Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Zucchini Week

Well, it's that 'OMG what am I going to do with all this zucchini?' time of year again. As well as 'Why didn't I write down what I did with it all last year?' time. So this year, guess what? I am writing (typing) it down: here is our menu for this week, with links to some yummy recipes as a jumping-off point if you need the inspiration.

By my calculations, a family of four can burn through 5-6, toddler-sized zucchini in a week following the below plan. If you happen to need some help scaling your own personal Mount Zucchini, then you're welcome. If you do not currently need such assistance, you may want to check your doorstep on Saturday...

Sunday: chocolate-zucchini loaf (you probably already have a good recipe kicking around - use that) (make extra)

Monday: roasted corn and basil soup with zucchini-corn fritters and chipotle aioli

Tuesday: Thai coconut chicken with peanut dipping sauce, green papaya salad (made with shredded fresh zucchini instead of green papaya - trust me), and coconut rice

Wednesday: German potato salad (oh yeah, we also have a ton of taters in the garden this year, and they are ah-mazing!), sauteed zucchini and grilled sausages

Thursday: Italian meatball soup (drop smallish, fresh meatballs into boiling chicken or veggie broth and simmer 'til cooked, then add flavoury stuff and whatever zucchini, tomatoes, basil, beans, etc. that are overflowing your garden and cook until tender) with crusty bread

Friday: stuffed zucchini (cut one large zucchini or several small ones in half lengthwise; stuff with whatever sounds delicious; bake, or roast on low heat in the BBQ 'til zucchini boats are fork-tender)

Saturday: wrap large zucchini in a swaddling blanket and drop on neighbour's doorstep, then order pizza. You deserve a break.

Sunday: commence Tomato Month!

Keep fighting the good fight, my gardening friends!   

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Wonder Years

When Medium Fry was wee, she had this funny manner of gazing off past your head and saying oddball things in a soft, dazed sort of voice. I have loads of hilarious quotes of hers jotted down on sticky notes, and I can still almost hear her spacey little way of saying them. I remember her telling me about Wonder Woman once (cue distant eyes and dreamy voice): "She wonders about tings a lot."

In comparison, Small Fry has been less "quotable" and more "damage control" - there have been fewer sticky notes with him, but more empty wine bottles. With Medium Fry it was all dazy weirdness but with Small Fry everything has been lightning fast, and just as unpredictable. He once body surfed a pallet of Wonder bread at Superstore.

It happened instantaneously. He couldn't possibly have formed conscious intent in the time between the photons reaching his retinas and when he was suddenly sailing through the air, limbs arched back like a skydiver, into the welcoming arms of a dozen pillowy loaves - it was pure instinct. As was my reaction: horrified gasp; back-of-the-shirt-kid-handle hold; flee. I used to work in a bakery so I'm pretty sure the Wonder bread eventually reconstituted itself into loaf shapes - we tested it; that stuff is indestructible - but I swear the incriminatory imprint of a toddler in a flat of bread haunts my dreams to this day.

I used to think the term "wonder years" meant the years were wonderful, but maybe Medium Fry had it right all along: since having kids I wonder about tings a lot. For instance, "I wonder if we're going to survive this?" Which eventually transitions to, "I wonder how I'm screwing up my children?" And after a few years of that, you get into, "I wonder what the hell is wrong with my children?" (Honestly, did I drop you or something? I mean, everyone drops their kids a little, but like, did I really do some damage at some point and just not notice 'til now?)

(Furthermore: "I wonder if anyone saw that?" "I wonder if anyone realizes the embarrassing kid is mine?" "I wonder what these people must think our home life is like?")

* * *

I passed a Wonder bread delivery truck the other day on the highway. I was driving along grinning like a fool for who knows how long before I even realized why: the Superstore incident is pretty funny - in retrospect. As were the barfing-in-the-pool incident, and the grating the carrots incident, and innumerable other incidents over the years that gave me a serious case of the wonderings in the moment.

I'm thinking that with a little more time and distance, all of these incidents (and phases, and years) will mature from wonder to Wonder. Maybe that's when The Wonder Years really start.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Other S-Word

It's hard to get things out of Small Fry sometimes; he tends to clam up when he's upset about something. I only deduced that he had had some kind of tiff with his neighbourhood pals when he stopped going out to play with them every day after school. I figured it would eventually blow over, but after about a week and a half of him moping around indoors I finally had to ask what happened.

He wouldn't say. And not just like he didn't particularly care to discuss the incident in detail; more like he completely refused to say a single word and I had to ask ten thousand yes/no questions and interpret his barely perceptible nods/head shakes to figure it out.

Eventually - like, eight thousand questions in - I was able to extract the following: he had been mean to someone, he felt really bad about it, and as a result, he fully intended to never play outside again with his friends for the rest of his natural life. Like, oh my gawd, what did he even do that was that bad, right?! After a few hundred more questions, we came to this:

'Did you call someone a bad word?' *tiny nod* (Aha!)

'Like, a swear word?' *nod* (Uh-oh.)

'Did it start with an F?' *shake* (Whewf!)

'Did it start with an S?' *nod* (Uh-oh.)

