Tag Archives: nostalgia

A Roasted Chicken Kinda Day

Some days — grey-sky, nothin’-doin’ kinda Sundays (or stat Mondays) — are made for puttering around the home, listening to some podcasts, cleaning, cooking. And those are the days made for roasting chicken. Thank you, cosmos.

Got me a fatty of a bird I’m gonna roast up soon. Tuck some sundried tomato & basil butter under the skin, roast it on a bed of celery, carrots, leek, and all kinda onions. Puree most of ‘em after for the most veggie-licious gravy ever. That, a little stock, some pretentious jelly for flavour. Boom. So good.

I will miss days like this when I’m abroad, but I know I’ll also do an amazing job of making a “new version” of this. I picture myself on a rainstormy day finding a way to make comfort food that smacks of home. I’m bringing maple syrup with me, bitches. The Quebec stuff. Real deal. Oh, yeah.

Food is an emotional thing. Just like roasted chicken, things like Yorkshire pudding evoke my childhood. Pouding chomeur takes me right back to being 8 and standing on a chair to look in the oven at the carmelly-mapley Quebecois version of a sticky toffee pudding baking on Sunday nights.

I can’t buy that memory anywhere else. Same thing with the roasted chickens, stews, breads, all those smells I remember from my childhood kitchen. My mom and dad weren’t the BEST cooks, but they sure put their effort into it and we ate pretty well. And all the muffins you could dream of.

Here’s a story for you. Best.

We went away for a day when we were kids, only to come home and find a ladder against the left-open living room window. The grand theft item? Muffins my mom had made. A couple of the neighbour kids came in, helped themselves. Couple glasses used for milk left on the counter was the big evidence. AHA! My first Sherlockian encounter.

It was the neighbours in the kitchen with a butter knife!

Chicken with all the fats.

Chicken with all the fats.

T & D, trouble-making brothers up the block, were sent over to meekly apologize. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went home with muffins in-hand post-apology too. It was that kind of a neighbourhood.

I’m hoping I luck into reasonably well-stocked kitchens. I’m tempted to bring a silicone muffin tin with me on my travels. (I already have the meat thermometer I’m bringing!) I mean, muffins are serious and there ain’t a storebought muffin in the world I think holds up to a solid home-baked one. Emotional food, indeed.

That will be one of the great aspects to my travels, for me anyhow, is that I want to learn how to do all the cookin’ of what I’m eatin’. I want to be pushy and friendly and get myself invited to family get-togethers. How cool would that be? Politely elbow my way into the kitchen. Watch how it gets done.

And I will just die if I get to go to those big meat-a-paloozas. Grill pits, underground fire pits, brick ovens, over an open flame. Whatever, man. If it involves primal meat cooking in the great outdoors, I will find a way to get there. I will need to connect with serious foodies in every town and not take no for an answer.

I can do this!

But for now, I’m capping this grey day with a roasted bird. It’ll be nice salads and other treats, all week. I’m enjoying cooking these days.

Enjoy the home pleasures while I can, right?

By the way, I’ve got the domain reserved for what will be my travel blog. You can go ahead and bookmark it, and it’ll take you here in the maintime. It’s called The Full Nomad.

“Going full nomad” is gonna be a “thing.” Mark my words!

I love lucy

Remembering Funny

I’m catching my breath after the two-part Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode with Tallulah Bankhead. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

It was the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth this weekend, teaching me something I previously didn’t know — my mother died on Lucille Ball’s birthday. Kind of weird. Mom loved Lucy.

The top three shows for my mother — I Love Lucy, Columbo, and the Carol Burnett Show. All three were funny as hell, I thought. Peter Falk really had great comedic timing in a subtle way.

So, Saturday was the 12th anniversary of Mom’s death. People tell you that loss never really stops. Well, it doesn’t. The hurt kind of even hurts more now, sometimes, because I realize now how long forever really seems to be. It was a different kind of hurt this weekend, since I’ve been down with a cold and stuck watching re-runs half a century old on a hot August weekend.

I don’t remember if my mother was very funny. I don’t think she was. Just the average kind of funny. She sure knew what funny was, though. I grew up with I Love Lucy, Carol Burnett, the Apple Dumpling Gang, and classic slapstick kind of humour like that. Dad introduced us to Porky’s and Porky’s Revenge, so, you know, we got a little balance there. Both Dad and Mom were fans of MASH and Three’s Company, too.

