Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life through the Eyes of a Sandwich

In the early morning darkness, before the sun can threaten to warm the cold kitchen floor, the murder box threatens to blind those that seek to open its sealed doors. Light pours out onto the bare feet of the one who is awake so early on a chilly winter morning. There is a lunch to be made, and the residents of the murder box shudder with fear as the contents of the murder box are examined. The box chills its victims by trapping them in the frigid cold. The silent screams of a deceased chicken shriek for the warmth and comfort of a luscious green pasture. Instead its frozen then thawed breasts stiffly rest on the hard, transparent plastic shelf at eye level.

Somewhere on a dairy farm, a small calf calls out for the milk that is now contained in an opaque plastic jug squished in between the ketchup and a half empty jar of olives. Those small green fruits will never again enjoy the gentle warming rays of the Tuscan sun.

The right door of the murder box remains agape as the left door is pried open. The severed stick of churned cream catches a quick glimpse of the bag of frozen green seeds who have been stripped from their slender pods and whose tiny round bodies have fused together in their thin plastic sack.

An icy loaf of baked flour and yeast emerges from the murder box, previously dismembered into sixteen even slices by a sharp metal blade. The rock hard loaf smacks against the counter as the solid slices huddle together like sardines. The muffled whimpering of a mutilated turkey crescendo as two slices of turkey breast are peeled out of the package and placed on top of a shivering slice of bread.

A square of coagulated milk protein is slapped on top of the cold turkey slices. They both cringe after such a slimy and informal introduction. Mustard seeds ooze out onto a second slice of bread and are hastily smothered by the careless caress of a dull knife. The two bread slices are joined and the sandwich is soon enclosed in a plastic container where it will slowly suffocate as the decomposition process rapidly hastens for a few hours.

The plastic sandwich coffin is crammed into the large zippered compartment of a small, black bag. A body bag perhaps? The bag is lifted off the ground and contents shift as the sandwich coffin slides deeper into the dark confines of the body bag. After a few moments of turbulence, the defeated sandwich notices a more rhythmic bouncing pattern. The body bag is being carried.

After what seems like an eternity, the bag shifts again, is suddenly torn open, and blinding light floods the bag and penetrates the plastic container. The sandwich squints as it tries to make out its surroundings. Having thawed a bit since the long walk, the bread slices snuggle its turkey and cheese acquaintances. After enduring this horrific experience, they have formed a bond that can only be broken by the hungry jaws of a ravenous human at lunchtime. They know what is coming. They have seen the tall figure with the overgrown beard that towers over them, leaving the murder box door wide open. He stabs his pot of rice and beans with a fork, a starving look glistening in his unforgiving eyes. Once the clock strikes noon, the doomed sandwich will meet a fate similar to that pot of rice and beans. The bread, turkey, cheese and mustard will all be devoured bite by delicious, savory bite.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Friday Fish Fry

I try to remain timely with my blog posts, but life can sometimes get in the way. Here is a story I meant to post a few days ago:

Driving back to Rochester for the weekend in the cold, windy, winter abyss of central New York, my grandma and I were hankering a fish fry from The Coal Tower. This restaurant has remained a family favorite for as long as I can recall. It has been a while since we have all patronized this establishment, so it was overdue for a Dean visit. After driving down the long, dark roads, the welcome sight of a well-lit restaurant and the smells of Friday night feasting filled the air. Grandma and I slid in around eight o'clock, escaping the Friday dinner crowd that can leave you waiting for a table for up to an hour.

Seated at a small table next to the kitchen, we accepted the menus the waitress handed us out of politeness. We both knew what we wanted without even glancing at the menus. Our waitress soon returned with two heaping bowls of the most delicious coleslaw Grandma and I have ever tasted. "It's the pineapple that makes it so good," she explains with a satisfied smile. Two steaming hot fish fries with sweet potato fries were delivered to us only moments after digging into our cabbage appetizer. Now that is one serious benefit of grabbing a late dinner.

