Wednesday, December 29, 2004

December 24th:
My sister came over for breakfast and we reviewed our plan of attack for the day. Inevitably, we discovered the need to make a run to Fred Meyer for chocolate bark and this French Vanilla creamer that my mother can't live without.

The actual shopping experience wasn't so bad. It was crazy in the store, to be sure, but tolerable. Kristi picked up a bottle of juice, as her tummy was giving her trouble and she felt that a dose of something packed with goodness might help the stress vibes subside.

Back in the car and fully enveloped in gridlocked parking lot action, she took a big swig of her juice and then handed it back to me for a taste.

"Mmm, yeah, that's good."

"Totally. I've never tried this kind before. It's loaded with raspberries."

Then my mom chimed in: "Can I have a sip?"

"Sure," I said brightly, and handed it back to the front seat. She grabbed onto the bottle at the very top, where the lip and lid twist together. She was wearing gloves. She dropped the bottle. It hit the arm rest and the contents of the almost full bottle exploded over the leather interior of the car.

Kristi somehow managed to pull into a parking space, to the annoyance of other circling cars, and jumped out of the driver's seat. My arm was covered in juice and so I got out too, thinking that she had some paper towels or rags in her trunk. I caught a glimpse of her standing at the trunk, clutching a gym towel, soaking from shoulder to waist, her jacket shiny with sugary liquid.

"There is raspberry juice..." She started calmly enough. "In my ARMPIT!"

Mom opened the window and started apologizing repetitively. We could hear her saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," over the idling of many cars, trapped at a nearby intersection.

I laughed. I couldn't help it. And I think it was okay for me to laugh, as I had juice up my sleeve.

"Do you want to swing by your house and get another jacket?" I asked through fits of giggles.

"Why? It'll just happen again." She tossed the sticky towel in through the car window and mom started wiping up juice from the leather seats, floor, and ceiling.

But soon we were back to the relative quiet of my house, and we got stuff ready for fondue.

Chris never fondued before, and we were eager to show him just how fancy it could be.

The cheese sauce we chose to make, however, had a bit too much wine in it.

The steak that Kristi and I picked out was great though. We bought it at New Seasons, from a gray-haired man in the meat department wearing a hat that said "MEAT LEAD" on it. We loved him immediately. We bought bacon, steak, the aforementioned chub of beef, and chicken breasts to pound into chicken Kiev on Christmas. We had been a bit confused about how the chicken rolls would stay together and hold their delicious buttery packets and so we asked him his opinion on every step of our vaguely formed 'recipe.'

He squinted at us over the glass case, leaned towards us and said, not unkindly, "What, are you guys just going to wing this then, or what?" Did I mention that we loved him? He brought out some special chicken from "the trailer" and we walked away from the meat counter with over $50 worth of animal products. I felt evil.

But his steak recommendation was fantastic. It was, by far, the hit of the fondue party.

"Why don't we do this more often?" I asked the three of them, chewing up my 20th piece of steak

After we were done eating, I took out the trash and came back inside to be greeted by the greasiest, beefiest smell ever. It took four candles burning almost continuously for three days to knock the smell into the background. So that's why we don't have fondue more often. I mean, even the towels in the bathroom smelled like oily meat.

December 23rd:
My mother's flight arrived early. Who's flight arrives early? How do they take a shortcut? Anyway, I got to the airport right on time, and she walked up to my car, looking intense, and as I got out of the car, her eyes got wide and she took a step backwards into traffic.

"Mom, what is it?"

"Your hair. It's...purple. REALLY purple."

It's true. I have purple hair. I had told her this over the phone and even sent a picture to avoid exactly this scenario.

I sighed and chose to let it go, hauled her enormous suitcase into the back of my station sagon, and drove her back to my house.

I asked her what she thought she might want for dinner, hoping to hear the magic words "Taco Salad"(see previous entry for reference here) and she just looked at me.

"I'm not really hungry now," she said.

"No, but what about later? Isn't there anything you might want?" I was digging here, desperate for my prediction to come true.

"I can't think of anything."

"You have no suggestions whatsoever to help me in planning dinner?" I actually started to grip the couch cushion rather hard, needing vindication.

She leaned forward a bit and said, in a quiet voice, "No. Nothing."

I freaked. I jumped up off the couch and yelled, "YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE SOMETHING LIGHT AND EASY?! LIKE A TACO SALAD?!"

"I knew that's what you wanted me to say, but I didn't want to give you the satisfaction. I know I'm predictable. You don't have to make such a big deal about it."

