Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“How can you have any pudding if you “dunt” eat yer meat?”

I had an amazing thing happen. A “line” I’ve been dying to say, in context, actually popped into my head at the right time. Krista was fussing about eating her polish sausage. I had made pumpkin pudding for dessert.


How can you have any pudding if you “dunt” eat yer meat?” I said, proudly.

“Huh?” Krista said, but Fred understood and laughed.


Like me, my children have been picky eaters. My boys were picky when they were little, and presently my daughter is the challenge—she really doesn’t like meat. The dinner table, lately, has been a battleground for 2 willful females in a “You-can’t-make-me-touch-that-crappy-stew” match. She usually wins these matches, but after all---she is MY offspring.

My brother and I truly thought Mom’s meals were evil-potions intended to make us robot-android children. Mom and Dad weren’t alone in parenting us 1960s kids using the “Dr. Spock” (not the Vulcan) recommended remedy for “table fussiness”—make the kids sit until the food is gone. The fact that my mother was a terrible cook never seemed to factor in. I NEVER gave in, and would out-sit any adult. While I sat, untouched plate before me, I devised methods of getting out of eating what I considered garbage. The fear of punishment was nothing compared with eating Mom’s “SOIL” flavored pot-roast.

Methods of Avoiding Eating Food on Plate:

Atomizing- a method used by me to break up food into the tiniest possible particles and spread them around on my plate-- giving the illusion of less.

Cheek/Gum Storage- You can put a lot of food under your tongue and next to your gums--upper and lower jaws. A simple bathroom trip following the meal, and the food is deposited where it belonged in the first place.

Napkin-Cloaking- When the meal is almost over, you cover the offensive salmon croquette with a crumpled up napkin and offer to help Mom clear the table.

So in order to change the wretched, meal-torture tradition, when I became a Mom, I only wanted them to eat a little bit of something (a taste, even). True to their heritage, they invented some new methods I hadn’t thought to try:

Barfing on Plate- Both boys used this method—David, after tasting canned, warm German potato salad he said smelled like gasoline, and Jon after tasting a new brand of fish sticks he said looked and tasted like pencil shavings. They were both right.

Pocket Piles- This method was invented by Jon. He was eventually “outted” but not before he ruined a few pairs of pants. He also stuffed his snowsuit jacket in the school lunchroom with stuff I sent for lunch so he could leave for recess sooner.

I’m still picky, but I’m old enough call the shots. Sometimes, though, I make something new and terrible and have to cover it with my napkin.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Ideal Wife

Fred is confused.

I have been very complacent and subdued for weeks, recovering from a serious illness. I basically had no opinion. Everything Fred suggested and did sounded o.k. to me. I was grateful. I was in a weakened physical and mental state. I was hooked to an oxygen tank, whacked on Vicodin!

Then I started to feel better…and with improved health came the return of “My Point of View.”

Because of this, Fred honestly thought there was something new wrong with me. He intended to ask the doctor about possible side effects to my drugs. Could they be the reason he has a smart-mouthed troll invading the body of his recently sweet-tempered, docile wife? If so—he wanted something done about it—FAST! Does she need mood altering drugs? A lobotomy?

Fred liked me better complacent--complacent like when we were dating.

Like many women, when I first met my future husband I was in the “Love Fog.” I didn’t care what we did, so long as we were together. I did things he liked to do, just to be around him. He took me camping on “Mosquito Cloud Isle” and I helped pitch the tent. He took me to cold football games—I bundled next to him. He rented “Slap Shot” for us and I didn’t say, “This movie sucks.” I wasn’t being dishonest—I really didn’t care.

After our wedding, and months into our marriage, Fred suggested another trip to “Mosquito Cloud Isle;” a place where the mosquitoes will carry you, “Winged-Monkey-like” across Lake Michigan if you’re not anchored down; a place I think of as Heidi Hell.

“Hmmm. Let’s get a hotel instead of camping.” I suggested.

Fred looked at me like I had a badger on my face.

“But you loved it 3 years ago.”

“Yes, but that was during my “Love Fog” era. I was out of my mind. I’d much rather have carpeting and a porcelain toilet.”

