QotD: Culinary Celebrity

Who's the coolest culinary celebrity?

Dead or alive?  On tv or just about town?

Alive and on TV, I choose Alton Brown.  Plus he used to be a cameraman, and he rides a motorcycle, and recently got a tattoo of a skull with knife and fork, or was it fork and spoon?  He's intelligent, funny, and his recipes actually work.  I like the food anthropogy angle because I'm an info junkie, plus, he likes vintage stuff and creates alternative tools for use with strange procedures.  I also like Nigella Lawson, but missed every single episode of her new show, Feasts.  Anthony Bourdain is definitely cool, except he smokes, which may mean his food is salty.  Maybe Jamie Oliver is cool, but I've only seen the show where he gets
his aunt to make gnocchi and pizzas in her outdoor pizza oven.  

I could sound off on all the FoodTV folks, but around town, the legendary one here in the Bay Area still seems to be Alice Waters (and maybe some of her proteges).  There's the woman from Boulevard, can't think of her name, but in a foodie place like this, it depends on how high end you eat.   There's the guy who started The Slanted Door.

Dead, it's a toss up between The Two Fat Ladies (oh, how I miss that show) and Julia Child ("skim off the scum, it smells like grandpa's socks!).

But what do we mean by "cool"?  Cool is the chef that gives their extra food to meals on wheels or the local shelter, and is green in their kitchen practices, and maybe, one can argue, is a decent person….

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"…the girl can't get to sleep…"—Animal Nightlife, from a cassette my brother gave me 2 decades ago, which I continue to lament not being able to transfer onto my iPod.

Is it the blazing full moon or the scorching hot day, the same as last year on this date as recorded in my written journal?

Is it the freeway noise, sirens, planes taking off and landing at Oakland airport, breaking through my silence-and-waves-crashing-conditioned sleep?  Or is it the loud window air conditioner/fan that's also sending our electric bill through the roof?

Is it the cat sleeping between my legs and the husband dominating the other 3/4 of the bed, occasionally kicking my bad toes (ah, there's the cause of the mystery injuries)?

Is it the failed attempt at sleeping on the living room couch, where the chances of infringement on such a tiny space should be small, and I thought I might actually snooze, if I didn't die of gas inhalation from the leak in the kitchen?

Is it the endless myriad of thoughts keeping my already steroid-deranged mind from resting?  Thoughts ranging from my husband never asks how my doctor's appointments or scans go, and can't even recall my chemo treatments (although it comes every 3 weeks like clockwork) to worries about my brother and aging parents? 

I often feel that the hubby's more consumed with getting his best friend out here for the opening of crab season than with how things are going for me health-and-work-wise.  He's not interested in discussing my work concerns, only saying, "The decision is all yours, I can't help you with that."  I've tried to discuss the pros and cons, my concerns about his company's crappy health plan (which is a concern if I outlive my 18-months of COBRA coverage), my insecurity over his lack of life insurance, etc. but he just won't hear it.  I know he can't fix everything with a snap of his fingers, but a little discussion might sort some things out.  Frankly, I think he moved on quite awhile ago from the initial shock of my illness to resigning himself to just living with someone who no longer resembles the person he married and doesn't really behave like her anymore either.  He is still affectionate and funny, and says he loves me, and does cave in to finally doing some of the things around the house that I ask, but sometimes, I feel like the greater, more important part of him, has left the building.  This makes me sad, but he's still there for me, and that fact cannot be overrated.  (Mom Cramer, if you mention any of this to him, he'll snap both our heads off—just a heads up)

I'm sure he's accustomed to being at work all day—being at home smacks of leisure rather than work.  He doesn't seem to be a good work-at-home person.  Too restless, feels guilty/lazy if he doesn't have a full agenda.  He chose this position ostensibly to spend more time with me, to have a flexible schedule, but it's really only worked out when he wanted to visit his best friend, and when we had to move.  Otherwise, any plans I make are met with, "Well I just started this job and I can't very well take time off", and he actually doesn't want to engage in any activities I'm interested in, like taking a walk or going somewhere for the day.  If he's going somewhere, it's out on the boat at 6 a.m. with his buddies.  My body can't take the hours or the beating, so  that's been phased out (oh I gave it a few months).  So we've actually not spent too much more time together than when he was working full time away from home.  He still comes home late at night, with the added absences of travel which he hasn't had to do for a couple of years at least.  He doesn't like business travel, or really travel in general, so that effectively snuffs out travel plans with me.  Anyway, his trump card is, he's the only one working, he's supporting us, and that neutralizes pretty much any argument.  I guess I'm just venting.

