Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Water Park Whirlwind Weekend

Since the Wild Mango Queens were slated to meet at Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom and my Aunt Jeanie adores water parks beyond reason, she planned to come up for the weekend so she could attend that and my Aunt Anne's 50th birthday bash, too. She arrived Friday evening and we whisked her off, at her request, to the Winking Lizard for dinner on the patio. The two of us had strawberry daiquiris (which were supposed to be margaritas but oh, well) while J had her usual beer. We shared an order of Phred's Preferred Phries (cheesy & bacony) and Jeanie had a tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, as well. Then, J chose the buffalo chicken salad (all crisp and delicious & jealousy-inducing), I had the Bo-Man's Buffalo chicken sandwich (which was really much hotter than I'd expected) and Jeanie had one of the specials, a pulled chicken BBQ sandwich. Jeanie and I both got mac & cheese with our meals and regretted it. I don't understand how mac & cheese can be so bland, but it was. It was like a mouthful of starch, like the cheese, rather than extra-sharp cheddar, was extra-flavor-removing. Just blah! We enjoyed the evening & didn't even get too eaten up by mosquitoes.

Saturday morning, J arose early and went in to work, hoping to join us at the water park later. Jeanie and I were the only Mango Queens willing to publicly humiliate ourselves by donning swimsuits, so I was glad she came up! It would have been lonesome at the park all by myself. We started out by finding suitable chairs, then went for a few rounds in the lazy river. We spent a little time riding the waves in the wave pool, then found lunch. It was rather unappetizing. Jeanie's first burger was raw and cold, the second not much better, albeit safer. My club sandwich was a much wiser choice, although the bread was absurdly dry. I few the crusts to a collection of sparrows who'd gathered around. When we'd eaten, we took our chairs into the water and enjoyed the splash of the waves as we read. She was bold enough to take the library's Sue Grafton novel into the pool! I have developed my own collection of "pool books" expressly set aside for the purpose. This one was chick lit, the best genre for pool reading, in my opinion. When we'd soaked the pages sufficiently, we indulged in some poolside treats, a strawberry daiquiri for her and the world's largest, I am certain, blue snow cone. I dripped blue everywhere and could only manage to eat about a quarter of it. I am normally quite decent at finishing snow cones, but I'd've been quite ill had I finished this one. I somewhat doubt that anyone of sound mind has ever finished one of theirs. Not only is there a ton of shaved ice, but it's surprisingly syrup-heavy. Delicious, but way too big! After we'd finished those, we noticed the time and realized that we'd be late for Anne's party if we didn't skedaddle. Since Jeanie had been almost 2 hours late for the last party we went to with Anne (and had been rather castigated for that), we were determined to be on time!

We stopped at the house to get changed and pick up J, who was napping after spending the afternoon averting an oil catastrophe at the plant. One of the guys had managed to knock several way-high-up barrels of oil askew, putting them in serious danger of spilling all over the floor and creating a colossal mess. With no small amount of derring-do, the problem was solved and she was able to head home. I felt bad dragging her out of bed, but we had such a good time at Anne's party that it was well worth it. The party was at a bar called Petey's Filling Station, decorated with all kinds of old gas pumps and advertising signs. I had the very worst margarita of my life, very much like flat Mountain Dew with tequila added, and resolved to stick to the Coke in pitchers that was flowing abundantly (although not as frequently as the beer!). It was fun to see Anne's family and Jazzbo & Anne's collection of friends, who we have seen over all these years at various celebrations. The food was delicious, really good pizza, hot wings and BBQ wings. It sat winking at us throughout the night and I was glad when they'd boxed it up so I no longer had to resist the siren call. Anne's cake was perfectly delicious, too. She won't actually be 50 until this coming weekend & kept remarking on how weird it was to celebrate a week early, but her oldest brother is in the Merchant Marines and was in town, so the timing was worked around his visit. I hadn't seen him in over 10 years and had to giggle when he introduced his 20-year-old daughter, Mavis, to us. She had actually been one of the folks who helped us move into this place! Mindful of church in the morning and J's long day, we left at a reasonable hour and hit the sack at home.

