Tag Archives: life

Have I Sinned?

24 Aug

oh, look at the delicious grilled cheese and tomato soup…

No.  It’s not tomato soup. We are out. It’s organic marinara sauce thinned with water and white wine. Then spiced back up with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  He doesn’t know.

“It’s tomato soup!” I chirp. Then bend over silently laughing in the kitchen because of my totally ridiculous relapse of Catholic guilt over “lying” about the sauce turned soup.

Tell me,

Have I sinned?


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Possessed By Thrifty Granny Spirits

16 Aug

#1

Confession:  I am possessed by thrifty Granny spirits.  It began within the past few months.  Seriously.  Not just any Grannies.  My Grannies.

So, no need for exorcism.  I quite enjoy them.  And, it’s probably no surprise then, when I tell you that seeing the WWII propaganda slogan: “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” (on Craigslist, painted on the side of someone’s stolen RV of all places) made me giddy. That, I credit to the granny possession. Not because the war or the historical reference are exciting but because the meaningfully revived slogan is freaking rad.

I’m pretty sure that both of my grandmothers have formed a peace treaty with each other and converged in my brain since my birthday back in June.

There’s Viola, the pie baking, flower and squirrel loving, sewing grandma–stylish because she made all of her own clothes and had bra and underwear repair kits in her sewing box. And, she was a little crazy, but then, who isn’t?

And Josie, the Maltese, bourbon and 7 on the rocks drinking grandma that made use of every scrap of food in soups, pastas, salads–you name it–fed you from the moment you walked in the door until you walked out (even then sending you home with more food) and had brand new back-up flannel pajama sets hanging in her closet until the day she died…but never wore them because she just kept repairing the old.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was second nature to my grandmas and is easily becoming my manifesto these days as well.  During WWII, it was a suggestion that spurred U.S. citizens to actively care about community by doing. By doing what was within their power to do.  Everyday people created social change and positive economic impact through everyday actions.

In this process of thought to action to support the war effort, people also preserved their environment by not overusing, wasting, or taking more than their share of food, materials and resources. People not only became self-reliant by growing and canning their own foods from their “Victory Gardens” but they also created community and relationships through giving and sharing with neighbors, friends, and family. The acts of growing food, redistributing, reusing, repairing and repurposing was simply, smart and friendly.

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t get warm and fuzzy because of the patriotism. No, what I take from it is the idea that  people worked together for the greater good. And greater good, however inadvertently, also encompassed the benefit of the environment.  There was no reference point for labels like “hippie”, “liberal”, or “tree hugger” as those social labels weren’t coined until later in history.  People were just doing what was “right” by way of their actions being practical and making sense for everybody. Since the Granny possession I have been looking closely at my habits and beliefs and here are some changes I’ve made so far:

  • Saving tons of money by cooking at home (of course there is the occasional Chinese, Thai, or super burrito outing) and bringing home food leftovers or perfectly good, lightly blemished fruit and vegetables from work…for free!!!
  • A garden is in the works…our summer never really arrived, so it will be a winter garden.
  • My wardrobe has been about 99.7% thrift store for several years now. The change? I won’t buy something unless I absolutely adore it…
  • ***Most importantly***I’ve ditched driving (99.9%) in favor of riding my bike for transportation because it’s fun! And healthy! Yes, I’m obsessed.  And possessed. It is one less car on the road and one healthier human…it clears my mind, keeps me positive, and provides the physical challenge I need from day to day.  And did I mention how it makes my legs, heart, and lungs, healthy and beautiful?! Yes. It’s fun! And healthy!
  • Or, I walk

Realizing that spirit possession and thrifty living cannot be covered in but one post, imparted wisdom from here on out will be on Thrifty Granny Spirit Possession Mondays or Wednesdays, I think. My commitment issues prohibit me right now from deciding on the specific day. But I’ll give you a heads up: It’ll probably be Mondays.