Fred began mourning the loss of the woman he married--the “Whatever-You-Want, Honey” girl. I’m sure, like many men, he felt deceived. Now, faced with yet another “Good Heidi” vs. “Bad Heidi” he has to reconcile---he is confused. Just when the freedom to do exactly as he wanted was within his reach--with no one asking questions or make helpful suggestions--wifey recovers… and regains a voice, opinions and preferences all over again.

“Don’t you want me to feel feisty again? That means I’m healing.” I offered.

Fred did not answer. He’s still thinking it over.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turkey Trepidation

Just the idea of a juicy, succulent, roast turkey on Thanksgiving afternoon makes me want to get up and dance. Roast turkey is on my “Top 20 List of Happy Things.” Prior to its entrance into my oven, however, and subsequent applause-worthy exit; all dressed up and tan, the necessary steps to achieve True Turkey Perfection are the cause of many a turkey-related case of hives.

I’m not very adventurous anymore on Thanksgiving. I choose my holiday “standard” so I don’t have to deal with a NEW bird and have something go miserably wrong…again. I want my enormous breasted Butterball in his plain, white plastic coat.

I don’t care how he got so big either.

The first of many “Turkey-Go-Wrong” years began when, once, my Mom cooked a turkey in a “Nesco” in our garage (Mom didn’t like the smell of turkey (!)) What we ate that night not only smelled like “car” and grass clippings, somehow the turkey exploded, leaving the ravaged bird in a bony pile. At least it was juicy.

Another year I bought a less expensive, generic brand of turkey. I prepared him as I would any other bird. “Tom” must have been injected…with AIR, because the bird I put in was not the TREMENDOUS-legged, flat-chested one that emerged. The white-meat eaters stared, mouths agape. I must have bought a Road Runner by mistake.

Finally, I was told that the “Oven Bag” was fool-proof. I challenge that. Evidently the MOST important step in roasting a bird in a gigantic plastic bag, is flouring the inside, so it doesn’t blow-up. I swear I remember doing that, but after a few hours…KAPLOWW! My oven has never been the same.

That did it!! No more risky, “foul” shenanigans! Now, with my nice Butterball—the preparations can begin.

I have never been completely comfortable with the necessary “HAND in BIRD” step required to fully ready the turkey. I reach in, and as fast as I can, “mine” for the package of “GOD KNOWS WHAT” that’s buried deep in the bird’s inner-sanctum. Oh, and don’t forget the flaccid flap of skin that covers yet another cavity on the top of bird-- there’s some goodies in there too.
Achieving the Juicy vs. Dry bird is the next stressful endeavor. The Turkey Packaging Union wants us to depend on that little red-sticky-uppy thing to tell us when the bird is done. I’ve relied on that … along with feverish prayer, with mixed results. Now, out of the kitchens of the “Food Network” comes news that the bird continues to cook outside the oven!! We can now bring the bird out at “Ptomaine” degrees, confident that it has enough energy to climb up the thermometer to reach true poultry "doneness."

I wish it were more scientific.


They need to market Predictable Turkeys for those of us low turkey-stress thresholds. But I always know if things get TOO stressful, I can call the Butterball toll-free number and some rational volunteer… will talk me off the roof.

Gobble, gobble.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Elements of a Successful Hunt

This time of year, thousands of men (and women), driving pick-up trucks, leave their families. They are on a pilgrimage north, to the woods where the white-tailed deer live. My husband, Fred, is one of those thousands. He and his friends herald Deer Season as a holiday, filled with good camp food, peace and quiet, and camaraderie.

This year Fred has some new (and old) methods of attaining the “Many-Point” buck. I, as a sprawling-metropolis-raised girl, was na├»ve to the large variety of hunting paraphernalia out there, until I was introduced to it last night (pre-hunt). In my opinion, armed with his bag of tricks---the deer will be putty in his hands.

Fred brought with him:

1. Doe “Piss” :

“Piss” is Fred’s word, not mine. Doe Piss is supposed to attract the bucks, who, at this time of year are HOT to mate. I actually saw the bottle and the description of its ingredients. That’s a dirty job!! Someone has to find a deer, make sure it’s a doe, make it drink a lot of water (you can bring a doe to water but…) then hold some type of container underneath (or behind it) to collect the urine. E-GADS! Fred says they have deer farms for this, so they don’t have to nab a wild deer, but that still doesn’t explain the “How Tos.” Fred intends to surround his deer blind with the concoction. I forgot to ask him what would happen if he spills some on himself.

