Monday, September 15, 2008

Ode to a Salad Spinner...

My stuff's here, y'all. Have I mentioned that? It's here. And with a vengeance. In fact, "stuff" has penetrated every workable and walkable space. I have personally hand-unpacked over 30 boxes and I'm still not done.

However, the positive side is that all my babies have come home. Okay, a little background... Y'all know that I grew up in a trailer right? And when I wasn't living in a trailer, I was living in a camper on the back of a pickup with my mother and sister *eyes bulging*. And when I wasn't living in a camper, I was living in a tent on the side of the road. And when I wasn't living in a tent, I was sleeping on some stranger's floor and hoping that nothing would get lost or stolen out of my two small suitcases...

SOOOOOO, I guess now I have to admit that I like my stuff. OBviously I can live without it. I have done so for three months now, right? But, I can't tell you how often tears welled in my eyes as I carefully unwrapped my things. Not EVERYthing, mind you, but certain things that somehow represent success to me. MY success. Oh sure, I feel successful EVERY DAY I look at my wonderful children and every time they are creative and generous and polite and optimistic and resourceful. But there are a few physical things that, for inexplicable reasons, remind me how far I have come. Canisters. I have a set of ceramic canisters that I bought at Target four or five years ago. They're not even pretty. They're just white with those little metal clamps and a dainty wooden spoon hanging from a side lip. But they look good in my kitchen. And even though I rarely use what's inside them (that may be about to change now that I spend so much more time in the kitchen), they make me feel all Martha Stewart-y and whatnot.

Silicone kitchen utensils. I begged and pleaded and cajoled Sam for years to buy me those. In the end, I just went out and bought them myself and dared him to do something about it. Well, a bouquet of those silicone utensils peaking out of a ceramic receptacle sure looks good next to my stove.

Baskets... It's almost a fetish. I can't have enough baskets. Especially if they are all rustic looking. It makes me feel so "old world" and cultured and whatnot. And to have those "old world" things HERE, in the OLD WORLD, makes me feel even less historically challenged. I probably have at least 30 baskets... BIG ONES. *sigh* Having them home feels so, well, homey.

Ramekins... Who has ramekins? Who even BUYS ramekins but someone who is settled and stable and never moves? Well, ME, that's who. Ramekins SCREAM out "stability"... they don't say, "hey, we live in a camper." Even though I have still moved every couple of years, ramekins are about the most stablestestest things in creation. And they represent my committment to stability. *blush* I'll leave it at that.

And there are practical things, too. I can't tell you how awesome it is to have my Salad Spinner. I have one of those with the lid-pump and brake from OXO. I LOOOOOOVE my spinner. I've had mine for longer than I've had Ryan. I'm so tired of lettuce rotting in my fridge because I'm too lazy to rinse each leaf by hand, put 'em in a strainer with a towel over them and shaking the brains out of 'em. Now, not only will my lettuce be clean, it'll be dry and FRESH in the fridge. I know I sound like a spinner infomercial, but I don't CARE!!!

Another wonderful surprise is that my HUGE soup pot (like big enough to put Lolo in... but that my dear children is called "cannibalism" and is often looked down upon in our society *wink*... any Depp fans out there?) actually WORKS on my new range!!!! Did I explain that our range is an "induction" range? And that it only "works" with certain materials? If your pan is not made of a certain material, the burner won't even get hot. I don't know yet if all of my Rachel Ray pans are going to work, I'm too chicken to try (since Sam spent like $120 to buy them for me a mere month before we left), but the humongous soup pot is a real treasure.

Now, let's talk about a few things that DON'T work...

1) my food processor
2) my blender
3) my mixer
4) the adapter Sam bought that he was SURE would work for all three
5) the adapter that Sam paid $150 for that even works for our TV that won't work on these appliances.

The bad part about this is that on Saturday, I had Sam go buy a HUGE armload of basil so I could make a huge stock of pesto for the winter. Said basil is now wilting in my fridge. We went to my sister-in-law's house yesterday though and she lent me a sort of food processor that she says she only uses like twice a year. So, I'm gonna use it until I can go buy another one for my kitchen. When I'm done with my new one (if I ever go home--kidding, Rachel, kidding), I'll just give it to her as thanks for letting me use hers.

Let's talk about linguistic deterioration. If you know me pretty well (or even know that I have a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language), you'll know that I am a stickler for spoken grammar. I'm lax in writing (unless it's scholarly writing) because my writing is so conversational. But there are a few things that are real pet peeves for me. One is less and fewer. Less is for non-count nouns and fewer is for count nouns. Another is good and well. Good is an adjective and well is an adverb. Another is ending your sentence with a preposition--my grandfather taught me a lesson when I was, like, five... I used to say, "Grandpa, where you at?" and he used to say, "Behind the at." So, it's funny to see that even I, swimming in linguistic ambiguity as I am over here, am failing my English test. I actually said, "Yeah, they did pretty good with the glass, huh?" *gasp* Can you BELIEVE that? What is happening to me. The problem is, there is NO explanation for it. I would never have made that same mistake in French. I think that the more I concentrate on speaking French, the more relaxed my English becomes... without any effort or cognition on my part!!!! It's freaky and a teensy bit scary.

