Butthole. For Reals.

 

 

When it’s 95 degrees at 7pm, a gal is justified in being less-than-herself. That’s where I find myself as I write this.

 

I had wanted to tell you about some of my summer experiences. I’m hoping heat prostration doesn’t keep me from my task. First up, I visited Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa…

 

 

It was pretty fabulous. That hour wait to get in wasn’t anything to write home about, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the shit, and they surely are.

 

 

I also saw Miss Angie Dickinson at an event. To say I never knew how fabulous she was/is, well, that’s an understatement. The woman rules, y’all. Seriously.

 

 

And then there was The. French. Laundry. I can’t even begin to write about this meal, as it was the most mind-blowing dinner I’ve ever had. I know I’m speaking in absolutes here, but it’s true. I’ve had amazing food in my life, and I expect to have more. This was incomparable. Truly. I’m not sure it will be matched.  I haven’t fully processed that, either. For the record, Mister and I have tried for a few years to get a rezzie to this joint. It finally worked out.

 

 

Did it cost us? Oh, yeah. Big time. Was it worth it? Yes. Bigger time. (Were we our usual dorky selves? Do I really need to answer that? ) Let me tell you this – I would not hesitate to do it again. It was that magnificent.

 

 

There was also the yard project, which needs some T-L-C, as the goddamn sun is baking the hell out of it. Mister and I will work on that this weekend, though, and we’ll hope for the best. Well, I’ll hope for the best. I think Mister just believes. My inner cynic doesn’t always allow that.

 

Oh! And I had surgery. I’m still under doctor’s orders, but feeling pretty much like myself. So I’m grateful for that. The no-getting-in-the-pool part sucks, as, you know, a hundred and eleven-ty and all. But I know that this, too, shall pass. And I’ll be healthier for it. (See – Mister’s belief is catching.)

 

 

And while I was recovering from my surgery (and dealing with the heat), I watched some telly. What I finished was the third season of “Grace and Frankie.” (Loved the last episode so much. And – you have to be really good to take a photo of the screen and get both characters with their eyes closed. I’m just sayin’.) Then I started “Luther.” I had wanted to watch this for some time, so it was overdue. The first episode hooked me, so now I’m in it. Good living, don’t you know.

 

 

My summer has also taken me to Napa for the first time (not the last, I hope), Park City, Utah, where I was eaten alive by bugs – no lie, Boston, my old stomping ground, and home. I’ve been lucky to get around a bit. And even luckier to have a place to return. Not everyone has that, you know – a home. Mine is filled with love. And a ghost. I embrace it all.

 

Speaking of Miss Harmon, she asserted herself a couple of months ago. Mister said something or other about how her ghost had not been around for a while. I told him she’d popped up a few weeks prior and relayed the following tale. I was entering the front parlor, and the glass door that closes off that room was open, but not fully (it was away from the wall). I found that odd, and proceeded to close it. Or at least I tried. The door stopped about a foot and a half from the wall. As it’s clear glass, I could see there was nothing blocking the path. I leaned into it, putting my full weight behind it, and still nothing happened. That’s when I said, “Damn it, Miss Harmon! If you want to hide some place, pick a better spot than behind a glass door!” Immediately, the door opened fully and that was that. I think she just needed some acknowledgement. She got it and we all moved on.

 

There’s a few weeks of summer left, folks. Sure – school for the kids has resumed (mostly), and vacations have primarily come and gone. Personally, I’ve got some projects coming up, as well as ongoing commitments and responsibilities. That’s life. For most of us. We’re doing alright, really. Remembering that kind of helps to trigger a smile here and there. Compassion is activated, too. For me, I know that I got to live another summer. Not even one is guaranteed, so I’ll take it. Even if the next few weeks are as hot as Satan’s Butthole, I’ll take it. I may not like it, but I’ll take it.

Vignettes

 

 

While I’ve been missing – from this blog and from myself – shit is still going down. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s absolutely useless. And some of it, well, you can’t always tell.

 

 

There’s a store I occasionally visit for home improvement purposes, and said store sits smack in the middle of the ghetto. Now – I’ve tried other locations of this particular store, locations in prettier locales, and not one of them has provided the same level of expertise and professionalism as the ghetto location. So I keep going back. In the daytime. Anyhoo – a couple of weeks ago, I was at the ghetto store and heard music coming from an open window of an apartment across the parking lot. I always take note of this apartment, as its windows are covered with various photos of the Madonna. On this particular warm day, the windows were open. Beneath the strains of laughter coming from inside, I heard Christmas music. And it was blasting. The whole scene made me smile.

 

 

Mister and I have recently wrapped up a turn on the Whole 30 diet. We were “compliant” the entire time and we did a good job of adhering to the rules of the danged thang. After re-introducing various foods, drink and substances, I can tell you that I learned eating avocado by itself doesn’t sit well with me. And my body (my head, that is) prefers beer over wine. Though I have to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I’ll be getting both in the future. And when we cracked open this bottle of Bordeaux, well, we were smitten kittens.

