Friday, November 22, 2013

Diner Definers

Shortly after our arrival to our son's home in Iowa. my sister and her husband arrived to welcome us and suggest we go to the local (and only) cafe for dinner. 

Assured that I would be able to get something "meat-free", I agree that dinner sounds like a great plan and wonder how all of us will fit into my sister's car. 

Much to my surprise, as I stand, freezing and shivering, next to my sister's car, everyone starts walking the three blocks in the 30* weather, avoiding the ice patches on the streets and sidewalks as they go. I dutifully fall into the ranks. 

Once seated at "Mother's Steakhouse"  I begin the defrosting process and peruse the menu. I decide on a dinner salad and baked potato with all the "fixins". 

However, much to my dismay, in this little community in Iowa, baked potatoes don't have fixins! I think we truly stumped the young waitress when asking if they had chives. (No, they don't... She thinks...I still don't think she knows what chives are) ...

So, I have to rethink my dining options as a dry potato doesn't appeal to me.... How about the potato skins ... I can do those!

I inquire about the potato skins... "Do they have bacon on them?" I ask.

 I am rewarded with a blank stare followed with a confused, yet resounding "no" ... 

 Ok, Ok!!! I get it, there's no bacon. Good !!

"Do you want the personal size?" she asks. "No," I reply, "lets do the full order because you know everyone's gonna reach over and take them off of my plate."  And I swear, this was her response. 

...... you'd think I had just arrived here from Mars.  (Mars ... California.... makes no difference when you're new to a small community)

And now I know why she had such an expression ...

In California, potato skins are basically a baked potato with the innards scooped out. Add cheese, bacon, and chives... Pop em into the oven for a few and serve up w ranch dressing or sour cream.  

In Iowa, potato skins are  peeled, and generally discarded skins of the potatoes and then deep fried !!!! I was the recipient of a whole, huge steaming basket of potato peelings, NOT the 4 to 6 little wedges I was envisioning. 

Needless to say, I received NO assistance eating them. I even brought a box home for breakfast.

Remind me to ask specific questions next time I go out as I'm pretty sure "sweetbreads"
will not be a "cinnamon crumble bagel" from Paneras. LMAO

Dairy of a Snow Shoveler

It snowed last night.

I got up three times in the middle of the night to check to see how much had fallen...

I got up this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat in my living room enjoying how the sun reflected off of the snow.

I remembered a funny story my husband had shared a few years ago. Not only did he share it with me, but he photo copied it and passed it around to everyone at work proclaiming that the elements of the story were the very reason he would never move back to Iowa.

And yet, here we Iowa...preparing for our first FULL Winter. When we arrived in March, we brought a blizzard with us. It literally rode in on our coat tails (I know the neighbors are still blaming us).   And then, we experienced a freak blizzard in May... MAY !!! Who gets snow storms in MAY?? Well, we did. ( I know the neighbors are blaming us for this one, too)

Let's just go for the trifecta and take credit for the flooding that happened here in June while we're at it. This resulted in the entire moldification of our son's basement living area. he now sleeps in my craft room.

At the moment, we still have our sanity and are smiling. But, much as the individual in the story I am about to share, I anticipate an entire "melt down" as the season progresses. We are told to expect a rough Winter.... I'm sure we will get blamed for that one, as well.

Enjoy (at my expense ....)

Diary of a Snow Shoveler~~
Day 1
6:00 PM. It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

Day 2
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had. Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life.

Day 3
The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment. My neighbor tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a white Valentine's day. No snow in February would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor.

Day 4
Snow, lovely snow! 8" last night. The temperature dropped to the teens. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way.

Day 5
20 forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

Day 6
Ice storm this morning. Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like heck. The wife laughed for on hour, which I think was very cruel.

Day 7
Temperature is way below freezing. Roads too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

Day 8
Electricity's back on, but another 14" of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling. Took all day. Darn snowplow came back twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

Day 9
Bob was right about winter's here because 13 more inched of the white crap fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to poop. By the time I got undressed, pooped, and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the jerk is lying.

Day 10
Only 2" of snow today. And it warmed up to 15. The wife wanted me to clean the porch furniture this morning. What, is she nuts! Why didn't she tell me to clean them months ago and cover them? She says she did but I think she's lying.

