Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hoarders, Old Checkbooks and Diaries oh my!

Getting my Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning is part of a vague bigger long term plan to maybe shuffle outside of sunny Arizona to points east. But they say all journeys begin with a single step. Mine is to consider how the hell we were going to pare down all the junk we’ve accumulated over the last 25 years into something manageable. I started over winter break purging a closet here, a drawer there, I mean crap, I won’t graduate for two years. Surely I can get rid of my hoarder tendencies before then right?

One major task was to empty out our 4 drawer filing cabinet with all of our “important papers”. Do I really need canceled checks since 1985, owner’s manuals for the last three microwaves we’ve owned, and the Girl Scout Cookie Mom code of conduct? I certainly need to keep our first joint tax returns. We made $11,000 smackers, living large in 1982 (Ah no, not 1902). But I did discover a folder where I had inscribed funny musing regarding Sheldon’s upcoming birth. Now granted this was during the stone ages before they even invented that newfangled internet let alone blogs.

Excerpt from Labor and the Remote Control, circa 1989
Working in a male dominated field has caused me to realize that women’s liberation is considered to be just a blip in the road to the engineering workplace. Every Monday morning was greeted with an official waddle check, what saved me was that I was an Amazon height among my male patterned baldness peers. Then came the questions of when I would leave prior to the birth of our little bundle of joy. When informed I planned to work to the bitter end I was greeted with horrified gasps of “but we just had the carpets cleaned”. Stop it, surely I’m not the first employee to have a baby. Oh but I was, I was like a weird science experiment that went horribly wrong. I kept on cooking, after all I was eating for two. Oh yeah, Big Tuna too, wouldn’t want him to be hungry. Maybe a salad, I was 187 pounds when I popped after all.

Caesar Salad
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and shredded into bite size pieces
3 Anchovies, minced
2 cloves garlic minced
¾ cup parmesan cheese
1 egg, coddled
1-2 lemons
½ olive oil, don’t cheat and use vegetable
Croutons to suit

Assemble lettuce, garlic, anchovies and parm cheese and toss slightly. Bring a small sauce pan of water to a boil, place egg in for no more than one minute, crack and place slightly runny egg in bowl. Add olive oil and juice from lemons. The amount of lemon juice is a personal preference. I like it sour, so I may not be the best judge, you can always add more, but never take back.

Fortunately I went into labor over a weekend so I didn’t damage anyone’s delicate psyche. I nudged my beloved and whispered my contractions were 10 minutes apart. Without opening his eyes he grunted I should let him know when they were more like 5 because he needed his rest in the delivery room. After jumping up and down on his body and whining I wanted company he staggered from our snug bed. This resulted in the dogs leaping up for breakfast and walks, so much for a sympathetic back rub.

Settled into a cheerful labor and delivery our nurse offered the usual ice chips and hospital gown. She helped me into bed, fluffed my pillows and gave me the remote control. A look of confusion passed over the Big Tuna’s face. In our house, he is the remote control king complete with rechargeable batteries and Lazy Boy recliner. “I am having the baby! I should get to choose!” I proclaimed. With quivering lips he released his tug of war grasp on his real firstborn. But it was 1:00 AM and the only stinking thing on was the ESPN Sportcenter loop so it was still a win for him. (At this point I will point out this was pre HGTV, Bravo, and the Food Network so it was this or CNN)

I, of course, was one of those weenie woman who never considered anything but maximum drugs, problem was, even though my contractions were a minute apart, I was only one centimeter. “Sorry Mrs. Tuna, gotta be at least a five before your epidural, just keep breathing.” “Yes honey breath”, said my baby daddy as he fondled the remote and started idle flipping though the channels. Give me my f*cking drugs and I’ll breath, otherwise, I’m going to hyperventilate and do myself an injury and take your hands of the damn clicker.

No one here needs all the intimate details, we all have our own memories of our special moments, depending on the morphine haze level. Epidurals……are a wonderful thing….sigh. My teeth were numb, I was in my happy bubble. However, the hospital staff referred to the Big Tuna as a “fainter”. Needles in the back made him wobbly, needless to say he got a chair during delivery and his own personal spotter. But he survived that and more, sweet sixteen parties, graduations and someday he’ll walk Sheldon down the aisle. After all, she has been Daddy’s little girl from day one.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Living in a My Little Pony World.

When I was growing up, one of the eleventy million jobs my mom had was managing a 50horse hunter jumper show barn. It allowed her to bring the seven heathen children with her on days we were freed from our school prison to run like savages in the countryside. Once it was discovered that my long legs kept me stuck like glue on bucking two year old colts my fate was sealed. “Sure, throw the scrawny one up on Widowmaker, she’s young, she’ll heal quick if she breaks anything.” I rode 5 or more horses everyday all through high school as well as the East Coast circuit allowing me to mail my homework in from beyond the tri state area.

