Browsing Archives for August 2009

A few nights ago, near the end of the Country Doctor and my post bi-continental nuclear fall-out catastrophe, I drug him to go and see Julie and Julia with me. It was part of his penance for being such a blood soaked zombie from the pit of hell during our recent European vacation. I also made him shop for new dress pants which he desperately needed.  I gleefully forced him to try on nine different pairs and his suffering was so severe that he almost went into cardiac arrest in a J.C. Penney’s dressing room, but I held my ground remaining stoic, ruthless, and completely unmoved by his pain as I handed him pair after pair of pants to try on.

“Please stop bringing me more pants to try on…” he begged.

“Did you stop at Le Grand Palais along the Champs Elysees and let me look at it for more than twenty nine seconds?”  I asked.

“No…” he whispered. 

“Did you pause to let me wander for an hour or so among the medieval neighborhoods outside of Notre Dame?”  I questioned.

“I… I… I… no…” he cried.  

“Did you notice how I longed to walk among the breathtaking flower stalls or stop for a second and browse at the gloriously gorgeous street markets?”

“No…” he gasped… “I didn’t…”

“That’s right!  Now get in that dressing room and TRY ON THESE PANTS!”

I showed him no mercy and I took no captives. I told him that if he could drag me all over England and Paris as if I were an old, worn out, duffel bag slung over his shoulders, than he could damn well spend a Sunday afternoon with me at the gates of purgatory, shopping for new pants and seeing a chic flick. He meekly agreed.  After we found some pants, I hoisted him onto my shoulder and carted him into Target, a store that the Country Doctor loathes with every fiber of his being.

I am not sure why he hates Target so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that Target makes people feel joyful, giddy and happy to be shopping in their store. Target lacks the harshly lit, institutional atmosphere of Wal-mart where all the customers shuffle like the recent dead from aisle to aisle having lost their will to live the minute they passed the greeter/sticker /lady/man.  The Country Doctor does not want to be happy when he is shopping. He wants to be miserable and he resents any store that attempts to change his outlook.  He is a Wal-Mart guy, through and through.  I am a Target girl all the way down to my toe-nails. This fact alone should have made us re-consider ever making the sacred marriage pact.   I truly believe that an individual’s preference for Target vs. Wal-mart should be on all church approved marriage quizzes and a part of all pre-marital counseling programs.  If both members of the couple have a strong preference for the same store, odds are, they will avoid many future problems.  

At Target, I quickly purchased  a few forgotten school supplies for my kids and although I should have, I did not allow myself to drag my husband on a leisurely stroll though the bedding aisle because the Country Doctor was gasping for breath and had grown cold and clammy to the touch from prolonged shopping exposure.  Sadly, at this point in our lives, he is still worth more to me alive and although I was dancing with delight in his agony, it did not quite make enough sense to me to kill him.  We grabbed a few snacks for the movies and headed out.

During our drive to the theater, we had to try and stash our snacks on our persons. We managed to tuck two bottles of soda inside my small purse while the Country Doctor hid a bag of nut clusters and a pack of Rolos in one of the pockets in his cargo shorts. We bought out tickets and tried to look innocent and like we would be highly unlikely candidates to harbor twelve hundred dollars (in movie currency) of illicit candy contraband in our clothing.  

So basically even though we looked stricken with guilt for harboring candy with criminal intent and also stricken with despair for having just returned from the worst and most expensive vacation of our lives, no one noticed us and we made our way to our seats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really thought this film (which is Julie and Julia by the way in case you forgot by now) would have the same draw as a foreign film… or an art film… or a Miss Marple film… and no one except for me and the Country Doctor would be there. But I was wrong. We barely managed to find two seats together which was lucky given that our current marital state was somewhere between brittle to excruciatingly sore and tender and sitting apart during a two hour movie might have spelled the end for us.


The movie was great. The audience laughed uproariously at Julia and her husband’s well crafted lines. Nora Ephron wrote the screen play and it is wonderfully done. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are marvellous in their roles as Julia and Paul Child. Most of Julia Child’s story is set in Paris and though Mike and I both stiffened into corpse-like creatures when we were forced to look at the city of our grisly demise, it was still a stunning backdrop to a lovely story.

There is also a ‘contemporary’ story line going on at the same time that Julia’s story is unfolding. Julie Powell is a blogger that attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. Her story line wasn’t bad, but it was not even remotely as compelling as what was happening to Julia Child in 1950′s Paris.  Perhaps it is just impossible for anyone to shine in the face of the powerful combination of Meryl Streep playing Julia Child.  I could almost feel sorry for actress Amy Adams as she portrayed Julie Powell while being juxtaposed alongside one of the great actresses of our time playing one of the great icons of our time. Except that I couldn’t feel sorry for Julie Powell  because I was sickened by her.

