Tuesday, February 20, 2018

SHOVELING THE STEW

It's supposed to get warm here over the next couple of days.  Oh, don't worry; we're not that stupid.  We are well aware that winter isn't remotely over.  I predict at least one more big storm in our future this season.

As soon as the forecasters mention "sixties, maybe even seventy in places," we are already thinking "Spring."  There are people standing outside in short-sleeve shirts, shorts, and others are flocking to the beaches for walks and photo ops.  Problem is ... it's still rather windy and cold outside.  I'm guilty, too.  I am already thinking about barbecuing, yet the grill is still covered with about an inch-thick layer of snow and ice.

Planning my shopping trip today, I realize that a summer-type meal really isn't appropriate.  Not yet, anyway.  The thermometer says 42, but the biting wind screams otherwise.  In the store I head to the vegetable aisle first, grabbing fresh potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, and a bunch of other healthy stuff.  When I approach the meat counter, though, I cannot help but gravitate toward the roasts.  My brain is telling me the warm front is coming; my bones are telling me it's still winter.

I pick up a rump roast, put it down, pick it up, put it down, then, finally, pick it up and put it in my cart.  Yup, I'm cooking a good old-fashioned pot roast for dinner tonight.  It's still chilly, the heat is still on, and it's not "Spring" just yet (nor will it be for weeks, warm front or not).

I'm trying to get on board with this whole "It's going to be seventy degrees" vibe, but really, truly, there's nothing quite like a Yankee pot roast dinner.  It doesn't matter if it's forty degrees (which it is) or forty-below.

Comfort food is comfort food.

It may be warm outside soon, but right now it's warm inside.  The stew is simmering, the gravy is thickening, and the table is set.  Come on in, Spring, if you want, but you'll have to sit through winter dinner to get here.  After all, it's still February; we New Englanders know how this works.  I may be shoveling in stew tonight, but I very well could be shoveling snow in a few days, and I need to be ready.

Monday, February 19, 2018

HEY, GET HEALTHY ... OR NOT

So far my "Hey, Get healthy!" week has started off badly. 

Friday night I eat pasta and drink soda.  This is bad mostly because I don't really drink soda anymore as soda is basically mainlining sugar.  I work all day Friday, so I suppose my break-neck speed at work can be considered some form of exercise.  Seriously, though, this is not a stellar start.

Saturday I go wine tasting and mead tasting.  Oh, sure, I eat a salad for dinner, but I cannot decide on water, wine, mead, prosecco, or beer for refreshment.  I end mixing orange juice with raspberry mead and some prosecco to improvise a mimosa-like drink.  Hmmm.  Prosecco is like mainlining sugar, too, though.  Exercise for today consists of walking around the wine store, the liquor store, and the grocery store.  I don't think that really counts.

Sunday isn't much better.  I start with the improvised mimosas again, but I make some Greek yogurt bagels.  These are healthy.  The problem is that I eat several over the course of the day.  Three, to be exact.  Today's exercise plan is to break down empty boxes and start sorting through the spare room.  Believe me, no sweat is being wasted on this.  I do shovel a little bit because it snows about four inches overnight, but snowshoeing isn't really an option by the time I'm done because everything is melting already.

So far my "Hey, Get Healthy!" plan is not working.  I might have to do something drastic like clear off the universal weight machine in the basement or take the piles of holiday wrapping paper off the rowing machine.  I'm not sure I'll actually use the machines, but I do have to move stuff.  That counts as exercise, right?

Work with me, folks.  My intentions are solid.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE PIZZA GAME

There's one piece of pizza leftover in the fridge.

My son and I debate who will get to eat it.  I paid for it and walked down (after another long, shitty day) to get it.  He called it in and settled for yet-another pizza dinner before rushing off to lacrosse.  This piece is the only remainder.

At first I say, "I guess you can have it," like a good mom should.  He grabs the piece of pizza and walks away from me, but then I remember that he's an adult.  So, I quickly change my tune and yell, "Let's shoot for it."

This challenge, much like the dreaded Triple Dog Dare challenge, involves Rock, Paper, Scissors Shoot.  I am reasonably adept at this game. I run into the living room where he is watching television (or playing video games - it varies from moment to moment now that college lacrosse season has started). 

