The plan was to make homemade ice cream, because
that's what we do when we get most of our family together. I am the resident
ice cream maker, keeper of the butterfat flame.
With the number of chow hounds we had on hand
(eleven), I would need to make two batches, so off I went to the store to buy
quarts of heavy whipping cream and half-and-half, and two tubs of salt. I was
embarrassed by my own cart contents as I waited at the checkout, especially
since I'm sure that the girl-child checker had no idea that anyone could
actually MAKE ice cream. The beer and tonic and lemons and limes and bags
of ice didn't improve my image any.
I was going to make blackberry ice cream, as our
tradition requires. No time to pick berries, however, or even to check to see
if there were any berries left on the vines. Peach? Fresh fuzzy Fay Elberta
peaches (some of the best peaches ever grown), but No, I wanted to try
something I hadn't ever made.
I tried to fly under the radar and make it
before anyone realized what I was doing, but I got caught.
"Cantaloupe ice cream?" my sister-in-law asked
politely. Yeah, I know; it sounds weird, but I've been dying to try it. I just
had to know if it was edible. And I don't really even like cantaloupe that
much. It has to be PERFECT for me to eat it, and then I can't
Well, Dad's garden has once again created the
never-ending melon supply, and no one seems to know what to do with all of them
(after you've eaten your fill, given away as much as people will take, and fed
some to the rabbits, anyway). So I thought
I'd try cantaloupe ice cream to use up some of the extra fruit, especially
since cantaloupe is reportedly Jerry's (of Ben and Jerry's fame) favorite ice
It froze nicely, but even though I had first pureed the
fruit pulp in the blender (B&J suggest mashing by hand) the ice cream still hand a
grainy texture. Oh well, only the immediate family will see my failure, and we
still have one batch of vanilla.
Except . . .
that we had a surprise visit from our cousins
after dinner (in honor of Bocci and family being in town), and it was time to
break out the ice cream.
"Cantaloupe," I said, and eyebrows went up.
Polite foot-shuffling. A cough.
"I promise you won't have to finish it or tell
me you like it," I added quickly. "It's an experiment. Besides, there's
Bocci worked me over pretty thoroughly for my
folly, gave me his own version of "over my dead body," and was given
vanilla. This unadventurous, wussy behavior from a chef -- a man who's
eaten snails, fer cryin' out loud. Dad was, of course, never going to be
offered any anyway.
Well, no one died, or woofed their cookies, and
most even claimed to like it. I liked it. Turns out I like cantaloupe ice
cream more than I like cantaloupe. Next time I'm adding coconut cream to see
what that's like. And Bocci, at least I didn't throw my food experiment out
the kitchen door like SOME OTHER PERSON I KNOW.
The 2007 Sweaty Car Odyssey is in the bag and
everyone came through it more or less whole.
Highlights of the trip:
It was 100 degrees just after lunch as we drove through Reno. It was
quite windy, with dark rain clouds. Chas saw lightning. There was a large dust
storm off to our left, and several dust devils to our right. We experienced
Reno's entire annual rainfall in a few minutes, which was approximately 347 fat
Fires closed highway 395 in Nevada. We heard it was open again
the next day, but we opted to jog over to I-95 instead. We went past the
world-famous bristlecone pines (the oldest living things on earth, other than
Bob Barker) without stopping.
Sparky, day one: "When does vacation get to be
No one barfed this time, though I came pretty
close. I think it was the lunch.
"Hmmmm, were your headlights on back
there? 'Cause you don't seem to have any tail lights."
arriving in Las Vegas: "Can we go home now?"
I nearly broke my middle
toe while trying to take a picture of Mantel Man with his "Happy 40th" diaper on
his head. In my haste to scoot my chair quickly to get the shot I forgot that I
was on large tiles, and the chair dumped me onto Chas's lap. Trying not to look
too buzzed I righted the chair and snapped the picture, only realizing at that
moment that I had put the chair down onto my own toe while still seated. This is
the picture -- was it worth it?
Bocci made two days-worth of sangria. I thought
I didn't like sangria, but I know now how wrong I was. The two days-worth
lasted about a day and a half.