You see… the whole point of dragging my husband to that movie was to make him suffer.  My plan was that he would see a blogger in action… a blogger passionately writing about her life… a blogger whose blog begins to mean a great deal to her… a blogger who creates a little corner of the universe for herself with her blog… and of course a blogger who turns her blog in to a best-selling book and eventually a block-buster movie starring Meryl Streep… and then as he watched the movie, he would have some kind of epiphany and suddenly all my efforts as a blogger would be as meaningful to him as they are to me!  

But instead Julie Powell as portrayed in the movie was just plain annoying… and irritating… and self absorbed… and she portrayed her husband in a manner that he did not wish to be portrayed… and she whined… and had no inner strength… and I felt nothing for her.

On the other hand…


Julia Child was strong… and vibrant… and took life by the throat and de-boned it and trussed it up in a glorious, golden duck l’orange… and she took lemons and made a shimmering lemon chiffon pie… and everyone that ever met her adored her… even the French people adored her. Who wouldn’t love Julia! I love Julia! Everyone loves Julia! She worked so hard. She never gave up! For eight long years she strived (strove? strivened?) and cooked and heaved and hoed and the smile never left her face.

And she was childless and it broke her heart…

…and then the movie took us back to the other girl… the blogger… who did not have even a fingernail clipping of Julia’s life force flowing through her veins. 


So my plan failed. It failed abominably. Instead of the Country Doctor learning that bloggers are hard working, contributing, vital people that need to be appreciated, supported and encouraged, he learned that bloggers are weak, pathetic, self absorbed dingbats.

 

 

 

 

I think he knew that already.

 

 

 

A few great Julia Child links - 

Click here for a great Julia Child article at Vanity Fair

Click here to watch Julia Childs The French Chef on PBS.org

When I got home from our trip to Hell and back, I discovered ten thousand tomatoes ready to be picked in my garden.

My mom had done a great job of keeping up with the garden and everything else was picked clean, but in the few days interim between her departure from our house and our arrival back home, they had all ripened to an obscene and undeniable bright rosy red.

 

 

 

I picked them and brought them in the house and then I sat them on the table and stared at them helplessly for several days.

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CAN TOMATOES!!!  

My one and only canning experience was a pickling disaster and I was terrified to try it again.  

 

 

Eventually the situation became dire.  The fruit flies grew so dense I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and I could not bear to watch all of my hard work growing those tomatoes rot away on my kitchen counters.  

I e-mailed my friend Sarah and begged her to come over and teach me how to can.  She was at work and then she had to go help with VBS and then she was leaving town and I don’t think that Sarah really cares about me at all.  I guess I need to write another venom filled essay called ‘I Wish I Had A Friend Named Sarah Who Would Drop Everything and Come Over and Can My Tomatoes For Me Right This Very Minute!’

 

 

 

 

But Sarah did e-mail me instructions on how to freeze tomatoes.  It sounded very hard and I didn’t think I could really do it, but I thought I would give it a try.

 

 

 

 

First I had to remove the skins.  I placed the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute.

 

 

 

 

Then I removed them with a slotted spoon and placed them in an ice-bath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have always heard of this magical procedure, but I have to be honest with you, I was absolutely certain it would not work for me.  

But it did!  

The fates did not conspire against me!

The skins just slid right off.

It was like a miracle!

The miracle of the sliding tomato skins!

I removed the skins, cut the tomatoes in half, sort of glopped out as many seeds as I could and then I placed the whole sorry mess in a large soup pot, added some basil, salt, and garlic and cooked it down for an hour or so.  After that I poured the reduced tomato carnage into a plastic freezer bag and that was that!

 

 

 

Except…

I still had nine thousand tomatoes to go!

AND!!!!

I didn’t really enjoy peeling those tomatoes.  It was gross.  I had read about roasting tomatoes somewhere, so I got online and found a few recipes and thought I would give that a try…

 

 

 

I cut off the stem end of my tomatoes and then cut them in half.

 

 

 

 

I scooped out the seeds and placed the gutted tomato carcasses on a buttered cookie sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

I brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled on basil, salt and garlic and let them roast at 375 degrees for an hour.

 

 

 

 

Voila!

 

 

 

 

Drew and I then slipped the skins off of the roasted tomatoes and placed the pathetic skinned tomato beasties in a bowl and mashed them up a bit.

For some reason this was less gross than the boiled tomatoes.  I have no idea why.

 

 

I placed the roasted, mashed tomatoes in a carefully labeled bag, and took a blurry dim photo of it to post on my blog.

For the normal person who might have stumbled on this blog in search of a tomato roasting recipe, you may skip the dim, blurry photo part.  

I froze most of the roasted tomato sauce, but I saved a bit to try right away.

 

And then I made some eggplant parmesan with eggplant and fresh roasted tomato sauce from my own garden… and it was delicious!  I hope to get that fascinating story up very soon… but I would strongly advise against holding your breath.

Only eight thousand more tomatoes to go.

