Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mastering the Art of the Humdrum

Okay, so we are not the most exciting pair of dykes to hit the blogosphere. I'm going to write about our tremendously pedestrian weekend anyway. Friday, we went to pick up the children. Pie immediately offered sympathy for the death of my grandmom and said, "I don't know why you're not just sad all the time." Sweet boy. I know he'll miss her, too. She would make sure to have cookies for him and spent time at the window with him telling him all the different kinds of birds and showed him the plants in the yard, bloodroot, nodding trillium, jack in the pulpit, tiny narcissus and the wonderful dogwoods.

We did nothing in particular Friday night. On the way home, we stopped at IHOP to get dinner, since we had BOGO coupons to use. Very handy! Not my preferred dining choice, but the food wasn't bad at all. Then, we went home and I got a head start on the coming semester's reading while J and Boot watched t.v. and Pie played video games.

Saturday, we were all very lazy, lying about in bed until all hours. J and I went grocery shopping at 4 different stores. I got to experience Regos, which J was just blown away by and which I thought was not nearly as nice as Heinen's. We did pick up some decent buffalo chicken salad and some fairly good hummus. We also did Trader Joe's, Marc's and Giant Eagle. J is interested in stocking up the freezer against coming higher food prices. I am so glad we now have the big freezer at our disposal.

Once we were done, we went home and J took Boot out jeans shopping. I was so glad not to have to go along and I know Pie was, too. Pie who devoured my doughnut, all innocent of my ownership of it. I am seriously going to have to start hiding any food I don't want to vanish under the preying of the locusts. I spent the afternoon cooking, making a roast chicken and an Oreo cake. Boot ended up mopping the kitchen because an energy drink leapt out of the fridge and fizzed its red stickiness all over the floor. He volunteered to mop, so we let him. I wish we hadn't. We had a nice sit-down dinner, then Pie hit his room while Boot began obsessively clearing the table while J & I were still finishing our food. He told us we're "dirty and lazy" (in an oh so friendly and casual way, but I was still pissed) because we don't get up from the table to start cleaning up the very second the last bite hits our gullet and we don't replace our broom every two months like his grandmother does. Yeah, well, we don't keep all our furniture coated in plastic the way she does, either. Who the hell replaces their broom every 2 months??? I don't even replace my toothbrush until 3 months have passed! And, by the way, this comes from the boy who never washes his hands after he goes to the bathroom & who can't figure out why I object to him spitting in the kitchen sink!

Sunday morning, we awoke 20 minutes before the service started and I hastily tossed on some clothes and rushed out the door. The service was fun, with an impromptu rendition of the "Lone Ranger" theme by our choir director during the children's message and one of the youth playing trombone for us. At coffee hour, I caught up with our fellow all-girl couple, who are frustrated at the lack of available teaching jobs for Angie. I hope she finds a fabulous long-term sub position soon! I also had a conversation with Robert, who loves to talk heretical fiction with me. He has discovered a book he wants me to read & is trying to remember to bring it.

After church, I went home to find my sweet petunia still in bed and the kids still asleep. She got up & we made a big Sunday dinner of country-fried steak, mashed potatoes, white gravy and corn. By the time we'd eaten and I'd gotten the kitchen cleaned up, it was about time for us to hit the road. We took the kids back home in near silence. Pie slept the whole time and Boot was on the verge of a doze much of the way. I was immersed in Rob Bell's "Velvet Jesus" while J drove. It was a nice switch to be the one reading. I do hope Rob Bell is not another homophobe. I so admire Brian McLaren, but am deeply disappointed with him for his inability to affirm same-sex relationships. I hope he grows out of it.

When we got home, we considered going to see "Evan Almighty" outside at church. But, since J had to be up very early and didn't feel altogether well, we decided to stay in. I made baked eggs in toast cups and we watched the depressing yet compelling "Little Children" before going to bed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A is for African Food

Friday night, we returned the boys to their father after a month-long summer visit. They were silly, silly, silly all the way home. On the drive back to our place, J was flipping through the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living and was ogling a pork tenderloin dinner, so I will be making that soon. Our dinner Friday night was leftover pasta, Italian hats with red sauce that J had made while I was down in the Dayton area. We had an uneventful night, going to bed early so that J could rise at 5 the next morning to go to work. The life of a plant manager is not the cushy thing that some employees might suppose.

