What’s for supper? Well, I’ll tell you.
First I must once again beg your pardon for how little I’ve been writing. Last time I said was going to tell you all about our exciting progress on fixing up Damien’s bob house office, and there has been exciting progress, but then he — well, essentially got fired for being too good, and then got a better job literally ten minutes later, and it’s been a whole thing. So that, too, was exciting.
But first the basement flooded repeatedly, and while that was going on, our only toilet absolutely disassembled itself, and we had to tear up the entire bathroom floor and replace it, and it turned out some of the wall was also no good and had to be removed, and that was a whole thing. We do have a working toilet again, but the sink is still in the yard, there are exposed wall joists, and I have set up an impossible situation for myself involving angled tiles and quarter round, and there are several distinct . . . shambles situations . . . .in the bathroom, kitchen, and dining room.
Here’s fateful screenshot I took of my calendar and happily posted on Facebook, rashly tempting the fates. A friend commented, “Just wait.” Hours later, the toilet went kablooey
But I didn’t want our last bit of summer to turn into nothing but stress and renovations, so we really pushed and, in between fixing stuff, went to see a drive-in movie (Jungle Cruise, or more properly, Jungle Crungle, on account of how highly crungly it was), and a concert, and of course everybody had to be driven to work and to their friend’s houses and hwhatnot, and Moe was in Our Town, right in Peterborough which the play is based on; but it got rained out, so then we went back a couple of days later, and then we went to the ocean, and while we were at the ocean, suddenly there came a lot of totally unpredictable work deadlines! No way of predicting this!
And I am supposed to be finalizing plans to have my parents’ house cleaned out and getting the kids to meet with the person who’s going to train them to work on a farm, and also talk to someone about vaccines, and do something about a scholarship situation I don’t really understand, and also teach two kids to drive before school starts. I don’t know when school starts. Not yet, I am guessing.
But other than that, I think I am all caught up! Except for the bathroom floor. And every time I go out, I keep lugging home roses on clearance, and free pallets to build a garbage enclosure and stuff, because there is a big part of me that still believes that, if I paint myself into a corner, I’ll get stuff done. And I’m usually right.
However, every time someone asks me where all the toothbrushes are, I keep saying, “On the treadmill,” and for some reason, I’m fine with that.
Also mostly fine with the hallway stacked up with large sections of bathroom wall plaster with salvageable tile stuck to it. You know, we were going to have a labor day party this year, but maybe not after all.
Consequentemente, I do not have a lot of innovative dinner recipes to share with you this week. When I look through my camera roll, it it showing me . . . other things. Not meals. Here are some things I thought it was worth documenting these last few weeks, instead of my dinner plate:
The dress I wore for a Zoom speech I gave for NFP week. Honest to God, people pay me to talk. I took this photo because I was happy to see I can zip up this dress again. I still have a ways to go, but yay me! This is especially impressive considering how much take-out food we’ve been resorting to these past few weeks. I blame the child tax credit advance thing.
Here’s board game I decided not to purchase at an antique store I browsed with Clara while killing time between confession and Mass.
A very specific bumper sticker that is apparently for sale, which I also did not buy, even though it is true
A rather handsome grasshopper. I guess I needed to step outside for a bit after the toilet went kablooey. I shall call him “Gawain.”
Oh yes, here is my murderboat. The geranium is doing well this year.
Oh look, we did have a yummy meal! Pulled pork, biscuits, and coleslaw. I remember this because the pulled pork was fantastic and I did not write down what went into it.
Good biscuits, too,
and here is the recipe:
Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.
- 6 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 450.
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.
Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.
With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.
Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
So the rundown of what we actually did in the bathroom is this:
Pulled up the flooring, underlayment, subfloor, and insulation, which was all wet.
Pulled out some wall tiles and drywall.
Removed toilet and vanity cabinet.
Removed some rotten wall studs and replaced them.
Sprayed moldy joists with concrobium and let it dry.
Put in some mysteriously missing heating ducts.
Put in new insulation.
