Friday, November 29, 2013

Survived Another Thanksgiving

Cooking does not come easily to me. I have no passion for it, so self-doubt and anxiety are my companions once I step into the kitchen. I overheard a woman at a coffee shop last week saying she was “just having twelve people over for Thanksgiving dinner”. In my world, the words “just” and “twelve” don’t EVER go together. Every year I struggle to complete the seemingly thousand-course dinner on time, without anyone having to go to the hospital with food poisoning or botulism. This year I decided to cook a turkey breast instead of a whole bird. I picked out one at the grocery store that looked suspiciously like a small turkey. I was thinking a turkey breast would be just a chunk of white meat, similar to a chicken breast. Oh well, I thought, it had to be better than dealing with the usual dead bird carcass. I shoved it into the fridge and didn’t revisit it until Thanksgiving day. When the time came, I cut away the wrapping, and discovered a dead bird carcass but on a slightly smaller scale. It was smaller because it had no legs. It still had the bones and various holes that I don’t like to dwell on. I guess I wasn’t paying too close attention to the packaging that said it was a turkey breast ON THE BONE. Funny thing about not having legs - the turkey wouldn’t sit up as usual. I had to place it in my oven with the meat side on the bottom. This probably made it juicier. However, after a couple hours I needed to get the underside brown. Using two barbecue forks, I flipped it upside down on a little rack and put the turkey back in the oven. About ten seconds later, I heard a thud. The rack had collapsed and Turkey Lurkey was laying on his side. I had to stand the rack up again and shove balls of foil in a few spots to hold the rack in place. I totally MacGyvered it! I felt like a frickin’ genius, but also a little silly. I wondered how many other chefs out there had to do this. Seems like if you have to jimmy stuff and improvise, you’re doing something wrong. In the end, the dinner turned out fine. I had only a small meltdown, and wasn’t reduced to tears. Booyah! Score a big one for me... until next year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Uptown Saturday Night

My husband and I had quite the adventure Saturday night. For sure it was more exciting than our usual evenings parked in front of the TV with our dogs. A friend of Rick’s was in a play, so we bought tickets and headed out for a night of culture and fun. We got to the theater with a few minutes to spare. The first interesting thing I noticed was a giant transvestite outside the door. This man had to be about 6’5’’ in his giant wedgie high heels. I didn’t catch what was in between the heels and his leather hat because I was focused on the plunging-neckline of his tank top. He was so large, his cleavage was eye level. We went inside the place, and I saw a sign that read “$1 Ear Plugs”. Not a good beginning to the festivities. This theater seemed like a combination pool hall, bar, and cabaret. It was very dark inside, and the music was extremely loud. Those $1 ear plugs were starting to look pretty good. The crowd was mostly men, with a few women sprinkled in. Quite a few people were in costume. I saw a man wearing white from head to toe, with his body covered in white stuffed animals - possibly lambs or sheep. I’ve never felt so awkwardly normal in my life. I’m sure Rick and I stood out like sore thumbs. The inside of the theater was very smokey. It wasn’t cigarette smoke, but some kind of smelly mist. Rick lasted about two minutes before he started having breathing problems. So we left. We headed home, hoping Rick’s friend would understand why we didn’t stay for the play. We both needed to use my inhaler when we got to the house. Then it was back to the couch, the TV, and the dogs. Just like nothing had happened. It was just a hiccup in our routine, with an enormous transvestite and stinky smoke thrown into the mix.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


President Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago on November 22, 1963. It is inconceivable to me that I’m old enough to vividly remember something that happened so long ago. I was nine years old, and a fourth grader at Cathedral School in Salt Lake City. That day, we were in the lunch room when the announcement was made over the intercom that President Kennedy had been killed. Being Catholic in Utah was kind of difficult. We weren’t exactly accepted with open arms by our Mormon neighbors. When JFK was elected as the first Catholic president, we had our hero. He was young and handsome, and had a beautiful wife and two adorable children. In art class, whenever we were told to draw whatever we wanted, all the boys would draw pictures of PT 109. This was the boat JFK was on in World War II. It was torpedoed by the Japanese, and he rescued all of his men. I wasn’t the least bit interested in PT 109, and figured it was just a stupid boy thing. But I did think the President was pretty dreamy. After he was killed, we were glued to the TV for any tidbit of information. We were huddled around the TV in my grandmother’s sun room when Lee Harvey Oswald was killed. We actually saw it happen live. Amazing! I remember watching the funeral procession move down Pennsylvania Avenue, along with the riderless horse as the symbol of what we had lost. I marveled at the grace and bravery of Mrs. Kennedy, and wondered how she knew what to do. When we saw John-John Kennedy salute his father’s casket, it broke our hearts. I believe it was his third birthday. American’s lives changed forever that day. Soon enough, in 1968, there would be two more assassinations - Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Some of the innocence we enjoyed died along with them. Nowadays, horrific killings happen almost daily. Things seem to be spiraling out of control. I wonder how different our current world would be had those three men survived. Kind of makes you think... and dream.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hammerhead Sharks

A new species of hammerhead shark has been discovered off the coast of the Carolinas. Apparently, it looks the same as your basic hammerhead but has ten less vertabrae. Hmmm... so many questions. Why would someone decide to count a shark’s vertabrae? Was there something hinky about this particular shark that demanded extra attention? This also makes me wonder about the name Hammerhead. What were hammerhead sharks called before hammers were invented? I’ll bet these sharks were around thousands of years ago, but I doubt hammers were. Kind of makes you think way, way back...

God is sitting on a cloud, creating stuff: “This is a Cat - I’ll give it nine lives. This is a Dog - Only one life but it will be best friends with someone I haven’t created yet. This is a Pig - I’ll give it a curly tail. This is a Chicken - I’ll give it a beak for a nose and it will lay eggs. This is a Cow - Not much going on, it will mostly stand around and chew. This is a Horse - Much sleeker than the cow and it will run fast.” At this point, I think God started looking around for interesting ideas. Perhaps his eyes fell on his tool box. “Aha! Hammerhead Shark - This guy will make the other sharks look boring. He will be the handy man among fish.” After this God must have moved on to creating the Duckbill Platypus and Banana Slugs.

Clearly there might be some other explanation to the existence of hammerhead sharks. Not being a scientist, though, I fall back on my limited knowledge - cartoons, lots and lots of TV, and more cartoons. And Charles Darwin is currently spinning counter clockwise in his grave.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Electric Blankets

As much as I’ve been fighting it, I realize cold weather is here. I have been a little shivery during the night, but have been too lazy to get out the heavy blankets. Last week I started dreaming I was cold, so I knew it was time. As a child, we all had electric blankets on our beds. The idea of sleeping under wires seems kind of unsafe. None of us ever spontaneously burst into flames, so I guess it was all good. My mom used to put us to bed way too early, so my sister and I had to come up with activities to occupy our time until we got sleepy. The electric blanket control provided a little bit of orange light, which worked out well for playing Nocturnal Barbies. Another game we invented was Dirty Sock Fight. We would roll up socks from our dirty clothes pile and hurl them at each other in the dark. Even with the pale light from the electric blanket controls, I don’t remember actually hitting my target more than a few times. I’ve always been very active in my sleep. As a child I sleep walked. I remember waking up in front of my floor-to-ceiling drapes, where I had dreamed I was at the blackboard in school. I believe I was writing on the drapes with my finger. After high school, I worked at Holiday Reservations Center. There were nights when I would be taking reservation calls in my sleep. I would ask the caller a question, and when I got no answer I would disconnect the call. Then, a half hour later I would wake up freezing because the Disconnect Button was really the On switch to my electric blanket. I received a dual control electric blanket as a wedding gift. When I put it on our bed, I unknowingly got the controls switched. Rick was too hot and kept turning his side down and I was freezing and kept stoking my side up. We eventually got rid of the electric blanket and went old school. Now I can’t imagine laying under wires, even though I spent my first 20 years of sleep that way. I say pile on the blankets... much cozier, low tech, and they even work during a power blackout.