Now that I’ve eaten chicken feet I’m worried that there’s not much left for me to experience in life. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll back up to the days before I indulged in this delicacy.
Just after Christmas the five of us left for our annual trip to New York City to visit Aunt Lulu and Uncle P. In true Glamore fashion the week ended up being a series of exotic meals punctuated by other activities, some successful, some not. The first order of business was to arrange ourselves in the studio apartment, which was markedly easier a couple of years ago when the boys were smaller.
The apartment has a bed, which Bill and I share, and we’ve purchased a blowup mattress that Porter adores. Finn commandeers the sleeper sofa. You’d think that Drew could join him there, but both of them reject that idea. Apparently boys can’t sleep in the same bed after the age of six.
Sleeper sofa extended taking up the entire floor
Blow-up mattress arranged “rocketship” style; design by Porter Glamore (sofa cushions not included)
Fortunately, Drew has an affinity for small spaces, and sleeps on the floor in the space between the front and back of the sofa where the mattress and cushions stay when the sofa is in its usual state.
We don’t know how he wedges himself in there, especially after a meal, but he does and we don’t hear from him again until morning.
Unless I bug him by trying to take a picture.
Deodorant and retainers galore.
One day I took our teenager downtown to look for cool threads while Bill took Drew and Porter to the Apple store and FAO Schwartz. They returned with some “new” toys they couldn’t get enough of. You heard it here first– the Rubik’s Cube is making a comeback, but now you can get on the computer and watch a YouTube video to learn how to solve it.
Meanwhile, the folks who thought up the hackysack have refashioned it by changing its shape and the rules. Voila, the myachi! Instead of gathering in a circle and listening to “Sugar Magnolia” while passing the hackysack, kids today hop on the subway and toss the myachi under their legs or across the seats to each other, being careful not to touch it with their palms. Setting your iPod on “I Kissed A Girl” is optional.
Crowd at FAO Schwartz watching the myachi dudes
Metrodad had given me some restaurant recommendations that we were thrilled to receive because I only let the boys repeat one restaurant from a previous trip. If you’re in the city and need a romantic spot to take a date, Alta would be a wonderful choice. Unfortunately, we had three boys with us, so Bill and I had to sneak in a romantic moment by sending them to the restroom to wash their hands and smooching at the table while they were gone. Although we had a good time with them, we would have had a better time at this particular restaurant without them, given its glowing candlelight, lovely wine list, and overall atmosphere that was more conducive to googly eyes than to breaking up paper football contests.
Alta is a tapas restaurant, and one of the weirder yet delicious dishes was Spaghetti Pepperoncini, Bottarga Di Muggine, dried bonito and shrimp oil and peppercress. We ordered it only because the waitress seemed like she might cry if we didn’t. We didn’t know what Bottarga Di Muggine was, and it sounded menacing, like the head of a crime family, not something you want to twirl on your fork and slurp with noodles. Now, with the benefit of google, I can tell you that it’s dried gray mullet roe, and it looked like thin slices of pink bubble gum perched atop the spaghetti. We loved it so much we ordered another serving. The spicy lamb meatballs were yummy, too.
Some things must be replaced from time to time, and underwear is one of them. The boys sat calmly inside Bloomingdale’s, eating pretzels and playing myachi while Bill and I bought him new underwear and undershirts. We had scarcely set foot in Victoria’s Secret, however, when they engaged in a group freakout, during which Porter slapped his hand over his face and said, “I can’t look while I’m in this store. This is maximum weirdness.” The teenager complained that he wouldn’t be caught dead in a panty shop, and only Drew tried to sneak a peek of the mannequins as we marched the boys to a quiet corner between the elevators and the flannel pajamas (lucky us–who knew?) and instructed them to face the wall and give us five minutes.
“Mom means give her five minutes, because I’m like you. I don’t know what we’re doing in this panty store,” Bill said.
He sat with the boys and discreetly pointed out underthings that caught his fancy, and I snatched them up and paid in record time. That didn’t prevent the guys from complaining about this particular stop for far longer than necessary.
One snowy morning we headed down to the lower east side and were captivated by Guss Pickles on Orchard Street. They had barrels of pickles of all varieties, quarter-sour, half-sour, and so forth. Bill was amused when a woman came up and ordered as if she were at Starbucks.
“I need a quart of half-sour with half half-sour juice and half full-sour juice,” she said.
“That’s quite a pickle order,” Bill said.
“Yeah, my dad loves them this way, and it’s his birthday, so I get them for him as a present,” she said.
We could only think of one person we know who’d be satisfied with a variety of pickles as a gift.