I can only imagine dozens of the antlered animals falling over themselves for a piece of Fred!


2. Antler Crashes:

Fred said that sometimes they take antlers and smack them together to replicate the sound of a “deer fighting” over a doe. This is supposed to attract the bucks. Maybe the “Great Prince of the Forest,” the FATHER of all bucks, will come, as leader of the deer, to break up the fight. That’s just what Fred is hoping for. Then Ka-POW!

3. Food from the sky:

When Fred told me about this term, I laughed out loud. This is “hunter-talk” for bait. All the gas stations around Green Bay, and most northern cities, I suspect, are stocked with deer apples, carrots and stuff to set in the woods. The deer will come out of hiding and investigate the “offering” of foreign fruit. They get used to it, then KER-FLUOOEY.

4. Snort Replication:

This is a device that replicates the sound of a buck snorting. If you use this, the buck will come running to see what’s up---or…they’ll all stand together, in a far off meadow somewhere--and laugh.

5. Camouflaged Gun Steadier with strap:

No deer has a chance against this. They’ll take one look at the stand (which is pounded into the ground), and wave the white flag.

With all these clever methods of attracting male deer—there should be a parade of white-tails following Fred home. I just hope they’re not following him home because he smells like doe!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Alley Felineawitz

I just joined a “social networking site” at the prompting of my cousin, to play online-scrabble and to hook up with old friends. I found a few long-lost college buddies, renewed some relationships with neighbors from my hometown and have enjoyed seeing photos they shared on their home-page of themselves and their families.

From my sons, I learned a bit about this site in the past few years. At one point, I confess to “disguising” myself (that is, assuming an alter-ego) to see what my son Jon was up to when he was in high school, and what the site was really about. With one “Request to be Friends” sent to him, I was IN.

(O.K—I’m not proud of that, but if he was dumb enough to “friend” me without any questions asked, me, with a fake name, no friends or networks, and a profile photo of a cat… I deserved access to his world.)

But I didn’t have a “peek window” open to me long. It took him less than a day to figure out “Alley Felineawitz” was me. He started a discussion group about “not liking to eat alone” and I gave him helpful advice on how to cope, typed in full words, full sentences, punctuation and no IM jargon like:

“OMG, Ur so right!”

I said, ““Honey, why don’t you just bring your iPod and read a book---then you won’t feel so lonely.”

He promptly UN-Friended me and sent a text message that read: "Nice try, Mom."

So, naturally, I’m cautious about who I allow access to my world via the "verbized" term “Friend-ing.” I saw a high school classmate was also a member. Since it has been 25 years since high school, I was curious what she was up to, if she was still in the area where we grew up, kids, etc., so I submitted a “Request to be Friends.” Nothing happened at all. I asked my son about that and he said:

“She probably doesn’t know who “Alley Felineawitz” is.”

“I used my real name, Jon.”

“Well, if you don’t hear anything, it means you’ve been rejected.”

Snap! Maybe I SHOULD have used the alias—it probably would have at least intrigued her. Now, I’m left hanging, wondering if I did something wrong these past 25 years. Is it poetic justice for my dishonest antic last year? I may never know.

The longer I use this site, though, the cooler I think it is, and the more addicting it becomes. You could spend HOURS joining “virtual groups” and attaching little distinguishing things to your page about yourself and your interests. Every time you do anything to your “stuff”, all your “Friends” get notified in some way. It’s a full time job being cyber-social!

I troll for new/old friends occasionally, now that it seems like more people my age are on there. OR ARE THEY??? Could be the kids are checking up on what their PARENTS are up to.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting… Heidi’s Way

I voted today, but I shook my head when I saw the table flanked with white-haired people. I certainly don’t want any octogenarians to lose their jobs….but isn’t time we had some updates in our voting procedures?

In my district, we don’t use the glorious “Voting Machines” I longed to use as a kid in the 1970s. Instead of those old real booths with REAL curtains and little levers and a sliding handle that registered your vote AND opened your privacy curtain—the kind of machine that is fun to use…we have paper ballots and an ink pen to connect the arrow of the candidate of choice. Ho-Hum. I’m not saying voting should be like a pinball machine or Mario Kart…just MODERNIZE for Pete’s Sake!