We oohed and ahhed at our plates, admiring the golden beauty of the crispy fried haddock we were about to enjoy. After confirming our approval of the meal with one another, the next few moments passed in silence as we hungrily munched away. As we started slowing down, Grandma looked up and simply stated, "Best one yet. That's what Papa would have said." We both smiled and gazed in different directions, but no doubt thinking the same thing. We wished Papa could have been there to enjoy a great fish fry with us.
The cole slaw

Even the tarter sauce is fantactic

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Little Snow, Lots of Fun

"In over twenty years, why have we never shoved our faces in the snow?" This question eluded the five of us as we giggled at our facial imprints semi-permanently indented into the snow. There our faces would remain until either the next snowfall or melting period. Even when snowfall in Syracuse has been less than stellar, my friends and I still manage to find fun in what meager collections of snow persist on the ground.

This past Saturday our adventures took us to Heiberg Forest. We have all bussed our way here before on various college field trips. This time, however, we were able to experience the forest as a magnificent recreational retreat during our first weekend of the spring semester. We raced down the slippery slopes, threw plenty of snowballs, and munched on our fair share of fresh snow. We also installed our own mini art exhibit.

We had been frolicking through the melting snow and leaping over muddy puddles when we all decided to take a break. We had convened in a rather flat patch of untouched snow, and that's when the creative juices started to flow. First we all stamped the footprint of our left shoe in order of size, and we all snapped photos of the result. Then, it was suggested that we all press our faces into the snow above our respective boot prints, just for the hell of it. The great thing about my friends is the lack of hesitation with a proposition such as this. All in turn we jammed our faces into the snow, trying to stave our continuous laughter just long enough when it was our individual turn to make our face print.

The image of a person jamming their face into the snow reminds me of an ostrich burying its head underground. It looks absolutely ridiculous. The finished product on the other hand, is a little haunting. We all wondered how someone passing by would react to seeing our handiwork.

When captured on camera, these impressions appear 3D


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Long Walk to School

“It’s absolutely gorgeous outside right now,” my roommate sang as she trudged up the creaky stairs. I could feel the glaring sun desperately yearning to beam through my closed blinds, and I smiled a wicked grin as I pulled up my wool socks, anticipating a marvelous walk to school. I knew it was going to be cold; I mean come on, it’s winter… in Syracuse. Little did I know just how numb my fingers and face would feel by the time I scuttled into Moon Library to escape the frigid air.

Beginning my expedition east on the Euclid Avenue Expressway, the first blast of cold air that blasted my bare face signaled that despite the beauty of this fine morning, the long journey, seeming even longer now, would end in some very non-responsive finger tips. Baring my teeth and mentally preparing myself, I clambered onward, allowing the melodious and soulful guitar riffs of Gary Clark Jr. to carry me through this dreadful voyage. I pictured myself in his place, jamming on stage, bellowing out the blues with all my heart and soul. If I had been blessed with the lungs and vocal cords of a soul singer, Lisa Fisher perhaps, I would not have been a full-time environmentalist. I would have been a singer who cares deeply about the environment. Fisher’s vocals in Gimme Shelter mesmerize me every time I play that song. These were the thoughts that briefly took my mind off the gripping cold for a few moments before I snapped back into reality.

Pushing my broken dreams of becoming a soul sister to the back of my mind, I gazed down at the pathetic layer of snow that couldn’t even threaten to soak through my boots and taunt my warm, dry socks. The slushy, coffee colored snow reminded me of the coffee ice cream I loved as a kid. The fantasy of scooping up a handful and giving it a taste dissolved as soon as I envisioned a mouthful of grainy, salt laden snow.

My sudden self-induced craving for ice cream evaporated as soon as I spotted a figure walking towards me. It was a boy dressed all in black, with his hood pulled up around his pale face. I looked at him, waiting for his eyes to wander in my direction and acknowledge my presence. His eyes must have been frozen inside his head, because he did not seem to see me. If I hadn't been wearing my protective sunglasses to shield my eyes from the bright sunny reflection radiating off the snow, would my eyes have frozen inside my head just as they had for this poor boy? I smiled at him even though he couldn't see me, mostly in pity. The only person who saw me along my walk down Euclid, on this dangerously beautiful morning, was an elderly woman who reminded me of an old Russian grandmother wrapped up tight as a drum in her babushka. Her smile was so genuine, I could swear I almost started to feel my nose again.

My nose is always the first to complain of the cold, sending streams of mucus down my face in protest of the chilling temperatures.  After a few minutes in this freezing weather, I could barely tell if the tissue I used to soak up my snot was coming in contact with the end of my nose at all. I could only estimate this by watching my hand approach my face. After that I could only hope the tissue was fulfilling its purpose.