I looked down the street and saw a familiar sign that said “Kaufman,” and something stirred in the back of my mind, and I told the guys to continue eating pickles while I checked it out. Sure enough, it was A.W. Kaufman, a lingerie shop, and I had been there several times with my mom, years and years ago. I walked in and it was as if time had stopped. It’s a narrow space lined with plastic storage bins marked in black writing with brands and sizes: “La Perla 36 C.” I remembered sitting in the one folding chair while my mom tried on nightgowns and it was too much for me, and I cried hard by the counter near the robes. Miriam, who was running the store, got me water and claimed to remember my mom, but she was probably just being nice.
Everything else on the block was posh. Miriam said Fine & Klein, one of my mom’s purse stops, had gone out of business, and she was one of the oldest stores left.
We had other good meals– Italian, sushi, and pizzas. Pam Real Thai was a budget-friendly pre-theater restaurant, where we had crispy duck and crab fried rice, which was one of the highlights of the week. Appetizers, three entrees and drinks for all (including wine) was under $90.
I also insisted on picking up some food off the street one night, for reasons both budgetary and adventurous. That’s how Bill and I ended up leaving the boys in the apartment and walking to 53rd and 6th to pick up some chicken and lamb with rice. I’d read that this particular stand had some of the best street food in the city, and I was determined to sample it. As it turned out, the line down 53rd Street was over 100 people long when we arrived, so we didn’t just “pick it up.” Bill waited for over an hour, making calls and sending emails, while I walked around the block to stave off hypothermia.
That yellow umbrella in the distance is the Holy Grail.
We bought a bottle of wine and brought it all home and chowed down.
We ordered a mixture of lamb (the darker meat) and chicken. It came with rice (it looks like cheese here) and each container had one small piece of pita bread. We also got red and white sauce. It was yummy, although I preferred the lamb to the chicken. I’d recommend that someone purchasing this also buy some pita bread. We bought four containers of chicken and rice and that fed five of us for dinner, three of us for lunch and Porter for breakfast for two days. We still had some left over. At $6 per container, it was a deal.
I may have the only boys in Alabama who are enamored with chopsticks. I cook enough Asian meals that I figured we could invest in something nicer than the wooden ones they’ve stolen from the Japanese steakhouse. That’s how we ended up at Pearl River Mart, where each boy got to pick out his own pair of chopsticks. Porter’s are light blue, and Drew’s are black with a red stripe, and I haven’t washed the others yet. We’ll be using them tonight, though, as I’m whipping up Elise’s Sweet & Sour Chicken so they’re coming in handy already.
Every trip has its pitfalls, and sadly, ours was one we had been quite excited about. Metrodad suggested dim sum at Jing Fong, and we made our way to Chinatown and gave it a go. It was the boys’ first experience with dim sum, and they found some shrimp dumplings and fish balls and pork rolls, but everything was cold and tired. I think we hit the restaurant as they were transitioning from lunch to dinner, or else we didn’t know how to order, or maybe it just really isn’t very good. However, Jing Fong had some impressive chicken feet which were apparently fried and seasoned with five-spice powder. They looked exactly like you would think chicken feet would look:
I remember hearing that maybe chicken don’t have teeth, and I guess I was thinking that meant they’re short on all kinds of bones but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case with their feet. Those toes were crunchy and after I ate one I concluded I’d had enough roughage for an entire week even though I’ll be forty-two in less than two months. On the up side, the meal gave us good reason to say “Dim sum bad eats” for the rest of the day and giggle like maniacs.
New Year’s Eve was the high point. We cooked dinner at Aunt Lulu’s and hung out with her boys, one two and one two weeks old. A cold snap had settled over the city, and Bill and the boys were determined to run in the race sponsored by Emerald Nuts at midnight at Central Park. They’ve run the last two years, when it was relatively balmy out. Cheers to Bill, Finn and Drew for running four miles at midnight with a wind chill of 6. They reported that the champagne at mile two was the consistency of a slushy. Porter and I got in bed and ate chocolate. I didn’t photograph the runners because I didn’t want to lose my shutter finger to frostbite.
And that’s it. I apologize for the inadvertent blog silence. Both computers broke, the refrigerator broke, and I cannot blog on a Blackberry. I’m back up and running now.
Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Glamores Hit The Big City
This week we added the Maroon 5 and Counting Crows concert to our usual busy schedule of work, school and musical and athletic activities. The concert didn’t start until 8 p.m., when the boys are usually winding down, so Tuesday afternoon I got them all jacked up on Coke and Mountain Dew so they’d be wide awake for the festivities.
Drew kept his eyes glued on the bass player. Porter dragged Bill all over the amphitheater in order to view the show from every possible angle. Maroon 5 flashed green lasers over the audience from time to time, which drove Porter wild with jealousy, as his latest heart’s desire is a laser pointer that he can use to burn holes in things that he refuses to identify with more specificity.