All the other little kids at Catholic school were shocked we were watching that sin-filled Three’s Company. “They live together! There’s s-e-x!”

Still, I don’t think we were a particularly funny household. There weren’t miles and miles of laughs, ever. We weren’t unfunny, either. I think we laughed enough, that’s for sure.

I remember being distinctly unfunny, myself. I couldn’t tell a joke to save my life before the age of 10. I was funny just “being myself,” since I’ve always been an odd one.

My brother, he was a laugh riot sometimes. He’s still very funny but we have differing opinions on some of his methods, since I can find him really irritating… which is fitting, since he’s my big brother.

As a kid, though, I thought he was hysterical. If he wanted a laugh, he got it. He seldom blew the joke’s punchline.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make people laugh much until I got older, into my mid-to-late teens. As a kid, most of my jokes involved me flubbing the timing, blowing the punchline, and receiving a split-second blank stares then confused guffaws. Or, just a swat from my brother, since siblings are allowed to be jerks.

Being funny, that was important to me. It was a life goal. I couldn’t imagine living life without being FUNNY.

Then… I introduced my brother to Saturday Night Live. I was 11.

I remember it being fall of 1984, I’d just turned 11, and I was sleeping on the sofa, sick, while my parents entertained friends. I woke up after a few hours sleep, turned on the television, and am surprised now that I didn’t hear a choir of angels harmonizing as I discovered something that just blew my mind: Saturday Night Live.

As Billy Crystal would have said, it loohked mahvellous. Eddie Murphy was Buckwheat, wookin’ pa nub.

In the next couple years, I’d be getting into SNL and Second City TV and Johnny Carson. And, oh, The Blues Brothers. It was a crash course in Funny. by 14 I was getting my comedic cues from John Hughes movies, too.

Throughout it all Lucille Ball was a constant, so was Carol Burnett. I knew I’d never be slapstick kind of funny the redhead queens mastered, but I wanted to make people laugh.

These days, it’s still something I love to do. If I make a stranger laugh during the day, it’s great. If someone can’t breathe because my timing’s so good when telling a funny story and they’re laughin’ so hard, I’m on top of the world. I don’t look like I’m elated about it, I always have that sorta-surly Irish-girl look, but I’m secretly on top of the world when I get a good laugh.

Once upon a time, I had a nightmare. It was when I was 19, and I was becoming “in with the out crowd” and getting lots of friends, not a lot of whom I could call “close,” but who typically wanted to invite me to parties ‘cos I’d be interesting. So, the nightmare hit one day and I had it a couple times. It went like this:

I’m driving down a treacherous seaside highway in my hatchback, a bunch of friends in different cars behind me, as I lead the pack and our caravan weaves down the coast.

Suddenly, my car careens and I shoot through the embankment, off the road, over the cliff, plunging hundreds of feet to the rocky coast below — my car exploding into a fiery inferno, and me most certainly as dead as can be.

Smash-cut to the top of the cliff where a dozen or more “friends” all stand peering down in not-so-much-abject-horror as “dude, what a bummer” kind of faces.

One friend goes, “Wow. That really sucks.”

Another goes, “Yeah. She was funny.”

It was one of those moments of clarity when I realized I should be careful what I’m wishing for, because “being funny” is a pretty short list of what one should offer. I tried to be more, and began to collect friends who wanted me to be more than just funny, who didn’t see me as interesting filler for the guest list, who saw me as insightful or as having something more to say in life than just the next gag.

So, this weekend, I’d sort of spent time remembering my comedic roots and sometimes thinking of Mom too. No, she wasn’t “funny,” but she was well-rounded and certainly enjoyed laughing. I think she and my dad must have laughed a lot in the early days, to spawn such amusing kids.

I’m glad I was raised with a mix of genres around me — comedy, film, music, theatre, and big fun parties thrown at home. I’m glad I had parents who entertained a lot, because once in a blue moon I did manage to say something amusing, and having a whole room of adults laughing was a gift. Look at me, I’m a funny kid. Don’t you wish your kid was this funny?

In the middle of all these remembrances is a big gaping hole. My mother died at a time I was really seeing her as human — flawed and all — and when I was beginning to teach HER a lot about living life. I wish there could have been more of a full-circle event between us, but that’s cancer for you. It doesn’t tend to take rainchecks. I’m glad she found me funny and enjoyed that about me when she got sick. I’m glad we found the same things funny then, too.

