Me, the mom


Here’s my take on the Omnivore’s hundred. 60 out of 100–I’m much more adventurous than I thought! And although many of the things left on my list I know won’t become favorites … I’ll see if I can try them. Not bad adds to the life list. Thanks, Jill and Andrew!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (i’d be more willing to try this than the McDonalds)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut do I get extra points if it was a “hot fresh”?
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal Of course I’ve had McDonald’s but I’ve never had a big mac, but I won’t eat there anymore.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake actually, i’ve had all four
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

There are some days … when nothing that needs to be done gets done. A quick trip for diapers turns into an all-morning affair. Lunch is late, but we’re still treading water. I think, oh yeah, we can pick up a few things before nap, right? Then, getting into the car, my glasses get knocked off. He’s perfectly fine, chatting away to Tigger and Pooh. I lose it.

Get out of the car, I say. Get out, now, we’re going inside.

Mommy, he cries. I’m sorry. What did I do? The tears, man the tears kill me.

What did I do? Nothing baby, you didn’t do anything. Let’s drink juice on the big bed and cuddle and read stories.

Okay. Deep breaths. Do I suck at this job? Seriously, I’m not sure. I’m not sure about a lot these days.

Can tomorrow be just the same, except I don’t have a freak out? That would be cool. Thanks.

It took us 9 months to find our Knoxville house. We knew the kind of house we wanted. Something kinda old, but kinda turnkey. We wanted to be north or south of the city, rather than follow the strip mall development westward. We’d look furiously for a while, then give up, then start over again. We were blessed with an extraordinarily patient real estate agent, thank goodness.

Then we found it. I’d fallen in love with a neighborhood we’d stumbled across, but alas the house we found there was under contract. But something about that neighborhood kept calling me back, and I continued to drive through at least once a week, just to see what was up. And then I saw it, a little house for sale just around the block from the first one we’d found. And although it had taken us nine months to find this house, it took only one visit for us to be sure that this was it. We made an offer that night, and it was accepted.

Both Man and I were very ginger with this house. It was ours, of course, or at least we had the right to pay a mortgage on it. But we were always afraid that we’d break it, crap it up with all our stuff. It took us nearly a year to hang anything on the walls. We never made any drastic changes to this house. Although I thought about things from time to time, I loved that little house exactly the way it was.

There were many many good reasons for us to ultimately leave Knoxville. The house, however, was one of the most difficult parts to leave. If it had been feasible to move it with us to Blacksburg, I would have (although I don’t think our lovely neighbors would have come, too, alas). But it was time to leave. Three people and a dog were pretty cramped in that house. It was time to be good stewards and turn it over to the next owner.

We had a day to find our Blacksburg house. I realize how fortunate we are to be able to live in a house, but still, we spent that day looking at a lot of crap. At the end of the day, we picked the least crappy house (not really crappy, but perhaps “unloved for several years” is a better description) . It is walking distance to campus, has hardwood floors, and while it needs a lot of work, has good strong bones. It was the best choice available to us at the time, but I think it ended up being the best choice for us.

Luckily we sold our Knoxville house before our first mortgage payment was due in Blacksburg, and the extra cash flow allowed us to update the kitchen and move forward with other repairs. And while our house has quirks and charm (charming quirks?) it didn’t have the same character of our Knoxville house, the story that we could hold on to.

Until a few weeks ago. Mega and I were walking the dog and he noticed an antique car at a neighbor’s house (boys have some kind of sonar for wheels, I swear). An elderly man noticed Sam, and ran over to the car to honk the horn. So, we stopped by to make small talk. He asked were we lived, and I told him.

“Did you buy your house from so-and-so?” he asked. I said yes.

“I built that house,” he said.

Now, you don’t meet the man who built your house everyday, especially when your house is more than 50 years old. I didn’t get much story, what with Mega and Muttley biting at my ankles, I didn’t have time to ask many questions. What I do know is that he moved the house from a cross street closer to the university, and then modified and expanded it. Wow.

He called it the Orchard House. Was it on an orchard? I have no idea–the street he moved it from has a lot of commercial development now, so it would be hard to know. But I love the name, the Orchard House. And now that I know a little bit more about it, I am coming to love this house.

I am very grateful today that we don’t have cable and I don’t have to be inundated with the analysis of John Edwards’ dalliance all weekend.

I have to say that when I heard about it, I felt sad. Not quite as sad as when the whole Clinton/Lewinsky business went down, I guess because I’ve been disappointed before and am used to it. But I bought into John and Elizabeth’s love story. Who doesn’t love a good love story? Falling in love in law school, marrying young, scraping by in the beginning, supporting each other through good times and bad. But, in the end, I guess he’s human and flawed just like anybody else. I do hope Elizabeth gave him hell about it, though.

