequent moves from city to city, and now my obsessive banging out of blogs. Perhaps it has had too many Newtonian mishaps, but it has become necessary to leave it open all the time. If I close it, I can't get the picture to come back on the screen unless I do some serious slapping, cussing and frantic opening and closing. Ah parallel structure... but I digress.
Last month I got a lot of responses to one of my Facebook status updates:
Does anybody want my old laptop? I may have hit it with a bat, dropped it off the roof and then peed on it, but just a little bit. And who uses the letter f anyway? You'll never miss it.My oldest brother commented:
seriously. I have seen my sister hit the screen with her hand to make the display turn on.
That's pretty much where we are. My handsome husband would love the opportunity to have to buy me a Mac, but I'm way too cheap for that. A little duct tape, the inconvenience of having to be stationary (in an office? How prehistoric!), has somehow become romantic to me. Maybe I'm being superstitious but what if I get a fancy new computer with all the stuff and I become unable to go on for hundreds of words about nothing???
What was I saying?
Until tomorrow, be dangerous Masterminds. Enjoy that weird stuff that makes our lives unique.
Friday, October 16, 2009
When I met my darling husband he had two cats. Joe and Polly. When it became clear that I would be sitting on him until I hatched him, it was necessary to make a slight change. I go by Jo and the cat is called Joe, it was getting annoying. To make it clear who was being hollered for we started calling the cat Joseph, which somehow, eventually turned into Yoseph.
Yoseph is, um, special. He is a cross-eyed, snaggle-toothed, drooling, spacey, lover of a cat; the perfect first cat for someone like me who grew up with dogs. My husband tells me he is part Siamese, which explains his need to "talk." If you are like me, and new to cats, kitty talking is mad crazy meowing. Yoseph does this often, mostly when he wants his wet food in the mornings or is lonely. We like to call him Chairman Meow when he gets like this. But I don't think he's a Communist.
Both our cats are 15, my husband has had them since they were kittens back when he was in college. I rue the day when he will close his eyes, I love that little monster. But he's getting on in age; we have to give him heart medicine twice a day, our little kitty lover is an old man.
I can often get him to chase a laser pointer or bat for a string still. And, for as goofey as he is, he always goes potty in the litterbox and is generally a well behaved little gentleman.
Oopsies, except for when we go to bed. My loving husband thinks that Yoseph may have been taken from his mother too soon, and that he has seperation anxiety. If he misses us he meows, then becomes frantic. To cope with these feelings of abandonment, yes we are still talking about the cat, he rolls up a towel we keep on the couch (to limit cat hair) and "loves" it. Yup, a rollicking, yowling, sexy time with the couch. He has a little lipstick just like a dog. It's gross and hilarious all at the same time.
I still love him.
I kiss his cross-eyed face and let him drool. He is my beautiful Yoseph.
Love to you all fellow Masterminds. I hope you have a little meow in your life too. :)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
After months of trying my hat at being domesticated, and many more months just plain old jobless, I was beginning to go crazier than I already am. All of my daytime conversations were either with our two cats, or the checkers at the local grocery store. Repercussions were seriously starting to show.
I'm not even really sure how I stumbled upon it, but I found a link from the Richmond library's website to another program run by the city called LEAP. It is a literacy program that works with adults (Literacy for Every Adult Program). I bookmarked it, and circled the idea for about a week, checking and rechecking the website. Then, a gloomy, random Monday I wandered into their office. Richmond has a reputation for being sketchy, but their Civic Center Plaza is brand spanking new and pretty sweet.
The ladies in the office looked at me like a piece of sale priced sirloin. And, really, in a way I was. The LEAP program is hungry to have more tutors. They just didn't find, out until much later, that I'm more ground turkey than top sirloin. After a brief chat with a coordinator, I said I would come back later that day. I was thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into?
That night I started with one student, Esperanza. To say she is super awesome, only touches on her radness. We got to know each other a little that first night and have been working tirelessly on her GED preparation since then. I have never taught anyone English, in fact I'm not even sure I would know proper English if it hit me in the pie hole, but we've been muddling through grammar, writing and usage since then.