In the morning, Jeanie headed off for a visit with my second-grandma & her family while J and I went to worship at my new church. I've accepted a Director of Christian Ed position at a great little church on the East Side. The pastor had told them about me at the congregational meeting that morning, so everyone was very welcoming and excited. I was happy to have several familiar faces from my previous visits. The service was really nice and Gerald's sermon was spectacular and brave, stepping right up and naming homosexuals as "other sheep" that are part of Jesus' flock. We worshipped with the African-American Baptist congregation that shares the building & coffee hour, so I got to meet their pastor, too. He seems great. The picnic was a great deal of fun, under the big old trees out front. We had plenty of congenial company and got to laugh a lot. I was especially pleased when one of the teenage girls asked how long J and I have been together. It will be nice to be at a church that is truly open and affirming, rather than just thinking they are.

After much hilarity and good food, we left so that we could have our U date. I'd meant for us to go to a U-Pick farm and gather peaches or berries or something and then bake a pie together, but everyone seems to be between crops right now. I had located a farm that had beans to pick, just in case. In light of the lack of fruit crops, though, and the extreme heat, I gave J the option that we could make our U date be "underwater" instead and hit the water park. However, we decided that it would take us too long to get there. So, I came up with Unusual Food for our theme instead and we stopped at Whole Foods on the way home, with the goal of each picking at least one unusual food to try. I won hands-down with the Vosges Mo's Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar. I'd been reading about it in all my usual foodie magazines and knew it was their best-selling chocolate bar. I couldn't even fathom how that could not be revolting, but when I saw it, I knew it was my choice. We tried it last night and, while not totally sickening, it's not anything I'd really eat on purpose. I can only imagine that it's their bestseller because of curious folks like me. Here's a link, in case you're curious, too: http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/product/bacon_exotic_candy_bar/candy_bars_chocolate_chips
If, however, you'd like to eat Vosges chocolate that's actually good, I can vouch for both their Barcelona and Fire bars. My other unusual food was gooseberries, which I'd never had, aside from canned (which were abysmal). J had fond memories of gooseberries from when she was a kid, so I chose those over currants, which I've also never had fresh. I like the gooseberry flavor quite a bit, but the texture is a little squoogy for me so I might see about making a little batch of jam with them. J's unusual food was a kind of cheese we'd never tried, from Holland. We will probably snack on it tonight.

Once we arrived home, we discovered that our Roadrunner was again down. It's been working intermittantly all summer and I had someone out last week who purportedly fixed it, but it's still spotty. Stupid Time-Warner. J had wanted to see if there was any live music or anything fun to do at night. Lacking internet, though, I decided we'd do cocktails & snacks on the porch. I cut up an heirloom tomato, put out a bowl of tiny fresh mozzarella balls, a handful of basil, some olive oil and balsamic glaze and a baguette for our noshing pleasure. Then, I mixed up a batch of Latin Lovers for myself while J tried a Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade. We sat on the porch and enjoyed the summer, moving from eating and drinking to bubble-blowing and chalk drawing. It was a delightful evening. I'd marinated some top round steak for bistec de palomilla while we relaxed and put on the full Cuban dog for dinner. We watched Aslan be sacrified and resurrected while we ate, a lovely cap to a fun-filled weekend!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Rainy Saturday with the Boy

I was just poking around Elizabeth Berg's website (www.elizabeth-berg.net) and really enjoying the whole feel of it, the writing, the thoughts of how good her latest book, Home Safe, is and memories of meeting her several years ago. She is by far one of my very favorite writers and reading her blog made me want to write on my own, right now!

I have a little free time from the family while J and Boot watch the latest "The Fast and the Furious," which one of J's employees loaned her for the weekend. Boot says the movie is "for people with penises" so I am happily excused from joining them in the living room for it. Whew! If they were watching Transformers, which Pie picked for us and which my friend Michael worships, I would gladly go. Ditto the Eddie Izzard DVD that I put on our queue. As it is, I am happy as a clam away from all that.