Day 11
6" snow packed so hard by the snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the man who drives that snowplow I'll drag him through the snow by his nose and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to watch a romantic movie with her, but I was too busy watching for the snowplow.

Day 12
Happy Valentine's Day! 20 more inches of the slop tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. I hate snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "Sleepless In Seattle" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

Day 13
Still snowed in. Why the heck did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

Day 14
Temperature dropped to record low and the pipes froze. Plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him. He only charged me $1400 to replace all my pipes.

Day 15
Warmed up to above 18! Still snowed in. THE WITCH is driving me crazy!!!

Day 16
Still more snow. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

Day 17
Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver. He's now suing me for a million dollars not only for the beating I gave him but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up where the sun don't shine. The wife went home to her mother. More snow predicted.

Day 18
I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

Day 19
Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Mayberry...

This past winter, my husband and I packed up our few possessions and left our lives in sunny Southern California for the frozen plains of  Franklin County, Iowa.

And, right now, many of you are going to suggest that I make myself an appointment for a CT scan, STAT! Because who, in their right mind, does that !!!

Well, to me, Iowa is home.

 I had spent many summers at my Grandpa's home in Sioux City, Iowa and I have fond memories of carefree summers of running free, catching fire flies at dusk, learning to play cribbage at the kitchen table while listening to the ball game on his radio. Back yards went on forever, because neighbors don't believe in fences.

Every day my Grandpa and I would walk to Peter's Park where we'd stop in to say hello to Ed, the barber. Sometimes, Grandpa would get a trim. We'd go to the Ben Franklin Store to pick up a treat or two to keep me occupied and then head to the Masonic Lodge, where Grandpa would tidy things up before the Mason's next meeting.

 Those summers were magical to me.

In later years, I'd visit family in Franklin County during the summer months. We would have fresh corn on the cob feasts while playing board games til two in the morning. My boys would would run and play with their cousins, catch frogs at the pond and go fishing. They'd catch fire flies, just as I had done as a child.We'd spend all day at the county fair and Wednesday evenings at the Farmer's Market, watch fireworks at Beed's Lake on the 4th of July.

 The mood in the small Iowa towns was always relaxed, an overall atmosphere of calm.  No one ever seemed to be in a hurry, neighbors took the time to engage in friendly conversation and genuinely cared for each other. Farmers met for coffee at the local diner every morning People smiled and greeted you when you'd walk down the street or enter a store.

To me, Iowa was my Mayberry.

We had lived in Iowa before, during the winter of '85, and had survived what locals called a "Centennial Storm". A winter so brutal it only comes along every hundred years or so. It snowed for weeks and we would experience long cold snaps, often with temperatures well below zero. Many times I recall the Wind Chill Factor being at -80 degrees. My husband vowed that as soon as he could free our truck from the massive snow bank in the alley, he was going to pack up his little family and head for warmer weather, never to return. And he did.

Twenty-eight years. I had tried for nearly twenty-eight years to convince my husband that Iowa was where we needed to be; where we needed to be raising our sons. But he wouldn't relent. I begged, pleaded, and schemed. I presented him with insane real estate deals, but he'd stand firm that we were staying in California. Iowa was not for him.

Then, in early January of 2013, I had it in my mind to try again. I  decided to start saving some money towards a down payment for a house in Iowa. I thought I'd tempt him yet again with the bait of an inexpensive country home; a simpler life.  A last ditch effort.  I didn't say a word, but had nearly met my savings goal when, one month later, after a stressful day at work, my husband sat down at my feet and asked me if I'd consider moving to Iowa. He was done with California.

Once I determined that he wasn't joking or baiting me, I showed him my stash of $20 bills and it was a mad dash from that point forward. Within six weeks we quit our high stress jobs, packed the truck, kissed the children and grandbabies goodbye and  hit the highway towards a better life.

This is OUR Mayberry now. We've rented a little house in a community with approximately 260 residents. John Deere tractors seem to outnumber the cars. My husband is more tolerant of the winter temperatures and conditions (as I write this, it is the first week of May and we have been hit, once again, with a record-breaking winter and there is a foot of snow on the ground). Many things are as I remembered; relaxed, carefree, genuine.

I've been a city mouse for far too many years. There's going to be plenty of stories to share as I become a country girl in my Mayberry. So sit back, grab a Mason jar of sweet tea, and listen to a yarn or two. <3