Thursday, December 27, 2012

The perfect gift

This will sound grinchy: I generally don't like gifts. I don't like the attention of people watching me open presents. I hate the stress of getting something for someone if it's not the perfect gift. And, frankly, living in a studio means that when new things come in, old things need to go out.

And the shopping can be a pain in the ass. I find that going out on a mission to buy gifts is a sure recipe for not finding a damn thing. This was proved in a recent lazy Sunday shopping trip in Salem, MA, with my friend Noelle. 

The infamous book shop in downtown Salem. Fabulous if you have time and no hips. Every shopper could hear a book drop followed by me apologizing.

This chocolate shop was cute, and the treat with coconut and dark chocolate was lovely. But let's be serious. There was no way I would buy you chocolates and NOT eat them before Christmas.

 We didn't bother to enter this store:
Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I love Salem.
Because here a little S&M and a crocodile head
seem like perfectly good window dressing.
And then there's this:
Jerry's is an institution in Salem. And in all my years of living there, I never walked in. And this is why:
A cloth calendar, like Nana used to have, from 1980, selling for $5.
If only I knew a couple named Tom and Jerry . . .
What the hell is going on here?
Just because we're in the Witch City doesn't mean you
can throw a pointy hat on anything and think it's clever.
Okay, so Christmas shopping in Salem was sort of a bust. Which is fine because I'd done most of my shopping up in Cape Breton this summer. But there was one gift I needed to buy here in the States . . . and that was for Festivus!

My friends don't celebrate Festivus in the proper manner. There isn't an aluminum pole, and I don't think you could argue that there are feats of strength. There's plenty of airing of grievances. But that's just how we role on any given day. But the annual Festivus party is a force to be reckoned with. With the saddest Yankee swap you've ever seen. The rules: $10 or less, and nothing serious. I was pretty happy with my contribution this year.
An inflatable unicorn hat for a cat and
Maybe You Touched Your Genitals hand sanitizer.
The party was fun as always, and I applaud the two gentlemen who were brave enough to attend. You, sirs, are a credit to your sex.

I won cereal. Is this guy important?
Noelle won a spinny thing with a dog face in the middle.
Melanie won an inflatable unicorn horn.
Wait. TWO inflatable unicorn horns at one party?! YES, party people. It's true.
Girl's gotta cut loose once in a while. Melanie and Kate have an, um, sword fight.
And then there are my friends who refuse to make asses of themselves.
Don't be fooled by these ladies.
Maureen and Gienna are trouble, I tell ya.

And just to prove that Melanie isn't always freaky, but sometimes just cute and demure by a Christmas tree:
But after Festivus come the weeks of REAL gift giving. My family is teeny tiny. I spend Christmas day with my folks, and we open gifts over video chat with little brother and his wife in Charlotte. I won't lie, it's a little awkward doing it all over the computer. Hard to hear each other, and there's a lag in communication. And to get my folks and me in the same frame, we would have to sit on each other's laps. Not happening.

So we had our Blair Witch Christmas with jittery camera and bad acoustics and video sometimes shot up my nose. We opened books (I received an embarrassing number of books), jewelry, clothes, scarves, scratch tickets, and more. And after the whirlwind was over, we all took a breath and smiled at each other.

My brother then piped up. "Mom, is everything opened? Are there any left on your end?" And my mom suddenly remembered something and ran to the other room. She returned with a ginormous but narrow box. And she handed it to me.

And while everyone stared at me, and I turned beet red from the attention, I slowly pulled the box open and saw what was inside.
This, my friends, is the original painting that I gushed over in my last blog post. It's a blue ribbon winner from the Deerfield Fair by the man on one can find online: Ted Nichols. When my brother was up a couple weeks ago, he found Mr. Nichols, went to his studio, and bought me this original canvas. It's perhaps the most touching thing anyone has done for me. And they were all in on it. The perfect gift.

And it turns out Mr. Nichols lives about 10 minutes down the road from me. He's a quiet carpenter who happens to also paint beautiful New England scenes that I've mentioned here, here, and here. So I'm going to take some time to get over my shyness and awe and call him and visit his studio. (Mental note: never, ever share this blog with him.) I'm coming for you, Ted. I'm coming for you.

Merry Christmas to you all. Hope you all got something fun and the love you deserve.


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Colombian culinary conspiracy and DEEP-FRIED OREOS

It's fair season, kids!

As usual, the fam gathered up and went to the Deerfield Fair. And it was great having Little Brother and his wife, Ligia, up to visit.

We did the usual stuff, like check out the arts and crafts.
Funny, really, how I can take such a bad picture of such a good picture. I'm special.
 We learned about a new (to us) genre of art: egg shells

"Marge, seriously. No more damn omelets. I'm sick of eggs."

