Sometimes your local alt.weekly will run a story about the Harpe brothers and the illustrations will be so amazing that you will track down the artist and ask her if you can buy prints. And she will say yes and you will be so damn happy.
Here’s how I remember my first (or maybe second) Thai meal. One time I ate Thai with Coble and Sarcastro and another time I ate it with JR and Elias. I just can’t remember which order.
Anyway, I was in Colorado for work. But I was hanging out with JR and Elias in my spare time. We went to this little Thai restaurant and Elias ordered everything hot. I remember the waitress trying to dissuade us. I remember it being delicious. And then I remember my eyes watering and snot involuntarily running down my face and my skin melting off the back of my head and all my whole upper body just disintegrating into a beacon of fire. Viggo Mortensen saw me from a distance and was like “Crap, are they filming another Lord of the Rings without me?” Hunter S. Thompson came by our table. He was riding a cheetah named Betty Grable. The ghost of Jerry Garcia was wearing a tutu and singing “Sugar Magnolia” while my arms turned to jelly. The cooks from the back room came out to laugh at us. I started speaking in tongues. In the language of angels, I predicted the world would turn into a giant bread pudding. How many lifetimes did we sit at that table? How did we get home? Did we really dance down the aisle at someone else’s wedding set-up at the Stanley Hotel or was that part of dinner?
I have no answers.
But I was reminded of that experience a little bit last night, because I made stir-fry for dinner. I marinated the skirt steak in Coke, as is my new favorite trick, and I meant to add a few shakes of red pepper. But my stupid hand shook two or three times before my stupid brain realized that the flap on the red pepper flakes I had open was not the one with three holes for shaking on your pizza but the one with one, big gaping maw, which no one ever needs, ever.
It wasn’t as hot as hallucinatory Thai, by any stretch. But it was hot enough to make my teeth feel strange in my mouth.
It was fantastic. It did make the meat really tender and it mixed really well with the spices and it gave the meat a nice taste that wasn’t too sweet at all. And it did, when I first threw it in the pan, smell a little like a Chinese dish, so that made me wonder how many more Chinese restaurants, on top of the one where the waiter told me, use it as a tenderizing trick.
But I have to say, I was most surprised by how much it seemed to accentuate and compliment the garlic and chili powder. I didn’t use more of those two spices than the cumin or black pepper, but I could really taste them. Not in an overpowering way, but just like something in the Coke really brought those flavors to the forefront.
Anyway, I highly recommend it. The only thing I would warn you about, though is that, if you get a little of the marinade in your pan, it will foam up when it gets hot in a kind of alarming fashion.
The Red-Headed Kid came by yesterday to mow my lawn, after we broke the gas can trying to figure out how to undo the child-proof nozzle. It is indeed child-proof. Good job, gas-can manufacturers. It’s now also broken and useless. Oops. Glad there was another gas can then.
Anyway, he started mowing and I went to work. Then like at 1:30, he called to say he was done mowing and that he’d run the dog out and was now leaving. And I was like “Christ Jesus, did it take him five hours to mow the lawn?” Because I’m not sure I want to spend five hours on a lawnmower should the task ever fall to me.
But I came home and found he’d eaten a pork chop (but not any asparagus, which is his loss), left a bunch of Gatorade in the dining room, watched some TV and, I’m guessing by the towel in the bathroom, taken a shower.
All things that are fine. And he is more than welcome to do any of those things in my house as often as he wants. Hell, especially if he’s going to mow my lawn for nothing.
But it still startled me when I got home, to see all this evidence of someone else, going about his ordinary day in the house, coming and going, and doing things.
It made me miss the Butcher.
But the best part was how happy it made the dog. From her perspective, she had a visitor. The Red-Headed Kid appeared when no one else was home, and hung out with her, and then left. And she was exhausted when I got home, but happy, and that made me happy.
My roommate in grad school made a potato salad that tasted like I imagine french kissing an angel must taste–slightly sweet, slightly sour, and there’s bacon. This is not that potato salad, because she does not give out the recipe. But it is the potato salad equivalent of french kissing someone who’s french kissed an angel.