'Can you tell me what you said?' *shake*

'If I guess the word will you let me know?' *nod*

'Did you call him a... shithead?' *shake*

'Full of shit?' *shake*

 'A dipshit?' *shake*

'A little shit?' *shake*

'A shit-for-brains?' *shake* 

'A shitstain?' *shake*  

'A shitbird?' *shake*

... And so on and so forth, in ever more creative and obscure (sh)iterations. Eventually, even I - of the famously sailor-y mouth - plum ran out of S-word-based insults. I was stumped.

'Well, jeez louise honey, I am out of ideas. Could you please tell me what you said so we can figure out how to deal with this problem?'

*After a very long pause, and in a very small voice...* 'I told him to shut up.' 

(Oh... shit.) 

'Well, that's not so bad. We can deal with that! But, um, let's just be sure to never use any of those other S-words that Mommy just taught you, okay?' 

* * *

An apology was issued to the little friend Small Fry felt he had been irredeemably cruel to, and as far as I can tell everything is back to normal with him and his gang of pals. Unfortunately, any positive life lessons he might have learned from this were probably outweighed by the exotic vocabulary lesson he received concurrently. It's really a shame someone doesn't tell me to shut up on occasion.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Buyer's Remorse

Small Fry has been derailed slightly from his savings goals lately: the ice cream truck has returned to its evening rounds of our neighbourhood. In addition to its siren song - and I mean literal siren, that thing is crazy loud - I have witnessed the driver stopping directly in front of our house and peering out his window at our front door, waiting for a certain little towheaded someone to launch gleefully down the driveway waving a fistful of cash.

Small Fry is down to his last twenty-dollar bill, and is really struggling with the fact that he spent all the rest of his money on ice cream. Now when the ice cream truck drives by our house, Small Fry holds the twenty in his lap and gazes mournfully at it. There is something about that final, large (to him) denomination bill that is really giving him pause. He knows he can spend his money however he sees fit, but we also had a talk (which will go down in family lore as "the buyer's remorse talk of '17") about losing out on bigger savings goals if you blow all your money on ice cream.

"Can I use your money instead, Mom?"

"Absolutely not, dear. But nice try."

Gotta say, I'm pretty proud of him. Ice cream being a particular weakness of mine, I can totally relate to how he's feeling. It's surely for the best that I don't keep cash on hand. (Just imagine a certain largeish redheaded someone launching down the drive with a fistful of cash.)

Speaking of family lore, it's a Dickie Dee ice cream truck (or at least "Dickie Dee" is still partially legible in faded letters on the side), which reminds me of "the buyer's remorse incident of approximately '04" when some poor fool thought it was a good idea to give my little brother a job driving an ice cream bicycle.

It is surely telling that even my kids, on hearing of the buyer's remorse incident of approximately '04, said, "That seems like a bad idea."

Indeed it was: Uncle Matt ate some of his wages. Then he ate all of his wages. Then he ate some of the stock. Then, he presumably said "Screw it," and ate all of the stock. Then the owner called up our mother to inform her of this, and she said, "Well, I could have told you that was gonna happen." I think the entire incident took about 48 hours to unfold.

I can only assume that a marshmallow test wasn't part of this fellow's hiring process. And unfortunately for him, he didn't ask a responsible adult who could have told him Uncle Matt was (obviously) going to eat all of the ice cream, for permission to give the kid an entire three-wheeled chest freezer hella jackpot full of ice cream. Then the guy had the gall to ask her to pay for it!

This is the point in the family lore when I pause to laugh until I can't breathe: this dude clearly had no idea what kind of family he was dealing with.

"So?" the kids asked me, "What did Grandma say then?"

"Well, kids, she told him to fuck off."

(It is surely telling that they didn't even bat an eye over this.)

"And what happened to Uncle Matt?"

"Nothing, really. I mean, he lost his Dickie Dee bicycle job for sure. Maybe he had a stomachache for a little bit? Actually, you've seen him eat ice cream - probably not even that."   

In retrospect, that story probably doesn't have much of a moral to it, at least pertaining to Small Fry and his current monetary woes. Family lore is like families themselves in that way: sometimes the messages are mixed. I can only hope that the Fries are a little better at dealing with ice cream than their uncle (... and mother) are.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What the Fork III

Me: Why, here is a fork that was placed slightly askew in the dishwasher rack. I will remove the now-clean fork from the dishwasher and place it in the cutlery drawer amongst its kin.


Me: [Sensible observation/action progression.]

Me: [Sensible observation/action progression.]

 Me: [Sensible observation/action progression.]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Nuisance of Cats

We don't have pets. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not actually a form of child abuse, and I would ask that people kindly stop implying as much. Just deal with it.

I always blame our lack of pets on DH's dislike of animals in the house. This is mostly true: if not for him, the kids and I would surely have oodles of cats. (Yep, all three of us are cat people - you'll just have to deal with that too.)