"Sorry, dear. Almost done with my masterpieces for the fair."

Truly. Who has this kind of time?
This guy was cross stitching AND talking about watching soccer in Ireland.
I thought that was everything I might want in a man. Funny. Not turned on in the least.

As Little Brother aptly stated, "Everyone needs a John Wayne pillow." It's true.
And Christmas is riiight around the corner

Painting #1 by my elusive artist boyfriend, Ted Nichols.

And painting #2 by TN. I love this one. Especially how you can see right
through the house in the window second from left. Sigh.
I think blogging about Ted Nichols three years in a row technically puts me in a stalker category. The fact that it's 2012 and I can't find him online tells me he probably doesn't want to be found. I know you're out there, Ted. I will wait for you.

We people watched. I care about you, so I'm only posting nonoffensive pictures. But there were so many offensive sights. The woman whose belly waved hello from under her shirt and over her pants comes to mind. Especially her belly button piercing. I mean, someone got up in there to do that. I'm not a small gal, but I like to keep my business covered up. 'Cause no one wants to see that shit. That was no ordinary muffin top.

We saw a dinosaur, because, well, I always find dinosaurs.
Are we in Virginia?
Soon we were onto the food portion of our fair trip. This is where things become questionable.
Us: Hello, sir. Spears or chips?
Him: Spears today. Maybe chips later in the weekend.

What happened after this, gives me pause over the pickle situation. Long-time readers know that we find deep-fried pickle spears abhorrent. Only chips will do. So we were hungry. We needed sustenance. And only a moment later, we came upon this:
Paella? At the fair? It's pretty and all, but this is different... I see vegetables.

Jorge's paella, huh? Ligia jumped on this like no one's business.
And check out the look on Jorge's face. I smell conspiracy. And saffron.
Like his eyes, in Spanish, are saying, "You know what to do, little one. Feed them..."

And that's exactly what this sassy little Colombian minx proceeded to do.

Even the crankiest members of the family were eating paella goodness.

That smile! That cute little accent. She had us in the palm of her hand.

Churros? Paella? Arepas? I was on to her. Ligia has totally turned this redneck, white trash event into a Latino technicolor culinary dream.
We managed to escape from her hold long enough to eat onion rings, fries, a corn dog, and DEEP-FRIED OREOS. Sorry, only block caps will do for that. Seemingly innocent, DEEP-FRIED OREOS start as a lot of batter with an Oreo stuck somewhere inside. But they quickly become a subtle sweetness that feels like LOVE IN YOUR MOUTH. We may have bought two orders. And I may have been so smitten that I forgot to take a picture. Totally let you down on that one, folks. My bad.

When Ligia wasn't conspiring for Latino fair domination, she posed with me in all the face cutouts. Best. Sister in law. Ever. Ligia, you can totally go on a Canadian road trip with me anytime.

I was excited about these face cutout pics until I started seeing them on Facebook with people's children in them. Whatevs, people. I'm thirty-blah, and I like face cutouts. Sue me.

There were, of course, many animals to pet and admire. For those of you just here for my wit and charm, feel free to sail through this section.

Slightly intimidating

Yer funny lookin'

I love how mammoth the oxen are. And still such sweet eyes.

This guy did not like me. In fact, he tried to charge a couple times. I, like a jackass,
stood there taking pictures and baby talking to him. "Whassamattah? You don't like me? Show me your angry face."
me mE ME ME ME Me meeeeeee

I've just kissed a girl named Mariaaaaa
I have a bone to pick with the Deerfield Fair. As the self-appointed sheep whisperer, I have two concerns. First, there's a specific breed of sheep that no longer shows up for the fair (hell if I know what the breed is--can't find it online). Second, All the damn sheep were being sheared. After shearing, all sheep are dressed in a very KKK-like hooded robe. So the sheep barn looked more like a klan rally, and I couldn't take many tasteful pictures. Dear shepherds, please figure these two things out. In the meantime, I took very lackluster pictures of the sheep. But I got kisses from one, so my day was complete.
This is the breed I miss--Shetlands?

Would you believe me if I told you that as soon as I snapped this, the little guy got up
on his hind legs, gave a dramatic wide-mouth yawn, and then settled back down? No? Didn't think so.
So let's be clear about one thing: I have only love for animals. Except for alpacas. These things are all wrong. I don't trust them at all. They look like they stepped out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Of course my stepfather would totally dig a beast that freaks me out.

That shit just ain't right.

Yes, Kelly. That is eff'd up.
So, another year at the fair. Another night of antacids to follow it up. All good stuff.
Whatever you do, don't do that.