After years of making substantial donations to the United Way, this year I dropped my donation to the least I could give and still add to my department's participation count. The gods of irony noticed and saw to it that I won a participation prize. A wine tasting. Because the gods of irony know: I hate wine.
I have friends who love wine, and since it was a wine tasting "at your home," it became a pot-luck dinner. All I had to provide was risotto and cheese and this free wine tasting.
Gary. as usual, got antsy the day of. Usually he makes up VITAL projects that MUST be done otherwise the party will be a FAILURE ELLEN WHAT ARE YOU THINKING. Vacuum the basement! Swap out all the light bulbs! He did buy ninety dollars of those fancy LED UFO light bulbs the night before (these bulbs will outlive us), so I thought he was done helping.
I sent him to the store for the obligatory wine-tasting cheese and crackers. "Yellow cheese and white cheese. You decide."
He returned with three types of crackers and nine blocks of cheese. Each block was chopped in half and distributed over two trays. Then he took the wrappers, snipped out the cheese names and nationalities, and used that to plant little toothpick flags in the cheese. It was the United Nations of Cheese.
Eric from the wine company shepherded us through the wine-tasting, and when he realized we had cornered the cheese market, suggested a complementary cheese for each of the dozen wines we tried. He'd suggest, "This wine goes well with a hearty Irish Cheddar," then pause for Gary to exclaim happily, "I have an Irish Cheddar!"
Sadly, when he suggested a Spanish Manchego for a Spanish wine, Gary had bought another nationality, thinking it was Manchego. His next cheese suggestion was then, "I don't suppose you have any Italian cheese." Our pride was stung, so we brought out the tub of Parmesan. Luckily we had Parmesan chips, not just the grated, but we would have had people lick their fingers and stick it in the tub if needed.
Later he said, "This dessert wine pairs nicely with ice cream." I volunteered that we did have ice cream, but no one was interested. What connects ice cream, cheese, and chocolate? Fat. Evidently the secret to killing off the "bite" of the wine (or as I call it, "that nasty wine taste") is to combine it with fat: cheese fat, chocolate fat.
Friend #2 says "Wine enhances the taste of food," I say "Food masks the taste of wine." That said, there was a wine that tasted pretty good on its own and woooooderful paired with chocolate. We bought two bottles.
Of course that prompted Gary to buy a wine vacuum and rubber corks today, and I know he's looking at wine chillers. I can only hope we'll have some inflation so that the price of cheese, LED bulbs, and rubber corks go up so I can tell myself we've made a good investment in cheese futures.
Nope, this isn't another post about Ferguson, though there is a touch of the St. Louis neighborhood economic boundaries to it.
Years ago, and jobs ago, my boss was complaining about her "dump" of a house. I mentioned that not only did I live one street from her, my house was the same model as hers. Same bricks, same floor plan, and I thought "our" house was quite nice. She apologized a few hours later. A few months later she moved to an outrageously huge house in a fancy subdivision a mile away.
How fancy? The first Christmas she was dismayed that she had to buy all new Christmas lights when she found her new country club subdivision only allowed white Christmas decorations. (For the uniformity, not because they had a problem with Christmas lights of color.)
How is that news? Her new subdivision is the one in this article.
1, Yes, I live a mile from a country club, but there was no country club when I built my house. The rich folks followed ME.
2, Half a million in my area is a lot to play for a house, especially in Weldon Spring, known radioactive dump site. Gary's biology class went to Weldon Spring to search out mutated frogs.
3. Friend #3 had a brown recluse infestation after she moved from her condo (three miles from me) into a "better" condo in a fancier part of town. Coincidence? Or God's bitey judgment?
4. You can only die from a brown recluse spider bite if you die from the infection you get after the toxins eat a hole in your leg.
5. No one on the internet seems to know if brown recluse spiders ever vacation to the smaller subdivisions in the area. I doubt they will, especially since a) they are clearly brought on by hubris and b) I think in St. Louis even the spiders are afraid of venturing from their fancy neighborhoods into ones with a lower economic status.
6. Gary got lost once on a walk in that country club subdivision, but came home unscathed by radioactive brown recluse spider bites.
7. After we heard about the spiders we would have gone for a walk and gawk, but there's a guard shack we'd have to get past.
8. I don't think this news story have been picked up by The Guardian or Facebook without the worlds "bleeding out of the walls."
I took a selfie with Gary at the ball park. I looked at it the next day as I was scanning through the photos.
"Ew," I thought. "Sunken eyes. Brow lines. Eyes are clear, that's good. No visible wattle. Crazy hair, but just too dark in general. Gary looks good. Still, not sharing that one."
Then I flipped to the previous photo, the one I did not know even existed, because I accidentally took it when I changed the phone's photo feature from normal to reversed/selfie mode.
I must have taken it when the the phone was in my lap, and I was looking down at it. Just for a moment, put your body in that position. Now, look upon the monstrousity ....
My self image includes everything from the top of my crazy head, past my nose, my snaggly smile, my chin, and then MY GOD WHEN DID MY WATTLE GET EATEN BY ANOTHER WATTLE? That's like a muti-chin pile-up there!
I have never in my life taken a photo this bad. I thought about that photo all day. I realized:
1. This is how babies see me when I sit them in my lap. No wonder they start crying.