 

 

I have a new baby cousin! Actually, that little dude is my 2nd cousin once removed. (I’d love to tell you I understand all that stuff, but I don’t. I have to look it up – every time.) Life keeps going. As it should.

 

 

I’ve started a new painting, which may not sound like much but I assure you – it’s a big deal. After my mentor retired from teaching art, I was so depressed I didn’t even want to think about painting. (That depression added to the lowly feelings about the state of my fucked-up country was almost too much to bear.) So for me to set up my easel and put paint to canvas is a mighty step. And I know it.

 

 

I will have a piece or two in an upcoming art show in Los Angeles! It’s sweet. And nice. And I’m happy to be included. If you’re local and interested in attending the opening reception (which is free, by the way), let me know and I’ll send you the RSVP deets.

 

Other activities abound (work on the homestead, addiction to “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “American Gods”) and there will surely be more to come. The depression is slowly lifting, thank the lord, and I’m feeling more and more like myself. It’s a slog sometimes. Anyone who’s been through it knows how tough it can be to live with depression. I’m just a regular gal,  with no particular gifts or tools for dealing with this. I put my flip-flops on one foot at a time. And though I get tired of hearing myself say it, I am a fan of baby steps. And distractions. And truth. And I’ll keep going, because that’s what you do. Right?

My New Lover

 

 

I am currently having a love affair with Trader Joe’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeño Peppers. Like some other affairs, this one caught me off-guard and certainly wasn’t planned. My painting buddy Nicole told me about these fabulous peppers, just when I ran out of regular, old pickled jalapeños, and so I picked up a jar and gave them a whirl. Then they gave me a whirl.

 

At first, the sweetness threw me. I wasn’t sure I liked it. The sugary taste was odd on my weekly nachos. (May savory nachos.) But after getting through that first jar, I realized I liked it very much indeed, and swiftly moved on to a second jar.

 

I’ve now lost count of trysts jars and don’t give a rat’s ass who knows it. I’m even trying to figure out how to use the spicy, sweet liquid in a cocktail. If I figure that one out, I’ll let you know.

 

In the meantime, if you have access to a Trader Joe’s, I highly recommend these peppers. And if you don’t have access, well, too bad for you.

Head Cheese

 

 

 

Head cheese.

 

No – I’m not making an election referral. I’m talking meat, people. And I mean meat.

 

Head cheese isn’t for everyone. But it is for me. That’s why I made a pilgrimage to a great Italian deli earlier this week and the first item I procured was head cheese. The guy working the counter asked if I’d had it and I assured him that yes, I had. And that I am quite fond of it.

 

Truth is, I’m a sucker for the “odder” meats. Head cheese, blood sausage, offal – I love all of it. I don’t often eat those items, as they’re not as easy to come by as more ordinary, run-of-the-mill meats. And that’s too bad. For me.

 

I remember making Rumaki and taking it to a gathering a few years ago. As the host stood before the plate, droning on and on about how disgusting it was to eat a “filter” (liver), he very nearly consumed every last piece. Alternative meats are good. Even skeptics sometimes can’t help themselves.

 

Anyhoo – I’ll relish the head cheese I have on hand and that will do. I would encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and try one of the more crazy varieties of meat, but I’m guessing my encouragement would fall on deaf ears. We like what we like. Most folks haven’t been exposed to much variety. And that’s too bad. For them.

Nachos – How Do I Love Thee…

 

 

I am, of late, obsessed with nachos. You know nachos, right? They’re the things we order in bars? Drunk food? Tortilla chips, cheese, maybe some other good stuff?

 

I don’t order nachos out, not much anyway. Instead, I make them for myself at home. I lay out the chips and top each one individually and then I eat them right off the tray they cooked on. Sometimes there’s meat, sometimes not. But there’s always pickled jalapenos, cheese, salsa and sour cream. I’m not gonna give you a recipe, because your ass is grown and you can make your own damn nachos any way you want. But I do want to show you a photo of my nacho feast from the past week…

 

 

 

Yes. I love nachos. A jillion times over. Can’t hardly wait for this week’s batch.

Shadows

 

 

The other day I woke up with a sore throat, along with a grand appreciation for life. It was an odd start to the day. My body definitely didn’t feel too good, and yet my mental disposition couldn’t have been brighter. Since I didn’t just meet me, I knew my mind was going to determine the course of my day, no matter how crappy my matter (body) felt.