I'm the Queen of the Universe until we leave France. For one, the appliances didn't work after I had bought nearly thirty bux in basil. That pissed me off. It's NOT even about the appliances or the basil itself. It's about the condescension. Back home, when we were planning for our trip, I said, "Look, I'll deal with it. We'll just store my kitchen appliances and we'll buy a small combo thingy that can do most things and what it can't do, I'll figure out how to do buy hand... Let's not drag all of my appliances over there and risk them burning up." Sam said, "Noooooo, Joj (that's my nick name... pronounced like Nose... which is my OTHER nickname--hi Grandpa!) We'll invest in good adapters and you'll be able to use all your stuff over there." I said, "That's ridiculous. Why spent hundreds of bux in adapters when we can buy one good 80-dollar machine over there and get two good years of use out of it." He insisted. Usually, I put up a fight and insist right back, but when it comes to France, most of the time, I can't help but defer to him. Sometimes when I trust him, things come out fine and he ends up right. Sometimes.

Well, not this time.

The worst part about it is the WAY he speaks to me about it. As though, because he's the "scientist" and I'm the "artist" he knows more about electricity and appliances and the WORLD AT LARGE than I ever could and I'm being silly even arguing with his intelligence, etc. etc. I'm a woman, etc. etc. I'm a writer, etc. Shall I go on? Nah. Anyway, when he plugged in my appliances and they DIDN'T move very fast and they smelled like BURNT PLASTIC, I'd have given good money to have the confused, dumbfounded look on his face bottled up and put on my kitchen shelf to sprinkle into some acidic, bitter soup someday. That is, IF I hadn't been SO livid.

Want some icing? Well... he asked me all week long if I thought we should go to his parents house this weekend. My answer has always either been "no" or "let's see how much we get unpacked. Welllll, SINCE we didn't have a lot unpacked, and SINCE I have yet to get my book printed out and sent, and SINCE I had piles of basil to process, and SINCE I had a pot of home-made pizza sauce bubbling on the stove that I needed to finish and freeze and SINCE I have a huge pile of fresh organic veggies to blanch and freeze and SINCE... well, you get the picture... I figured it was OBVIOUS that we weren't going to be able to go to his parents' house Sunday. So, when he said--as he says EVERY Saturday... EVERY Saturday for the past nine years--"I'm going to call my parents," I assumed it was to tell them that we weren't coming... that we had so much to do...blah blah blah... That is, until I heard him say, "fin de matinee" which means near the end of the morning... meaning lunch... meaning that he told them we were going.

Here I am, eyes bulging, teeth gritted, head shaking, hands waving... he's looking at me like I've been possessed. Wouldn't YOU understand the message I was trying to send? Well, YOU ain't Sam!!!

So, when the appliances didn't work Sunday morning, it became not only a discussion about condescension, but also, ignoring me.

THEN, as we're on our way there, and Sam calls his dad to tell him we're gonna be late, Sam's dad tells us that we're going to my sister-in-law's house!!! Okay, look, I moved to France so we could see the grandparents. I conceded after MUCH arguing, to go see the grandparents this weekend. So, the news that we would be, in fact, going to my sister-in-law's for lunch was not a good revelation. I freaked. I swore to drink up the end of their fine bottles of wine, eat like a pig, put my elbows on the table and talk impolitely the entire time. And I did.

The good thing is that she lent me the pesto maker thingy... So it was meant to be... but still... doesn't mean that Sam is not a jackass.

All of this wah wah wah really means nothing. Even though I'm going on and on about ramekins and appliances and pesto and linguistics and what not, really none of it matters. What matters most is that my sister, my great grandmother and theoretically (because I haven't heard from them all yet) my friends in and around Houston are safe even after Ike stomped through there. I'm SO glad... SO relieved... SO thankful.

Look, you know how I'd love to sit here and drive the blah blah blah train, but folks, I got pesto to make.

Note: Before and after pix of the apartment (as well as the cake Ryan and I made the other day) are forthcoming... Stay tuned.


Erin said...

woo hoo! this one made me laugh! i'm also so happy your family is ok. do you have The Joy of Cooking? let me know....

Rachel said...

Hey. I have ramekins too! And I completely agree about less/fewer and good/well. :) And, you are coming home, even if I have to come get you and the kikds myself. :)

Anonymous said...

What about sending Sam and the kids to the inlaws while you do your thing?????

Nothing like a little quiet time :)

Joelie said...

E... I DON'T have The Joy of Cooking... Isn't that a Julia Child book? Didn't they just figure out that she was a spy all along or something?

R...Don't worry, lil lady. Home's the place for me. This is a good place to read up and practice, but home is the real deal.

J...I TRIED that. Of COURSE he doesn't want to go with ALL THREE of the kids *eye roll* because being alone with ALL THREE is so much work... ahem, I do it every Wednesday but WHATEVAH! Plus, he drives like a maniac, so if they're all gonna die, I wanna be with them. I'm not even half kidding about that... Sad, huh?

Erica said...

It's Erica from CM!

I HATE the good/well switch. The car does not run GOOD, it just doesn't!

And I'm in Houston, and have power. Wow, I'm on top of the world today. Of course we only have peanut butter for lunch, but that's a minor detail.