The Ghost of Walmart

My sailor and I went to the mall on the weekend. Normally I have to twist his toned and muscular arm to get him near any shopping venue, but he needed to get some man stuff–duct tape and batteries–so he suggested the trip.

As usual when we go shopping together, I ditched him as soon I arrived in my happy place (the mall!) It’s not that I don’t enjoy our time together–he lurks.

He follows me from shop to shop, silently observing. He’s doesn’t judge or try to control my spending (although he has been known to exclaim, “Seriously? Another purse? How many do you need?”)

Nothing takes the fun out of shopping like a lurker…nothing except being on strike.

The stores were buzzing with back to school sales and school supplies–they were everywhere! I don’t know who’s buying them as there’s still no word on when we’ll be back in class. I haven’t bought my boy’s because a stack of unused supplies in a corner collecting dust and dog hair will just depress me.

Since school supply shopping was out I drifted to the clothing and shoe stores. Big mistake! After a summer in swingy little dresses, I’m ready for cozy sweaters and socks and boots–I love me some black leather riding boots!

But not having an income changes the shopping dynamic profoundly. I was like a TV ghost–I could see the shopping action but couldn’t participate in it because I’m not in the zone with the people who get paid. It was so unsettling, I stayed away from mirrors, half afraid I wouldn’t see a reflection.

I’m luckier than many because I know we’ll have food in our tummies and a roof over our Chihuahua no matter how long this drags on.

I believe in what we’re striking for and I support my union.

I’m taking a huge financial hit to stand up for quality public education for ALL kids, not just mine.

That actually feels better than another new purse.

Bad News :(

They say all good things must come to an end, and it’s true.

I bought a new vacuum cleaner tonight.

It was time.

The area rug is luxuriant with a thick layer of Chihuahua hair. Ritz cracker crumbs add an unexpected crunchy texture to the trip from chesterfield to fridge. The dust bunnies are big enough to take out the Easter Bunny. And the cobwebs! They’re thick as Tarzan’s vines and they festoon every corner. (What are cobwebs, exactly?)

My sailor interrupted the dog rolling on the carpet, grinding some ancient Milk Bone crumbs into its woof and its weave.

“I think she’s happy the house finally smells like her.”

“Well, it’s her home, too,” I said, hoping to postpone the inevitable.

“I’ll stop at Walmart after work tomorrow and get a new vacuum.”

Sigh. “I’ll do it.”

I’ve never gone this long without vacuuming. (Please don’t do the math and figure out exactly how long it’s been.) My sailor, raised by a fastidious ER nurse and a retired Army Sergeant, has never gone half this long without vacuuming.

I’ve enjoyed being liberated from a machine that literally sucks, but all good things must come to an end.

Tonight I bought a new vacuum cleaner and tomorrow I’ll vacuum . . . or the next day.

Double Double, Toilet Trouble!

012My sailor isn’t the most handy guy around.

He puts on a good show, banging at things randomly with a hammer and making statements like, “If only I had a jigsaw, I’d install a bay window in the bedroom and build you a new coffee table.”

Although I’ve convinced him to leave electrical issues to professionals because of the danger of electrocution, everything else is fair game.

His last plumbing-related project resulted in the kitchen sink hanging off a couple of rusted bolts while we waited for a plumber who worked holidays to put things back together. (These DIY disasters always happen on weekends and holidays when the tradesmen make double time.)

So when the toilet became clogged last week, I suggested (nagged, really) that we call a plumber. Indoor plumbing is the one thing that separates us from the animals and I wasn’t prepared to risk ours.

My sailor insisted he was up to the job.

After an hour in the bathroom swearing like, well a sailor, he emerged to announce he didn’t have the necessary parts. He needed a toilet rebuilding kit. He’s obviously a better handy man than I am as I didn’t even know these kits existed, nevermind that you could get them at Walmart.

I won’t pretend things went smoothly afterward. There was more blue language and my sailor suffered several scrapes, a blood blister on his index finger and a mysterious gash on his head. (They’re not lying when they say head wounds bleed profusely.)

All the aggravation and minor injuries were worth it, though–my sailor successfuly rebuilt the toilet! We now enjoy gold standard flushes.

I just might get my bay window and new coffee table after all.

A BBQ in my Crock Pot

I’m not much of a meat eater, but my sailor, our boy and of course our little Mexican friend are all blood-thirsty carnivores. Pulled pork is a particular favourite with the boys (and the canine).

Pulled pork has become very popular and it’s usually my boy’s choice whenever we eat out. Although he’s a purist and prefers it in its classic form, mounded on a crusty roll, I’ve seen pulled pork eggs Benedict, chowder, pasta, soup, wraps… It seems the only thing this versatile meat dish can’t do is dessert.

When I saw small pork roasts on special recently, I decided to give it a try. I have a slow cooker, I’m fairly bright and the directions are pretty simple. Mix up the sauce, pour it over the meat, cook for eight hours and shred with two forks. How hard can it be?

Both the boy and the dog spent a good part of the day sniffing around the kitchen eagerly awaiting the appearance of slow cooked pulled pork. When it was shredded, it looked just like the product served at so many family restaurants.

“How is it?” I asked my boy as he dug into the meaty goodness.

“Not quite up to restaurant standards.” He took another bite and chewed thoughtfully. “There’s a sharp background flavour that shouldn’t be there, but it’s okay.”

D’oh–I knew I should have washed the pork before popping it in the crock pot. I bought a pre-seasoned roast at Walmart because they were on special. It was prettily covered in rosemary boughs, parsley flakes and all manner of other seasonings that have no business on pulled pork with its smoky faux Barbeque sauce.

Finally–Some Good News!

After going for a gentle afternoon jog, I popped a rice pudding in the oven before popping myself into a frothy bubble bath. As I scrubbed and exfoliated, the house slowly filled with a warm milky scent that brought back yummy childhood memories.

For those not following the saga of my quest for perfect rice pudding, this is attempt number three, and it worked! Well–almost. It was a little runny and I did lose some rice down the sink during the initial rinsing stage. (For some reason, this step remains challenging.) Oh, and the crust on top, delicate and wispy on my mom’s rice pudding, was dark and thick as roast turkey skin on mine. But progress is being made.

The cause of my (near) success: Italian Arborio rice! I had no idea they grew rice in “the hilly regions of northern Italy.” I thought it all came from Asia. My advice for anyone else looking for specialty ingredients like short grain rice: try an actual grocery store instead of the food aisle at Walmart.

Now that I’ve (sort of) mastered rice pudding, I may attempt another sweet favourite–creme brulee.

I think I have everything I need excpet a blow torch to burn the sugar on top and I KNOW I can get that at Walmart.