She laughed and I laughed and we decided on Taco Salad for dinner, because, you know, it's light and easy. And we had purchased a chub of beef, now just sitting in our fridge.

Later, my sister came over after attending her annual work holiday party. As she walked in the front door, she mouthed to me, "I'm drunk." Fantastic.

It was low key, really, that first day. Mostly just sitting around, sipping tea, catching up.

I offered to help transform the futon in the living room to a bed, but mom just wanted to sleep on it like a couch. She got all tucked in and had her tea cup and her heating pad and her Iris Johansen mystery there with her, but as soon as she was horizontal, she was out like a light.

I puttered around in the kitchen for a few minutes and then put my pajamas on, washed my face, and went to bed. I turned off the space heater and the lights and got nestled under the covers. First day done. No incidents to speak of.

Then I heard it. A snorting, rooting sound coming from the living room. I sat up. It sounded like a javelina rummaging through an overturned trash can. I heard it again, but it was more pronounced. I put my feet on the floor.

"Your mom is snoring." Chris said from behind his Game Boy. He was propped up on our bed playing a strategy game.

"That's my mom? Good Lord. Should I turn the heater back on? That might drown out the sound."

"Um...yes, please."

And so the heater stayed on all night, everynight, to cover the sound of my mother, the javelina.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My mother is coming out to visit for the holiday season. My sister and I have mapped out flowchart of activities to cover our bases for that week, and if we don't deviate from it, I think we'll be okay. My copy is a page from a month calendar, with the week in question full of little jotted notes and a few scribbles on the back. Kristi's copy is the same, with the difference of a whole notebook dedicated to the details, like what we'll be making for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what board games are suitable for playing on what day. I know this sounds extreme. But it's the way it has to be.

My mom is predictable in the things she likes to do. She comes out to visit once a year, and inevitably we go through the same routine when she arrives.

1) I get the once over, like I'm a horse she's thinking of buying, and if there's anything drastic about my appearance(tattoos or, say, purple hair) that she hasn't seen yet, she'll tsk tsk.

2) We drop off her stuff at my house or my sister's, depending on where she's staying. Our living arrangements change so often that it's always a new landscape for my mom to sniff around and comment on. Like a dog going for a visit to a new place. She doesn't drink out of the toilet though. She does open cupboards. This time, I know she'll hone right in on the two pieces of Tupperware that just got stained last week by some tomato sauce. She'll pick them up and say, "This didn't have to happen. It's a shame, really. You know you can just spray some Pam in there before you put your leftovers in and it won't get discolored like this."

3) We'll talk about what to have for dinner. She'll say she doesn't want a big heavy meal. "How about we whip up something easy and light?" And here she'll pause and look contemplative, as if she's accessing a light and easy database, and then she'll say, "I know, how about taco salad?" and she'll head for the fridge to pull out the ground beef that she assumes is in there. After seven years of her first night request being taco salad, we have learned to have the ingredients on hand. But I don't want anyone to think that I'm the sort of person who keeps american cheese and a chub of ground beef in my fridge.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I normally receive 2 voicemails a week. Two nights ago I turned on my phone to see I had 8. Chris leaned over me on the bus and said, "Looks like someone really needs to get a hold of you."

Was he correct?

Call 1: my mother asking me to return her call so we could discuss the slippers she purchased for my sister as a christmas present. She bought two different pairs and needed my opinion on which would be best.

Call 2: my sister telling me that she just talked to our mom and that the conversation had left her angry because my mom requested that we all go to a lutheran church service on Christmas eve. I am informed that I am to figure that plan out myself.

Call 3: my ex husband telling me that he is planning on forging my signature on a check for an insurance refund and to not turn him in or send him to jail. Also our dog is life-threateningly sick and I should just call him to schedule time to see him soon.

Call 4: my boyfriend's father, calling to ask me what he should get Chris for Christmas.

Call 5: my college friend, informing me he will be in town the next day with his wife and do I want to hang out?

Call 6: my mother, again, telling me that the slipper thing is really important because she needs to get one pair or the other in the mail tomorrow and she'll call me back again if I don't call back soon.

Call 7: my sister, again, asking me to go out for drinks at a bar where a musician who happens to think I am bat shit crazy will be playing.

Call 8: my mother, again, telling me that it has been 25 minutes since she last called and that it is REALLY IMPORTANT for me to GET BACK TO HER ABOUT THE SLIPPERS ALREADY!

I'm thinking about having the phone shut off, I really am.