I woke up today with no idea what we'd be doing. Generally, weekend planning, particularly visitation weekends, belongs to J. Of course, I drag her to church with me...and will do so tomorrow, too, but I mostly leave the decisions about what to do the rest of the weekend up to the one who works 12-14 hours most days lately. So, we hung out in bed with coffee, hers in a bright green Jiminy Cricket mug I brought her from Disney this spring and mine in the purple Tink mug that was under the tree for me last Christmas until the decadent hour of 10:30. Quite a switch from popping up at 5 most mornings! It was starting to rain and we decided fairly quickly against going to Cedar Point, which is just as well, since Pie wanted to play video games all day and Boot wouldn't have enjoyed riding everything alone. I do wish it'd been a good water park day, but we had fun nonetheless. J made egg sandwiches for all of us and then we hit the road for a video game buyback store. I planned to wait in the car with a book on Christianity and pop culture, but Boot came out to retrieve me shortly, saying "It's really cool in there. I think you might actually like it." It was a huge store and I quickly found a small stack of things to buy. I'd been hoping for the Dead Milkmen's Big Lizard in My Backyard or Beelzebubba, but they didn't have a copy of either, so I chose Michelle Shocked's Arkansas Traveler, a Dead Kennedys CD containing both Plastic Surgery Disasters and In God We Trust Inc., and a Celia Cruz CD. J picked up Ani DiFranco's Not So Soft.

After we'd indulged in CDs and Boot had gotten $123 for his old video games and PSP, we went to Crocker Park so he could buy some clothes. It was just raining a bit when we left the parking garage, but by the time we returned to the car, it had made up its mind to be a real rainy day. Boot and I split a huge sandwich from Karl's Corned Beef and ate it in Barnes & Noble while J had more coffee. While she was in line, I asked Boot what his top 3 comfort foods are. Without hesitation, he answered, "Pizza, wings and some kind of dessert. Like cake. But not birthday cake. Homemade cake." And he even asked me my top 3. Mashed potatoes, mac & cheese & popcorn with butter & nutritional yeast, if you're wondering. I refrained from splurging on any more magazines or books, but was sorely tempted by a magazine featuring the studios of women artists. Of course the magazines I love are all upwards of $7. I'd like to get a copy of either Altered Couture or Belle Armoire for Marie. She's never seen them and I know she'd love them! She has a fun idea for a Wild Mango Queens get-together sometime---decorate pajamas! Wouldn't that be fun? I would sew some kind of cool bead fringe like the one on my "Pink" art journal to the bottoms of the legs. Boot got a white leather belt at American Eagle, a couple of t-shirts & a new pair of jeans at Hollister (where I sat in a velvet chair and watched people pass by in the rain outside the front door) and finally returned to AE for a pair of, of all things, clogs! What on earth? Who is this and where did he put my Nike-wearing, manly man son? We then went to pick out Rit dye so he and J can do some tie-dying tomorrow. I think there is some kind of weird rip in the seam of the universe. This tie-dyeing thing was his idea! I stuck to lipstick and computer cleaner, but did get some cute little stickers for my toenails next time I paint them. I saw a woman in the post office last week with princess fingernails, all sparkly and wondrous. She'd gotten them done for her daughter's wedding and I said to myself then, "I need some toenail bling!" Since the Mangoes (or possible just me and my aunt Jeanie) are going to the water park next Saturday, what better time?

We dropped Boot off at home before going to the grocery. We had a successful shopping trip and when we arrived home, J started making chicken parmesan for our supper. Boot and I ate Chips Ahoy dunked in milk at the kitchen table. Pie was finally awake again (he is nearly entirely nocturnal these days) and he joined us for dinner, then rinsed his dishes and returned to his cave. With as cool as Boot's been today, I'd be perfectly happy for him to get kicked out of his dad's house (which he is certain will happen any day now) and have him back with us. If he would be like this all the time. Which he wouldn't, but it sure was a fun day!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