Cut and installed new DryPly subfloor.
Cut but did not install hardieboard for wall.
Gave subfloor two coats of RedGard.
Installed new vinyl flooring.
Installed new, insulated toilet with rubber ring instead of wax.
There was a lot of lying on the floor with your nose in the sewer pipe, gouging away at wet plywood with a crowbar, and there were also various plumbing complications that I did not understand, that Damien dealt with. I’m not sharing photos because honestly it’s just exhausting to even look at.
We have some kind of bizarre plumbing situation because our well water is very cold, which makes the tank sweat, causing excessive condensation. And even though there is a window and a fan in the bathroom, the whole room is just very swampy. And we did have a catastrophic bathtub leak a while back that we were not able to deal with in a reasonable way, and honestly, our only real option is to set the house on fire, but that is a project for another day. Right now, we are aiming for a solid B- repair of the part of the floor that is visible if you don’t think about it too hard, and that is going to have to do.
It took days and days and days, and we absolutely 100% do not know what we are doing. As I mentioned, this is our only toilet, so we worked very strategically, and ended up dropping the kids off downtown with a wad of cash for many hours, instructing them to avail themselves of as many public bathrooms as possible while they could. Then we did the same thing the next day.
Changing pace, here is an actual good meal: Korean BBQ steaks, sautéed pepper and onion, and pineapple.
I used this Damn Delicious marinade and Damien grilled the steaks outside. Absolutely magnificent steak. The marinade has grated pear in it, and I can’t say I could taste it specifically, but that was some very good meat.
At one point, I suddenly couldn’t stand to ignore Corrie’s hair anymore,
and spent an hour and a half Doing Something About It
Here’s the dog at the library concert.
He does like John Philip Sousa, as who does not, but what he really likes is dragging his balls across the grass under the impression that he is technically still “down” while still sneaking over to go be with the kids playing in the sand pit.
I will spare you the next 46 pictures of the bathroom progress and Home Depot. I went to Home Depot so many times and I felt so sorry for myself. I also went to Aubuchon and Harbor Freight many times, and at one point straight up yelled at them because they are a hardware store that did not carry either buckets or shims, which is ridiculous.
In situations like this, people always suggest that they actually prefer visiting their local mom and pop hardware store, where the people are actually very friendly and knowledgeable and want to help. This is an excellent idea, and I would someday like to do the same. Our local hardware store is literally called “Mother’s Hardware” and it is literally closed. Like, always. Like there is probably some hour of some day when it is literally open, but I literally do not know when that might be, or how it stays in business. So off to fucking Home Depot I go, and I guess I’m what’s wrong with the world. Oh, the reason I needed a bucket was so we had something to poop in, which probably accounts for my mood. I did get to teach Corrie the womanly art of peeing in a Solo cup, which she thought was hilarious.
Lucy shaved her head, and why the heckamadoodle not
And we had. I knew this was a food blog, deep down. You can see it has sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, red onion, dry salami, thinly-sliced garlic, and freshly-shredded parmesan, wine vinegar and olive oil, and butterfly pasta.
Oh, and black olives.
Here is Benny’s shopping turn. She made some extra money by cleaning out the car, and spent most of it at the Dollar Tree
Here’s a picture I took of a chipmunk while I was waiting for Damien to finish running.
We went out of for a run together. I got all suited up, and I got my ibuprofen and my special anti-chafing stuff and my water and my special socks and everything, and we stretched, and we warmed up, and we took about two steps and I was like NOPE. So I went for a 1.5-mile walk, and then I went to go sit down and take fuzzy pictures of chipmunks while Damien ran.
Here’s a picture of Freud’s mother, in case you, too, were wondering
Here’s a diagram of the most unreasonable sink countertop in the world.
Those measurements are correct. I have been trying to find something, anything, to fit underneath it, so we can stop brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink. You will say, “Just go to IKEA!” but we do not have an IKEA and they do not ship to us, so shut up. Yes, I have considered just using industrial metal shelving as a stopgap. The toothbrushes are on the treadmill.
