Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Since Food 4 Less closed there is really nothing convenient for last minute shopping, except the Asian grocery store around the corner, which despite being about 5 blocks away, I rarely go to.

I rarely go there because the lady at the counter hates me. 
No, really, she appears to hate me, 
I have shopped there over the past fifteen years and each and every time I go into the store she actively snarls and frowns.
Today I really needed to pick up something for dinner and I was feeling too lazy to go out and shop so I thought I am going to that really close store and I am going to ignore that mean old lady!
but since having people hate me, or thinking that people hate me, is one of my very worst fears and phobias, I was concerned and not very brave at all, once I got to the front door. 
So I said "Hi!" in the brightest shiniest voice I could muster, and the lady said "YOU NEED HELP!" not like a question, but like a directive, for someone that should be helped, preferably out of her shop.
So I slunk around the canned food aisle and tried avoiding her, which is difficult in such a tiny space. 
For an old woman she is remarkably spry and trots around, well, like she owns the place.

All the produce comes in these prefab packages, which are common in Asian markets, at least in Portland.  Loose produce all bundled up in Styrofoam, or in plastic bags with a little, green, plastic leaf, as if you can't be trusted to chose how many cloves of garlic you might want. 

In the past I have purchased giant bags of bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots, because I happen to be a very rule oriented person and if something comes in a giant bag, by cracky who am I to quibble. 
All of the produce is sold by the pound and the package are not from the manufacture, they are bagged up in house, so today, embolden by my hostile greeting, I untwisted one of the bread ties on the bean sprout bag and took a plastic bag from the meat aisle and put the amount of sprouts I wanted to buy into it. HA! 
Then I did the same thing with the baby bok choy. 
Then I boldly walked up to the counter to pay.  The lady took one look at my tiny bag of sprouts and narrowed her eyes, then she picked up the bok choy and said "only TWO?" 
She rang the rest of the order up, made me bag my own groceries and then said "You have a NICE DAY!" in a perfect imitation of what I usually say to her. 
I haven't been in much of a mood for writing lately. 

I have been reading a good book this week- The frozen Rabbi, reviewed here nicely. 

Maxwell and I made a trip to Powells on Saturday, despite the fact that I had sworn not to purchase any new books and only use the library. 

We had a little stash of gift cards that I had been amassing, so off we went while we had time to kill during Freyja's gymnastic class.

I bought three books and Maxwell wound up reading the better part of the Sherman Alexie novel while we finished off our wait.
I have been forcing novels on him for a couple months, after his English teacher complained about his choice of material for free reading time.

So far I get a thumbs up for The Jungle and Catcher in the Rye and a Meh, for To kill a mockingbird

I recently finished the fluffy Let's pretend this never happened, by Jenny Lawson, who I love. 

Have I written that before?


I feel like I can't keep track of what I write where anymore, too much social media, too little to say.

Anyway, if I did say it before, I will say it again, I love this gal and would consider moving to Texas, even though I hate heat, snakes, spiders and rednecks, just to be her friend, except we both suffer from social anxiety and might never meet, and then there I would be stuck in Texas with no one to talk to, except my friend Dom, who lives in South Carolina and I would have to phone her, and that would be just as bad as if I had just stayed in Portland. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The part where I string a lot of unrelated photos together in one post...

I just like the way these jars look, carry on with your life now, nothing to see here.

I dyed Maxwell's hair on Sunday.  He now has eggplant colored hair.  I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  He is very pleased and also pleased with his Lebowski sweater from Goodwill.  No, I have not let my 13 year old watch the movie.  He thinks it is a grunge sweater, in the style of Kurt Cobain.  I am the one likening it to the Big Lebowski.  I made inside jokes all evening when he bought the sweater, and he rolled his eyes.  I am easily amused, what can I say?

This is my new birthday sweater.  It is cream, which is not a color I ever wear, but here I am, wearing a cream sweater, on my way out to a fundraiser for my friend's breast cancer treatment.  In addition to not wearing cream, I don't really go out, so it was a kind of banner evening.  It was also my birthday.  Here is what 45 looks like in cream.  I wish the occasion of going out had been better.  I felt sort of cruddy about it, me with my health insurance and my first world cream sweater problems, and her with cancer and Kaiser and all, but what to do? 

When I came home from the fundraiser, exactly one hour after leaving, these guys were waiting for me, to watch season three of Justified.  I think I have gushed plenty about Justified in the past, so I will show restraint.  It features a sexy cowboy in a sexy cowboy hat.  Enough said.  Oh, and a conflicted villain, in cowboy boots, who is also sexy/hideous, depending on how he is lit. 

This is me, without the sweater, inside a very dark bar, where I am huddled with my friend who was kind enough to pick me up, take me to the auction and sit with me in an anti-room because she also hates noise, and bars and people.

Photographic evidence that I left my house, and that I know someone outside my family.
Two painting donated to the auction by my friend.  I wanted to bid on the goat, but then I forgot, and we left, and now my goat painting is living in some hipster's house, probably not being properly adored.  I asked Rachael why she took up painting in her forties and she said that both her parents had died the year before and she watched them deteriorate without having followed through on any of their dreams or passions, or interests and that she wanted a different kind of legacy, which I really admired.  I wish I could be more like that.  She is also totally anti-hoarder, having had to clear out her parents hoarding house.  I might take up painting, but I doubt I will ever giving up hoarding.  Baby steps.

