Monday, December 16, 2002

Revenge of the Jade Plant

My friend Carl read the jade plant story and thought I deserved a chance to redeem myself. So he bought me another jade plant:


He also told me to water it with a thimble, and I'd be safe.

Laura thought that was really sweet of him, so to keep the new plant safe she's not letting me touch it. She's seen my work before, so she's taken over the watering duties.

The soil looks awfully dry. I keep looking at it and thinking it needs water, but I'm trusting she's taking care of it. Maybe since it's in such a small pot, it needs water more frequently? I might have to sneak in with a thimble full of water some night and give it a little extra, just to make sure....

Thanks for the second chance, Carl & Joanna! Rest assured, Jade Plant: The Sequel is in good hands! Laura adds: Yeah -- Laura's!

Friday, December 06, 2002

Laura on tour, day 7: Thanksgiving leftovers

In addition to Scary Bachelor Food, my other dietary mainstay for the week has been leftovers from Thanksgiving. We had a really great Thanksgiving dinner--Laura made the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and yams, plus a pie, and our guests brought the rest. My contributions were baking cookies, baking cornbread for the stuffing, and cleaning the house. I also carried the TV downstairs and hooked up an antenna so Laura wouldn't miss the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Redskins/Cowboys game, both a sort of holiday tradition.

The turkey was perfect. The cornbread stuffing was great, too; I take full credit, since I baked the cornbread and left it sitting on the countertop to get stale. Laura's mashed potatoes are always good--they're serious comfort food for both of us--and they were extra good on Thanksgiving. Laura tried a new recipe for the yams. They were seriously yummy. The recipe was in Gourmet Magazine, I think the Thanksgiving 2000 issue. They were sliced in thin wedges instead of chunks, and were baked almost dry instead of in a pan full of sauce. They were sweet but still had a delicate yammy (yammish? yamlike?) flavor. Highly recommended. This dish might also be the perfect excuse to purchase some Teflon bakeware--it took me almost twenty minutes to clean the glass pan.

And did I mention that Laura makes the best pie anywhere, ever?

We violated the recent holiday tradition of offering all of your guests a pile of leftovers to take with them. So I had lots of turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing, plus half of Laura's amazing apple pie to last me the week. I'm being good and saving pie for Laura, but the yams passed their safe shelf life on Wednesday, and we didn't have much leftover stuffing to start with. But I'll still probably have turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes for the Cute Blonde Girl when she gets home.

Here are my helpful Thanksgiving leftover observations, based on my week's experience.
  • Gravy will separate in the fridge. Stir it first, or you'll get a spoonful of cold grease over your potatoes.
  • Our big plates won't fit in the microwave, oops. But they're otherwise fashionable.
  • Put the mashed potatoes on the plate and nuke them 'til they're barely warm before you put the rest of the food on; they get done a lot slower and need a head start.
  • The turkey and stuffing won't get dry in the microwave if you put the gravy on before you nuke it.
  • Saran wrap works lots better than waxed paper.
It took me all week to figure out this stuff, but I had it mastered by lunch today. So I'm writing it down so I won't have to experience the experimental meals next year.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Laura on tour, day 6: wedding registry.

Washing dishes today, I was thinking about a bit of Cute Blonde Couple lore, and thought I'd share.

All about-to-be-married couples have the same playbook that tells you what you have to do and when. Six months before? Make sure you've picked a dress and colors. Three months before? Mail the invitations. Two months before? Order the flowers. Week before? Order hookers and kegs for the groom's bachelor party. Day before? Panic because the dress shop dyed the bridesmaids' left shoes a different color than their right shoes. Et cetera, ad nauseam.

They're universal rules.

Thus it was that three months to the day before our wedding, we were at Pottery Barn preparing our wedding registry with, no kidding, three other couples getting married the same weekend as we were. We started talking with another couple, Russ and Aliyah (sory if I'm speling that rong!). Laura and Aliyah were picking out dishes. Actually, they had already chosen the dishes and were in the process of picking which six colors they wanted. An actual unretouched excerpt:

"I like the purple, but if we get the purple it'll clash with the pale green, so maybe the lavender with the pale green, but then the lavender won't go with the gold, so maybe the purple with the light blue and the gold, but then the maroon won't match...."