Okay, here’s what you’ll need:
4 medium potatoes
4 hard boiled eggs
6 strips of cooked bacon
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
at least 1 teaspoon of relish
salt, pepper, paprika,
Here’s what you do. Cut those potatoes up into bite-sized pieces and throw them in a pot of salted water and cook them until they’re done but still firm (about 15 minutes, give or take). If you time it right, you can do the eggs first and then use the fifteen minutes they have to stand to cook the potatoes. I’m not quite that talented, but if you are, it saves a bunch of time. Plus it helps if someone cooked a pound of bacon for breakfast, but saved you out the six pieces you need. Otherwise, your cooking is going to run you a half an hour.
Now, in a large bowl, put your Miracle Whip and your yellow mustard. Stir those together. Now, put in your tablespoon of relish. Give it a taste. If you like relish, feel free to add more, up to a tablespoon of it. Stir and taste. You’re going to want a little pinch of pepper, a generous half teaspoon of paprika, and to stir again. You want to taste it before you add the salt while keeping in mind that you’re about to add a butt load of bacon and add just a pinch of salt. Remember, you can always add salt. You cannot take it away. And bacon is salty.
Okay, cut your bacon into bite-sized pieces and stir it in there. Now your eggs are probably ready and your potatoes could probably use another five minutes. Cold water your eggs and then peel them and cut them into bite sized pieces and throw them in your bowl and stir. Check your potatoes, which are probably done. Drain them and then add about a third at a time to your bowl so that you can get them coated.
Oh, damn it. It occurs to me that your pot to cook the potatoes in was probably a huge stew pot–bigger than your bowl. If you throw everything in your pot to stir it and then just move it back to your bowl to store it, you won’t have to be so dainty.
But that’s it. The general principle is that you’re making what amounts to deviled egg innards, but scaled way up, with bacon, and smothered over potatoes.
Put it in the fridge and try to wait until it’s chilled before eating.
And, note, the easiest way to vary this recipe is just by changing the type of relish you use. I usually use sweet, but we only had hot relish in the fridge and it is also delicious.
I’m supposed to be napping so that I feel better in time for roller derby. I am, instead, just sitting here feeling nauseous and like maybe eating McDonald’s for lunch was the biggest mistake of my life. But, in good news, I did the dishes and took some pictures.
The dog and I tried to walk, but it’s too wet back there. We did, however, find firm evidence that the creek flooded this weekend, though it never made it far enough into the yard for us to see it. Thank goodness.
I think I’m becoming worse at making gravy as I get older. It used to be a skill I innately possessed. No longer. Now it’s always either lumpy or runny. Last night, it was lumpy and runny.
But we did have peas, which are among my favorite vegetables.
I’m thinking of getting a vegetarian cook book. Not because we want to become vegetarians, obviously, but because we’d really like to eat substantially more vegetables and it seems like that’s going to require incorporating them into more than just the way we’ve been flopping them on our plates next to the meat. We need to regularly move vegetables to the center of the plate, so to speak.
I made dinner: mushroomed meatballs, rice, and asparagus. The Red-Headed Kid said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had good asparagus before.”
I said, “And it will make your pee stink!”
So, you know, victory is mine.
Here is some important background you need to know. We used to have really awesome neighbors, who then had a couple of kids and moved down the road a way into a bigger house. They now rent their house to a couple I, until yesterday, had almost no opinion of. I did have an opinion, which was “The wife seems nice, the husband seems like he’s a mean drunk.” That was enough for me to basically avoid them. And, when I do see them or hear them, it’s either when they’re going to work when I’m walking the dog or when they’re yelling at each other. Also, my old awesome neighbor now owns my old lawnmower, since he was the only one who could keep it running when I owned it and he needed a lawnmower. He tried, recently, to pay me for it, but I refused, because, as far as I’m concerned, he saved me the bulk trash pick-up. That he later got it and kept it working is just his good luck.