Many people are affected by economic change…and environmental change.  Are you affected? How? Are you not affected? Why? Have any ideas you’d like to share? Love to hear your stories and comments!

Dude, I SO wish that spammers and sex sites…

14 Aug

Weren’t the only freakin’ things frequenting my blog. Seriously. Get out.

I don’t need a penis enlargement. Mostly because I don’t have one. And I don’t want your cheap freaking pleather purses.

Oh, and my college loans?  Already consolidated. Thanks.

DIY Graham Cracker and Beer Mega Dinner

11 Aug

Some nights call for a light dinner.  If you find that a sound proof room, punching bag, and serious kickboxing gear is still required after yoga:  Lost Coast Brewery Tangerine Wheat Beer and graham crackers are your friends. Below I walk you step-by-step through making DIY Graham cracker and Beer Mega Dinner.  If you carefully follow each step the first time, next time is as easy as riding a bike!

figure 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-pack Lost Coast Brewery Tangerine Wheat beer (note: if you feel like feeling crappy, choose another beer.)
  • 1 pkg. Graham Crackers

Materials:

  • “Church key” or other beer opening device
  • paper towel
  • your fingers
  • a bad attitude and/or irreconcilable ennui

Preparation:

  • Beer:
  • Open
  • Drink
  • Note:  I use the old school device pictured to the right. This dazzling piece of airtight construction was procured straight out of my father’s silverware drawer where the not fine not silverware resides.
  • Graham Crackers:
  • Open
  • Crack off a graham
  • Eat
  • Repeat

Suggested presentation: See figure 1, above. Use paper towel to wipe a clean spot on the table, then place graham on clean spot. Place beer nearby.

Final Note: for these particular evenings, I prefer using crappy lighting (see photos). It accentuates the overall feeling of crappiness so that the flavors of the meal really pop.

Bon Appetit! Buen Provecho!



How Do You Spell Freedom?

9 Aug

B-I-C-Y-C-L-E

(Nishiki and Zephyr rest in the kitchen after a Sunday evening cruise to Chinese food and a fast, furious night mission flying through quaint neighborhoods. Yeah!)

Backstory: When I was a kid, I had a sweet pink Schwinn with a flowered banana seat. I didn’t really ride it except when we lived in a housing subdivision for like, six months.  Then we moved back to the country and it ended up rusty and neglected outside the garage beside the three trash cans.

Living in the country, there were no sidewalks. And riding over the crumbly uneven soil just sucked. Our house was on a big hill and my sister and I invented ways to use gravity to our advantage in things that had wheels. Mainly, an old rusted Radio Flyer wagon.  Bikes? Not top choice.

The one time I decided to ride down the hill on a bike?  **H-A-Z-A-R-D** Underneath the field of long, golden California grass…the ground was riddled with gopher holes and probably snake pits and who knows what other kind of wild animal dens.  Long story short?  I took off helter skelter planning on the ride of my life; fast and thrilling.

Turns out, the only thing fast and (not) thrilling was my tremendous triple flip dismount over the handlebars when the front tire caught up in probably like, a badger burrow or something. And I ejected, a failed circus act, straight off that little flowered banana seat.  The bruising and shame of it all pretty much squelched any further daredevil tendencies.


Flash Forward: Until now.  Now, not only am I deep, deep in bike love but I am also reunited with my inner accidental circus rebel.  And now I bring common sense to the ride as well.  There is nothing like flying on an old steel road bike.  Life is right in front of you!  Butterflies graze my helmet, sun shines directly on my skin.  I am one layer closer.

I mean, you drive a car and to randomly stop at a garage sale requires work.  You have to execute a three point turn (only three if you’re lucky), you have to find parking, get out, lock the doors…by  now you’re probably a block away and you walk. Ugh. Walking good. The rest of it? Drudgery!