On New Year Eve we made raviolis, which is you haven't made them, don't.  They are a total pain in the ass, and much better and pretty ones can be purchased for peanuts.

Raviolis filled with cheese and parsley and beaten egg.

The only good thing was an excuse to use Grandma Betty's sifter.  

A random dinner photo I meant to post, of rice noodles, with peanuts and onion tofu.  I think I liked it more than anyone else, but that is often the case.  Mark brought me the bowls back from Italy years ago, they have a very unItalian Asian carp painted on the inside, so I always feel that I can only use them for Asian flavored food.  Crazy, but true. 

The piano and my grandparents table, with no leaves in it.  I don't like round tables so I am digesting it.  I am trying to feel ok with it, but I might freak out and move it someplace else because I like my dining-room to make me happy, and right now it is not really doing that good of a job.
Random shot of Rosie, the world's most patient dog, being toted about by wild child.

Friday, January 11, 2013

heading out to St. Jack for my birthday dinner.  Mark made reservations, because we had such a beautiful evening for our anniversary last April.  I have to attend a fundraiser tomorrow night for a friend with breast cancer, so this was a great way to get a birthday celebration in... the last three years have been wrought with kid classes or illness or something, so I didn't even protest.  Dinner out? You betcha!

Simple, beautiful bistro fare- it was dark as hell.  They brought me a tiny flashlight to read the menu.   I had a frisee salad with avocado and some other mixed greens. 

Mark had Charcuterie De Maison, with liver mouse, duck pate with dried cherries & pistachio

I had my favorite, their version of the classic Campari & gin cocktail.  "Corsican"

I had pommes frites which Mark ate - I like their homemade garlic mayonnaise.
  I was done in by that much food, and french bread, but Mark ordered the lamb shank with sauerkraut.  he said it was the best lamb he has ever had.  "tell your dad about this one!"  I had a glass of red wine and we declined dessert.  It was just too rich. Last time we had a tarragon sorbet that I am still dreaming about.  It really could not have been nicer.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A swine in a nightdress, is just another name for a pig in a blanket

I got a nasty comment from a stranger (at least I hope it was a stranger), telling me to stop being so attention seeking and to read his blog.
First of all being mean to me is not a very effective marketing tool, you asshole, and secondly, I get to be as whiny and as attention seeking as I want to be Jack!
This is my blog, which I like to think of as a much cheaper alternative (although possibly, not as effective) to therapy, which I shun, because my insurance only covers those really boring counselors, that have grey offices and try to get you to do things like modify your behavior. 
If I could modify my behavior I wouldn't need therapy, now would I ?
If I was going to go to a therapist, I would want one with a dark, wood paneled office, with a chaise lounge for me to lie on.
Anything short of old school Freudian?   
No thank you

I think I am totally hopeless. I can't even figure out Pinerest.  Everyone is going on and on about Pinterest and I can't seem to make heads or tails of it.  I now have an account under heidelfinc, if you know how to make it work, please fill me in.

In addition to my total and complete failure to understand Pinterest my nerves have been further shattered this week by the ongoing, late night crank calls, from two kids Maxwell goes to school with. This has been going on since August.

I suppose they think they are a regular laugh riot, but there is nothing remotely funny about waking a nervous woman up at 1:00am.

I could shut off my phone, sure, but I hate having my behavior dictated by a 13 year old  heel who lacks the good sense to not make crank phone calls.

These calls were particularly unwelcome when grandpa's health was failing and each late night call made me think the end was near.

In fact, I can't really get a call past 10:00pm without assuming that someone had died.  

It all came to head on Saturday, when Mark paid the families of the fellows involved a visit.

For a small person Mark can be surprisingly intense, and sometimes a little scary.  His eyes get all Iggy Pop, and he jumps around and gesticulates a lot when riled up. His is a pointer too, which I think worked in his favor, when he turned to the kid and said  
"and don't you dare take this out on Max, he doesn't even know I am here.  This is about YOU waking my wife up and upsetting her!"
Finger jabbing all the while.

I think it is handled now, but man, it was causing me a lot of stress, which required Rolf taking me out to breakfast at Bob's Redmill.   Not quite as good as a session on the couch, but it settled my nerves a teensy bit.   Bob's is a magical place that has many things I find comforting, like coffee in yellow Fiesta cups, biscuits, strawberry freezer jam, and lunch ladies with hairnets. Bob also gave the company to his employees when he retired, which makes me love supporting them, even though the food is a tad bit expensive.   While we were eating we got onto the topic of pig's in blanket, which in my family means a sausage wrapped in biscuit dough, which in German is called a swine in a nightdress, so same thing.  Some people think a pig in a blanket is a sausage wrapped in a pancake, which is just absurd.