T is For Touch & Taste

Friday night, when J got home from work (at 8:30, meaning a 15-hour day-she has GOT to hire a new supervisor!), she suggested that instead of having dinner at home, we hit the bar she discovered while I was in Wisconsin. She'd been wanting to take me ever since I got home the previous Saturday night, but kids & work barred that. So, we popped over to Lady Z's. I was extremely skeptical when I saw the neighborhood (largely industrial) and was pretty damn sure I wasn't going to like this place. I am a boring lesbian, as it is, preferring lovely restaurants to the bar scene at almost all times, no matter how cool the bar. I am simply not a bar girl, much to J's chagrin, even though I gave every indication of it the first night we went out dancing. I am infinitely more comfortable in church and feel fidgety and awkward most of the time when I do the bar scene. J, on the other hand, loves the people-watching & the loud jukebox, especially when she can inflict Ani DiFranco or Tom Waits on unsuspecting patrons. At least, she assumes it's affliction. I don't know why she assumes they don't like it. Could be the rapid feeding of money into the machine by baby dykes while her songs are playing, a quick remedy of the situation with some Lady Ga-Ga or Kanye West.

Anyway, I was expecting to feel awkward & uncomfortable & want to go home immediately. J was expecting me to, as well, saying on the way over, "Let's just go home. You don't have to pretend you want to go. You hate bars." I continued to pretend because I don't think it's fair for my lack of interest in the bar scene to keep her from getting to enjoy it with me sometimes. And I'm glad I did. It was surprisingly large and pleasant inside, with friendly bartenders and a decent bar menu. We sat at the bar and chatted, looked at Billie's (one of the bartenders) family pictures (her baby niece), played J's usuals plus my eclectic song selections going from George Strait to the Sex Pistols in the blink of an eye, had a couple drinks and some dinner. The pierogies were great, made by a couple of ancient Polish women, according to the owner's wife. Before we knew it, the time was after 11 and J had to get up early for work the next day. So, we made our way home to bed. It's funny to think that just 8 years ago, on that first night together, we probably didn't even get to the bar until midnight. Now, it's "Cinderella, your pumpkin awaits" if it gets much past 10:30.

I did get up and make coffee, although 5:30 was awfully early and I crashed back into bed after J left. I slept quite late and J was ready to come home right when I was about to head for the farmer's market. I knew I'd miss the eggs, being that late, but there's still plenty of good things to be had there later. J met me at the market and we happily prowled the stalls looking for the yummiest deals. We got a huge green pepper strictly for munching, a yellow squash for last night's confetti burgers, a fat tomato for same, a basket of peaches (mmm), fingerling potatoes (the Amish guy who always helps us gave us extras on the sly), a scrumptious-smelling melon and, at the last minute after a heavenly sample that took J right back to her dad's garden, some gorgeous green beans. She told the guy that she used to eat about as many as she'd pick when she was helping. He laughed and murmured, "Strawberries." I can just picture him, a tiny boy in a big hat, walking along behind his elder brother with a berry-stained mouth and not-full-enough basket! J also indulged in a little vial of lavender oil from our favorite purveyors of soap and shampoo. I love their products and they have very good energy. The oil was shockingly cheap, too. Yippee! She intends to wear it on work days, taking a big sniff every time she starts feeling waxed out. Good plan.

After the market, we did our usual Trader Joe's and regular grocery time. I love grocery shopping! Bar? Nah. Grocery store? Oh, yeah! Boy. I should feel old or stodgy because of this, but I just don't. When we got home, we had some chicken salad sandwiches and J laid down for a nap. That nap extended several hours. She'd planned to arise at 6 so we could have dinner and then hit the bar again, this time for some live music on the patio. That, frankly, sounded okay to me. But, she was so tired. I took a bitty nap, but spent the bulk of the time reading and writing. I didn't wake her until 7:45, when supper was ready. Then, I suggested that I bring her dinner in bed. So, we ate our Italian sausage & spinach pie, Caesar salad & chocolate cake (Ruth Reichl's fabulous "last-minute" cake with both coffee and orange liqueur) on Lenore-trays in bed (recipes at www.lunacooks.blogspot.com). We spent the remainder of the evening watching house porn on HGTV and Style Channel. I am positively drooling for a "spa-like" bathroom. Maybe we'll get a parsonage with just that. Ha!