Photo by Mantel Man
No moonings to report . . . this
Sparky: "Does anybody smell
that yucky smell in this car?" [SILENCE WHILE WE PONDERED THIS] "Well, it WASN'T
Arriving in San Clemente at Chas's mom's house, the girls were
delighted to see Uncle Mike's pickup in front. "He must have come by to feed the
cat," we thought, because Mike was feeding Chas's mom's cat while she and Bob
were on vacation in Europe. Chas and Smedley went right in, and I stayed behind
with Sparky, who had seen the rabbits nibbling the flower garden. Watching the
rabbits intently, I became aware through my peripheral vision that the front
door had opened, but when I turned my head I couldn't get my brain around the
sight: Chas's mom and Bob were standing in the doorway, clearly NOT in Europe.
Big problems with their trip which I won't go into, but suffice to say it was
their loss but our gain because we got to see them this vacation.
We went to the beach twice while in S.C., and
the girls had breakthrough water experiences. Daddy was right there with each
of them, in shallow water, and there were lifeguards everywhere, but I still
could have used a sedative as I pictured a wave knocking my child down and
dragging her under. It's best to let Daddy handle these things; I'm too
neurotic. How my own mother ever survived her kids' swimming all day, every day
as we grew up, I'll never know.
We had lunch at The Fisherman's on the pier as we often do. I think I like that part better than the beach, even.
The girls made the whole trip -- 1580 miles --
with a small bag each of little tiny dolls, one stuffed animal apiece, and a
stack of books. Very little arguing or fighting, surprisingly little whining,
even, considering their typical whinefests. They are real
Many, many thanks to all of the people who fed,
housed, and entertained us on our trip. Another successful S.C.O. for the
This is weird. Google has a site which
translates blogs to other languages, apparently, and someone used it to
translate a page of my blog into French. Now, I don't know anyone in France, as
far as I know, so I'm baffled. Especially since what I write is of so little
But, bless 'em, I'm happy they stopped by. Hope
you had a happy Bastille Day, whoever you are!
My favorite part is reading the names of
the music I've been listening to. Who knew that this --
-- Herbe Alpert et le laiton de Tijuana: Crème fouttée et d'autres
is how you say "Spanish
Flea -- Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass -- Whipped Cream and Other Pleasures" (quarantième édition d'anniversaire,
of course)? The French can make anything sound beautiful, noble, sexy, or
delicious, but it takes so darned long that they need many naps and seven course
meals to get through.
We got back from our trip Friday night, but I've been cleaning, doing laundry, obsessing, zoning out, and going a hundred miles an hour at work, playing catch-up. Until . . .
Until something stops me, like an e-mail from my friend Anthony, and then all my pent-up brainstorms come rushing out. That very thing happened yesterday, when Anthony e-mailed me a skeptical, sarcastic and funny comment about the whole global warming industry. Just for something different, this is my e-mail response, written in about four minutes (and feel free to pelt me with tomatoes if you don't agree):
. . . the shrill "it is because it is" circular reasoning has hit a fever pitch and is just getting louder. Radio ads and PSAs and event promos cite global warming as a confirmed reality, a given not worthy of questioning. Here's our premise, THEREFORE here's what MUST be done.
I'm not denying global warming, I just question the validity of the thinking that humans are having much (or even anything) to do with it. Hey, all the steps individuals may take to reduce their "carbon footprints" (groan -- it's the newest PC speak and it makes my head hurt) are probably good ideas, and I'm not against most of them (except those stupid light bulbs). But I think the mass hysteria we're experiencing is akin to Chicken Little and The Sky Is Falling Band.
My prediction is that Al Gore peaked too early, however, given our culture's notoriously short attention span for anything that isn't sparkly and shiny. They'll soon tire of his drone and we can get back to our enormous fossil fuel consumption without so much as a pang of guilt.
Bet you didn't see THIS rant coming. I'm enormously busy and mentally wiped out, so this rushed out of me like a dam breaking. Sorry.
Who was the marketing genius
who decided that cats crave beef? I remember some comedian several years ago --
I forget who -- who riffed on this idea, saying sarcastically how he often saw
his cat bring down a Holstein.