This went on for about half an hour, accompanied by much shuffling of dinnerware. After a few minutes of watching our ladies juggle plates, our eyes were starting to glaze. Our future wives noticed this, and we talked and decided that since we weren't planning on saying anything other than "Yes Dear" anyway, we might as well go shopping. We passed by another couple on the way out--she was doing the same thing with flatware that our fiancees were doing with plates. Laura told him he should join us, but his wife shot Laura a mean look and made him stay (another happy marriage in the making). So Russ and I hit Sharper Image (serious guy store) and The Gap and a few other places, and got back to Pottery Barn in time to help our ladies with the paperwork.

We also had fun registering at Target. Unlike Bed Bath & Beyond and Pottery Barn, Target gives you a portable UPC scanner. There's a certain degree of guyness in having a raygun in your hands. And it's so much simpler than writing down product numbers on an official-looking form. It's so easy that you start scanning all sorts of silly things--in addition to things like kitchenware and DVDs, we registered for vacuum cleaner bags, toothbrushes, Altoids, Pringles, and ketchup. Plus, I probably scanned Laura's butt two dozen times.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Laura on tour, day 5: Bad Loud Movies!

I love Laura. I really enjoy her company, and her presence in my life is precious to me like nothing else. But I try not to spend all of my time pining while she's gone. In fact, there are things I really enjoy that I just don't do when Laura's home. For instance, when Laura's at home, I don't generally watch
Bad Loud Movies!
because she doesn't enjoy them, and I respect her tastes, and I wouldn't force bad movies on anyone. But I really enjoy renting a movie while Laura's out of the house, whether on tour or just working late. You know; Steven Segal martial arts movies, movies with space creatures and demons, anything with the word "vampire" in the title. The worse, the better. This week, in honor of the release of Die Another Day, I'm watching James Bond movies. So far, it's been The Living Daylights, License to Kill, The World Is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Last time, it was Queen of the Damned and Resident Evil. That one had all kinds of badness warning signs: zombie movie, based on a video game, directed by the guy who brought us Mortal Kombat and Soldier, with a computer hologram in the preview actually uttering the line "You're all going to die." We're talking serious badness. But if you're in the mood for a zombie movie based on a video game, it's a good one.

Just for reference, here's a list of the recent movies I've either seen while Laura was gone, or are on my list to see soon:
  • Blood Moon
  • Jason X
  • Bound
  • Enemy At the Gates
  • The Cube
  • the last 3 direct-to-video Hellraiser movies (two of which were awful even by my lowered standards)
  • Hardware
  • Enter the Ninja
  • Pale Blood
  • The Hunger
  • The Howling
  • The Crow: City of Angels
  • The Addiction (vampire movie)
Of course, I have a new video vice now. While Laura and I don't have an antenna and therefore can't watch television, we do own some TV on DVD. We have the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the first season of Highlander: the Series. It's so much fun watching this stuff without commercials! And they're both series I saw a little of back when I had cable, but I didn't see much of them. I got rid of my TV sometime in the middle of Buffy's second season, and I've seen about half of the Highlander episodes in the first two seasons. So I'm not watching all reruns; I haven't seen a lot of the episodes. Laura and I are watching Highlander together like we watched Buffy. Once we see an episode together, it's fair game, but I don't want to watch the ones we haven't seen together yet unless she's here.

Personally, I'd like to get Star Trek: the Next Generation on DVD, but it's really expensive. Must be a marketing thing; they know Trekkers will part with as much cash as it takes. After all, you could own all of seasons 1 thru 5 for less than you paid for your authentic Borg costume. I'm also waiting for the DVD release of Police Squad the series, and maybe Forever Knight.

It's late and I'm rambling--good night!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Laura on tour, day 4: outside cats

I'm really tired tonight, so I'm just going to post some pictures of our Emergency Backup Cats that I don't think Laura's seen yet. The story goes, we named all of the outside cats Ginger, under the theory that if you give them individual names you'll be more likely to bring them in the house. Two of the Gingers disappeared, and these two are left. Laura cheated: she figured out that the blonde one was a girl so she called her Gingerette, and that got shortened to Etta. So our Gingers have individual names now--uh oh! But I don't think we'll be bringing them in anytime soon, since they scamper cutely away whenever we're around. We do feed them regularly, and give them treats (like kitty tuna) occasionally, and we even put a big box in our garage for them to sleep in, and lined it with blankets, and cut up a flea collar with the bedding to keep them somewhat flealess. We've got a few more cats that eat our food. There's Salem, who belongs to a family across the street and might be Koko's brother; Holmes, who belongs to the couple two doors down; an odd-looking alley cat that Laura calls Clyde and I call Mr. Ugly; and one or two random cats who just wander by and grab some free grub on occasion.