Ride a bike, spot a yard sale, crash up over the curb into the driveway and voila! You’re shopping. And there are shortcuts.  That actually make traveling shorter. Shortcuts in cars?  Never really shortcuts. Cutting through parking lots in a car requires waiting for other cars, following arrows.  You’re performing complete stops, losing patience.  Blahblahblah. On a bike?  You’re in. You’re out. Blam! Just like that. And you’re still obeying the rules of the road. Yeah!

Anyhow, about the Chinese food outing?  Hilarious.  So, we attempt to lock our bikes to the street sign in front of the joint…only to be thwarted by the polite yet insistent hostess who tells us repeatedly in loud clear English (with a thick accent) that we must park our bikes across the street. Upwards of ten times, even as we are moving our bikesthe shouting continues. Pointing to the city ordinance painted on the curb, and then to the bike rack directly across from us, she offers help and then I swear I hear her say, I wait for your ass.


And she did wait. Right inside the glass doors. With a deep bow, she seats us by a window with a perfect view of the bikes and announces–loudly–You watch bikes, see? And points.

There they are. Awesome.

The menu? Plum wine…of course. Mushu vegetables. Almond cashew chicken. Steamed rice. Yum.

The ride home?  Dark, cold, fast. Awesome.





Bargain Grocery Outlet: Field Notes

3 Aug

It’s a parallel universe…a warp world. My first trip ever to Bargain Grocery Outlet. Thoroughly intrigued by my immediate sensory thrill (and slight overall discomfort), I suggest that we walk down every aisle even though we are there for just two items.

Our first encounter: a mildly cross eyed twenty-something male employee stands just beyond the sliding door entrance.

An older woman with salt and pepper hair pauses, just past the cross eyed guy. Her eyes locked on the shopping carts askew on “the outside”, she is thrown off course because we pass and momentarily obscure them from her vision.

She looks like a spooked horse. Arms straight down at her sides, she spreads her fingers to maximum webbing and rears her head back looking down at us, grimacing.  Had she been doing exactly the same thing on her back on the ground I would’ve been sure she was having a seizure and probably would’ve held her head for her if someone wasn’t already doing that. But since she was standing and ambulating? Not quite sure what to make of it.

The floral department: a miniscule rack of flowers dyed unnatural shades of turquoise, canary yellow, and fuschia like a second grade science experiment with food color and water in which the veins of celery and flowers are highlighted as they suck FD&C Red No. 2 and water from the vessel in which they are submerged.

Detergent aisle: overpowered with the scent of mothballs reminiscent of basement shops in Chinatown, all shops in Taiwan, and my grandmother’s closets. So many brilliant colors of sponges and convenience pack Jell-O. That’s what I notice. All the colors.

Produce: The vast crate of corn, 5/$1.00 and a trash can filled with husks. And shabby little sacks of wrinkly little fruits.

Endcaps: Bedecked with packs of totally nonsexual items…yet are easy to turn into juvenile jokes:  “Big Soft” cookies, “Stubby” tool sets.

Other endcaps: rows and cases of extra large portable varieties of cheap beers: Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon…all in bottle and can sizes you just don’t see in real life…unless they are lying empty next to a vagrant asleep in a park, on a sidewalk or in a doorway in San Francisco. Or, in a frat house…the morning after some strange ritual that requires  family size beer…yeah, you know, because hops are good for the wee ones.

Rows of canned goods: canned ham, spam, Willie’s Chili, or Willie’s Pork and Beans, Spaghetti and meatballs, hash, sardines…Okay, side note: this is a public “outing”…let it be known that my very own mother used to make spam hash. When I saw the stacked cans of Spam, I immediately tasted Ketchup and crispy fried potatoes. The Spam I don’t so much recall as it would be drowning in FD&C Red No. 2 Ketchup from back in the day.

And cookies: galletas, Mother’s, pink cream wafers…the ones that made me salivate as a child. The ones that leave a waxy fat film on the roof of your mouth and tongue. Interestingly, they did not carry the pastel frosted animal cookies with rainbow sprinkles. My childhood personal favorite. Did/does anyone else favor the pink pastel animal cookies because they “taste better”? Or is this just me?