Each fingertip screamed in protest as I wiggled my fingers inside my pocket to cram the slimy tissue into my jacket. Today I opted to wear my stylish, fitted brown leather gloves for the long walk to school. My hands were in agony, but I least they looked awesome as I suffered in silence. As much pain as my face and hands were experiencing, it was an absolutely gorgeous morning, just as my roommate had proclaimed. A gorgeous, but potentially lethal morning.

At some point along my winter stroll, I spotted a crate of perfectly edible tangerines resting near a garbage can by the curb. I stopped, looked over my shoulders to see who was watching, and stared at the tangerines for a few seconds. The temptation to pick up that crate was so intense, I could feel my body pulling me closer, even as my mind hesitated. A million questions immediately pulsed through my mind. Who would throw out such a bounty of fresh fruit and why? Have the oranges been manipulated in some way; possibly injected with horrible, body-paralyzing poisons? Is there a psychology student peering from behind a curtain to watch and make note of passersby who notice the orange fruits? Unsure of the life story the crate of oranges bore, I passed them up, hoping I made the right call and wondering if I was a little bit crazy.

Continuing onward, my journey was coming to a close as I approached the edge of school property. I gaped at the big, yellow Syracuse Banana truck as it swiveled around a curve in the road. For some reason I love seeing this truck, mostly because Syracuse banana seems like such an oxymoron. I would love to know where exactly I can find bananas growing in Syracuse. This thought planted an abnormally wide smile across my face, and the tall, skinny girl who brushed by me probably wondered who I just murdered.

Chuckling to myself, I accidentally choked and rapidly inhaled large amounts of air into my supposedly asthma-free lungs. After recovering from my choking fit, my nasal passages burned as freezing air rushed in and out as I worked to calm my breathing. The painfully cool weather, leaving me breathless with a single, powerful gust of wind, reminded me that as cool as I felt stomping along to the beat of the music, I would be way cooler if I were stranded in the Arctic, having froze to death.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Today it Hurts

It has been twelve days since my Papa's passing. This morning I lay in bed under a cozy pile of blankets after getting off the phone with my Grandma. We talked about Papa, and Grandma was telling me how much she missed him. Once I hung up and her calm, soothing words faded away, my head was replaced with memories of Papa. A wave of emotion crashed over me as I realized how much I miss Papa too. I quickly looked around the room for something of my Papa's that I could snuggle with. A shot glass from the U.S. Naval Academy? A suede fedora? A pocket knife? None of these items are particularly cozy objects to hold close.

I haven't tried to ignore my emotions. I have wondered why I haven't been crying as much as I thought I would. Today is a Saturday, and it is honestly the first day I have had nothing to do. As soon as my Papa passed, I have been so busy spending time with family and moving back to school, that my mind hasn't been afforded the opportunity to truly grieve. Well, today the tears keep coming, so I put on the Frank Sinatra music station on my computer, and I have a box of tissues by my bed. Today I am remembering my Papa, and if he were here with me, he'd be singing along to the music.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creepy Crows

Have you been getting freaked out by the incredible flocks, I mean, murders of crows that seem to be congregating around sunset? I have seen it in Rochester and Syracuse, and I didn't know why it had been happening, so my first instinct was panic... Well maybe not quite that extreme, but I know lots of people who have been wondering about the abundance of crows, so I decided to do a little research. Luckily, there are some pretty basic scientific explanations for why this population explosion has taken hold.

Cities are not typically the cleanest of places, and it's never hard to spot loose trash rolling around a city street. As scavengers, crows are drawn to cities, where their luck of finding food is much higher than in a remote rural area. It's no surprise that crows are more common in highly populated areas. More people means more trash and food scraps for crows to scavenge.

I know that crows rely heavily on corn as a main source of food, but I would be interested to know if increased crow populations in Syracuse correlate with a higher level of trash production that is not proportional to the population growth of the city. That is to say, I wonder if the same number of people are generating more trash (i.e. being more wasteful) and if that is helping to fuel the growing crow populations. The city of Syracuse experienced zero population growth between 2010 and 2011 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is too short of a time span to do any serious statistical analysis, and I also don't happen to know the population growth of the Syracuse crow population between 2010 and 2011. I read one source claiming that crow populations in Palo Alto, California have increased by 13% a year since 1975. I cannot attest to the validity of this claim, but by golly, that growth rate is astounding!

