For the past few holiday seasons, I’ve been making the deliberate effort to start some new traditions. The sweetest of those takes place in a tent. Features a woman named Prue. And constantly makes me want to pack it all in and move to merrie olde England.
I’m speaking, of course, of The Great British Baking Show.
If you haven’t seen it, let me quickly fill you in on its concept. It’s a baking competition between a group of amateur bakers asked to make sometimes traditional, sometimes outrageous confections by judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. As with the case of Survivor, one baker gets eliminated at the end of every episode until just one remains standing.
When I saw a picture of the amaryllis bulb, as big as a pomegranate, as pale as parsnip, posted on Jon Carloftis’s Instagram feed, I knew I had to have it. To think that I could own the giant, splashy flowers that grew out of it, that I could watch them bloom year after year, at Christmas time, no less, was just too glorious to resist.
It would be for sale at Rockcastle River Trading Company’s Christmas Open House. And baby, that was terrific news indeed.
If you haven’t been to this charming gift store, complete with gorgeous gardens, you’re missing out. The writers of Southern Living have actually likened it to Eden, and it’s only about a 30-minute drive from Somerset.
“It is nostalgia. Everyone knew what that Old El Paso box meant.”
So said the ever-wise Jessica Crockett as we conducted a conversation about last night’s dinner.
I had had a hankering for tacos. But not el pastor tacos. Or lengua or chorizo. Heck, not even chicken. The truth is, I didn’t want today’s terrific tacos at all.
I wanted tacos from the ’80s.
You know, the ones with cheddar cheese. And iceberg lettuce. And taco seasoning poured from a pouch.
Last Thanksgiving, I conducted an experiment. After having made enough mashed potatoes and gravy to feed a not-very-small army, I decided I would test my limits. I would eat mashed potatoes and gravy every lunch and dinner until, a), we ran out, or, b), I got too sick of them to eat anymore.
Result? After seven days and 14 straight meals, we ran out potatoes.
Last week, I lost my daytimer.
That may not sound like a big deal, certainly not one deserving of its own paragraph, but I can assure you it-a was-a veray bigga deal to me. I even temporarily developed an Italian accent.
There are a few elements that made the experience especially disturbing.
- I am too stupid to graduate to electronic daytiming, so everything is written down in my old-school daytimer, including (and don’t tell anyone) all of my passwords.
- I was keenly aware of the last time I used it, which was only 16 hours before I couldn’t find it.
The event made me remember interesting behavior that surfaces when I’m looking for the lost. This thus (and yes, I’ve been waiting my whole life to place those two words beside each other) made me curious to know if you react in the same way.
Yesterday, I opened my inbox to discover I had 627 new messages. This was interesting to me, given that:
- I am not important.
- I am not popular.
- I don’t especially like to shop.
- And I am not overly interested. In general.
But, somehow, over the course of a year, my incoming mail has become an onslaught. And so, I find myself smack dab inside Unsubscribe Season, during which I scrutinize every email I receive and decide whether or not to breakup forever with its sender.
Well, folks, you’re looking at one big, fat hypocrite over here. I’m not proud of it, although, surprisingly, I’m not especially apologetic either.
Still, it seemed important to make that admission and to make it publicly. Because, at the end of the day, I know what I am. I’ve become something I’ve always felt pretty comfortable being critical of.
It started, as all good stories do, at T.J. Maxx last weekend.
The goal was to get home for Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend.
Standing in my way was a monster blizzard that seemed intent on sitting over Winnipeg, Manitoba, and blowing two feet of snow upon it.
But, sitting with my snuggling dogs in Kentucky the night before my trip, my flight still showed on time. My brother was flying in from Edmonton with his wife Jennie. My Tante Denise was flying in from Montreal. And my mom was excited, desperately excited, to have her family finally assembled together once again.
So, the next morning, I set out for Cincinnati. By then, the snow had been falling in Winnipeg for 24 hours. When I texted my Australian stepdad Peter how things were looking, his response was, “Quite shitty.”
I knew there was a problem when I heard the second yelp.
I had just come back from Lexington, and Tilly the Brave, our youngest Boston Terrier, had run gleefully outside along with Fitz. While they ran into the grass, I began carting the day’s purchases inside.
When I heard the first yelp, I figured Fitz had maybe bulldozed Tilly a little too hard while they were playing.
But when I heard the second yelp, I looked over and saw that my two dogs were spinning in circles. Tight, fast circles.
A few minutes ago, I found out that the three-course dinner I will be hosting Wednesday has grown to 30 attendees.
I was expecting 15.
Which was already a little ambitious.
And, for that matter: forks.
But, in this life, we all get adrenaline rushes in different ways. And I can tell you that cooking either for a lot of people and/or preparing a crazy number of courses is how I get myself amped up to supersonic level.