In the morning, J was rested enough to go to church with me. Alas, the problem she had with her back when I was in Disney last year has recurred, so she was not very comfortable. She started the service slightly disgruntled at being there. She ended the service in a towering rage when they announced that they've chosen a new youth leader and he is not me. Of course, we basically knew I wouldn't get the job (and, truly, I'd rather work with the pastor who's going to be my boss, even if the job is much further and pays much less---he is a perfect mentor, someone I respect immensely, and the folks there are splendid), but it still hurt. J is positive that I wasn't chosen because I'm gay and because I don't have a penis. That may be a factor, but I think the main reason is that they are afraid (and probably rightly so) that if I am offered a pastor position, I will bail. Still, it hurts. To add insult to injury, this guy has a BS! No theological background at all, education-wise, and not even a BA. I obsessed on it all day, ridiculously. I checked out the website of the church where he's been serving as interim youth director (should I apply there?) and pondered why he would leave that position. I also am rather puzzled as to why they would choose a Presbyterian rather than a UCC youth leader. Not that there's anything wrong with Presbyterians, but he's not even UCC! Rant, rant! I found myself hoping the kids didn't like him, his A/V presentations sucked, the youth group dwindled even further and so on. Very immature of me, and certainly unChristian. Of course, what I really want is for these kids I love so much to have a fabulous youth group experience and for the spiritually-ossifying church to be revitalized by his presence. But I am jealous. And spiteful. Sigh. Fallen nature rearing its ugly head for sure. I think I just might believe in original sin, if not in the sense Augustine meant it. I surely evidence it far too often. The good news about going to church was the hug from Lori, the excited greeting of Angie, the CDs of my sermons Marjorie gave me so I can send them out to churches who are interested.

Brooding all through it, I served J some leftover spinach pie for brunch and we formulated our T date plan. J suggested we trade in the books a Freecycler had no-showed on to Half-Price Books and get ourselves new books. She said that since we weren't going to the Science Center, we were saving $9 each and therefore had $9 for books. I predicted that we'd get 50 cents for the books we took in. J came up to me after getting her offer & said, "You were way off. We got $1." Hee hee! She got a couple of fantasy novels, I chose Nigella's "How To Eat," a book on Christianity and pop culture and a Violent Femmes CD, which we listened to all the way to the beach. We'd never been to this particular beach before and it was just perfect, aside from the water warning. The perils of Lake Erie. We hadn't planned to swim, anyway, in fact weren't even so sure the weather would hold for our picnic. Since the theme was Touch & Taste, we did plenty of both, starting in the amazingly grogeous rose garden. Did some sniffing, too. We spread out our blanket and enjoyed some snacky things while listening to the waves come in, looking at the lighthouse and reading our books. J's back hurt too much if she laid down, so we didn't laze about as long as we might have, but it was wonderfully relaxing nonetheless.

After we'd put up our things, we went to the concession stand for ice cream. A tough-looking black guy in Harley gear cracked up at J's "No One Knows I'm A Lesbian" t-shirt and said, "Right on! I like your shirt!" I love people. You never know who they will turn out to be. We got vanilla cones (I should've got a Popsicle-the cones were entirely too buttery for me) and sat on a wall enjoying them while baby-watching and dreaming about a possible Lucie-girl someday. A seagull perched on a nearby lamp post and watched us avariciously until J gave him some of her cone. She's as bad with the gulls on the beach as she is with the dog at home! Then, we strolled by the water's edge holding hands until we came to the steps back to our car. I took the long route home, wanting to take in the summer landscape and feel the breeze in my hair. J was remarkably calm about the extra time in the car. Having her nose in a book for part of it probably helped. The long ride in the car just about knocked me out! I was simply wiped by the time we got home and collapsed on the couch in front of an Eddie Izzard DVD. It was hilarious, but I found it hard to keep my eyes open toward the end. Finally, it ended and I got on dinner, a rather bland rendition of bacon & basil pasta that I won't be making again. Ah, well, you never know unless you try it.