Anyway, other thoughts:  Like when is the landlord putting in a new dishwasher?  We declined putting in sprinklers and sod in the back yard for "our share" of $850 (half the estimated cost), and I think he's being spiteful and thinking, "Fuck 'em.  They don't want to improve my property, they can just wash dishes for a year."  (I'm the only one who washes the dishes, and it's definitely time consuming with a one-compartment, shallow sink)  The guy's a real piece of work.  It took him 2 weeks to haul out trash in the backyard left over from the previous tenants/contractors.

Do I sound like I'm missing the white palace in Alameda?  Maybe.  I myself am surprised.  I just didn't feel that attached at the time.  There's something to be said about a place that not only LOOKS move-in ready, but IS (which Sand Beach was).  We had specific needs, though, that this house generally fulfilled (cheaper, boat storage, pet-negotiable).  If I don't learn to get over my prejudices about this place, and the landlord doesn't fix the issues (did I mention the oven dial has no temperature markings on it?), it's going to be a long year.  Maybe by then, I really WILL have all our belongings reduced to an amount we can move ourselves, and health allowing (should I say, if I'm even around by then?), I will move, despite Mike's new rule that we won't be moving again unless it's out of state or because we're buying.  I think my state of mind is worth the cost of moving.  Maybe I can spend more time somewhere else, but what about the cat?

With this in mind, I've passed up some really good deals at a legendary fabric store that's closing at the end of the month.  There are beautiful upholstery and drapery fabrics for half off, and although I drooled when I got there, I'm weary of an investment which may need to once again be discarded in a year.

I'm seeking permanence and stability— there's no other certainty in the rest of my life.  I seem to be struggling with that.  It's not something I've ever really sought.  Stability was something I carried within myself.  My credo was being able to find comfort in many situations, most involving tents, friends' couches, rooms with milk crates, futons and sleeping bags.  A bottle of wine, good books, and warm clothes were great and indispensable luxuries, but simple to come by, generally.  Permanence was anathema to my lifestyle.  Now look at me.

How did I get here, and where did that furniture, those appliances, the closet full of business clothes come from?  I gave away all sorts of kitchen appliances when we moved, and prior to that, furniture.  Downsizing might save us, but at what expense?  Alas, we finally had to throw out my camping mat, which the squirrels chewed at Alameda Point.  Otherwise I'd consider sleeping in the car, in my sleeping bag, on my mat.  On the other hand, this may not be the safest place for that sort of activity (which in my younger days I did quite often in Rockridge).

I need to get to sleep, I have chemo tomorrow.  I took an Ativan, I've got to try.  The paper boy just rode by.

Did I mention I had a "good" PET scan on the 6th?  The report indicated I was "showing a good response to chemotherapy".  Of course, I don't feel so great right now—it's Murphy's Law.  You always get a good report right before things start to go.  But maybe it's just the anxiety and stuff.  Maybe I'm actually doing really well.  I keep promising a health update, and I will post one.  Maybe tomorrow, when I'm laid up from chemo and looking umpa-lumpa-ish. 

Nighty night.

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Small blips from the past have been ambushing me lately, minute things I haven't thought of in years, nor even thought I recalled.  It's that whole cathartic process of unpacking, I suppose, since the memories don't necessarily bear any relation to the artifacts being unearthed.  Unpacking along with VH1's We Are the 80's brought this little gem up—Sting with hair!  He's actually quite handsome in this video:

We used to say "God bless Sting", although he doesn't need any more blessings than the ones beyond count he already has.  Hair is certainly overrated, though it may have helped him early on, and kept him out of the clouds, which is where his music seems to have gone lately. 