Perhaps we are only witnessing a change in distribution of crow populations. If numbers haven't increased, maybe more crows are congregating in cities rather than other areas. As farmers work to scare off crows, these birds are forced to relocate to new territory.

It may be a bit reassuring to know that crows are very social, caring birds. They mate for life after all. It seems like every year I see more and more of them flying about, amassing in the tops of the tallest trees. Whether there are more crows overall or just more crows in cities, I just hope they know how to take care of each other once they start spreading around their germy bird diseases. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Incredible Italian

There is Italian food, and then there is great Italian food. I first visited Perlo's the other evening, and now I wish I could go back there for dinner every night. Seated around a large, circular table in the corner of the dining room, conversation flowed as appetizer plates were passed around and family members recalled old and faded memories. We were all gathered to honor my Papa after paying our respects at his funeral earlier that evening.

Between the artichokes french, Italian garbage plate, antipasto, and fried calamari appetizers, I couldn't decide which my Papa would have liked the best. Just to clarify, the Italian garbage plate is inspired by the infamous Rochester garbage plate which features some type of meat, usually hot dog or hamburger, home fries, macaroni salad, and all topped with mustard, onions and hot sauce if you're a true garbage plate eater. Perlo's version is also decadent, but a little more refined. Their version includes garlic, onion, bell peppers, cannellini beans, Italian sausage, olives, and parmesan cheese, all sauteed and tossed with a heap of tender escarole.

For dinner I ordered the fig and arugula pizza, and it may very well have been the best pizza I have ever sunk my teeth into. This pizza was grilled and topped with gruyere and gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, arugula and dried fig slices. Drizzled with an elegant zig zag of olive oil, it was as beautiful as it was delicious. I was so full from the bountiful appetizers, and was able to save some of my pizza left overs for another time. I waited to enjoy my left overs until I was back at school and left to my own devices to find or make food. A few moments of rich indulgence amidst a semester laden with bland and meager meals is always cherished.

Antipasto appetizer

My phenomenal left over pizza toasted
up and ready to be devoured

Just look at that thick slice of fig. It adds just a hint of
sweetness and an incredible burst of flavor

Friday, January 11, 2013

Petits Four Perfection

For many years petits fours were all but foreign to me. I knew they were some sort of small, sugary treat, but I couldn't necessarily pick one out of a crowd of delectable desserts. This all changed last summer when I lost my petits four virginity. I sampled my first sinful bite of petits four heaven with one of my closest friends. This is of course the same friend with whom I have shared countless pretzel rolls and pizza baking endeavors. We have maintained a fabulously healthy relationship over the years.

I suppose since I mention her often enough, I should create a pseudonym for my pretzel roll loving friend. Another woman whose blog I follow inspired me to forego using actual names or including photos of the people involved in my posts. I really admire this conscious omission of information because it is respectful to the people who are integral parts of the stories but may want to remain anonymous. This particular blogger uses a descriptive adjective or two to characterize the subjects of her writing. For my pseudonyms, I think I will refer to my writing subjects using names of famous people they remind me of. In pretzel roll girl's case, she told me just yesterday that her spirited laugh reminds her of the vivacious Julia Roberts. So there you have it; I hereby dub her, Julia Roberts.

Yesterday Julia Roberts and I met up to chat and say goodbye before she headed back to Brooklyn for the semester. She is studying to be an architect. Creatures of habit that we are, we usually end up at Java's to hatch our evil plans over a steaming cup of freshly roasted coffee. I couldn't stay long due to family obligations, but the two of us gabbed and gabbed until money in the parking meter nearly ran out. I was driving her home when we reached Park Avenue. A supreme moment of inexplicable understanding seemed to travel across our faces at the exact same moment. Without much hesitation, I flicked on my turn signal and we journeyed along Park Ave towards the desired destination.

