Missing Foodie Penpals

Today is the traditional Foodie Penpals reveal day and as usual I am missing the program like crazy. In case you don’t know what it is, it is a thing where you are given the name of a person to whom you will send a package of delicious snacks and food-related items. You’re supposed to spend around $20 on your penpal and they tell you the sort of things they would like to get. You get your name on the 5th of the month, then send out a package by the 15th, and on the 30th you post about all the wonderful things you got.

We stopped in August because of the wedding and how I didn’t think we’d be able to do it in all the craziness, but I just never got back into doing it. This month I think I’m going to sign up again because it’s really killing me to see everyone else’s posts about the snacks, spices, utensils, notepads and other things they’ve been getting.

I’ve gotten some great things in the past – crunchy gluten free chocolate cookies that barely survived an afternoon, honey almond butter, Russian chocolate, and those wonderful Yogavive apple chips that have become my favorite snack that I never get to have. Seriously, those things are amazing. You should try them, they’re light and crispy, and the strawberry flavored ones are like getting a new kitten.

I’m looking forward to starting up again. It’s not a huge expense for us and it’s another way of my getting in contact with the outside world, which is a good thing. And of course, I’ll be getting delicious surprise snacks from a faraway friend. The snacks are key.


Thanksgiving Thanks

I don’t really like Thanksgiving. It reminds me of some things I don’t like to think about, like when I posted the standard complaining about how I hated getting together with my ex’s family because I felt out of place, it got taken the wrong way and all the members of his family got together to tell me online how much they never liked me and what a terrible person I am. Because apparently they never read anything by anyone else ever about how people feel about holidays.

However, this is the fourth Thanksgiving I’ll be spending with Mister E and with every one I feel more and more like I have something to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the fact that I have people like his mom who I don’t have to pretend to like to hang out with. I’m thankful that we get to spend time together and hang out for a little while before he has to go to work. And most of all I’m thankful that today I get to eat a delicious holiday meal without putting on pants.

See, we’re having Thanksgiving with just the two of us this year because this and that happened, and his mom is sick. Rather than getting a pizza from our favorite Christmas Pizza restaurant, we decided to make some stuff. Mister E bought a turkey breast and we’re making roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole and veggie mix. We’re going to have leftovers forever.

Unfortunately he has to go in to work tonight (and an hour early because his store is one of the ones starting their Black Friday nonsense on Thursday), but we’ll get to spend a little time together before then and that makes me happy in the place where my allegedly missing heart is supposed to be.

That’s one more thing I’m thankful for, though. I’m not going to be at or dealing with Black Friday. Only crazy people go in for all that nonsense.

The Amazing Tale of Rodent Jesus

A long time ago in a fourplex far, far away (College Station), RJ and I used to live in front of a gravel pit.

Like this, but smaller.

It was a nice place with a big patio, which I used to set up an area for gardening and a worm composting pile. We also had a rain bucket outside that we used to water our worms, which were then used to eat our food waste. It was all very eco-friendly.

Like this, but bright pink.

The rain barrel was the main contributing factor to this tale of woe because while ours was great at catching rain, it didn’t have one of those fancy screens like the one in the picture. It actually started its life as a big pink receptacle for storing dry dog food that I brought home with the intent of using it for, I don’t know, something that never panned out. Just like the 5 pounds of of chicken heads and the garbage bag full of lube. Neither of those things are jokes.

Anyway, that spring saw an awful lot of rain in College Station. We were emptying out that bucket into the gravel pit an awful lot because we just couldn’t water the worms that much without drowning them. You have to be nice to worms and not drown them, otherwise you just end up with a lot of soggy garbage in a box.

There were also a lot of rats. I sort of blame the compost for this because we didn’t know to put the lid on at first, so critters came to call. We figured it out soon enough when we saw the rat in our worm bin but by then the damage was done and visitors came regularly to see if we had been dumb enough to leave the top off.

Like this, but less cute.

One night, it was raining particularly hard so I went outside to empty out the barrel. That’s when I found it. A giant rat floating face up in the rain barrel. I screamed like a little girl and ran instead to tell RJ. He sighed – as per the terms of our marriage – and went outside to check so he could tell me I was just being silly, then returned to report that the rat was a drowned one. I was sad. He was huffy, because it meant he was going to have to fish it out of the barrel. With a Hefty bag in hand, he went back outside to scoop it up. And promptly came back in screaming.

Apparently the water had done some damage to the rat, who had been in the bucket a lot longer than we’d thought. You see, its skin had partially slipped off when RJ went to pick it up with the bag. He then enlisted my help to carry the rain barrel to the gravel pit so we could dump it. It was a thrilling operation filled with even more screams, due to the fact that rat water was sloshing everywhere and we were trying not to get hit by it.

We dumped the water into the gravel pit and ran, leaving the bright white bag as evidence of our terrible crime. It was still raining during all of this, so neither of us was really enthused about going back to get it. We figured we’d do it in the morning when the rain subsided.

The next morning I went to retrieve our bag and found that it was still there…but the rat was gone. All of the rat. The only thing left was the Hefty bag and another rat that looked exactly the same hiding behind one of the gravel piles. This could only mean one thing in my mind.