 

I had to deliver some stuff I’d been proof-reading, as it was due for publishing… And can I just say something about that? I know some people get all excited when they’re about to undertake a pleasurable job or task, and I’m no exception. My engines are revved when I’m asked to get out my red pen to dissect the printed word. Seriously. I felt like crap when I worked on that package, and it was still fabulous! I wish there had been more of it to proof-read! But I digress…

 

So I delivered the paperwork, then walked back to the train, through Korea Town. K-Town is hopping and a lot of fun, but I wasn’t sure how lively it would be at 11:30 in the morning, so I kept my expectations kind of low. Plus, I was on the ill side of things, so there wasn’t much energy for raised expectations anyway. But I decided a pit stop, for medicinal purposes (ahem), was in order. Beer Belly more than satisfied that yen.

 

After my early lunch, I headed to the train station and made my way home. All told, I only walked a couple of miles, but I was fairly worn out from the outing (danged sick self). I tried to do low-energy jobs the rest of the day and mostly managed to pull that off.

 

Sometimes I tend to keep to the shadows in life. I don’t always interact with the world and I don’t always feel sunshine-y. During those times, the shadows are familiar and comfortable. Safe even. There’s nothing wrong with that, I know. But when I do venture into the light, even if my body isn’t quite well, I am often rewarded with joy and gratitude, just for being alive. My profound appreciation for both shadows and light is immense. As I’ve learned in painting class, you can’t have light without shadows, nor can you have shadows without light. I get it. And I’ll take both, thank-you-very-much.

Long Time, No See

 

 

The other day I was having lunch at a diner in Burbank. “Tallyrand” has been in business for a jillion years (57 actually) and I’ve been going there for at least 20. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular or anything, but I pop in from time to time, to enjoy the long-time staff and the pretty danged good diner fare. I know diner food isn’t for everyone, but I happen to love it. (Mister would definitely not agree on this one, by the way.)

 

So I was there at the Tally, having a fabulous burger, when I realized I could identify many servers by name. I’m not sure how that happened, as not one of them knows me by name. And believe me, they know a lot of their customers. I heard one guy at the counter saying he’d see them tomorrow. Tomorrow, people! That guy eats lunch there multiple days in a row. It’s good and all, but come on. Variety, you know?

 

Anyhoo – I felt rather anonymous, sitting at the counter. And I was good with that. The burger was aces, but too big for one sitting, so I boxed up half and took my leave. As I was stepping down from my stool, one of the long-term servers – Marti – said, “It was good seeing you again, Lady. Take care.” I smiled and assumed she was either just being nice or had mistaken me for someone else.

 

In the parking lot, as I approached my old car, I saw the manager looking her over. He smiled as I unlocked the door, asked me a few questions about the Volvo, and turned to go back inside. Then he stopped, faced me and said, “Victor said it’s been a long time since you’ve been here. Where have you been?” I told him I’d forgotten just how good the burgers are, but now that I’d been reminded, I’d be back. He smiled and wished me a good day then went back in to work. As I drove away, it occurred to me that maybe they did recognize me after all these years. Maybe I’m not as anonymous as I thought. And then I had a final thought: who the hell is Victor?

Summer Food

 

 

As we are smack-dab in the middle of summer, and especially as we’re riding out the “Heat Dome” here in the States, using one’s stove is not a good idea. Searing some ahi tuna, on the other hand, is quick and yummy. Throw it on top of a Nicoise salad and, well, a girl might need some alone time with it. I’m just sayin’.

 

I don’t have a recipe for this, as it’s something I make year-round without much thought. But this time I kicked it up a notch by including capers in the salad. Why I’ve not done this in the past is a mystery, as it’s so danged good. Honestly – the reason I’m sharing it here is mostly to remind myself to make it more often. I love salad. And yet I forget about it some times, and that’s a shame. Because salad doesn’t have to be boring or complicated.

 

Even as I type this, I’m making a mental note to eat more salad. Let’s hope my memory stores hold and that I actually honor this intention. Word.

Uh. What Day is This?

 

 

A few days ago, Mister and I were talking about “Amazon Prime Day.” Like you do. And he wondered aloud why the sale was held on July 12, as “12″ is not a prime number. Our math-themed conversation didn’t last much longer, but before it ended, Mister brought up “Pi Day,” which, as you know, is March 14, each and every year (as 3.14 are the first 3 digits of pi – but you knew that already). And then I got confused about which month and which day it was, and before I knew it, I was looking to today’s date and thinking how good some pie would be. It doesn’t make sense, I know.

 

Apparently, all it takes for me to steer toward good food is the gentlest of nudges. And that’s why today will find me working on my crust for some good-ass pie. Blueberry, I think. I’m already excited.

Accidental Selfie

 

 

Sometimes the unexpected happens. Like when you’re taking a photo of a beautiful spread of tomatoes and prosciutto. Tomatoes and basil you harvested from your own garden. Prosciutto you harvested from a local Italian market. Fresh burrata from the best maker in Los Angeles. And later, after you’ve devoured that fabulous platter of food, you look at the photo you snapped just before dinner and notice that not only did you capture the glorious essence of your dinner, you also got yourself a crazy selfie. I love when that happens.