Shortly thereafter: Cheap wine, candy, sodas, impulse buy trinkets.

At the registers: In front of us, an older woman dons hot pink leggings, a black lace dress, a matching pink lei and pink wide brimmed sunhat, wire rim glasses, hair in pigtails and glitter woven throughout the lace and tassels of her dress. She has a thick east coast accent. She snips and snaps at the children with her. I can’t tell if she’s Grandma or Ma. She squints hard at the screen bearing her order’s total and asks, what’s the damage?

Behind us: A younger woman who looks old. Her pale thighs are covered in dark, inky tats. They sprout out of short cutoff denim shorts. She broadcasts in a loud monotone to her toddler-something child: NO, YOU DON’T GET TO GET THAT BECAUSE YOUR BEHAVIOR WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH. IF YOUR BEHAVIOR ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH YOU DON’T GET TO GET PRIVILEGES. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!? YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT!!!

By this time it’s our turn to pay for our measly 3 pack of blue scrubby sponges and 4 pack of Angel Soft Bathroom Tissue, signs for both items boasting that elsewhere the products cost over $1.00 more. At a total of $4.58 we pay and scramble for the door. On the way out we are again face to face with the cross eyed employee, standing in about the same place. He watches us blankly. Or maybe he isn’t. Who can tell when eyeballs aren’t aligned? At any rate, he stands doing something with a pallet jack bearing produce…a vast crate of watermelons.

It is dusk.

will someone please get me OUT of food service? part II

27 Jul

okay. i am totally blessed in completely ungodlike, nonreligious ways. or so i think. how do i know?

condensed backstory: i believe that people believe in whatever higher power makes ideas of life and death safe and comfortable. and those beliefs don’t need to be tampered with by well meaning trespassers.

that said, i don’t join in prayer or say amen when people are praying around me nor does the opportunity arise. i don’t go to church. i moreso believe in the practice of yoga yet still don’t say namaste at the end of class. why. well, because the word translates, “i bow to you”. and i have my hands together like prayer in front of my  heart and i’m already bowing reverently. i’m doing it. why say it…redundant, you know? actions speak louder than words.

and yet, i still think i’m blessed:

three times in my life older, hip, successful, eclectic women have seen my potential, taken action and proposed offers i could not refuse. and to these women, i will forever be grateful. they epitomize the (ironically, biblical) story of teaching how to fish rather than handing out fish. they’ve afforded me opportunities with which i launch out of living or work situations from which my soul is being sucked…usually in its entirety into the vacuum of a parallel universe where parts of it are no doubt being dissected in a laboratory and tested on rats. buuuutttt…i need my soul here for now as i’ve things yet to accomplish.

so i’ve been grumbling for some time now about getting out of the grocery store. wanting to write and be published. employment is slim. i’ve applied for jobs i’m way overqualified for and haven‘t gotten them. like, dog walking. conversely, i’ve applied for jobs i’m a titch underqualified for and understandably haven’t gotten calls for those either.

so when this colorful woman i happen to be friends with from the coffee shop seeks me out at the grocery store while i’m working, hands me her card, offers me a job at her absolutely magical in-home preschool and then tells me that she and a friend are also brainstorming about another creative entrepreneurial venture (which i shall keep under wraps at the moment) and she’d like me to be in on it because I am “artistic and interesting” and she hates seeing me at the grocery store with the life being sucked out me…the freaking opportunity siren sounds and i know i’m blessed.

then when she tells me stories about traveling the world, sometimes with no money but it ends up okay because she’s innovative. and that she has only ever worked for someone else just once in her life but it has always worked out and she has always had plenty. she is following her heart. nurturing her life. she’s officially appealed to my inspired nomad writer heart and i know that being true to my talents and giving back with my actions is the only way i will thrive.

someone will get me out of food service…i think i am leaping off this hobo grocery train!!!

*[p.s. for those of you dying to know, the italiano will be out of the shop by friday!!! can’t wait.]