Anyway, yesterday, I’m in the flower bed under the trees, cutting down privet and the dude comes over, “What are you doing?” “Cutting down privet.” What was your name again?” “Betsy.” “Oh, right. I don’t know why I can’t remember that. I know it. Hey, didn’t you say you worked at Vanderbilt?” “Yes.” “What do you think about them hating Christians?”
So, we get into this incredibly uncomfortable discussion in which I try solely to focus on the idea that he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who likes the government telling him what to do–and he doesn’t–so he should be uncomfortable with the government setting the definition of Christianity. And I keep repeating that the State doesn’t get to say who’s a Christian. And he’s all “It’s not a problem. It’s obvious who’s a Christian. John 3:16. There’s no problem. It’s obvious.”
Until finally he says, “Well, I don’t want to argue about politics or religion when I’m drinking.” People. He came into my yard! And then he says, “But my brother is a minister, a real minister, who went to school and everything.”
And that’s how he ends the argument. I kept waiting for him to say “And my brother says…” but no. Just the end to the “discussion” is that his brother is a minister. Like that counts for anything when it comes to his opinions.
And then we enter phase two of the bizarro conversation. He goes off to the bathroom or something and his wife is explaining how they don’t like their landlord to mow their lawn, because they think he does a crappy job. So whenever the weather is nice, she mows the lawn so that, when my old neighbor calls to say he’ll come by in the morning to mow it, she can tell him it’s already done.
Then the dude comes back out. He’s explaining how he finally convinced our old neighbor to let him put vegetable beds in the front yard, where it’s sunny. And then he says–and this is where I thought, “Hmm, I’m being negged, here, like some chick in a pick-up-artist’s sights”–”Your yard looks like shit. No offense. But I can tell that [the Butcher] doesn’t really care about it.” Then he proceeds to tell me all the things wrong with my lawn and all the ways that the Butcher is obviously failing to maintain it. And I’m all like “Well, maybe, but the yard’s his thing and I’m not going to stand over him and make sure he does it how you’d want it done.” Which you’d think would be a huge clue to just back the fuck off, since even saying it outloud sounds so fucked the fuck up. But no, it’s like he doesn’t even hear me. He’s all going on about how he can tell that the Butcher doesn’t sharpen the blades enough and the blades are probably ruined by now and I should just expect to pay to replace them. About how he’s been dying to do something about/with my greenhouse and why hasn’t the Butcher chopped down the trees around it?
And on and on about how much the Butcher sucks and he’s sorry to be saying it and about how shitty my yard looks and he’s sorry to be saying that.
And then comes the offer–”I’ll maintain your mower and mow your lawn, too, if you let me use the mower to mow my lawn.. Just think about it.”
And then, I got the sense that he realized that, if I thought more about it, I was going to run screaming into the night, because he was all “I don’t mind. I used to be a landscape guy.” Etc. All this stuff about how he was well-qualified to do it.
But let me repeat, he’s insulting my yard and my brother in order to get his hands on my mower because he wants to use it to mow his yard, which his landlord would prefer to mow. His landlord, who has always been good to us and who we like. And the dude is offering to mow our lawn, even though his wife has already admitted to me that she’s the one who mows theirs! So, really, he’s trying to make some “deal” on her behalf.
And did I also mention that, in the whole course of this bizarre conversation, he’s also telling me about all the guns he owns and the things he likes to shoot? (And let me be clear, I didn’t take this as a threat about “So, I could kill you if you don’t go along with my weird lawnmower scheme” but more about how he was, I think, trying to demonstrate how powerful he was.) And about how there’s just some stuff I don’t know about the world, since I’m from here? (Which I also thought seemed like a pick-up artist move–to confidently make guesses about a person that make it seem like you know more about her than you possibly could.)
The whole thing just felt like: Step one: put B. on the defensive with some bizarro argument. Step two: insult her lawn and the ability of “her man” to properly maintain it. Step three: demonstrate power and prowess. Step four: demonstrate a mastery of things she couldn’t possibly have. Step five: get her to give us her lawnmower.
