A few Saturdays ago, my little brother Matthew sent me a photo of a sheet of golden waffles lying on a cooling rack.
I love getting these random photos from my brother because they never need an explanation and he never offers one; instead, it’s just understood that I’ll get the meaning behind them because we know each other so well.
This photo was no exception. He’d sent it not to brag about what he’d made for breakfast, but because Matthew knew that I would know he’d made them with my dad’s old waffle iron, the one that was responsible for making nearly every Saturday morning a celebration growing up.
Last week, I disposed of a dead possum that my dog had been eating, which graduated me to the status of bona fide Kentucky girl. But 2020 wasn’t finished making my world collide with rodents. Instead, it was just getting started.
I realized this a few days ago when I saw mouse droppings under our kitchen sink. This had happened before, and I had dealt with it by getting my husband William to set a trap near the droppings. Then, with just a bit of an exhale, I would promptly call it a day and wait for a snap.
So, he did this for me again. And, again, I exhaled and considered the matter closed.
But the next morning, I saw I’d been gifted with more mouse droppings. And the culprits had taken something too: every last molecule of peanut butter my husband had used to entice them to the traps.
“So that’s how we’re playing it,” I said quite loudly, assuming the mice could hear and understand me. “We’ll see about that.”
It took 15 years, but I officially became a Kentucky girl last week. This was so deigned by my friend Candice, who is from a holler in Pike County, so I trust her judgment completely.
My graduation started at midnight last Wednesday. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time outside in our yard in the middle of the night on account of our poor little dog, Fitz, who’s been having some health problems that have resulted in potty issues.
So, when he didn’t come in when I called, I went out searching for him, afraid coyotes might be lurking around. I saw Fitz in the distance busying himself by our giant weeping willow. As I got closer, I discovered he was busy because he was eating something. Eating something big.
The other day, my friend Jessica posted a meme that said: “Why do I feel compelled to wave at the end of Zoom calls? I have literally never walked out of a meeting room waving.”
I responded I could relate to the meme, that I both wave at the beginning and end of Zooms, and I make that wave very waggy, with lots of wrist action, to indicate how approachable and friendly I am.
Jessica responded with this gem: “Oh yeah. It is never some ‘thank you for being here today’ queenly wave. It is like I am trying to wave down an ice cream truck.”
Whew. Is it me or is everyone in Kentucky at the beach?
I don’t know when this started and I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly my Facebook feed is positively packed with photos featuring salt water. So, I sit and stare at them, looking at everyone sporting swimsuits, knee-deep in wavy water, their cheeks sunburned, their smiles wide and toothy.
You know their day started with something fruity and blended. Then it progressed to making important decisions about which sunblock brand to use and which giant towel to dry off with. It ended with watching a peachy sun get swallowed into the ocean, exhaling pink and purple as it fell.
Thinking about this, I look around at my messy desk in my landlocked life and pet the giant lump of envy sitting beside me.
I stood over the Instant Pot Sunday biting my nails and then, for kicks, biting my nails some more. I leaned carefully forward and heard gurgling. Pigeon-like, I bobbed and weaved around the thing, looking from the float valve to the steam release to the On indicator. The timer was supposed to be counting down. The float valve was supposed to have risen. Nothing had happened but the gurgling.
Two things could happen in the next few minutes. I could discover that I had planted a steam bomb in our kitchen. Or I could discover that I was too dumb to use an Instant Pot.
Either prospect was terrifying.
“I have been trying to read and learn more from perspectives other than my own. People like me need to listen more and talk less when it comes to racism.”
So wrote Cindy Hood-Siegal on Facebook a few days ago. She then attached a link to a post whose first line is: “A quick roundup of things to say to Saltine Americans clutching their pearls over rioting and looting.”
I loved it. I loved it immediately because Cindy Hood-Siegal most definitely wears pearls. Or at least chunky statement pieces bought in the whitest boutiques in the South.
It was 2:34 a.m. I was standing in my yard with my dog on a leash. And while sweet Fitz took his nature break, I kept my eyes peeled for the big black bear that had been spotted near the subdivision earlier that day.
I, of course, had no plan if a bear did appear, other than to run like hell with my leashed dog. True, I did own the book How to Stay Alive in the Woods. But my husband read it years ago and, at the time, I thought: yeah, good enough.
So I stood there in my dew-soaked flip flops and oversized t-shirt. I became keenly aware of how much I can’t see in the dark.
I watched exactly one YouTube video about how to cut your husband’s hair before I started hacking and buzzing away on William’s head a few weeks ago.
It was a video by Tips for Clips titled, “My wife cut my hair!” It promised I, too, could accomplish the buzz, trim and “fade” and learn all of these techniques in just six small minutes.
So, I watched the video, which featured a very handsome Latin man with, by all measures, an incredible head of hair. His wife stood behind him with electric clippers and he walked her (and us) through the procedure, explaining what numbers to use on the clippers and when; how to avoid cutting an ear; and how to make everything blend together.
By the end of the video, he looked Ricky Martin fantastic.
My friend Rick Segal has been cooking for 58 days straight now. Every night, he posts photos of his and his wife Becca’s dinner and, with the exception of from-scratch pizza a few times and chicken and waffles twice, he hasn’t cooked the same meal more than once.
It’s resulted in an impressive collection of dishes, which I’ll list in case you’re looking for dinner ideas: slow-smoked ribs, London broil, Korean bulgogi, Cornish game hen, tacos, General Tso’s chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, veal piccata, grilled pork chops, burritos, red lentil curry, chicken pot pie, Thanksgiving dinner, lasagna, streetcart-style chicken, meatloaf, wonton soup, beef with broccoli, tomato soup and grilled cheese, and kung pao chicken.
One day he made knishes. On another, sticky buns for a late-night snack. And then there was the day he made bourbon-infused chocolate brownies topped with vanilla ice cream.
That was a good day. Even to just look at the pictures.