Parking and walking into the shop with girlish giggles, we B lined toward the confections counter. All but pawing at the rounded glass display case, we admired the beautiful array of petits four strawberry hearts, white chocolate raspberry creme squares, bittersweet truffle diamonds and all of the other mouth watering varieties. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the assembly of a petits four, there are many different types. Those featured in this glass display are always small, iced cakes. They center around a bite sized cake that can be filled with any flavor of fruity or chocolatey creme you can imagine. The creme filled cake is iced with a layer of fine chocolate that helps preserve the moistness of the dainty cake within.

Julia Roberts and I chose to stick with a tried and true favorite. We each purchased an ivory heart. This petits four variety conceals a decadently moist almond cake layered with milk chocolate truffle creme, and covered in a thick layer of white chocolate. We could barely make it to the car before our tiny treats were in hand, as we braced ourselves for the first heavenly taste.

A perfectly moist center

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Papa's Chairs

I was drafting this post and wondering if it was appropriate to post a story for my Papa. I know he was proud of my writing and proud of what I have accomplished so far in my life. Knowing this, I believe he would have been proud to know I paid him some respect by writing a story for him. He told me so many stories over the years, and I think it is fitting to tell a story about him:

I woke up at Grandma's house this morning, and walked into the kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Of the seven kinds of cereal and granola my Grandma has in stock, Papa and I both preferred the same kind of granola. As I sat there crunching granola between my teeth, I looked over at the wooden dining table, gazing at the empty chair Papa would always sit in. He would have to carefully maneuver between the dining table and the kitchen counter in order to reach this particular chair. Even when it became considerably more difficult to make the maneuver, Papa never sat in any other dining room chair. Sitting in that wooden chair now seems strange because it always seemed to belong to Papa. After sitting in it for a few minutes, it is plain to see why this was the preferred chair. This chair really has the best vantage point to view any activity in the living room or kitchen. Papa liked to know what people were up to, so it is really a no brainer that he enjoyed sitting here.

Papa also preferred a particular seat on the living room couch too. After relaxing in his spot after breakfast, I once again realized how strategic Papa's seating choices had been. Not only is this seat closest to the TV, but he could rest his feet up on the coffee table and still have room for any plates or cups conveniently waiting on the side table to his right. It seems I never really paid attention to what a good spot it was until it was permanently free for me to enjoy. I've known what a successful salesman my Papa was, and now I can plainly see how his cunning mind enabled him to select the best possible seating choices at Grandma's house.

Friday, January 4, 2013

I Meant to Do My Work Today

I recently read a short poem tacked to a refrigerator. It was composed by English author Richard LeGallienne. His words spoke to me in a way that poetry rarely does. I admire the art of poetry, but perhaps I am just very particular about the brand of poetry that can truly pluck at my inner heartstrings. Few poems have moved me or delighted me in the way that LeGallienne's short work did for me today. Perhaps a sense of familiarity and ability to relate to the words in a poem are what allow me to truly enjoy a poem. Without further adieu, here is the piece, retyped for your hopeful enjoyment:

"I meant to do my work today
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand-
So what could I do but laugh and go?"

I love the simplicity and elegance of this writing. This free-loving, nature-embracing mentality is an outlook that I am constantly trying to resist as piles of school work call my name on a beautiful sunny day.

In case you needed a little extra inspiration

Mocha Merriment

Ahh Java’s, my cozy carpeted cafĂ© of satisfaction and serenity. Stepping through the small glass vestibule and carefully stepping down the sloped entryway, my ears immediately filled with the sounds of orders being placed and milk being steamed. Whether greeted by a barista donning a knit cap or a pair of dark, plastic framed glasses, I am always served quickly and made to feel quite welcome.

I’ve tested many beverages over the years, having supported this coffee joint for quite some time. There is one hot beverage I always come back to: the Aztec Mocha. A rich chocolaty broth of espresso, dark chocolate, cinnamon and chilies fills a mug large enough to handle a hearty helping of soup. I love ordering this chocolaty delight not only for its decadence, but also because I love to watch as it is prepared. The process really isn't that captivating, but I still get a small sense of satisfaction from observing. The chili placed on top as a garnish comes from an ordinary Tupperware container. I still relish the sight of my barista gingerly plucking a chili out of the container and gently placing it atop the writhing mixture of freshly steamed cocoa. I have never seen someone else order this beverage, but I almost always catch an envious glance or two from people who see what's in my mug. The chili on top adds a sense of mystery and sophistication to a typical mocha beverage. I also feel a true sense of conviction in walking straight up to the counter, looking the barista straight in the eye, and ordering my beverage without so much as glance down at the menu.