Finn stayed put, trying to achieve that “I know I appear to be with these parental units and little brothers but I don’t actually know them” look by remaining one foot in front of us at all times and refusing to look me or Bill in the eye when answering our questions.
During the break between bands, Drew, Finn and I went to check out the T-shirts (we decided to find them cheaper on eBay) and on the way back the boys waited while I stood in the line and finally used the bathroom. I saw a girl in Finn’s class and introduced myself before ducking into a stall. Upon hearing this, Finn came undone, and made it clear that my role was to ignore her, not to approach her, smile at her or engage her in conversation so help me God.
Finn and his friend must have talked about me at school the next day. He reported that I “said some highly inappropriate things” while waiting in line for the bathroom. Sure, I was reminiscing about the days before the amphitheater had seats everywhere, and had a large lawn in the back where you could toss a blanket and relax and listen to the music, but I wasn’t talking to a seventh grader about this. I was chatting up the other ladies in line. About nineteen years ago Bill and I had gone with a group of people to a low key concert of the Jimmy Buffet or James Taylor ilk, and we spent the entire concert macking on a blanket under the stars with a live soundtrack below. Occasionally we came up for a sip of beer and a bite of fried chicken but mainly it was lips and tongues and Sweet Baby James.
The other ladies in the bathroom line had similar tales to tell, although they may have been smooching to Randy Travis or Metallica, and I think Finn and his friend are just jealous that they are going to have to drape themselves over hard stadium seats to make out (when that time comes) instead of laying back on the grass, swatting mosquitoes, assuming they notice them, which they won’t.
This week has also been dominated by Algebra, which is Finn’s most challenging class this semester. For a few weeks Bill was in charge of ensuring that Finn was employing appropriate study habits, while I checked up on the duo. However, when Finn brought home a couple of bad grades and was nonchalant about them, Bill freaked out to the Nth degree and I decided that Bill was too personally invested in Finn’s success. We switched kids and he’s now in charge of Drew and Porter’s fourth grade curriculum (and my God, Porter, George Washington Carver did a lot of great things with peanuts but he did NOT write To Kill A Mockingbird, that was Harper Lee, who hung out with Truman Capote, who was sort of a peanut, so I can see how you might get confused).
Finn has a big test today, and I am such a stellar mom that if he asks (and only if) I will write him out a practice test to help him get ready. He has some big things riding on his grade this semester (like an apparatus that rings and dials numbers).
He had a packed afternoon yesterday. He got home from cross country around 4:30 and I dropped him at the high school so he could play drums at the football game at 5:00, and he returned around 8:30. By then I had thirty math questions written out, along with my answer key. All my algebra from the 1980’s has come flooding back, so if you find yourself butting heads with an equation that contains a variable and it needs solving, or maybe graphing on a number line, or you need to apply the distributive property, reduce the numbers down to the least common denominator and solve for X, head back over here because I can help you. My talent is wasted here, though, because algebra never comes up in the law, or at the grocery store, or while doing laundry. I haven’t told Finn that.
Hot tip for the day: Any number to the 0 power is 1. I have no idea why.
Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom:It’s Good News, So Why Am I Crying?
What a delicious morning! Bill, our resident coffeemaker, is out of town, so I woke knowing I’d have to face the hated Cuisinart Grind N Brew and create something resembling java. Happily, Finn was cooking eggs and bacon and Porter had the coffee started.
His gesture wasn’t selfless. I mentioned earlier that he’s developed quite a love for the stuff, so we’ve limited him to half a cup in the morning. He began using larger and larger cups until we refined our definition to four fluid ounces plus one teaspoon of sugar, max, and reminded him where the measuring cups and spoons reside.
His coffee is just as tasty as Bill’s. I’m a lucky mom.
I’m feeling especially queenly for another reason. Nicole at Tickled Pink has posted an interview she did with me. Go check it out.
I didn’t want to freak her out by coming in just under deadline, so I left something out that I want to emphasize every chance I get. Besides E.B. White, I am obsessed with Dr. Jerome Groopman. I’ve plugged him many times before. His book Second Opinions is mandatory reading for anyone who’ll be dealing with the health care system at any point– THIS MEANS YOU!
I’ve dealt with hospitals, clinics, health care professionals and unprofessionals more times than I can count, and the simple truth is that you must keep up with your own health care, whether that means keeping up with what tests you’ve had or making sure the tubes of your blood get labeled with your name, not the bozo’s in the chair next to you.
Dr. Groopman also writes for the The New Yorker and has an allegedly interesting article in this week’s issue. I wouldn’t know; Finn stole my copy and read it. Infuriating, yet gratifying.
Anyone else hear Brian Williams talk about the new study that says taking birth control pills offers protection against ovarian cancer even after you stop taking them? Whoo hoo! I’d like to get off them and see if my migraines improve. I’ve been taking them only because of the ovarian cancer protection; perhaps I can rid myself of a medicine.