I’m typing this on a modern machine. I spoke with several friends on this subject on a modern cell phone. Yet the ancient tradition of elderly women and men, writing voters names in cursive, double checking with their companions, and writing ballot numbers next to names is alive and IN USE in the Heartland in the year 2008!

Not that they don’t do a good job. People of that generation have exceptional cursive skills--probably beat into them. I’ve also been chewed out by one of the “Elderly Guardians of the Sworn Oath of the Vote” before. Once, years ago, at the prospect of standing in line for HOURS with my two small boys with me, I thought it made perfect sense, since the ballots were numbered anyway, to take my numbered ballot slip and come back later to cast my vote (thus lessening my time in 2 lines.) I thought I had a brilliant notion—one that would be taken note of. So I asked if it was possible...

One woman recoiled. One of them chuckled. The third one questioned my sanity and gave me such an evil-eye that I went back to the end of the line.

ISN’T THERE A BETTER WAY?

At the risk of angering the “Old Volunteer Army of Sacred Voting Procedures”….

…Why don’t we??:.

1. Make it a week long process? This would give EVERYONE a chance to vote? The lines would be smaller and there would be more flexibility.

2. Declare Election Day a national holiday so working people with kids can manage to get there—with pay would be even better.

3. Make absentee ballots easier to obtain. They should be as easy to get as IRS tax forms.

4. Vote electronically. We bank electronically, buy stuff electronically, and even file our taxes electronically. Why can’t vote from our homes?

Best of all, “Voting…Heidi’s Way”, old people can still remain employed and in power positions.

Just don’t make any strange requests of them---they really don’t like that.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

CLOTHES SHOPPING IS FOR MASOCHISTS

Clothes shopping used to be fun...when I was struggling with 5 or 10 lbs. Shopping is painful when you have "more than 10 lbs. to lose" (shall I say), and are stricken with the anxiety that you'll have to move on to a store that carries your size.

It was when I was pregnant with my first child that I actually became fat. It was during that time too, that I realized what horrible, mean, places dressing rooms are. I knew I’d gained a LOT of baby weight and wanted to avoid my reflection in the mirror. I had occasion to go to a Hudson’s dressing room after work to try on bras. Hudson’s dressing rooms were notorious for badly lit, unflattering mirrors. I unzipped my dress-- to my waistline only and started to put on the bra… when my dress fell down to the ground and I accidentally looked in the mirror. Behind me I saw… an Enormous, Puckery Backside and jumped out of the dressing room! As it turned out…it was not some stranger in the room with me (which is why I jumped)… it was MY own backside!

A certain plus-sized store tried make things easier by creating “Virtual Models” which were available on their website. The idea was, you entered in all your statistics--height, weight, body shape, etc—and you could see what their clothes might ACTUALLY look like on you. What you ended up with, however, was an gigantic version of yourself that looks a lot like Eddie Murphy as “Norbit’s “wife. You could almost picture the Virtual Model winking and saying:

“Damn Baby! You lookin’ phat in that outfit!”

They don’t have the virtual model option anymore—probably because once women see what they ACTUALLY look like in their clothes, they’re not going to buy them.

Lately, I’ve been giving mail-order a try-- they usually have my size. I also really, really like it when my order arrives--it’s like a Christmas present delivered by Santa—only this time, Santa is dressed in a brown shirt and shorts! The problem with a catalog is that the same item looks one way on the picture and entirely different on my body, in the light of my bedroom, in front of my mirror. Consequently, I have to call back the “Santa Dressed in Brown” to retrieve his present.

Recently, I went to a plus-sized store and found a Color Coded Body-Type section. You have three choices—you are either a Red, a Blue, or a Yellow. Each color stands for a different body shape, and so-- in theory-- you’ll find your perfect fit. Apparently, though, if you’re not one of these three body shapes, you are a Khaki, which is in the “tent section” of the neighboring sporting goods store.

What I really want is a futuristic take on clothes shopping--something like the “Jetsons.” While Rosie the Robot stood guard, the conveyor belt would take me behind a screen and when I came out on the other side *POOF*! I’d be dressed in an outfit that fit me perfectly.

But wait a minute---Jane Jetson was SKINNY, wasn’t she??