Not only does this joint serve an array of delightful drinks, but the fascinating art covering the walls is a stand alone reason to venture into this inviting coffee shop. Signed band posters including a few from the Rolling Stones, a paper mache shark hanging from the ceiling, and various other portraits and paintings keep the eyes busy as coffee drinkers and cookie connoisseurs drink and munch to their taste bud's delight. I was even rather fond of the Rhinoceros head jutting out of the wall above me as I sipped my Aztec mocha this afternoon.

Don't you just want to get your hands on one of these?

So rich and delicious

A view from my seat facing the counter. Note the
glass vestibule through which patrons enter and exit.

My new rhino guardian

A view from across the street

A vibrant poster nailed outside
this fine establishment

Pizza Pals

"The process of indulging in a chicken wing is very complicated," my very good friend explains as we enter the house to begin an evening of pizza making. This tradition of pizza making is a tradition between my very good girl friend from high school and my boyfriend of over three years. We are basically the three musketeers when it comes to creating epic memories together. Making pizza is a tradition we have upheld since high school, and will hopefully carry on for years to come.

The trademark shopping trip to the best grocery store in the world is always in order before any decent pizza making session. By the time we made it back to my boyfriend's house, we were all so hungry from the exhaustive grocery trip and immediately sunk our teeth into the chicken wings we had purchased to hold us over until the pizza was ready. The three of us have also shared chicken wings together before, on a very short but fun-filled trip to Canada last March. Suffice it to say that most of our fondest memories revolve around eating some type of not-so-healthy but oh-so-delicious food item.

As much fun as the three of us have making pizza and relishing in the experience of baking our own dinner, the pizza has historically turned out less than satisfactory. We always resolve the situation by agreeing, "next time it will be better." Well tonight's pizza was that next time. It was delicious.

We set a timer to check the pizza after fifteen minutes, and as soon as the oven timer dinged, my friend and I flitted off to the kitchen, like little kids excited for ice cream. After taking the pizza out for a better look, my boyfriend asked, "should we dab the pizza?" It did seem to be oozing a slick layer of oil from the fresh veggies that had been sauteed in olive oil before topping the pizza. After dabbing the pizza as any fine pizza maker is sure to do, we briefly admired how the sauteed veggies had nicely settled into their cheesy bed of gooey deliciousness. After a few more minutes in the oven, the pizza was finally ready, and after a few quick minutes of cooling, the pizza was ready for eating. We each grabbed a couple slices and chowed down in the living room. Just like good ol' times.

Pizza. Is. Ready.

Someone just couldn't keep their hands off...

Because you can never have just one slice

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sandwich Science

Lunchtime at mom's house today was an interesting adventure. A good ham or turkey sandwich always satisfies my taste buds, and I'd been hankering a good lunch meat sandwich for a few days. I spotted a few ciabatta rolls atop the refrigerator, and I plucked one off to serve as the backbone of my soon-to-be sandwich. I quickly realized to my misfortune, that the roll was as hard as a rock. I plopped it in the toaster oven for a few short minutes to see if it would change the consistency of my roll. No dice. If anything it got harder, but I suppose I could have guessed that. The nice thing about these types of rolls is that they get stale before they can become a mushy breeding ground for bacteria. The crusty, crater filled roll sort of reminded me of the moon, in all of it's barren, lifeless existence. I'd crack a tooth on the ciabatta roll before I contracted some deathly mold-induced sickness.

In a continued effort to soften up my ciabatta roll, I decided to slice it in half. Slicing is how you would split a fresh, chewy roll. In my case, I had to saw through the darn thing, wincing as enormous crumbs of ciabatta shrapnel flew in every direction. It was at least sixty seconds of sawing before I split that sucker in two. Then I placed turkey slices on one half and a slice of provolone cheese on the other. I hypothesized that if I tried toasting it again, some of the moisture from the turkey and cheese would be drawn down into the hard bread. After taking the sandwich halves out of the toaster oven and testing the bread hardness, I let out a sigh, squirted on some spicy brown mustard, and braced myself as I gingerly bit into my cement sandwich. I can't say I enjoyed gnawing through my entire sandwich this afternoon, but it tasted just like I'd  hoped it would.