I may be motherless now, but I’ve got some 30+ episodes of I Love Lucy on my PVR, and somehow it’s like I’m back in my childhood. Pretty awash in memories these days.

I’ll worry about Being Funny tomorrow.

Yesterday or Yesteryear?

It’s all strange.

I’m slowly trying to get a life again after taking myself out of the equation for years. Looking for people more up than down, more smart than dumb, more communicative than un, more unmarried than married.

That part’s working, it’s fun, but it’s a strange ride, especially since everyone I’ve been meeting is 34 and younger. Even if I am young-at-heart, I tell ya. These “kids” think, “Well, it’s only 10 years.” Yeah. And 220,000 hours. Just shy of 14 billion potentially life-altering anything-can-happen seconds. I’ve changed so much this WINTER, let alone the last decade. Age isn’t just a number, it’s an entity. It’s just not a be-all end-all, but it can’t just be dismissed. That said, I like youth. I’m just bridging some mental gaps, is all. Continue reading

Brought To You In Part By: The Soundtrack of Your Life

I’ve been getting immersed in music for the first time in a long time.

I’ve always gone against type in that I’m neither a film girl, a music girl, nor a book girl, but a hodge-podge of the three. Love ’em all. Expert in none of them, but I’m sure as hell well-versed in them all.

My project of late has been copying my music to my hard drive. Fuck, I was the first person I knew who was using Napster, but I’m the last person I know to copy her music to her hard drive. Jesus.

But I’m about 80% done. Some 15 gigs has been amassed so far, and there’s about 60 CDs remaining, then I’m done. I think I’ve got about 400 or so, so this has taken 2 weeks. Every now and then I come across a CD I have to listen to immediately. A song on it reminds me of a long-gone lover, or a good time someplace, or enduring some hardship.

Gin Blossoms: Waiting for Northern Lights in sleeping bags under the stars on the Midnight Dome in Dawson City, Yukon, with Chris and T.
Love & Rockets: The weekend I was introduced to bondage. Heh, heh.
Depeche Mode: Lots of dirty sex over the years. How to pick any one moment?
Econoline Crush: Watching a couple having sex at a gig with GayBoy.
Cake: Listening to their rehearsal in a club above us, on some street in Sacramento, Cali at 4am, with a guy from Germany who’d later pay a visit in Vancouver. ‘Nuff said.
Lemonheads/RHCP: Party weekends at Mt. Baker with the gang of old, when I realized exactly whose approval I did not need.
Santana: Playing in the background as a strange woman on San Fran’s Haight Street beckoned me in for the strangest fortune I’ve ever been told.
The Doors & The Tragically Hip: Many roads, many places — many, many, many.
Moby: Figuring out life on the shores of Oregon both before & after my mother passed away.
U2 & George Michael: Everything. 25 years of being there through every time in my life.

Music, for better or for worse, can have the effect of tattooing a time and a place in our memory for forever. I can’t tell you in words, really, about what happened in many of the stranger and most memorable incidents in my life, but I can probably tell you what was playing.

It’s amazing, the power music has to ground us in a time and place.

I know I’m not alone in having the post-30 “Why did I stop listening to new music?” quandary. Life just got hard and I didn’t have the time to indulge myself, I guess.

I’m going through CD after CD, remembering how I got it, when I got it, and what life was like. I’m remembering what emotional hole that music filled, and for how long. It’s bringing a wave of my existence washing back over me. And not in a bad way, either.

I’m finally getting some of my house together and my life’s sorting itself out nicely, in every single way, so subjecting myself to this hardcore total-immersion flashback of my life’s actually a very rewarding experience at exactly the right time in my life. I don’t think I consciously knew what effect all this would have on me, but the mind works in mysterious ways, and my timing was perfect.

For the first time in a long time, I’m feeling a lot happier about being this girl in this skin, and I take great pride in having all these flashbacks of the winding places my life has taken me over the years.

It’s funny. I know a few people who are fortunate to have lived the travelled-everywhere lifestyle, something I always thought I’d have. I’ve always been a little angry that it has yet to really come to pass aside from all the awesome roadtrips I took with my old car, but this spring, just in the last two months, I’ve come to understand two things:

One, I have the home all those travelled-everywhere people are jealous they’ve never been able to have since they made their choice to travel, and it’s the home I would have longed for had I been travelling everywhere. Two, life dealt me a whole bunch of cards I could never have foreseen being played, and I had to play the hand I was dealt.