I challenge him: "Best two out of three."

Round #1, I throw scissors and he throws rock.  I'm down one immediately.  Round #2, we both throw rock.  Round #3, I win by throwing scissors to his paper, so now it's all even.  We're tied.

At this point, "rock" seems to be the heavy hitter.  I have to think.  If he has thrown rock twice and I've thrown scissors twice, I'm thinking that he will think I'm going for scissors again.  I am figuring he will throw rock to crush my scissors.

So, I shoot "paper."

I look down.  He has thrown rock.  I win.  I WIN!  I win the piece of pizza.  When I look at the pizza slice though, I see that he has already taken a huge bite out of the pizza.  He didn't even heat it up!  He's a HEATHEN.

"Rock, paper, scissors, shoot," he announces and throws up his middle finger, tossing me The Bird.

Ah, well.  I have only myself to blame.  I taught him everything he knows.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

EVERYTHING I DO

When I arrive at work in the morning, I'm usually one of the early birds.  There are three or four of us who arrive at roughly the same time to get our acts in gear before the day starts.  Sometimes we straggle.  Occasionally two of us will arrive around the same time and walk in together. 

The other morning for some odd reason, four of us pulled in at the same time.  One entered from the left, one from the right, one came whipping across the back part of the lot, and the other was already turning into the parking area. 

The result?

It looked like Pit Lane at the Daytona 500.

This morning, my coworker and I arrive at exactly the same time.  We are the only two in the lot, and we both have our radios going -- not quite as funny as the other day when we arrive like the synchronized swim team.  I am listening to Sirius radio, a channel I don't listen to often: the 90s station.  It's playing "Everything I Do" by Bryan Adams.  I'm not a huge fan of the song, but I am a huge fan of the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie, despite Costner's inability to master a British accent. 

I roll down my window, wait until my coworker opens her door, and I start singing to her along with the radio.  Unfortunately, it's near the end of the song: "You know it's true ... everything I do ... Ohhhhhhhh ... I do it for YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

She has been listening to the exact same song and same station, so she thinks I'm just being a silly karaoke gal, but honestly, my coworkers totally rock.  So, guess what, coworkers?  I do love you.  It's true.  So maybe when I see you all after our winter break, I might just serenade you, especially if you arrive when I do.

Of course, if you're smart, you'll re-plan your arrival time to spare your eardrums.  If not, well -- Everything I do ...

Friday, February 16, 2018

LONG DAY ... BEER AND PIZZA

I am having a very long day.  I am on my feet teaching straight through, four long classes in a row.  I work through lunch.  I have three meetings in a row: one in the far end of the building, one next to my own room, and one way out in the library that connects our middle school to the high school. 

I get to work at 6:50 a.m.  I leave work at 5:15 p.m.  The only times I have to sit down and relax are the three times I pee in the ten-plus hours that I've been here.

My youngest, who still lives with me, has lacrosse tonight.  Making dinner at this late hour is out of the question.  When I finally get home, I ask him to call in a pizza.  Somehow, though, between his phone call and me walking down and picking up the pizza, there is a snafu; the pizza place claims he never called in the pizzas.  We have the pizza place on speed dial, so I know this is just a mistake on someone's part ... ours or theirs. 

"Did he call a different pizza place?" they ask me.  NEVER, I tell them, we would NEVER get our pizza anywhere else.  

They offer to give me a pizza that is already in the oven.  This means someone else will have to wait for a pizza.   No way will I do that to another harried customer.  "You have beer here, right?"

Finally, yes, finally I get to sit down.  This pizza order mistake is the best thing that has happened to me all day long.  I sit by myself, chatting with the pizza people (I love them all), and watching Sports Center on the telly.  A cold beer, my own booth, and some downtime.  This is exactly what I need, and I only get it because of a snafu.

I don't care what happened or how it happened, but my pizza is ready right about the same time my beer is finished.  Life is wonderful, I don't have to cook dinner, and I'm out of work for the day.  If the rest of my evening is like this, I think I can handle it.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

SALSA ATTACK

I want salsa.

