Monday, December 21, 2009

Now Is The Time On Sprockets When We Cook

I have this thing with magnolias. Don’t know why, or where it came from, but I just adore them, and I’m not really a tree guy. Or a plant guy, for that matter. A couple of years ago a curly maple we had in the front died, so there was an open spot, and I drove way the hell down to this nursery I found on the Internet to get a Sweet Bay Magnolia for the front yard. It’s still tiny, but getting there. At the moment it looks like a couple of dead branches sticking out of the snow, but when the spring rolls around and the leaves come out, it’s the first thing I notice when I walk out the door. Every leaf is a thick deep green with a muted blue underbelly, perfectly oval, and defies the wind while the leaves of our other trees flutter helplessly. It blossoms on it’s own schedule, symmetrical and creamy white, with a delicate scent I can pick up before our house is even in view. On perfect summer days, even though our porch is slowly disintegrating and I routinely forget to mow the lawn, having it there makes our house majestic. Which, as you might have guessed, is where my wife and I differ. We agree on lots of things, disagree on plenty too, but are pretty much on the same page. I’ve never really talked to her about the tree, but I imagine she would give me the same look as I do when she insists on making the bed. Never quite understood the point of that…
Point being, I also love a good pan. I have accumulated a lot of them, and like all good things in my life, most have a back story. I have crepe pans from Cordon Bleu and Dehillerin, a frying pan Sara and I bought in Montepulciano, Havard from an estate sale in California, nickel plated copper from Morocco, and on and on. A month or so ago I bought some heavy copper pans made in the 1800s, well used, beat up, and re-tinned at least once judging by the tin slop on the sides. The sauce pan has jagged dovetail marks on the bottom, the Windsor has hammered initials on the side, both are slightly misshapen and crumpled on the edges from over a century of being banged with spoons, and both are exquisite. Having good pans wouldn’t do too much for me without being able to cook in them though, and once I had them I let them hang quietly on the rack for a while while I mulled over my options. Since they are deliciously heavy and spectacular, I needed to re-tin them so I could use them because there was copper showing on the inside. Didn’t just want to. Needed to. I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. The biggest problem was, now that I had them, I didn’t want to send them to just anyone… so I emailed, called, and read reviews and chat boards of every place that re-tinned copper I could find. Finally, I called Rocky Mountain Retinning in Colorado and talked to Dieter. I knew. I knew in the way you can tell if someone will be a good babysitter or not. I knew he would take care of them.
This morning, while I was sitting down at the dining room table, sore from shoveling two feet of snow and lamenting the fact that Lily is stuck at home with strep three days before Christmas, they came. In the same box I packed them into three weeks ago, they came. When I pulled them out, they were ice cold and perfect. Still dented and misshapen, but heavy and full of potential energy, like they came back to life.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Moustache Fights

We've been getting a flurry of packages at our doorstep lately, almost every day they'll be something waiting on the porch when I get home, and I have to admit it's a little exciting. Granted, I know what most of them are, since they are either Christmas-related, or something I've ordered to replace something that has stopped working in the house - a little sidebar for you... everything we own has broken. I think it's a bad karma thing. Our stereo stopped working, so I brought the one I was using in the basement upstairs, and that one broke. My car has a 'service soon' light that won't go away, the screen on my laptop died, Sam's knee stopped working (which landed him in the hospital), our microwave tray stopped rotating, the water dispenser on our fridge, etc., etc....
Anyway, we've been getting packages, which rocks. My favorite so far was Sara's Christmas present to me, which came in a clearly marked box from the manufacturer... so unless she's reeeeeeeeally crafty, knew what was in the box before I even walked up the porch steps. Ha! Even though we live on a little side street, everything gets here without a hitch, unless it's sent by DHL. For some reason, they just can't seem to find us. I get a DHL package about once a year, and every time the delivery date comes and goes, and I have to call them up and explain that there is indeed a street named Woodbine, I'm calling from there right now, and we're not just driving our house around trying to avoid them. Yesterday, they did it again. I got a tracking number, and then an email saying they were having delivery problems. Since we're getting so many little things delivered, I had no idea what it was or how important the contents were, so I called as soon as I got the message. In typical DHL fashion, the woman who answered the phone was useless. "Is this the right address?", she asked, " Can you spell it for me?"... And best of all, "Are you sure you're in Berwyn?". So we went back and forth for a while. Her "google wasn't working", she said, and asked me for directions and cross streets. Then, to add insult to injury, she said they would TRY to deliver it.
Since I hadn't slept much, and was annoyed that everything in the house had decided to self destruct at once, I was a little pissed. To sum up, I said to her in one long sentence without any pause or hint of punctuation, that the post office, UPS, FedEx, and even our 16 year old pizza delivery kid can find the house without any problems and I'm not paying any of them for express delivery and maybe she should get someone on the phone that can find my house since it's a large stationary object or give their drivers maps that weren't written in squid's ink on papyrus in the early 1800s so that they can bring me my fucking package before they send it back to whoever the hell its from or maybe find a person that could write me a check for the delivery charges I paid since they were intent on driving everything I order all over Pennsylvania instead of bringing it to my house which is in the same fucking place it was when they haven't been able to find it every year for the past seven years. Or something like that.
Anyway, a few hours later a DHL truck pulls up to the house, the driver gingerly rolls his antique map up into a scroll, and brings me my package. We chatted for a second because he seemed like a nice enough guy, and when I got inside I eagerly tore the envelope open to see what my little outburst had saved from being returned... and there they were, in all their glory, the 120 fake moustaches I had ordered for our holiday party. Sam chose the 'bandito' style to wear around for the rest of the night, and I decided not to wear one just yet, but to savor the sight of the 119 moustaches left scattered across our dining room table. I just love the holiday season...
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