But it's not the whole truth. There are a lot of facets to the whole truth, but for me the biggest reason we don't have pets is... dirt. I like actual dirt (properly, "soil") a lot, but I like it best of all when it stays outside where it belongs, otherwise it transforms into dirt, which I don't like. (No offense, soil - I feel the same way about spiders.) Pets are dirty. Not necessarily soil-y, but dirty. They stink. They shed. They make a mess. They see fit to bring both soil and spiders into the house. They slobber, poop, barf on the carpet, jump on the counters, show you their anuses, and lick their balls then make direct eye contact with you to see if you enjoyed the show.

I'm just not okay with these things in my house. I like a clean house. A very clean house: we got a wool area rug and I can barely keep up with the mess it makes - I'm thinking of having it put down. I'm a clear clean + tidy on the cleanliness Punnet square, which I believe is fundamentally incompatible with pets. Or at least it is if I value my mental health.

On those rare occasions that I wish we had some pets, I simply reframe my view of things. For instance, my hair is basically a pet: it's crazy high-maintenance, it represents a massive waste of resources, and it sheds profusely. Pet! We have mice in the garden compost bin, which are also basically pets: hope you enjoyed your Corn Pops this morning, little buddies. Pet! Heck, the compost itself takes a ton of work... Pet! We have lots of plants, which are basically really quiet pets that make their own food. Pet! Speaking of food, that quarter of beef in the deep freeze is from a domesticated animal... delicious pet! Plus there's always that damn area rug (you already know how I feel about him). Pet! If you think about it hard enough, we basically have loads of basically-pets!

And finally, if all my basically-pets aren't quite filling the void for me, I like to think about my microbiome - the ultimate in non-traditional pets. Unlike other types of pets, this one doesn't need special food, just whatever I'm having is fine; I don't have to worry about arranging care for it when I travel; and it gives back to me in myriad ways that science is only beginning to discover. Thanks, microbiome - you're the best friend a girl could have!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Granniest of Them All

I used to do field work with a fellow who was a bit of a clothes horse, even when he was in the field. "Ahhh," I said to him early one morning as we were departing our motel during a long field stint, "Clean sock day!" I thought everyone worth their hiking boots knew the joys of clean sock day, but the look of pure revulsion that crossed his face gave me some insight into the numerous huge duffel bags he brought with him everywhere he went. This guy was putting on clean socks every day. Probably clean everything else, too, but after the look I got from him over just my socks I didn't dare mention clean underwear day to confirm my suspicions.

He didn't last long at the job. I like to imagine that there is a correlation there, as if we of rotated socks are simply made of tougher stuff than those of daily-princess-fresh-socks. Smarter stuff, too: guess what's more efficient than packing a comprehensive wardrobe change for every fricking day, like you're in a sitcom instead of just a canola field somewhere? Not doing that, then packing a Tide pod and a couple of quarters for those rare instances where you can't rotate your way out of a laundry shortage.

And shortages do happen, even to the most intrepid of re-users and rotators. Despite my Tide pods and the comprehensive mental map I've developed of the best available public laundry facilities across rural Saskatchewan and Alberta, the fact is sometimes serious laundry shortages even happen to perfectly non-princessy people in towns where no laundry facilities exist. Handily, I happen to have some friends and family scattered about the landscape as well, all of whom not only have laundry facilities that they will let me use, but who will also acquiesce to an impromptu coffee date with me in whatever weird outfit I've managed to cobble together out of the dregs of my remaining passably-clean clothing. These are truly the kind of people you want to have in your life.

I once dropped a pair of underpants between the washer and dryer at a friend's house under just such laundry shortage circumstances. As much as field laundry has taught me what good people my friends really are, it also taught me what kind of person I am: I am a horribly vain person. Maybe not at the surface, since I was apparently willing to purchase and then wear the lobstrosities I had just lost down the ol' washer-dryer gap, but in my heart of hearts I sure as fuck didn't want anyone to actually see them. I peered in horror at those ginormous, psychedelic-butterfly-print, cotton ultra-granny field gotch, winking up at me from the depths of the linty crack of doom, and I knew in that moment I would go full Aron Ralston before I would ever, ever let my friend lay eyes on them.

I did get them out eventually, with the aid of some barbeque tongs and a good many swear words. I even got to keep my arms. In my panic over the butterfly field gotch, however, I failed to notice that I had also lost a Bama sock down the washer-dryer gap. For anyone who is not familiar with Bama socks (and are thus unable to grasp how truly terrible this is), just know that Bama socks are the closest thing I have ever experienced to an actual miracle in my life.

It was a wet spring that year - which is why the laundry shortage had occurred in the first place - so I had ample time marching around the wide, wet world in steel-toed rubber boots to fully experience the loss of one Bama sock. As I marched, I comforted myself with the knowledge that no, I was not quite so vain - knowing what I now knew, if I had to do it all again I would choose the fleeting awkwardness of leaving some gotch behind over the enduring physical discomfort of leaving a Bama behind. After all, what's a little smidge of embarrassment between friends, right?

I was able to convince myself of that right up until I returned to my friend's house a couple of weeks later. When he grinned and handed over my sock, which he was holding with his hands, I was overcome by the mental image of him handing me those goddamn granny panties instead.

Unequivocal nope - I choose to save the gotch. Always, always the gotch.