So, I’ve suddenly realized: The life I’ve lived, I’ve done the best I could have, with what I’ve had… and I’ve got some pretty fucking great stories to last a lifetime. You have no idea.

And I guess it’s easy to forget, sometimes, just how much we’ve endured, how far we’ve gone. But then something like music comes along and trips all the memories of old. I’ve been walking through so much of my life by way of music these past two weeks that I’m just blown away by how wildly deviated my path in my life became from who I thought I’d be when I was knocking on the door of age 35.

But I fuckin’ love it now that I’m looking back. Wow. What a strange and twisted road it has been, and I’m sure there’s long stretches I’d wave off and say “no thanks” if offered a chance to do it over, but I’m thrilled I did it once.

Isn’t it like what you tell a kid after a close-but-lost ball game?

“Didja have fun?”
– Yeah.
“Did you do your best?”
Yeah.
“Didja learn anything?”
Yeah.
“Well, there you go. That’s the point of playing. Good job.”

It’s funny what winds up bringing epiphanies upon us. Here, I thought I was just pumping up my iTunes collection. Instead, I’m reaffirming my entire existence and realizing that, while my life’s not perfect and nothing like I’d dreamed… I’m not sure I’d change a thing, and I’m thrilled for all that seems to loom before me yet. With any luck, this life of mine’s not even half over.

I love the life I’ve lived. I may not have explored my inner wanderlust to the extent my childhood self dreamed of, but my life’s been anything but boring.

And, so, the soundtrack plays on.

Great Moments in Movies: The Rocky Kiss

I’m feeling a little like an underdog today, like the odds are stacked against me, so I thought I’d have some quality time to myself this morning before I head into the world for the sixth day of work this week. I’m feeling like I’m losing my leisure a bit, and Virginia Wolf states that to be akin to losing one’s soul, so I’m taking it back by force. I’m watching Rocky. My coffee’s almost cold, but it’s still strong and good.

Rocky has just kissed Adrien for the first time. I think this should really go down as one of the finer cinematic kisses ever done. It’s all so unlikely, like a kiss between Harold and Maude. She’s pushing 30 and she’s never been kissed. The absolute vulnerability portrayed by Talia Shire in that scene’s just as sexy as any of the va-va-va-voom shown by Hollywood’s vixens non-pareil.

It’s pretty easy to go too long without being kissed. It’s awful to be in the middle of the kissless times of life, but there it is. There’s something about a kiss that always makes you miss it.

This scene is how a great kiss feels after you’ve been stuck in a dryspell of Saharan proportions. Whatever’s wrong in the world, the naive part of me believes it could be fixed by great sessions of smooching. I’m such a fool, I know, but it’s a nice belief to keep in the back pocket. I’m not a dreamer, but I have my lapses.

I’m at the point where I no longer miss the recent relationship, but I’m certainly wishing I could break up all the tension that is my present life-status with the odd makeout session. I wonder why I’m not thinking about sex? Maybe sex, for me right now, symbolizes far too many complications and struggles. I really don’t want the complication, I want the carefree abandon that making out on the sofa symbolizes for me. Days with the parents out at a card game and the boyfriend sneaking over. The good old days. Yes, we’ve hit nostalgia. How can you tell another birthday is looming? I feel like I’m devolving, but my vital stats are continuing to argue that assessment. Damn them anyway.

And this is what that one kiss brought up for me. And yet I’ll continue watching the film.

Okay, wait a second: I’m specifically remembering being at a party in my teens, and sneaking out back with a boy who thought I was hot ‘cos I was wearing ox’s-blood Doc Marten 9-hole boots. We sat on the stairs, lit from above, as we necked and necked and necked for what seemed like hours. Every time his hand would try to cup my breast, I’d bat it away again. Later, he spread the rumour that it was he and I who’d been making the camper rock’n’sway. I assure you, I made his life hell. But the kissing, man, at that moment, there was noplace better to be.

Sadly, I gave the boots as planters to a chick I once loved who totally flaked out on me. Now I have the tattered remains of my Aussie Boot Co. boots.

This girl needs some boots fer walkin’ all over some boys. That’s what she needs. I should start a boot fund, then go on a shopping quest and keep a photographic record for blogging about my quest for the boots and the fall-out of owning said boots. I mean, really, I’m a eurotrash girl on a scooter. I need a cool new coat for winter scooting and boots. If you want me to get the Walkin’-All-Over-You punk-rock eurotrash girl boots and keep a record, then PayPal me and put “boot fund” in the subject field. We shall stomp together.