Monday, July 18, 2011

My Son, the Interior Decorator

This has been a really busy summer, so far.  Between keeping Sam occupied and trying to get my second book ready for release, I have not had much time to breathe.  And when it rains, it pours, so it figures that Chip and I have decided to have a bunch of people over to the house lately.  Five sets of people within a two week period, if I am remembering everyone.  That's a good bit of cooking and cleaning, but we enjoy entertaining.  And once we have one set of friends over, it's usually, "Well, while we have the house good and clean, might as well have more . . . "

So a couple of Fridays ago, it was 10 people for dinner and games.  There was last-minute vacuuming and mopping, cooking 24 hamburger patties, and general stuffing of things into closets to put on that false air of tidiness.  I made extra coffee that morning and kicked into high gear at about 6:30 a.m.

So it made perfect sense that Sam choose THAT DAY to add a little interior design flair to the living room.  Why not?  I mean, he saw me sprucing up, right?

Sam was on the floor working on the grocery store for his shoebox village (we have been building a village out of old shoeboxes this summer).  Sam's Save-A-Lot was looking good and getting some last minute crayon touches while I was on the phone.  Suddenly, Sam caught my attention by moving to the corner and sitting down in the "Time Out Chair."  With a little Mona Lisa smile, he said quietly, "I'm in time out."

Then I saw why.

In the center of my living room carpet (which is a shade of ecru called "Biscuit") was a giant spiral design in purple crayon.  "I'm sorry," Sam giggled, "It was an accident."  We're working on what "accident" means.  I wish I had taken a picture, because it was really impressive.  He started with a dot in the middle, and then with the precision of an engineer with a protractor, made an outward spiral that was about one yard in diameter.  I almost left it, because it really looked like it could have been a deliberate part of the rug.  Almost.

Oh, did you know that "Washable" crayons are only washable some of the time?  It's true.  So, half a spray bottle of Woolite carpet cleaner later, we were ready for our guests.  As everyone sat on that area of the carpet that night for our game of Pictionary, I expected someone to whisper, "What's that wierd floral smell on the floor?  It's rubbing off on my jeans."  But no one did.

Lesson learned:  Crayons go under lock and key when I am cleaning up for company. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pink Hearts for Nona

Have you ever noticed that the leaf of a Calladium resembles a heart?  I never did, until recently.  I planted some bulbs in my yard back in February, knowing I would not see the results of my work until late spring.  Since we have only lived in our house for a year and a half, decorating and landscaping are still "a work in progress" around here.

The last time I saw my grandmother before she passed away, she and I had a long discussion about the landscaping at my house.  It was April.  Long since restricted to a wheelchair or hospital bed, she never had the opportunity to visit my new house, but I described it to her in detail and showed her pictures.  When it came to flowering plants, her advice was this: soft pink flowers would look best with my existing plants and color of my house.

One morning in May, I got the call that my grandmother had passed away during the night.  Later in the day, I walked down my driveway to retrieve the newspaper (of which, incidentally, my grandfather was the Managing Editor in the 1960's) and water my hostas.  I stopped.  I stepped closer to the side of my house.  The very first Calladium was just peeking through the pine straw.  I remembered that Nona and I had talked about my plants when I saw her last.  I knew this was God's gift to me, to remind me that Nona's life on Earth may be over, but her eternal life in Heaven is just beginning.

Over the last two months, all the Calladiums have sprouted and are thriving.  They are all green and white, except for the one that sprouted when Nona died . . . it is the only one sporting soft pink edges.  Just for Nona.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Have You Ever Done This?

I have.  I cannot take credit for this photo, though.  A very good friend of mine arrived at work one morning last week only to look down and see what you see above.  Oh yes, she had.  And oh no, she did not go home to change them.

Okay, my friend is not blonde, which shoots my whole Yes-I'm-A-Natural-Blue theme.  I guess anyone can be a Dory, no matter their hair color.  Flightiness is non-discriminatory.

Back to the matter at hand, I will tell you what I did when this great shoe emergency happened to me.  I was a law student at the time (excuse in the bag:  mental overload), and I went out of town for the weekend.  For my Sunday morning outfit, I had selected a brown and olive green ensemble.  I had two identical pairs of Dansko clogs (one olive green and one brown).  I do remember debating with myself which pair to take while I was packing.  As I stepped out of my hotel room into brighter light, I realized I had on one of each.  What did I do?  I went back into my room and changed into the only other pair of shoes I had with me. They were black, and a totally wrong style for the outfit.  Better randomly mismatched to my outfit, than randomly mismatched to each other, I reasoned.  But I was painfully aware of the mismatch the entire day, and did everything I could hide my feet.  I stood behind potted plants.  I sat down and tucked my feet under the chair.  I'm sure no one but me noticed that I had on black shoes with a brown and green outfit.