Both of us started learning immediately. I kept thinking back to my years of Spanish and French from school, and all I can say is Esperanza is a gifted student. I get chills when she reads a purposely messed up sentence the right way and doesn't even realize it. She already has a sort of intuition for what non-native speakers call one of the hardest languages to learn. I love it when she gets all excited that she can understand more. Every time she says it tears wet my eyes. I would gladly roll in the praise that it was all me, but it isn't. Her power comes from really wanting to know and I admire her for that.
Esperanza has told me more than once she thinks God purposely put me in her path. I have mixed feelings about an all powerful God. If there was something bothering to orchestrate life for me, I would say that it was Esperanza who was purposely put in my way. Have you ever met someone that you just knew you were going to be friends with? I can't wait for the day she takes her GED. To say I'm proud of her sounds condescending, but I truly admire her dedication to and patience with an over-read, over-caffeinated, nutter like me.
Will she be my first Mastermind minion? Probably not, she's way too balanced for that. But I hope she won't mind that I've decided to be her friend. The long and the short of it: I'm stoked to be swimming where I can't touch and even more stoked that someone is crazy enough to swim with me.
Masterminds, I salute you.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Being a Domestic Mastermind encompasses all facets of domesticity. We're talking: cleaning, cooking, health and the general welfare of your family and home. Sometimes it's embarrassing; just this morning I pulled a six-inch string out of my cat's butt.
Before my husband was, well, my husband, and he was just a dude we had to have the talk. Now if you have a significant other and have not had the talk you should seriously think about it. It was about 7 days after we met in person (we met on Chemistry.com). It went something like this:
Me: We need to talk about something.
Him: [looking petrified] Yeah, what about?
Me: Look, I'm just going to say it. I'm hella farty. Not just girly farty, but like Henry the Eighth farty. I can render babies and small animals unconscious. I didn't paint my bathroom that color, I'm pretty sure I stained it.
Him: Uh, okay.
Me: No, seriously. If we are going to continue to see each other I'm going to need to be able to fart in front of you. It will be loud, it will smell and it will happen frequently.
Him: [still looking petrified] Um, okay.
I'm not kidding. It's super crazy. Almost everything gives me gas. Beans, obviously, beer, soda, pizza, nuts, hotdogs, popcorn, granola, and most cold cereals. The cereals are why we are here today. I thought Raisin Bran Crunch was the worst, but I was wrong.
Frosted Mini Wheats.
It is seriously hilarious. And don't give me the Beano talk, it does not phase my kind of gas. I went to the doctor. She agreed with me; farts will never become unfunny.
If I kept seeing that cute dude, who has since become my husband (obviously from lack of oxygen), I would have made myself sick holding it or run out of excuses to run downstairs to let it out in peace. So we laugh about my intestinal processes a whole lot. Because if I hadn't had the guts to tell him I may not have ended up having a reason to be domestic.
A merry Wednesday to you, fellow Masterminds. Full of wonder, intrigue and Frosted Mini Wheats. Pfffffffftttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sourdough Starter1 package active dry yeast2 and 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)2 cups all purpose flour1 tablespoon sugar or honey1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Stir in the remaining warm water, flour, and sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat until smooth. Cover with 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature (75-85 degrees F) for 5 to 10 days or until mixture has a fermented aroma and vigorous bubbling stops, stirring two or three times a day. (Fermentation time depends on room temperature; a warmer room will hasten the fermentation process.)2. To store, transfer Sourdough Starter to a 1-quart plastic container. Cover and chill.3. To use, stir starter. Measure amount of cold starter called for in recipe; bring to room temperature. Replenish starter after each use: For each 1 cup removed, stir 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey into remaining starter. Cover with cheesecloth; let stand at room temperature 1 day or until bubbly. Cover with lid; chill for later use. If starter is not used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Continue to add 1 teaspoon sugar or honey every 10 days unless starter is replenished.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Hello my dear Masterminds. You love Target, admit it. Just when Thrifty was usurped by Payless, and now Longs by CVS, we were blessed with the Bullseye.