It doesn’t seem right to me to always post cute little stories on this blog about my kids and my marriage and make it seem like my life is this shiny jewel of perfection all the time, because it’s not. I love my husband and my family, but we have struggles. Real struggles. Real hard, heart breaking struggles and guess what… we don’t deal with them very well either. We argue about the same stuff over and over again and we never learn from the past. We don’t change our patterns of behavior and usually after a few weeks or months pass, we start doing the exact same things that we did before. We both have a very good sense of humor and are pretty good at laughing at ourselves, but not everything is a laughing matter.

Let’s take me for example…

1. I tend to deal with pain by withdrawing and not speaking.

2. I tend to deal with hurt by withdrawing and refusing to communicate.

3. I tend to deal with conflict by sealing myself into a bullet proof cocoon and not opening my mouth for days at a time.

4. When I am upset I move to an island of fury and never tell a soul.

5. I respond to all of life’s difficulties by tucking my body into a cave and sealing it with a large rock, then I tie a bandanna around my mouth so I won’t ever tell anyone that I am distraught.

6.  Eventually all of this pain builds into Mount Vesuvius and then I explode all over the person I love most… my husband.

7.  Whenever we have a major argument, I re-enact our entire history of disagreements and every single time he did something wrong to me is mercilessly flung in his face like a flaming pile of dog poop.

8.  Did I say that I let things build up for months and then I explode yet?

9.  Did I mention that part where I cement my mouth shut whenever I am in agony and try to swallow it down to my stomach where it sits until it builds to an angry belch that could knock down a mountain?  

None of these are very effective ways to manage trouble in your marriage.

Over the years, we have gotten better about a few things in our marriage. We no longer try to dictate every single moment of each other’s lives and how it will be spent. I don’t have to have my husband attend every family get-together that I go to, and he does not mind if I stay home and rock slowly back and forth with my thumb stuck in my mouth while he goes out for a beer with his office. We are good at giving each other space… but sometimes we give each other too much space. Sometimes we get so used to letting each other do his or her own thing that we forget that it is occasionally nice to actually accompany each other to various events… even if we don’t particularly like the events.

We parent differently, but we respect each other as parents.

We love each other, but we express it poorly sometimes.

My husband tends to express his devotion by doing stuff for me. He builds a garden, he refinishes the floor, he scrubs the kitchen from top to bottom, he fixes a broken door, he repairs the bathtub nozzle.  I tend to express my devotion by making sure that he can do the things he needs to do. I re-arrange my schedule, I skip meetings, I run errands that are not on my agenda and are on the opposite side of the county from where I need to be so that I can get the kids and he can do what he needs to do.  I think we often fail to recognize the things that we do for each other as expressions of love and believe that the other person has forgotten all about uh… the other person.

The Country Doctor gave me permission to post the ‘I Wish I had a Wife Post”. He knew it was going to be harsh, but he also knew that I had to start writing my blog again and I was stuck because I could not get beyond what had happened to us.

We had a really rough time in Europe. We did not get along for a single second. My husband started out the trip dead tired from day after day of making up call so that he could be gone for eleven days in a row. When you add his exhaustion to jet-lag, you basically have a person who was suffering from sleep deprived psychosis. I knew he was tired, but he did not. He took control of our vacation like a blood soaked banshee from the depths of hell and did not let go for a second. I tried to keep up, but eventually I had a nervous break down in Paris. We tried to repair it, but could not get past the disappointment and the anger. Our kids did not know how upset we were. We didn’t yell or scream in front of them, we just kept plugging away at a frantic pace that I could not understand. It was one long, horrible, expensive disaster. Then we had to come home and try to put the fragments of our broken lives back together. It has been tough, but we are working on it.

I write a blog. A blog that I love. A blog that brings me a great amount of joy and makes me feel valuable as a human being.  A blog that is a part of who I am. Not writing this blog has made me even sadder.  I could not come back to it without expressing in some way what I have been going through.  Maybe I did not choose the best way, but it was a way that I could tolerate without reliving the entire horrible vacation moment by moment.  As to my kids reading the “I Wish I Had A Wife Post”… I never want my children to think that my husband and I have a perfect marriage.  Not for a single second.  Someday they are going to struggle in their own marriages and maybe they will remember something that their mom posted on her blog and maybe they will remember that their parent’s marriage was not always easy either, but they struggled though the hard times because ultimately, even in the midst of agonizing disappointment, anger and heartbreak, they still loved each other and wanted desperately to figure things out.  It is always better to be honest with the people that you love.  Also – my boys are going to be husbands… more than anything they need to know how to treat their wives well.   

Post Script…

I wanted to thank everyone who sent emails and left comments during my long absence.  Sometimes the messages I read caused me to crack wide open in gut-wrenching sobs, but the tears were cleansing and it was so nice to know that someone that I have never met was thinking about me and praying for me.  If I can ever return the favor, please let me know.  

God bless you all,

Rechelle