Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An Open Letter to the Grocery Shoppers of America

Dear asshole:

I have spent the past ten years of my life coming up with guidelines that should help you with some Grocery Store problems that you seem to have. There are ten of them, like commandments. Think of them that way, since God will punish you if you break them.

1. The U-Scan lines usually have two options, "Fifteen Items or Less" or "Any Size Order." These are not interchangable. If you are unsure how many items you have in your cart - and let's face it, if you have a cart, you probably shouldn't be in the Fifteen Items line - just compare the number of items in your cart to the number of children you have. Multiply times two. I think you're over, lady.

2. PLU issues. We all know that 4088 is the PLU for red bell peppers. If your grocery store does not have the little printers in the produce department that print the labels out and you also have the memory of a chicken and cannot remember this four-digit number - despite your ability to remember your parole officer's home phone number - please do not get in the Express line.

3. Back to #2 for a second. If you are buying the Tomatoes on a Vine, get the Hell out of the Express line. The PLU for this product doesn't exist and you will cause a shutdown not seen since Dick Cheney wore Dr Scholl's Gellin' pads on a flight to Tehran.

4. There are many places to write a check. Like say to the electric company when the day it's due is the day before you get paid. That's the time to work the float, honey, not when you're in the Express Line. If you write a check in the Express Line, I am fairly sure that if you get run down in the parking lot by a silver Honda Element a few minutes later, it's at worst a misdemeanor. Totally worth it for the Element driver, I'm just saying.

5. I'd like to revisit #2 again. Baking potatoes and red potatoes are not the same. Don't act stupid and fuck the machine up. It can see you, you know.

6. If you smoke cigarettes, please do not get in the Express line. The lady behind the counter has to meander - and yes, that's what she does, meander - over to the Customer Service counter and remember exactly what kind of Merits you are after and chances are she will get it wrong, thus nullifying the concept of "Express" since five minutes will pass before you can continue buying your death sticks.

7. Beer. I have mixed feelings about this. Don't try and buy beer at the U-Scan lines; it slows things down because you have to show your probably fake ID to the sleepy U-Scan operator. You'll get away with it, but it does piss the rest of us in line off; we've shoved the beer down our pants and we hate you for not being so clever.

8. If you have crumpled money, you are too poor to check out in the Express Line. In fact, I think cash payments should be forbidden altogether. Run the card and leave! I have spent so much time behind a cash payer jamming their copper coins (I think they call them pennies) and crumpled bills ("Ones!") that by the time it was over, a Democrat was President again.

9. Back to #2. No exotic vegetables. I'm fairly sure if you say the word FENNEL to Crystal, the Express Line "operator," her head expodes and you actually have to wait for them to hire a new person to come and restart the "computer." Though I will say if you have fennel at your grocery store, it means the Gays have moved in and your property values just doubled.

10. Don't pick your shit up until the transaction is complete, despite your apparent addiction and compulsion to double-bag even a roll of paper towels. How dumb can you be that you don't get that it's a scale? And if you pick it up and get yelled at by Crystal, don't act bitchy...the surprise is YOU are the only person dumber than SHE is.

Other than that, please enjoy your shopping trip. Yuppie asshole.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm the one on the right

Me and a friend, from a family trip to the Northern California redwoods a few years ago. We stayed in Eureka and made little forays to Ferndale and Cape Mendocino and Humboldt Redwoods State Park and then up to the string of state and federal parcels that make up Redwood National Park. This photo was taken on the way home, in Willow Creek, a little town on this amazing scenic highway that connects to Redding. I have no amusing story to go along with it; I just like the picture.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hangtown Fry

Ever since my parents moved to within shouting distance of the Sierra foothills, I have been obsessed with a dish called "Hangtown Fry." The origins of the dish are somewhat mysterious, but the likeliest explanation is that some 49er who struck it rich barged into a saloon in Hangtown (now Placerville) and asked for the most expensive meal possible; in those days, oysters were carted in from the coast in barrels of seawater and eggs seem to have been fairly precious. The saloonkeeper came up with the Hangtown Fry: basically an omelet made with eggs, bacon and fried oysters. The cost back then was six dollars, an astronomical sum.