Now I would say that I am a pretty chilled out person for the most part. Driving... sort of gets me amped up. People are poo heads. And I'm not the biggest fan of crowds, I hate how people have collectively forgotten how to say "excuse me." Last weekend, my husband and I drove to Target for some miscellaneous things and after one look at the parking lot, I told him to turn the hell around. We went home.
But today should be safe right? It's a cloudy, cold Monday. Who has their shit together on Monday? That proved to be a hard question to answer, because though people were out in droves, they most certainly did not have their shit together.
Blue GTI, why did you lose your shit when I stopped to let that lady back out? There was no way she could see, someone had to stop for her. I did. But you, you shit head GTI dude, you get all crazy up on my ass. And when it is time for me to manuver into a parking spot around an extended hummer you ram that shiny GTI right up my ass. Remember, that's when you saw those little white lights. Those are called backup lights, you haven't heard of them I suppose. Perhaps you were distracted by my wild gesticulating. How I wish I had a time machine because I would beam back to that moment and instead of just going on my merry way I would throw open my driver door and rip your windshield wipers off, blow you a kiss and then give you the double finger.
Instead, I calmly go in, though I'm seething inside. I really don't even know what I bought. And when I got back out to my little car, instead of heading straight to the exit, I drove around the parking lot until I found your shiny, new, blue GTI. There was an empty spot next to it. Keys in hand, I stopped and thought for a moment then I keyed "YOU'RE AN ASSHAT" on the German car. Hee hee. Now you have something to be pissed about.
Okay, that didn't happen. But how I wish that it did.
Love to you all, my Masterminds.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I had planned to take today off. But there is just something in the light that makes me want to write to you all. All five of you. If you all are still even reading this.
It's the light.
It is simply cool and beautiful right now. Today is one of those great overcast days that photographers love; all that diffused light.
It's 58 degrees.
It is just one of those great Sunday's when you are with the one you love and the day is still stretched out in front of you. Thoughts of the impending week are still far away, cloudy, unrealized ideas. What sort of Mastermind would I be if I didn't stop to appreciate it?
So, my friends, wherever you are, whoever you are, I hope you are having a great Sunday.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Pastry for Double-Crust Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening or lard
6 to 7 tablespoons cold water
In a mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening or lard till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push to the side of bowl. Repeat till all is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry around rolling pin. Unroll onto a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate.
For top crust, roll remaining dough. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Fill pastry in pie plate with desired filling. Place top crust on filling. Trim top crust 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top crust under bottom curst; flute edge. Bake as directed in individual recipes.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Yes it is true. I am wearing only my underwear.
I feel within my heart that I, along with thousands of others, mostly women, went to see Meryl Streep as Julia Child. I am also sure that there were thousands that did what I did: looked at that sad representation of "Julie" and said "I can do that!" Indeed, I am doing that at this very moment, in my dishwater white underwear, but I can goddamn guarantee that I have better hair. So that's good.
Until four days ago, I didn't know how to blog. But here I am, like a big girl, hunting and pecking for the words that will make you smile, cringe, and come back begging for more. So many instances when life had me down, I said to myself, "I'll write." I had visions of draping silk and cigarette holders, I would wear a turban and have my own mousy secretary... oh shit, I think that might all be from Auntie Mame. You get the picture, I would be exotic and ballsy. But instead I just, I dunno, didn't.
The Julie in the movie worked her way through Julia Child's French cookbooks. While my dear, sweet husband did supply these for my birthday, I'm frankly sort of terrified of them. So, friends, there will be no schtick. I only offer my insight to the blundering of an accidental housewife (me) reborn into the Domestic Mastermind (still me, keep up).
Finally, there is one unmistakable difference between me and Julie. If, perhaps, I dropped dinner on the floor it wouldn't matter. I would take the chicken, pluck the obvious cat hairs from it, and chuck it on the floor again. Because I, dear Masterminds, am in charge of my destiny. And because I wasn't wearing shoes I needed to throw something at the spider scurrying away from the wreckage of dinner. I don't know about you Julie, but I can make a few cat hairs and a twitching spider leg look gourmet, in my panties and bra. Chew on that.
Anyway, thanks for visiting and until tomorrow, "Bon appetit."