The whole thing was just… ugh… so fucking weird. And the whole time it was happening, he had his shirt off and was just rubbing his belly.
And I came inside and I just felt like I’d been in-person attacked by an internet troll.
The afghan is about done. Just need to sew all the big squares together. I watched The Gift and The Frighteners. I read almost no fiction, except for the new issue of Apex. I got a new purse to replace my new purse that I bought in December, which fell apart on Thursday.
And today, I got word that a person who needs to like Project X likes it and has thoughts about it. I’m going to go talk to him about it on Wednesday.
A thing that delights me is that it’s clear that Tilda, the maid of the Allens, who is briefly a werewolf, is the character from the project that sticks with everyone. There’s something about her people like. It almost makes me feel bad for the other characters, because they’re just not the ones people first mention.
I feel proud, though. Creating something memorable is pretty awesome.
The tarot cards. And they’re beautiful. There’s a lot in the world I’m just not used to–but one is still that I can make the space I live in look how I want it to look. It’s funny because I used to hang posters in my room like crazy and they’re still my favorite thing to hang–prints of all sorts–just now they’re not reproductions of originals I’ll never be able to afford to see.
I am mentally exhausted. But I’m not sure how one rests her brain. I need to figure it out, though, because I’m pretty miserable at the moment. It’s all for good reason and I am happy with the results. But man.
This weekend has an element of dud-ness to it. I did get the bestiary finished and I am only two squares away from being done with all the medium squares for Rachel’s afghan, but my brain is just not cooperating with me getting as much writing done as I would like. It’s undermining me like undermining me is its favorite hobby. And I really need this front to come through, because it’s giving me a headache.
The Butcher–still making fun of me for Silver Bullet-ing my story.
The dog–woke me up at some ungodly hour so she could go stand under a bush in the front yard while I yelled at her to come back in the house. Now she’s back to sleep.
The new kitty–I was trying to count out 212 small afghan squares while this asshole laid right down in the middle of my pile and began to fling squares around until it exhausted her and she had to fall asleep, again, right in the middle of my squares, which I was trying to count. Jerk.
The orange cat–No new jerky behavior, but I swear, every time you’re petting him, and he’s totally into it, eventually he’s like “And now I’ll bite you.” What a fucker! You came up to me. You asked to be petted. And I get bit? I should bite him back.
Me–The Butcher announced that he’s going to the Titans game and I said “Oh, fun. You’ll be easy to see on TV, since you’ll be the only person in the stands.” and “Oh, maybe they’ll get you and [his friend] great seats and a bunch of puppets to sit with so that it’s not so terrible looking when they get accidental crowd shots.”
People, I honestly feel like this afghan is an epic battle between me and my ability to fuck shit up. And yet! I pieced together two blocks and found one of my missing squares. Even this morning, when I woke up, I wanted to shout “In your face!” at… well…. I guess I’m my biggest nay-sayer about this afghan. Shouting “In your face!” at yourself is a little weird.
So, I thought I might take a stroll around the neighborhood with my dog, strutting about as one does when she’s feeling proud of herself, but the dog refused to go. She went out to pee and then she went back to the door and stood there.
“Fine,” I said. And I went for our walk by myself. It was a little weird. And seemed ungodly long. But if I’m going to be a pirate, I have to learn to do things even when my crew mutinies. I tried to make Mrs. Wigglebottom walk the plank, but when she got to the end of it, there was just grass. So… you know…. being a land pirate is not as easy as the old pros like John Murrell made it look. Don’t even get me started on the problems I’m going to have getting my ship under the stop lights on Clarksville Pike. TDOT has made NOTHING in this state accessible to the land ships of land pirates. Which is why I’m totally going to fight them first. Once I get my cannon.
But it was beautiful this morning. Cold and a little foggy up in the hills and I was filled with this longing. I don’t know how better to explain it, but no matter how long I’ve lived here, when I walk in the morning I am overcome by this enormous longing to live right here. It’s weird, because I do live here. But somehow living here is not enough to quench my desire to live here.
I guess I’m lucky, then.