There's actually a hoity-toity brand in
stores -- probably not the stores I shop -- selling poached salmon-en-papillote-flavored canned food for
those oh-so-discriminating cats.
Do these people actually HAVE cats?
Have they ever spent any time with one? Because if they did, they'd know what
makes cats do the freaky dance.
In the grand tradition of high summer Sweaty Car Odysseys, we are leaving town tomorrow in search of somewhere hotter. Seems that 109F just isn't cutting it for us, and we NEED MORE HEAT.
The hottest place we can go that doesn't require a passport (sorry, Panama; sorry, Congo) is Las Vegas. We considered Death Valley, but there's not enough concrete there to get the full heat island effect. So, Bocci's house, HERE WE COME. Hope he has plenty of low-brow snacks and a few space heaters.
I will be back behind the wheel of this terrible blog machine in about a week. With any luck, there will be no lurid stories to tell you, but this is my life, so I'm betting there will be. At least a few moonings to report, undoubtedly.
Listening closely to children at play can be eye-opening, embarrassing (for what they've picked up from YOU), and touching. Most of the time, however, it's just hilarious. I think perhaps the writers of daytime TV dramas are actually 4-6 years old.
The following snippets of role-play are from the girls' Barbie At The Littlest Pet Shop sessions, and were taken down verbatim, while they weren't paying any attention to Mommy.
Smedley: "They have to be on top of each other. Sometimes emergencies call for that. It's silly, but . . ."
Smedley: "Help! Help! A fire! We need to sit on you! Okay, you can take our picture."
Smedley: "I got shipwrecked in my sailor dress. It sticks out my nipples."
Smedley: "There is one place where you can stay forever: "The Chest of Hope."
Sparky: "Skateboardy is a girl. A girl baby skateboarder. I would like to show you where Skateboardy is."
Smedley: "Pretend Skateboardy was sick, so she gives her stuff to Kitty, to take back to the store. 'Can I give the stuff to you to take back, before I get buyed?'"
Sparky: "Oh, I gotta go to the hospital! I've got allergies!"
Smedley: "I was playing there so I could get a sticker from the hospital."
Sparky: "Pretend no one helps her, so she falls in the water. And she's stuck on a big rock, and she doesn't know where she is."
Saturday night I had a near-death experience
when I put the most foul, most awful, most repulsive substance ever conceived
into my mouth. While driving. And I had no place to spit it out.
10:30 at night, while driving home from Chico
where I returned my friend Cheryl and her daughters to Grandma's house, I got
the bright idea to try a new-to-me candy in my purse. I had been given two of
these candies by The Nicest Man In The World, to give to my daughters. (He
loves kids, owns a convenience store, and often gives the girls lollipops. Now
stop thinking nasty thoughts, you.) The
candies in question were Mexican candies, so I knew better than to let the kids
pop them into their mouths unless I had tried the candy first. But who would be
So, zipping along the canal road in the dark, I
dug through my purse for six minutes until I found that stupid candy. Popped
one into my mouth. Chewed.
Bad idea. INSTANTLY knew it was a bad idea. I
couldn't have known what was in the thing because it was too dark to read the
wrapper, but later I learned that the hatefulness came from tamarind flavor.
The wrapper describes it thus:
"Caramelo con relleno sabor tamarindo," which
translates "tamarind-flavored caramel candy with chili." Mmmmmm,
I think I could get them for false advertising.
Maybe I could supply an alternate product description for them:
"Tastes like foot odor, if foot odor had a
taste, with liberal doses of aspirin and vomit."
So there I was, driving along wondering exactly
how long it would take to wolf that puppy down, and would the taste linger in
the crevices of my teeth until I could scrub the hell out of my mouth with
a Colgate-loaded toothbrush? I stopped to take note of my body during the
jaws: chewing like my life depending on
fingers: locked in white-knuckle death grips
around my steering wheel
shoulders: hunched as if expecting body
face: contorted in other-worldly grimace of
How would I have explained it to the sheriff had
I been pulled over for speeding and/or weaving? Probably by foaming at the
mouth, spitting while he held my hair back, and gasping, "Rellerindos!
Rellerindos!" I think I would have walked.