December 2005 Archives

Bread and Cuckoos

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I've been marooned at my in-laws for 5 days and, although it's been better than has been typical, there are still little things that make me crazy. The first "feature" of my in-laws home that leaps out at me is their choice in clocks. Not content with a quietly clicking or even silent timepiece, they have a Cuckoo clock. Ok, so every hour, including all through the night, the damn thing, which is only about 40 feet from where I restlessly try to sleep on a bed the size of a Tic Tac, chirps once for EACH hour. So, at 11 PM, it quacks a greeting 11 times. At 4 AM, 4 times. You get the idea. But wait...there's more! They don't just have ONE Cuckoo clock...they have TWO! And, they're not QUITE synched. So, at 5 AM the one goes off 5 times...then the other one goes off 5 times about 30 seconds later. If the first one didn't getcha, the second one will! Oh, but wait...there's still more! If you call right now, and apparently, they did, we'll throw in a wall clock that plays a different Christmas song EVERY HOUR. So, cuckoo one...cue cuckoo two...lights on christmas music! And this is at 3 AM, then 4 AM, then 5 AM...and so on, and so on. And I thought it was annoying hearing the garbage truck at 6:30 AM. At least that's only once a night!

The second issue, which until recently has really not been an issue, is the "food" that mom-in-law makes these days. In the past, my problem with her food has generally been something petty, like making fun of the jello molds they insist on having on every table. Perhaps it's just me, but I can't get into sweet orange jello with peas floating in it like green planets in a gelatin universe. Also, their morbid fear of making steaks anything but well done tends to rankle--last year we had 1/2" thick T-bones that were grilled for 20 minutes. Well done would not really be a term to describe them...more like carbonized. However, all of these petty complains were usually done in fun as mom-in-law was ultimately a pretty good Midwestern cook. Simple, but tasty was her creedo. This year, however, that creedo was sort of reworked to "what the fuck am I eating, and can it fit between slices of bread?"

"Steaks" were something called "Swiss Steaks", which, I guess, is a way of referring to a collection of sinew and cartilage held together by pieces of fat as "Steak" without having to trademark the word "steak" as is done in "Creamery Butter ToppingĀ®." These inedible lumps of gristle were brought to the table and one specifically given to me that was called "rare." These piles of grey putty may be the first steaks I've seen that I wouldn't dare eat any way but cooked through, and, although it bore the moniker "rare", it was the same lifeless-flesh color as everyone else's. This was the first thing to go on a sandwich for the week, but oh, no, not the last. inedible as it was, a couple of slices of bread, some pickles, and some ketchup made it dinner. That was to be followed by plain, broiled, boneless chicken breasts with plain white rice in what was jovially called "Chicken and rice." The hearty chunks of chicken with gravy over rice that I sort of expected was nowhere to be seen, but the clumped white rice that screamed for the bottle of La Choy Soy Sauce and dry, peppered boneless breasts made their appearance, briefly, on my plate. They were quickly put onto sliced bread with ketchup. Was this the last sandwich? No, of course not. There were still several days left. Roast turkey, served cold--sandwich! Salami and cheese served at great-grandma's--sandwich! Turkey served again as leftovers--yoooou betcha! Sandwich! All told, I believe my count for a total of 9 meals in Iowa was 7 sandwiches. The only reason that the other mealtimes weren't on bread was that Christmas day's chili was the only thing I could find, Saturday I went out and bought wings for the crowd watching the Giants game, and Tuesday I flew out and only managed a 1/2 oz. bag of pretzels for the day.

Over all, however, the trip was painless. I stayed out of her way. She stayed out of mine. I got shirts for Christmas. We got her something--I have no idea what. Thus endith my "vacation" for the year.


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So, our annual "live" tree is up for the year. Covered in ornaments, lights, and the arch enemy of the cats, it sits in all it's soon-to-be-dried-up-and-dead glory in the corner of our living room. It's actually kinda nice looking, although we forgot to turn off the radiator and one side got fried (we clipped off those branches). Drinks like crazy--we've gone through several gallons of water already. The highlight, though, is the return of our "traditional" tree-topper:

Never let it be said I don't adhere to tradition.

A difficult evening

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Tonight I was faced with the unenviable task of having to explain to Katie and Ellen that one of Katie's classmates died a few days ago. We sat down to dinner, and before we started, I asked each of them what they thought happens when someone or something dies. They told me what they thought, Katie saying you go into the ground, Ellen saying that they go to heaven (which surprised Me since we have zero religion in the house, and I'm jewish.) At that point, I explained what happened. We talked about it a bit, and then I suggested that Katie could make a card for the older brother and sister, so she did.
She made a picture of the little girl with a sunset. Bear in mind, though, that she never draws a sun setting. it's always up in the corner, like every other little kid draws, usually with a happy face. Well, not this one. Little kids are awfully perceptive. Kim wrote the words Katie dictated, and she'll take it into school tomorrow.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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