Here’s a game of Go Fish with ol’ Poker Face
Here’s the picture of Moe, who built the stage for and had a small part in Our Town with Gordon Clapp, who, if you recall, was Greg Medavoy in NYPD Blue.
I have never read or seen Our Town and honestly, I really hated it. It was very well done, but it made me feel terrible. I’ve been talking it over with Damien and there’s definitely more to it than I first realized (my first reaction was “Hallmark card nihilism”), but it still was not precisely what my spirit craved, what with all the dead people and agnosticism. I think there are probably people out there who need to be reminded that life is fleeting and there is meaning in transitory, ordinary moments, but I am not one of those people. I am all set.
[more Home Depot shots, redacted]
Here are a dozen Italian subs I made for the beach. They were just meat and cheese, but they were still pretty good.
I didn’t get very good pictures because there is something wrong with my phone battery.
We had a really nice time, a wonderful time. At one point, this dude refused to come out of the water when the lifeguard was blowing his whistle, so they had to call in a special lifeguard with a badge, and they threw him and his family off the beach. Never seen such a thing. Probably has a MOLON LABE bumper sticker.
At one point, we lost Corrie, but she immediately found a nice Hispanic grandmother who took her hand and kept her safe. At another point, we didn’t know where the middle girls were, and Benny said they were on the rocks, so we went to the rocks and were surprised and alarmed to find that Benny wasn’t there, so we went back to the blanket, where Benny was. I don’t know. We just don’t sleep anymore, and have become morons. At another point, I went down to the water to look for Corrie and I couldn’t find her, because I was looking for a little girl, and she is not; she is big. Then I felt so bad, I just about died. But it passed eventually.
We bobbed around in the waves, had fried dough and frozen lemonade, toddled around in the tide pools, played skee ball in the arcade, defended our food from the maniac seagulls, and left before anyone really melted down. On the way home, I guess someone hit a utility pole, and it fell across the road and lit on fire, so a two-hour ride was extended by forty minutes, and boyyyyyyy was I tired. When we got home, I cried and cried, and I don’t even know why. I mean, I guess I was tired. Oh, I am so tired. At least the shower was working.
Yeah, I guess that’s my problem with Our Town. You do not have to tell a mom that human love is about stuff like making twelve carefully-wrapped Italian sandwiches that will just get gobbled up and forgotten, and that’s where our immortality lies, because you want your kids to have gone to the ocean. We have already figured out that the ancient pyramids had more going on than the treasure records of kings. Who doesn’t know that? I already know how fleeting it is. I already know my little girl isn’t little. I already know it’s killing me. I’ve already learned how to live with it. I guess the whole “dead people have special knowledge that the living can’t possible comprehend” kind of pissed me off. You know who knows this stuff? Moms. Because we’re up making sandwiches at midnight. And dads know it too, because they’re lying on their ears hacking away at the toilet pipes. But moms are thinking about it. I don’t know. Anyway, I could have done without the play, and maybe if Thornton Wilder had made his own sandwich, he could have figured it out for himself without making everybody sit in the rain.
Here is a chipmunk from yesterday morning.
Yesterday I ran a mile and a half and couldn’t stop thinking about the cold leftover Mexican food I decided to get up and eat at midnight the previous night, and rather than do another lap, I was like, NOPE, and I went to sit down and take blurry photos of chipmunks while Damien finished running.
I didn’t even try to go running today. I haven’t even put a bra on. I’m just sitting here in stretchy clothes wondering who’s going to write the one more essay I have due this week. Who’s gonna fix my bathroom wall. Who’s gonna ride your wild horses. Who’s gonna tell Thornton Wilder to make his own damn sandwich.
And that’s what’s for supper this week. Today we’ll be having fish tacos and shrimp tacos. Yesterday I started reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the kids, just because there’s only so much “this is not how the summer was supposed to go” I can take. We got up to the part where he just picks up his head and rides away, and, not being made of stone, the kids are interested. So there.