I know what you are thinking; why didn't she just go talk to the mom herself? And why all this talk about pigs in blankets?
Well, because I had tried to call this mom in the past and she never returned my calls, and I get really easily upset about things concerning my kid, and I come from a family of people that tend to settle things loudly and sometimes with mild violence, and I don't really fit into that model very well, but when this started, I did hear my grandmother's voice in my head saying "knock him right on his ass and he wont do it again." which, is totally against my personal peaceful nature and philosophy, but to tell you the truth didn't sound half bad, at 2:00am when I was thinking of how sad and bad this was making me feel.  And that is why I didn't take care of this problem myself and also why I don't own a weapon, or carry an ax handle under the seat of my car, because I am afraid that I might just randomly snap one day and start channeling my angry Irish relatives and kicking ass and taking names, which would spoil everyone's image of me as a pacifist and sniveling earthworm.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Food 4 Less on 81st and Powell is closing. 
We found out last week. 
We have been faithful customers for 15 years, despite the poor lighting and dubious quality of some of the produce, not to mention the guy that died, while I was shopping for my mother in law's 70's birthday dinner (see my blog entry for March 2009)
I am willing to overlook a dead body, for the large and expansive selection of eastern European and Latino articles you could find there, and the giant selection of exotic produce and Asian stuff that came at a better price than any where else in town.
They also carried a lot of other stuff at better prices than you could find up any place else.  Need a giant bar of decent soap, for a dollar?  Yup, they have it! plus a plethora of cleaning supplies that you would never think you needed until you saw them there, for pennies, and thought  
"well for .89 a bar of ringaroundthecollarremovingsoap seems like a really good idea!"
The store was a throw back to the 70's with a unapologetic no frills attitude that I personally find endearing.   We also got attached to the clerks. 
There was the jittery former addict with the swastika  tattoo on her forehead (no really), and Nazarene, the motherly tough as nails woman that worked every Thanksgiving & Christmas for the time and a half "I can celebrate tomorrow when I get PAID. Love you baby, you have a nice night, darlin'", Rolf and I brought her dinner on holidays the first couple of years we lived in the neighborhood, before she politely told us that she received multiple dinners each holiday and that a donate to a charity would be better spent. There was Brad, who looked like he was about 14, but had this absurd John Wayne voice, who called me Ma'am. Oh, and the hard ass kid that used to bust on the drunks, refusing to sell them alcohol.  He was there tonight, when Rolf and went to make a final trip, stocking up on soap, rice, PBR and applesauce. 
It is a sad closing for our neighborhood, the only place with fresh produce for the poor folks who live between Division and Powell, east of 60th.  Our little pocket of the hood, closer to the river and on the right side of Division,  has gentrified like crazy, but 82nd will never be anything other than poor and depressed and now the people forced to live in that island of misfit & hopelessness will have one less option.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I went over to my mother's house to pick up another load of stuff from Grandpa's house.
She thinks she is done.
She looked done, having cleaned out sixty-six years worth of stuff out of a house over the course of a few weeks.
Cleaning out and cleaning.
The house wasn't dirty, but it was old and old houses have a lot of nooks and crannies where dust builds up.
The basement, was pretty shopworn.
I horrified my cousin a couple weeks ago by not only going into the basement alone, but opening the door to the fruitroom, which is a sort of subbasement room where my grandparents kept their canned goods and dry goods.  It is something straight out of central casting for "scary, horrible room of serial killers", or "perfect for home canners, circa 'Little house on the prairie' ",  it is all a matter of point of view.
I was on a mission to collect the old jars that still had glass lids and wire casings, and I found several that were to my liking.  I also found some pickled beets that I might have eaten had Kim not forbidden it.   
"You ARE NOT EATING THOSE! They could be from the 70's!"
I would have taken my chances for my grandmother's pickled beets, but Kim is a nurse, and she gets all bossy and nursey, despite being exactly five years younger, having spoiled my 5th birthday party by being born.
Mom really chose well; the pile of stuff she had for me was really perfect, and the very best part was that it was the kind of stuff that no one else would even want.  
Cast iron skillets, tempered with years of grease, dresser-scarves with garish peacocks and flowers, hats from the 40's with feathers and flowers, embroidery floss and iron transfers, deep dish pie plates from the 70's with groovy graphics, a little white owl that always sat on my grandmother's dresser.  
All right up mine alley.  She had Grandpa's Stetson and cowboy boots put aside for Maxwell, but alas he has my big head and feet.  My uncle had taken all the country records, which was fine.  
I would have taken them, but I am glad they are safe with somebody.
I will use every single thing that I picked up today.  
Use it and love it.  
Everyone else will set their stuff on a shelf.  
They are all a lot more classy than I am and not nearly as sentimental.  
I am the oldest grandchild, but my role in the family is of the wilting violet and peacemaker.  
They all have some ax to grind, but when I walked into the funeral everyone was at my elbow walking me to my place in the pew like I might just float away.  
No one is allowed to fight around me, that is one of those unspoken rules.   
My favorite cousin, said "now I can sit down, I was just waiting for you to come." and I think all his anger around some ancient hurt melted away for the time we sat in that church and listened to people say nice things about our grandfather. It's not a bad role at all to play if you have to pick. 

Cousins 1977