I have been looking forward to this salsa ever since I remember halfway through my day that the salsa is in the fridge and that my son (who owns the salsa) will not be home this evening. This means that I can eat the salsa and play dumb tomorrow when he figures out that it's gone.

I get home from another arduous day at work and go straight for the fridge -- do not pass Go; do not collect $200.   I take the store-bought container of salsa out and open the lid. I ... open ... the ... I ... open ... open... OPEN ...  DAMNATION. 

I cannot even believe that the top won't come off.  I know the damn thing CAN open because my son was eating the stuff the other night.  I try prying the cover off with what's left of my fingernails.  I try using a spoon under the edges.  I run it under warm water in case it's salsa-sealed.

Nothing.  Nothing ... except that I WANT THE SALSA.

I give the top a few more tries, then I go into the drawer and find the old, mismatched serrated knife that I keep for such auspicious occasions as sawing down larger cardboard boxes.  I try using it as a miniature crowbar, but nothing works.

That's it.  I'm done with you, salsa container!

I arc the knife carefully above the lid of the container, then I stab that sonofabitch.  Once the knife is in securely, I saw around
the inside lip of the cover, eventually popping out the entire top piece like the pane of a window.

I don't care what people think!  I don't care if I have to transfer the leftovers to another container and explain myself to my son when he comes home tomorrow.  Actually, I don't even have to worry about any of that because I eat all of the salsa, every last wonderful morsel of it, then toss away the container.  It's the beauty of the "no evidence" defense.

It's both disturbing to me and fascinating to know that if I ever truly have to live alone, I have some coping mechanisms and am still very skillful with a blade -- I certainly won't starve to death, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

CANDLEPIN GIRL AT HEART

For some odd reason, my daughter, her friend, and I decide to go bowling. 

They want to go ten-pin bowling, but here in New England, ten-pin is a somewhat rare event.  The few local places that offer ten-pin are usually mobbed because they're multi-plexes that offer indoor golf and video arcades and rides for little kids.  Plus, it's raining out and it's a weekend.  That means everyone and his brother and uncle will be piled into the popular bowling alleys.

Instead, I convince them to go for the candlepins. 

Candlepin bowling is unheard of in most of the continental United States.  That's because Massachusetts invented it.  Players roll Revolutionary War cannonball-sized bowling balls with which the players get three chances instead of two to knock down all the pins on each turn, and there's none of that stupid clearing of the downed pins in between a player's own turn -- using the dead wood as play is what makes this whole game so damn entertaining.

Besides, I know an out-of-the-way bowling alley that offers glow bowling and doesn't laugh at me when I say, "Bumper lane, please."

I love bowling.  When I first moved to Massachusetts from a tiny village in New Hampshire, I discovered a bowling alley within walking distance of my junior high.  I spent babysitting money there after school, despite the fact that the balls often fell off the ball-return and rolled back down the lanes at me while I bowled.  The place was right next to the junk yard, so very fitting, and it was one of the greatest places I ever found to go in my entire life.

Yes, I do love bowling, but I only go an average of once every three years or so.  You see, I totally suck at it.  That's why I like bumper lanes.  I don't often use the bumpers, but I hate gutter balls.  Even worse than gutter balls, though: I am notorious for hitting the 7-10 split.  This means that first I peg off only the farthest pin to the left, and then I peg off the farthest pin to the right.  This is often followed by rolling a ball to either side exactly where it has already been.

Yup, even with the bumpers, I can roll a two like it's my damn job.

I get excited when I break sixty in a game, especially if I do it without the bumpers.  Actually, I bowl a spare in one of the three games we play.  Of course, I follow that up with another 7-10 split, so I get to add one stinking point to my score.

If you've never bowled, definitely go glow bowling.  It's a blast, and you can blame the colors and effects for your score.  But, if you're not from these parts (parts of Canada and the entire New England area - or, at least, the only parts that matter), you've got to try candlepin bowling when you're here. 

Unless, of course, you're easily frustrated, easily embarrassed, or both.  If that's the case, go hang out with the ten-pin crowd.  Me?  I have no shame.  I'm a candlepin girl at heart.