Now my friend whose feet you see above is much better able to handle this sort of thing than I.  She is the type to laugh, wave her hand and surmise that no one will notice.  She's even the type to do it on purpose and see if anyone notices.  She enjoys the offbeat and madcap.  So to her, this was not the major life event it would have been for me.  Really, I would have had to log some vacation or sick time to drive home and change.  My friend says not even one person noticed her fashion mistake last week.  She was probably disappointed.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm a Natural Blue: Spray the Pam Before Heating the Pan

I was single until I was 33 years old. I had spent the previous 12 years as a busy professional reading a lot of instructions on Lean Cuisine boxes. I didn't pretend to be a gourmet chef. But I did love my Le Creuset cookware. It's indestructible. In a smackdown between the cookware and a steamroller, the Le Creuset would win. So when Chip and I got married, my favorite fry pan was my big periwinkle blue fry pan. It's a most wonderful conductor of heat.

One day, Chip brought home a London Broil. I had never cooked one before. After consulting a few recipes, I determined I would start by browning it in my big blue pan. I was supposed to get the pan hot before slapping the meat on there, so I turned on the eye. After a few minutes, though, Chip made a comment about putting something on there so the meat wouldn't stick. Ohhhhh, duhhhhh, I thought, I forgot to spray it. At this point, the pan was already about 1400 degrees, and I didn't want Chip to know I had forgotten to spray it. So I just waved the can over it quickly and sprayed enough to give it a thin coat. I thought I was being surreptitious. WHOOOOOSH, went the orange flames that licked out from my big blue pan, nearly reaching the hood over the stove. "Oh my gosh!" I screamed and jumped back.

"What?!" Chip yelled from around the corner.

"Nothing," I chirped cheerily from the kitchen.

"Yeah, right," he called back, but fortunately did not come to investigate. It looked like the griddle at a Japanese steakhouse. All I needed was a tall, white hat and a couple of meat cleavers to juggle. Ching-ching, chingity-smack. Applause. It died down soon enough, though. After making sure I still had my eyebrows, I tried to move the pan over, but the bottom of it had melted to the eye of the stove. Trying to be as quiet as possible, I rocked it back and forth until it came unstuck. Whew. But I had to continue to loosen it every minute for the remainder of the experience. And there was some blue paint stuck to the eye. I'll have to explain that to him later, I lamented.

Surely the pan was hot enough to sear the meat now, so I tossed the London Broil into the pan. WHOOSH again, but this time it was mostly smoke. And the loud sizzling sound could not be concealed. Chip came out of the bedroom, looked at the billowing smoke rising from the pan, shook his head, and went back into the bedroom.

You can guess what happened next . . . the smoke alarm squealed. I scurried over and fanned a newspaper under it until it stopped. But then I had to return to the stove and FLIP THE MEAT OVER. Yeah. I pried the blackened meat up with a meat fork and spatula, then flipped it over to create the same lovely hissing sound. Now, I had already turned the burner down some, but it was still about 800 degrees. So, the smoke alarm went off again. I rushed to open the sliding glass door just in time to see a fire truck turning into the complex. "They're here because of me," I half-wept. I just knew it. Someone must have reported the smell of smoke or the alarm going off repeatedly.

My husband is a firefighter, and would be humiliated by the fire department coming to his own house because his wife is spastic in the kitchen.

I sat down in a heap on the floor and prepared myself for the heavy, booted steps on the stairs and banging on the door. I started to rehearse in my head what I would say. I pictured Chip standing outside with his arms folded, talking to the firefighters, apologizing for the false alarm. But as the minutes passed, no knocking came. In fact, a short minute or two later, I saw the same truck leaving the complex. Ahhhh, I sighed. They were just out driving around. Thank you, Lord, for sparing me that embarrassment.

Fast forward about 30 minutes later, and Chip I were bravely knawing on pieces of charred leather, hoping for the best. He, who will usually eat anything, took the hunk of meat and tossed it into the garbage. Then we ate a pizza.