For those of you wondering exactly when it was that I decided that maybe Porter wasn’t as dumb as a stick, it’s a story called Letter Share that took place when he and Drew were in kindergarten. They’re now in third grade. Time doesn’t fly; this seems like eons ago.
Poor geography alert! Bill’s in Nebraska on business. We debated WHERE that state is before checking ourselves on Porter’s wall-size map. I was ashamed to have guessed that it was maybe to the left of Arkansas. I had the correct longitude but it’s actually two states up, just under South Dakota. I bet the folks in that fine state weren’t impressed with our tale of snow at all.
WARNING! This hint for making your house look fresh should NOT be read by interior decorators or perfectionists, as the system I advocate may cause you to retch.
Tools: Can of white latex paint, old newspaper, paint brushes of various sizes, paint stirrer if stirring is important, paper towels, painter’s tape. No ladder! (A small brush for pretending to paint the trim around windows and a sponge brush for quickly running over the baseboards are great).
Don’t worry about second coats, thickness of paint, or even doing an entire door. The theme here is that women will only look at the walls from their eyes down, and men will not look at them at all.
Our baseboards and trim were sparkling white when we moved into out house in January 1998. Five minutes later Finn had run around the kitchen a thousand times, dizzy with excitement about his new home, falling against the walls in the process. Two days later, after we’d carried the twins in and out of the house in their car seats, clumsily bumping them against the trim, it became apparent that underneath the shiny white surface was dark wood, waiting to be unleashed.
Unleash it we did. Through the years, there’s been wrestling in the kitchen, resulting in the loss of Porter’s two front teeth and lots of paint near the door between the kitchen and the den. There’s been climbing on the walls, resulting in more of the same. And there have been the activities of daily living: lugging in sacks of groceries, carrying laundry to the washer, watching Porter fall off the counter, taking the ant farm with him, and wondering for a split-second whether priority should be given to catching the big-headed ants, mopping up the blood, or heading to the hospital. But you’ve read the stories. You can look at the woodwork for yourself.
This has been cleaned (!)with 409. It just needs to be repainted.
Ditto. Nasty, scuffed. One year I covered all the dark scuff marks with Liquid Paper but that is NOT the method I am advocating here.
1. Buy some white latex paint and a few paint brushes of assorted sizes. Also grab some painter’s tape to mark off the walls if they are a different color than the trim or your kids will be “helping.”
You could try to match the white of your trim to the white of the paint you’re buying, but that sort of ruins the spirit of this project. It’s much better to do as I did and just have your husband grab a gallon of whatever he sees and bring it home.
2. Stick newspaper on the floor and tape the walls.
3. This is the second most important step– decide ahead of time how you’re going to handle this psychologically with your children. Will they be painting as a punishment? Will they have to observe you painting for five or ten minutes, watching you have all the fun, before you grudgingly let them participate? Will you market painting as a valuable life skill that once perfected, can be performed for money, rain or shine, drought or no drought?
If you have toddlers I don’t recommend this project for you, unless you have some alone time.
4. Start painting. If you’re anal like I am, you might wash the walls first to get the ancient glops of dried applesauce off the molding. Alternatively, save time by skipping this step, paint over it and the food will blend right in.
I chose to sell this as a marketable skill, which inspired Finn to finish the foyer, Drew to participate for thirty minutes, and thrilled Porter, but not enough to keep him away from his pogo stick for more than eight minutes.
5. This is not “real” painting. Start at about eye level and paint lightly down the woodwork, morphing into a semblance of a true paint job at about your waist line or wherever the nicks start.
At the bottom, just paint low enough to get the scuff marks, but don’t worry about getting it all perfectly aligned with the floor. No one looks down there. The less you mess around way down low, the less you’ll spill on the floor and have to clean up.
Wow – it looks like this area just got a professional paint job!
THE BIG REVEAL:
If you look closely, you can see where the bright white and the cream meet up on the woodwork. I’m only showing you. A guest inspecting your molding so intently needs a drink or a job. Send him to carve the turducken. (Click to enlarge)
On this door I painted the bottom, then used the tiny paintbrush to swipe around the knob and lock (grimy there!) and the bottom of the lowest row of panes. Then I sort of blended the paint up into the higher regions of the door and called it a day. It doesn’t look perfect, but that is not what I was going for. (In the photo you see a big white stripe on the left between the hinges, but in real life, with no flash, you don’t notice it much at all.)
If you’re really in a rush, forget the kids, the newspaper and the tape, and just dab white paint on the scuffs. Use dim lights when guests come over if you’re paranoid.
I posted this as part of Works For Me Wednesday at Shannon’s!
Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Cleaning Out My Closet