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I want to write about one of the most beautiful and tender moments in my life. Please excuse me if my words flower into prose, for I cannot speak lightly on this subject. I cannot help the thoughts of forked roads in the woods and phrases like "waxed poetic" when I think on this. I knew I was a true woman at this point. My love encompasses that which may be seen as flaws, but I will not waiver.
For I would like the world to know how I love my washer and dryer.
They are the most indespensible appliances that I have ever owned. We found them at the Sears outlet in Hayward. Mismatched, unloved and stranded on opposite sides of the sad little store. I knew that they were mine and we would be one for a long time.
Life, of course, would carry on without this convenience. I had survived, and could do so again, grudgingly, at the local "Suds and Fluff." This brings into sharp relief the sumptuous beauty of having this luxury right downstairs. The warm humming of the machines working in their opposite capacities lull my tired soul to peace, as they ensure that I am indeed multi-tasking even as I sip a CokeZero. I love the sorting, and I love the bleach. Mostly, I dearly love the smell of just dried clothes as I fold them, still very warm from the womb of the dryer, gently perfuming the air with Tropical Expressions Gain.
I am fortunate to have this, and very thankful to my husband who did not try to read between any lines. I did not want a cold piece of jewelry or set of crystal to celebrate our nuptuals, but nearly cried with joy as the delivery men brought to me my mismatched washer and dryer on my wedding day.
One may only see two machines. But these machines wash the garments and linens that we keep next to our skin always. I can hear their music now, reminding me that though I may seem slightly crazy, I will never, ever, have to beat my husband's shirts on a rock.
Until tomorrow, my dear Masterminds. Thanks for visiting.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For many months I looked for gainful employment, as perhaps you have as well. First I looked in fields that excited and challenged me, then in what I had experience in, then finally I searched greedily for what would take me. I worked for three months as an Address Lister for the 2010 Census and another three months as a waitress. Is there such a thing as "work-life balance" in a recession? I say, nay. There is only one rule: Pay yo bills. Get yo shit done. Rob Peter to pay PG&E and hawk that vase your gramma gave you so you can buy tampons.
After my husband and I decided that enough was enough, we have been making it okay on his salary, as scary as that is. I would stay home and finally not feel guilty for having fun. This was a huge relief. During my job search I did the laundry, and the cooking, and pretty much everything else around the casa. More and more I was delighted at promptly folded laundry, homemade food and I organized the crap out of our place. Friends said that I nested the [frak] out of our little home. For years I had fought what my father had lovingly told me, "Someday, you'll make some man very happy."
What seems simple and innocent becomes a weighty, double edged sword. When would I get the chance to make myself happy? During the years of growing up, and later school, I called myself a staunch feminist; so, now I am more than a little uncomfortable and embarrassed that this weird economic mishap has put me in the kitchen, shoeless, sweaty, making hilarious culinary mishaps and masterpieces. Is it wrong to be delighted? Am I unbalanced? Don't answer that.
So, my fellow house whores, ponder away, in brilliant mastermind style, until tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
In this time of economic turmoil, and general panic, I find myself at home. Some call it being a housewife, or husband, domestic engineer, house whore and others, but from the hours I have spent being this one word: I am a domestic mastermind. Dude, seriously, it is hard work to do all this, most of it being the emotional shades of depression to the sheer delight at vanquishing the crockpot while I contemplate where I ultimately belong and what I really want to be doing with my life.
My husband stayed home from work today. Almost everyday as he leaves for work black horns grow out of my head and I tell him to stay home. Today he decided that he was actually feeling below par and that he would indeed, stay home with me. Uh-oh.
Born from the very idea that a stay at home spouse is lazy and unkempt I clean the shit out of everything. But in my own time. With him here I feel invisible eyes on me, though he hasn't taken his eyes of his iPhone in two hours. By 8:30am I had already done two loads of laundry, did all the dishes, ran errands and went to the pool. Now what the hell am I going to do for the rest of the day? I took a shower before 1pm, which is just insane because with all the cleaning I'm planning I'm going to sweat for a Guiness World Record. For pete's sake, I'm even wearing a BRA.
Anyway, for my first post, I thought I would just jump right in. Welcome to the home of the Mastermind. Hope you come back.