I slept in much later than 5. My mom called around ten, saying, "Daria, she made it" referring to my grandmama. She has been faltering since my granddad died in December. J, the boys & I had spent our vacation in late July visiting her & my auntie (along with King's Island & the movie theater) and she was doing okay, but my mom had called me the 8th & said she was in the hospital. The whole family headed down there to see her. I feel so blessed to have such a close family. My former step-cousin (who is 100% still my cousin) even came to the hospital. I know it had to be hard for Cousin #2 and his wife because they just lost her wonderful mom to cancer in June. I drove down the 9th & visited for 5 days, then returned home to see the boys off & be with J. My grandmom was doing worse & worse. I knew when I left on Thursday that it would probably be the last time I ever saw her. Frankly, I prayer that it was. We had both said all that needed to be said & I hated the idea of her lingering in misery, not able to enjoy eating or family or anything, not being able to go to the bathroom by herself, being in such pain. So, my mama and I were both hoping that my granddaddy & great-aunt & great-grands would come get her soon. I am relieved that she made it to the other side.

After I got the sad but good news, I headed out to do my weekly marketing. I found some lovely fruits & veggies at the farmer's market- peaches, Paula Red apples (I am anxiously awaiting Winesap season), elderberries, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, green peppers, sweet corn, lush misshapen tomatoes. I just love August. By the time I had perused Trader Joe's & (last & certainly least, but ya gotta get your tin foil somewhere) Giant Eagle, J was almost done with work & clamoring for lunch. I popped over there with a snack of apples and salt & vinegar chips, but most importantly to J, a big ass Coke. J finished her work as best she could while also entertaining Madeleine, a darling tot who was visiting her papa while he worked. She put colorful fish cut-outs all over J's office, sneaked up from under her desk and rowred at her, and sampled both elderberries (which she liked very much) and an apple (not so much).

We had leftover smoked sausage in buns for lunch & vegged out watching t.v. until it was time to implement the alphabet plan. We'd seriously considered heading down to Dayton again, but my mom thought we should just rest & then come down for the memorial service. My uncle Vic had to go back home so he could fly out to Lily & DeForrest's wedding in Georgia the next day & Jazzbo & Anne were heading home, too. John & Nola did go down to spend the night Saturday, but we stayed put.

The alphabet plan was scheduled to begin that night & I had reservations, so we decided to keep them. I had decided it would be fun to go on alphabet-themed dates on the weekends we don't have the boys, alternating letters. J loved the idea and we've had a marvelous time playing with the possibilities. I took A & quickly decided we'd go to Empress Taytu, an Ethiopian restaurant in Cleveland, for African food. It was a secret from J until the moment we passed the restaurant & I pulled into a side street to park. The whole experience was wonderful. The atmosphere was very laid-back. We were offered our choice of a traditional basket table or an American-style table. Of course, we went for the basket table. I was a smidge disappointed not to be seated in one of the thatch-covered "huts" but our table was good, too. When we were seated, our waitress brought us damp washcloths to clean our hands. I had lovely spicy Ethiopian-style iced tea, while J had hers hot. We split an order of sambusa, a splendid savory meat pastry, for an appetizer, then settled on a meat combo for me and t'ibs for J. It came on a round tray lined with a piece of injera, all the food dolloped in little rounds on top of it, with a side plate of injera for scooping up the food. It was all delicious! My very favorites were the kik-alicha (yellow split peas) and the minchetabish. The menu can be seen at if you wish to have fuller descriptions of either food or restaurant.

After we'd stuffed ourselves on good food, we decided to have the special coffee ceremony. Our waitress began by roasting green coffee beans in the kitchen, bringing them out and stirring them so we could see the rich, oily black of the roasted beans and smell the tangy aroma. When the coffee was ready, she brought it out in a clay pot & lit incense at the new table to which we'd been escorted. Then, she poured our coffee and left us to linger over it, enjoying the scent & flavor of the coffee as well as the Middle Eastern sounding music and wonderful artwork and photography that surrounded us. We went to bed that night excited about all the new experiences the alphabet game will bring. I know J is taking me to a Cleveland Indians game for her B.

Sunday morning, we went to church, then hung out at the Borders Café for quite awhile with coffee in hand & noses in books. Then, we walked around Crocker Park, stopping a moment to enjoy the colorful adirondack chairs set in green grass that have sprung up this year. Once home, we napped the afternoon away. Then, I made Russian sandwiches (toasted bread topped with tomato slices, bacon and cheddar & broiled), sweet corn and spinach with blue cheese, cranberries and walnuts drizzled with vinaigrette for dinner. A nice restful weekend.