“RJ! Wake up! The rat last night was Jesus and it rose from the dead!” He responded to this by grunting at me from the bed, rolling over and saying something that sounded like “Hallelujah.” It wasn’t terribly appropriate or respectful, but that’s my ex-husband for you. While he slept, I honored Rodent Jesus the most fitting way I knew how. I tossed the trash bag into the dumpster, meditated on the situation, then fed the worms what was left of breakfast.

I told you I was a Buddhist.

(Yes, I know it’s more likely than not that the rat we saw was just another rat that had come out in the night to eat Rodent Jesus, but I like my side of the story better. Also, I think that counts as reincarnation or something. Or recycling. Either way, hallelujah.)

Hair Farm, Revisited

The fact that I’m sick of my hair isn’t news in our house. It seems like every week I swear I’m going down to my favorite hair shop (Doo or Dye) and having it chopped off because I can’t stand it being this long anymore.

Here’s the thing: I’m growing my hair out for Locks of Love. I do this periodically because I’m lazy and don’t like to bother with keeping my hair trimmed, so I’ll get my hair cut once and then let it grow out. I figure since I’m letting it grow I might as well do something nice for other people in the process.

This is the longest I’ve had my hair in years. It’s currently past my bra strap, which means I’m going to be able to donate the minimum 10 inches for sure and maybe more. The problems with it being this long include that it gets tangled and I have to make sure to brush it constantly so it doesn’t get damaged, when it’s wet it takes most of the day to dry, and that washing it takes a really long time because of its length. I have to walk around with a towel on my head for at least an hour after I get out of the shower because otherwise it basically sends a stream of hair down my back that is a huge pain. I know these things sound like some serious first world problems, but they’re really driving me crazy. Crazier.

So I think I’m going to find myself a nice Locks of Love salon and make an appointment to get my hair cut back to about chin length. I’d like to get it back even shorter, but I’ve gained some weight and I don’t want my face to look like an orange on a toothpick. Although, it would be nice to have it short enough to shower, wash it and be on my way.

When I lived in Chicago, my hair was super short – almost a pixie cut. My hair is naturally a little wavy, so whenever I showered I would just tousle it and let it dry and it always looked super cute. Sometimes I would use product but most of the time I just let the wind style my hair. Part of me is afraid to cut it that short again because it’ll make me miss Chicago even more, I think.

In any case, I think I’m going to be cutting my hair very soon. I was thinking of letting it continue to grow until Christmas but I can’t take it anymore. As soon as I get enough money to get my hair cut, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Because this hair farm is getting out of control.


The Table Saw Incident

It all started when Mister E broke his dad’s table saw.

Well, he thought he broke it, which is about the same. It turned out to just be a matter of his leaning against the reset button on the power strip so it all worked out in the end, but the amusing anecdote that it spawned was enough to start a really great series of events when we were in Fort Worth.

You see, my father-in-law makes beer boxes. They’re pretty great looking; an Igloo cooler inside a recycled barnwood box with iron decorations that are then painted and stained by his wife. The Dad makes custom furniture with a small company that has done work for people like Ross Perot Jr. and less fancy people who have big houses . So as you can see, my family is filled with creative people that do wonderful things. Meanwhile, I play video games.

At first, when we thought the table saw was broken, Mister E’s dad thought he was going to have to go buy a new one so they closed up shop for the day, only to discover that it was indeed the work of my husband leaning on something. We decided that since the shop had been shut down we would go to The Dad’s shop so Mister E’s parents could see the sheer scale on which they worked. They were excited to see the big operation and after consulting with The Dad we were off to Everman to take a look at the freaking airplane hangar that houses their shop.

The only people at The Dad’s shop were him, his coworker Richard, and Big Mike, the owner. I’ve known Big Mike since before I was born and he was pleased to see me, as he always is. Mister E’s dad and stepmom, meanwhile, were being shown about the place by The Dad and were impressed by the size of the place and the projects they were working on. Then we introduced Mike to the parents and it was all over.

Big Mike loves showing people the shop he was once a lowly carpenter’s assistant at a shop in Ft. Worth and retains every bit of the good-natured attitude you would expect from someone who has worked his way up to owning a successful business. He took over the tour and started talking to Mister E’s dad and stepmom like they were old friends. And while that isn’t entirely accurate, it’s close.

You see, Big Mike and Mister E’s dad went to high school together and were two years apart (Mister E’s dad is older). They had a lot of the same teachers and friends, and by the time I got back from helping The Dad glue something, they were getting on like a house afire. The topic naturally turned to the beer boxes and then to the table saw incident, at which point Big Mike said “I have a table saw you can use. I actually have two, you can pick which one you like.” We were all pretty much blown away.

So everything worked out really well in the end. Even though the table saw wasn’t broken, The Dad and Mister E’s dad got together a week or so after we left town and went to get the new table saw. All that’s left is for Mister E’s dad to rewire the place to use the saw and get some ventilation (The Dad made some helpful recommendations) and he’ll be well on his way to working out of his own hangar.