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This was my 14th move in 14 years, or something like that.  It used to be easy.  I'd stuff the VW bug with everything I owned and hit the road.  The 14 moves are just the ones involving Bruno, my Siamese cat.  He's 14.5 and I feel like I've taken a few years off both our lives with this transience.  Moving used to be such an adventure…now it's just a drag.

Tonight we left Alameda, the house at the beach, the prolific apple tree, and the little man who just last year was a robust traveler in bermuda shorts and hawaiian shirt.  Tonight I saw him, our now ex-landlord—still friendly, but shrunken and lacking the confident swagger of ease.  I told him I got sick.  He inquired, and when I said I had cancer, he said, "Me too.  Her too", pointing in the direction of his wife.  "What kind?"  We talked at great length about it—he had prostate cancer 7 years ago, and it's returned.  His wife has some sort of abdominal cancer—he simply gestured to the area, though he seemed to indicate it was female-organ-related.  She'd begun chemo, but he felt unsure about doing it himself because "there would be no one to take (him)".

The fact that I've only met Albert once and that we were meeting for purely business purposes kept my emotions at bay, but I felt like crying.  Maybe it was the strain of the past 14 days—nothing about this move had gone according to schedule or been correct in any way, with the exception of the movers we hired (same ones who've moved us 3 other times).  Maybe it was because I knew that the next tenants, who pushed for us to leave early, had moved furniture into the garage while we were still cleaning, and had screwed up the garbage service, cutting us off from receiving the all-important dumpster—-were going to f— up that house.  They had the nerve to call Albert while he was getting a second opinion in L.A. to ask for a refridgerator.  Maybe…I was sorry and angry, because here was someone who used to be in control, and he seemed so tentative about the fight.  I was sad that our rapport was further bonded by having cancer.  I told him he needed to eat.  Anything, and everything.  He'd lost 15 pounds.

He thanked us for planting the lawn and the flowering vines out front.  I gave Mike the credit, to which Albert added, "He has a good mind."  He invited us to visit, asked if his son, a doctor, could call me, and asked us to stay in touch.  His other son was pruning the heavily laden apple tree, while his wife bagged the apples to give away.  She handed me a branch with leaves and a perfect apple on the end.  This is exactly something my own mother would do, and she was about the same size and age.  He thanked us three times for taking care of the house.  It actually looked better now than when we moved in a year ago.  I'm pretty sure he marveled at how perfect everything still was, after a year.  We're talking about new white carpet, white tile with white grout, new flat white paint, white vinyl floors….all we needed were white suits for A Clockwork Orange.  Only the truly anal could've kept it that way, or someone with lots of rugs and no energy to hang pictures (we're the latter).  We used to think the white was a way to fritter away the deposit, but I get the feeling they like white, that their own home is fastidious.  His son's truck was white, and perfectly clean…

This was a turning point in my moving experience.  I thought moving to/from Washington was the turning point, and it was, in its own way.  But there was a sadness and a heaviness about this move that had to do with life changes, seasons, and leaving a place I love.  It almost felt like Carlsbad.  Luckily, Alameda is only 10 miles away.  Carlsbad is a whole life away and it would be a strange fantasy to return there to live.

I took a stroll on the beach during a free moment.  Walking that beach every day played a huge role, I think, in my healing.  I'll have to plan the walks now, since I have to commute there, but I have no intention of giving it up.  I'll probably continue to shop, eat, get massages in Alameda….Maybe we'll find our way back.  If we don't move out of state (read as "low cost of living").

I'll do a real update on my condition soon.  I'm exhausted and my feet and hips are killing me.  The computer's up—along with the tv, but that's about it (and the cat door, of course).  With any luck, I may actually cook this weekend, for the first time in 3 weeks.  Or not.

Tonight I'll pray for everyone as usual, with a special prayer for our former landlord, Albert, and his wife Lindsey (or maybe it's Lin Si?). 

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