My larger concern is why Americans give such a crap. I mean, really, do you want to be scrutinized? What would we find if your life became the Truman Show? Americans are way to hung up about sex anyway, and I guess this stems from our Puritan origins. But leave it alone already. Because the next big scandal that we can’t tear our eyes from … could be you.

My first foray into preserving this year, or ever, really, was peach jam. I bought a sackful–they were warm, soft, small, wonderful perfect peaches. We continued to eat our fill but I feared we wouldn’t be able to finish them all before they went bad. Hence, the jamming.

I learned a few things from this experiment that I hope will educate me as I attempt to preserve our summer bounty for the winter. To not buy everything from the grocery store–it is kind of a foreign concept to me. But this year, in light of so much: increasing food costs, my own understanding about food production, and a yearning to capture a piece of the past, to preserve not just these fruits and vegetables, but also to preserve the knowledge that comes with doing it.

Anyway, here’s what I learned:

Use freestone peaches. Early peaches are not freestones–mine weren’t.  It is a bitch to cut around the pits, and I hate to waste even an iota of fruit.

Use white sugar. I used turbinado sugar, which tasted fine, but made the jam look like a brown mess.

Don’t use to much lemon juice. I did, and it made the jam taste a little too soury. I’m cool with soury, but I know not everyone is.

But the stuff was definitely edible. The subtleness of peaches means it isn’t going to stand up to peanut butter, but on warm toast, a muffin or a biscuit it is quite nice.

I hear the tiny clink, clink, clink of Thomas’ wheels coming from my bedroom. Although the big boy bed was extremely exciting today, and comfortable enough for a nap, it brought on immense sadness when approached for bedtime. We tucked in, we read stories, we tucked in again. I got up to leave, but no. There was no screaming, but sad, slow tears. Tears that know this whole growing up business is not as good as the big people make it out to be.

Our compromise was to sleep in MommyDaddy bed, as it is called, the location of most naps since we moved to VA. I read a little, the “mommybook” that “is not interesting to me,” but the light was too distracting. So we turned of the light and just cuddled, quietly, but there is only so much I can take of this, and the lengthy list of chores I have awaiting me kept me from being able to relax. I realize that I have created this overcomplicated system of caring for Mega, that laying beside him and feigning sleep perhaps isn’t what is best for him, that he should be able to do this on his own, but again, I love him, I want his world to be a small, safe, secure place for him where he feels loved and comfortable. He’s only 2, after all.

He hears his daddy sneeze downstairs and says “bless you, daddy.” He is trying to sleep, trying to be a good boy, to do what he needs to do for us and for himself. I sneak out of the room, but he catches me. “I need to go potty, sweetheart.” The importance of this task is not questioned.

I don’t return. I sneak into my office and begin to type. He near silently spins the wheels of his Thomas train and the Fire Chief’s truck he found buried under a seat cushion right before bed. Yesterday, in the crib, these actions would have occurred silently. I would have been bustling about my business downstairs without a second thought. Tonight, I am mindful. Each precious action is noticed by me, tugs at my heartstrings.

I do none of the chores on my mental list, as it is nearing 10 by the time I get downstairs. Man and I watch part of John Adams (Abigail, you kick some serious ass), and just before the Continental Congress votes to declare independence, I sneak upstairs to move him back into his room. “Mommy?” the sleepy boy asks. “Mommy?” I make sure that Thomas, Fire Chief, and his ever present blankie “bikky” accompany us.

We get into his room and I try to tuck him in again. “No,” he says. “Just leave me.” This isn’t the first time he’s made this request to me and I know it will not be the last. But I’m his mommy. I wait until I know he’s asleep and tuck him in again, in the car and truck patterned sheets that he and I talked about so excitedly, and were elated to buy, wash, and outfit the bed with. He will probably kick them off in the course of the night, but I can go to sleep knowing that at least, I tried.

I was advised, recently, not to burn my bridges. This is good advice.

However, in this particular situation, I am awfully tired of being the fireman all the time. I am tired of embers burning my skin, yet still forcing a smile. Oh no, I’m fine. That’s what you have to keep saying. Oh yeah, we all see that huge elephant over there but we’re not allowed to talk about it

I’m tired. I’m tired of looking at the phone and seeing that, again, no calls. Will I cave and call? Or will you call and pretend nothing happened? I’m not sure I can live with either resolution. Perhaps it is time for this bridge to come down. Maybe there is another way to ford this stream.

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