(No this is not a stunt rider, it is actually Mrs. Tuna)

I must secretly or maybe not so secretly be into S & M. As you know, I inflict myself on Eva Braun and her best friend Helga the yoga instructor on a sort of consistent basis. But I also have a much more regular relationship with my horse trainer, Attila the Hun’s cousin Sue the Sadist. Equestrians get all hot and dreamy when surrounded by whips and leather. Ahem.

Horseshow season is almost upon us in Arizona and my tormentor has accelerated to more of a frat house hazing phase. Umm, gee, that fence looks pretty darn big, I’m a little teeny bit concerned my horsie might stop and launch me from the fetal position on my head. I mean, I don’t want to have to take a bed in the Christopher Reeve Wing at the hospital. I will share here that Sheldon fell off in one of her lessons and broke her arm a few years ago. Nothing binds you to your daughter like having to shave her armpits for her. “Put your big girl panties on Sparky and get on with it, you’ll be fine”.

When we horseshowed our food needed to be easy access, today I’m sharing a chicken salad thing we ate on bread or crackers or even just a spoon.

Waldorf Chicken Salad
5 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup chopped walnuts, big pieces
1 box frozen snow peas
1 cup mayo
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped

Combine and chill. My misspent youth was before the days of sunblock, electrolyte drinks and bottled water. My mom did her best to ensure we had plenty of salt and hydration in our system by offering salt tablets washed down with Rolling Rock nips. I always thought I rode better with a bit of a beer buzz.

But sadly, my horse Lad (Yes as in boy), is off with an injury that will keep him stall bound for 9 to 12 months, 6 down, 6 to go. He’s a giant horse, his back as tall as my head and I’m almost 6 foot tall, stuck in his square cell. The vet has put him on a long lasting tranquilizer, when I looked it up online one of the things they treat with it is schizophrenia in people. It must be keeping the little voices quiet in his pea brain. The backup ride, while kindly lent by said trainer is a tad bit sensitive. Bordeaux’s eyes spin like pinwheels and leap sideways at imaginary cougars hiding behind jumping fences. My lessons are typically with the teen girls, explaining why most of my Facebook friends are under 18. I’ll be glad when my personal bully leaves for the show grounds and I can stop peeing my pants in fright. I’m too old for this sh*t.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fatal Attraction

Cupid is skulking around the fringes of February, causing me to reflect on the lure that bound the Big Tuna and me together. I read a scientific study, okay maybe I read it in the National Enquirer, that you tend to pick a mate that looks hauntingly like you. That’s because it’s like looking in a familiar mirror, great, nothing like being attracted to someone who reminds you of your brother. Okay, now we’ve all thrown up a little in our mouths we can move on. This was confirmed by our trip to the Big Tuna’s 20 year class reunion.

Honey, how about this black velvet skirt and fancy red top to wear? Sure, looks fine, pack that, whatever. We arrive at the big event, wanna guess the school colors, you got it, BLACK and RED. Dude, really? Even the name tags fit the color scheme, black for alumni and red for the spouses. My saving grace was the couple that stood up at our nuptials gave me someone other than the wait staff and chaperones to talk to. The same married man that had given me the impression that he should have starred on the Dukes of Hazard was strangely surrounded by a giant pocket protection crowd. I had him pegged as more of shop class kind of guy rather than chess club.

On my way to the bar for a refill of white wine over ice, I was accosted by a slightly weaving woman, who insisted we’d had home economics together. Girlfriend, you must be mistaken, see my name is written in RED. But I just talked to you brother, the Big Tuna and after all, you’re wearing the school colors. Arghhhhh. We could not have less in common perhaps that is the glue that has held us together for almost 30 years. He’s meat and potatoes, I’m faux vegetarian. Shoot he’d never even eaten broccoli until he met me. Starbucks has given me a gold card, he drinks Pepsi with donuts. He likes fast sand cars in the dunes, I had to take Dramamine when we visited Disneyland. In honor Valentine’s Day, here is a recipe from Cosmo magazine. The claim is if you make it, your man will pop the big question.

Engagement Chicken
• 1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lb.)
• 2 medium lemons
• Fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup)
• Kosher or sea salt
• Ground black pepper

Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Wash chicken inside and out with cold water, remove the giblets, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander until it reaches room temp (about 15 minutes). Pat dry with paper towels. Pour lemon juice all over the chicken (inside and outside). Season with salt and pepper. Prick the whole lemons three times with a fork and place deep inside the cavity. (Tip: If lemons are hard, roll on countertop with your palm to get juices flowing.) Place the bird breast-side down on a rack in a roasting pan, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn it breast-side up; return it to oven for 35 minutes more. Test for doneness—a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 180 degrees, or juices should run clear when chicken is pricked with a fork. Continue baking if necessary. Let chicken cool for a few minutes before carving.

But my official arm candy has a few interesting sensitive secrets. He’s a sucker for musicals and plays, he stops for little old couples broken down on the side of the road and always offers me the last shrimp. Since I have never understood the ins and outs of haikus, something about so many syllables, with some many lines, blah, blah, blah, I will instead wish my sweetie, Happy VD!! Valentine’s Day, get your minds out of the gutter.