You can see in the bottom right corner where a chunk
of bread was lost to the brute force of the formidable
bread knife

New Shoes and Nowhere to Go

I have two brand new pairs of boots sitting in my room, but nowhere to wear them. You know how when you first buy something new and you're really careful with it at first because you want to preserve it's pristine condition for a little while? That's how I feel about my new boots even though it's winter. I have a pair of heavy duty snow boots that I have been wearing pretty much everyday because it's been snowing pretty regularly where I live. My new pairs of boots have both been waterproofed, but they're not exactly meant for trudging through deep snow drifts and keeping my feet toasty warm in the freezing weather.

This is why I selfishly want the snow to go away for a day or two so I can actually wear my new boots. I did get them as a Christmas present after all... Of course I much prefer having snow with the wide variety of wintry activities that I very much enjoy taking part in. The girly side of me just wants to show off my new kicks so all the strangers I pass can stop and ponder where that stranger got her spankin clean and pristine leather boots.

Leather boots with faux fur trim.
Super on sale for $25

These have amazingly comfortable insoles

Making Furry Friends

While out running errands the other day, I pulled into the parking lot at my sister's bank so she could deposit a check. As I was sitting in the car, I watched as a dark van drove around the lot and pulled up next to me. Once the driver exited the vehicle, I looked over to glimpse the precious cargo riding in the front seat with him. I involuntarily emitted those high-pitched tones of excitement that any girl will automatically produce when cute animals are sighted. Adorable spotted puppy had an older doggie friend tagging along, but spotted puppy was too cute to take my eyes of of it (gender unknown).
We see you too...

I'm hiding because I don't know you
and you aren't my driver

Inconvenience Store

You ever been to an inconvenience store? Most people try to avoid them at all costs. The inconvenient location of such a store is the first major deterrent from broad public appeal. One may be located behind an abandoned warehouse or maybe one-hundred miles from the nearest gas station. Only on the rare occasion that all of the conveniently located stores are simultaneously closed does an inconvenience store seem like a more viable option.

An authentic inconvenience store boasts horrible parking, or maybe no parking at all. One of the most inconvenient stores I've ever been to was perched on an island surrounded by a river of rushing water. The only way to reach the inconvenience store is to hire an experienced rafting guide to propel you across the river, while counteracting the dangerously strong current. If you are able to make it to the island, the next dilemma involves determining how to enter the store. With no marked entrance, you may end up entering through the back warehouse. If you're not careful, you may run into some of the seedy employees that meticulously work at stocking the inconvenience store.

If you've gone to all this trouble to get to the store, you probably have a very specific list of grocery items to pick up. Well good luck with that. At any decent inconvenience store, you wil only find the most useless, overpriced collection of items. Half eaten cookies? Twenty-seven dollars a pound. A sack of rusty nails? Fifty bucks and your left shoe. The customer demographic mainly consists of hoarders and the insanely adventurous type.

Looking for this week's coupons? It's going to cost you. The inconvenience store coupons are hand printed on the finest Egyptian papyrus. The only way to retrieve them is to visit the little canvas hut somewhere along the west bank of the Nile River. Happy shopping.

Coincidence or Canine Cognition

My grandma was doing laundry in the basement the other day when Shaggy came trolling down the basement stairs behind her. It’s rather amusing that Shaggy can so easily traverse this set of stairs when Elmo, my grandma’s previous dog, was terrified of the stairs. Back when I lived with my grandma, occasions would arise where I would need to go down to the basement for one thing or another. On dark nights when I was alone in the house, the sight of a gigantic dog anxiously waiting at the top of the stairs was not a soothing sight as I descended the steps alone.

With the brave and over-curious Shaggy always lurking nearby, there is no longer any fear of entering the basement without a canine companion in tow. As my grandma was doing laundry in the basement the other morning, Shaggy was right with her, probably licking the laundry as she was trying to remove it from the dryer. He doesn’t mean to be a nuisance but Shaggy is naturally very good at it. My grandma wanting some relief from the nosey dog turned to him and said, “Shaggy, I don’t want you here right now. You better turn around and go back upstairs before I smack you on the fanny.” Wouldn’t you know, the dog maneuvered an about face and come galloping back up the stairs. At least Shaggy can recognize a threat when he hears one