Here are our two EBCs, Ginger and Etta:
Here's Etta:

And, here's Ginger:
Cute, aren't they?
This just in: I managed to catch a picture of Clyde/Mr. Ugly on our back porch. Here it is:

Monday, December 02, 2002

Laura on tour, day 3: bachelor food

I'm thinking about food. Laura is a wonderful cook, and she enjoys cooking a lot. She really likes making fun, creative meals, and she's really good at it. She experiments, she plays, and the results are almost universally yummy and interesting. I'm really happy that she cooks so well and so often for us and makes such wonderful meals; I'm really grateful, and it's something I enjoy sharing with her. But when she's gone, I get to enjoy a pleasure from my pre-Laura days:

Bachelor Food!

I really enjoy eating poorly when Laura's not around. I couldn't do it all the time, but it's kinda fun and very easy and quick to eat bad food. For instance, my dinner Monday: Stouffer's Microwave Chipped Beef on Toast! My dinner Tuesday: cookies and coca-cola! And tonight I suspect it'll be coconut cake and coffee, but that's at a party and probably doesn't count.

Laura and I talk every night when she's gone, if possible. In the early, pre-marriage days, it was pretty routine for her to ask what I had for dinner; I really enjoyed having something really vile and bachelorish to tell her about. The dialogue went something like:
Laura: "What'd you have for dinner tonight?"
Jeff: "Beany-weenies and a Tang-wich! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!"
Appalling Laura with my diet just really amused me. I think I've outgrown this tendency, mostly, but I haven't outgrown the bachelor food. In fact, for reference, here are the meals I've eaten at home the last few nights Laura's been gone:
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, with a can of tuna mixed in
  • Pringles (that's all, just Pringles!)
  • Half a roll of refrigerator cookies
  • Everyone's perennial favorite: Ramen!
  • Reheated leftover Chinese food of indeterminate age (I think I got mild food poisoning from this)
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats
And, just so you know, I've got microwave burritos and Banquet pot pies in the fridge for the rest of the week.

This might sound a little silly: I was considering having Vigo Red Beans & Rice for dinner Monday, but I decided not to. That's what Laura and I eat sometimes when we don't feel like cooking but do feel like eating. It's quick and easy and good, and it sounded pretty appetizing Monday night. But I consider that to be a Cute Blonde Couple food, and it just sounds a lot less appealing eating it alone. I miss Laura a lot, and I'd feel bad eating Red Beans & Rice without her. We have our special meals, like dinner out at Marco's, or fondue at the Melting Pot where I proposed to her. With that in mind, I feel silly being romantic about Red Beans and Rice. But I'm still saving it for some night when she's back home.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Laura on tour, day 2: inside cats

Koko snuck out yesterday morning when we were carrying Laura's luggage out to the car. I was a little worried; I didn't even see him until tonight. But around 9pm he was just waiting on the back porch for me to let him in. I wonder if he could be an outside kitty some of the time. He seems to enjoy it, and I think he can handle himself. I'm a little anxious about him getting hit by a car in the alley, or any of the hundreds of other things that can happen to an animal outside, but I also feel a little overprotective keeping him in the house all the time. Chaka's a little different; she has a lot less experience outside, since she became an inside cat when she was just a few weeks old, and she has no front claws.

The first thing he did when he came back in the house was to hop up on my lap when I sat on the couch. He just curled up and fell asleep--he didn't even try to cover up what I was reading, which is a rarity for him. He must have had a hard kitty day. :-)

Chaka really enjoyed herself when he was out of the house. She was very affectionate and cuddly and wanted to get petted a lot. Not to psychoanalyze our cats, but I think she really enjoys being the only cat in the house, even if it's just for a short while. She can really relax, without having to be on guard against Koko pouncing her. I made sure I gave her a treat while he was gone, so she could actually finish it all without him nosing her out of the way. And I made sure I warned her that he was back in the house.

Ever since Koko figured out that Chaka doesn't have front claws, he's definitely been the one with the power in the relationship. He must have learned that on the street; the fact that I'm meaner and scrappier doesn't give me any leverage over Laura.