Anyway, on various visits west, I have attempted to have the Hangtown Fry. I even made Mom drive me to Placerville to have it, but the destination cafe was closed and we ended up having sad hamburgers in some lame lunch spot.

All these years later, I finally got around to trying it myself and here are the results. Since it's June and I'm inland, I used canned oysters.

First, fry three strips of bacon until just short of crispy. Set aside. Dip oysters in an egg/milk combo and then dredge in bread crumbs. Fry until just golden. Remove. Add bacon back to pan in parallel stripes. Put the equivalent of one egg on the bacon. Let set just a bit. Add fried oysters, then add two more eggs. Let set, then fold in half, like an omelet. Then cover and let steam for a minute or two. Then take a bite and cry. This is one great dish, people. JUST EAT IT.

And yes, that is a scorch mark on the edge of my counter, an unfortunate remnant from a mis-wokking.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You Read All These?

A friend asked via email the other day to show him what the office looked like now, so here's a bunch of that. All but one short wall of books are visible in the following pictures. You also get a good view of the infamous book-page chandelier (pages from Tess, since you're gonna ask) a friend made me, modelled after one Ingo Mauer designed. It's served its puprose, though, for years and is coming down in the near future, since I need a little more light in the room now that it's an office. Yes, those are Flor tiles; I recommend them, though those particular stripe-y ones are really hard to vacuum. You also get to see a little of the office chair. Lucky!

The books are organized alphabetically by author; Fiction first. Then Non. If an author has written both, the Non gets filed with the Fiction, as do biographies of authors.

I'm out of shelves, as is indicated by all those Great Books volumes my parents bought when I was a child jammed up there on the top. And like everyone with more than five books, I get the question "Did you read all these?" all the time. The answer of course is "no," though I lie all the time and say "of course!"

I try to keep the tchotchkes to a minimum, though there are a few pinecones from various travels, a couple of Adler pots and this lovely tableaux of Bigfoot posing in front of a vintage redwood postcard. It's one of my favorite things in the whole house.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rooms We Never Use

On the heels of OfficeChairGate last week, my eyes turned to the problematic living room. It's a hard room - there's the front door and fireplace and big window on one wall, a giant arch to the dining room on another, and a set of French doors to the patio on a third. There's one wall where the sofa can go, and we can't float it because there are no floor plugs, thus ruling out lamps on side tables because of the visible cords. (Five pets = no rugs, by the way). In the past, Sister Meg and I have had two different sofas in here, and for years we were resigned to the uncomfortable slip-covered sleeper. But with Sister Meg's new job, we once again have a source of decently-styled, inexpensive furniture. So voila, here is the new sofa, chocolate brown micro-fiber (spot-cleanable!). We don't ever sit in the living room, so it looks pretty all the time now.

And it looks incredible with the vintage chairs I had recovered a couple of years ago. That's a massively discounted Todd Oldham table I snagged from Overstock.com between the two chairs - it's a nice piece; I was surprised. Very well made. And even though we are on a NO RUGS regimen, I am going to make a narrow polyurethaned floorcloth runner to run between the sofa and chairs, something mod and low-key.

I'll throw in a pic of the dining room as well; it's a prettier room than shows in the pic. We're looking for brown and green striped curtains, and we'll hang them high, almost to the ceiling, to make the room taller. It's hard to find one SPECIFIC thing when you're looking for it.

The two Phillipe Starck clear chairs have always been a problem as well, though I like them in the living room now, paired with the Chinese Chippendale-style card table my Dad made years and years ago. I thought this scene would be another space we didn't use, but there is a wall-mounted TV opposite it and Sister Meg and I have had supper there a couple of times and even played Yahtzee one night. It's a thrilling life, here on Sunnymeade Drive.