Sunday, August 05, 2007


When you are a really, really good cook, (as all my friends say I am) you are also subject to some really, really big failures. Yesterday, for instance, I made two batches of no-bake cookies because the first one turned to gritty sugar and had to be disposed of promptly in the rubbish bin. As much as I hate throwing away perfectly good ingredients like butter and 2 cups of oatmeal, there was no salvaging them. Because I tried! When I saw the way they were going, due to the scorched cocoa in the bottom of the pan and the ominous way they were looking kind of sand papery, I scraped them into a cake pan and poured heavy cream all over them. Then I pressed the cream through them with wax paper and put them in the fridge to cool. I thought the cream might reconstitute the gravel and melt it, sort of. What I ended up with was a top layer of slime and a bottom layer of scorched, sugared, inedible rock-hard oatmeal lumps.

C'est Lavie! So I made another batch and the outcome was so good that you only see half a plate of them because I had most of them eaten before I could take the picture.

Growing up, my Dad was very fond of teaching us how to use the dictionary. He would often use a word we didn't know and when we asked what it meant, he would tell us to look it up in the dictionary.

*Groan*. Just tell us, Dad.

But Dad's way of teaching independence and building vocabulary skills was to have us get the big dictionary from the sideboard where he kept it right at his elbow when he sat in his spot at the kitchen table. And his ploy worked, too. None of his kids turned out to be pea-brains, and we are all quite well-spoken except for perhaps my baby brother who drops the first few consonants of words like 'think' and 'that' and substitutes them with the letter 'H'. It's a Hoosier thing. "I hink I'll go down to 'at there car wash today and tell 'at biddy what I hink of her!"

I, on the other hand, take great pride in my case of enlarged vocabulary and made it a practice early on to use the biggest, most expressive word I could find to describe anything I was talking about at the time. So that a hippity-hop to the drug-dealer became an extraordinary journey to the pharmaceutical entrepreneur. (Not that I ever had truck with a drug dealer, but I just wanted to find a way to use the appellation "pharmaceutical entrepreneur" in a sentence!)

So it really sucks that since getting fibromyalgia my vocabulary has gone to dust and ruin. Sometimes I am reduced to pointing and grunting the way men do, when I want something as simple as to ask for the remote control. "Hand me that thingee. You know, the thingee."

Yesterday I met my new neighbors in #4. They are a cute and exuberant couple fresh from Santa Barbara and when I apologized for the nasty golden-brown shag carpeting still in that particular unit, they waxed ecstatic about it! So they are totally into the retro look. Whereas I am so old that shag carpeting makes me think of cigarette ashes and tie-dye and harvest gold appliances. And smoked glass mirrored wall tiles with gold veins running through it. Ewww!

I was telling those kids where things are in the neighborhood, and at one point the guy asked, "Does that street run perpendicular to Folsom Blvd?" and I was absolutely stumped. I had no idea what perpendicular meant! I could drum up horizontal and vertical in my mind, but no definition for perpendicular would surface for me to grasp. He could see I was floundering so he made his arms into the universal symbol for a crossroads, the letter T. And I was able to grasp it and say that, yes indeed, Alhambra ran perpendicular to the entire midtown area. It's a perpendicular type of street. Utterly perpendicular. Almost at odds in a perpendicular way with the whole world! At that point they started to back away from my dementia and excused themselves to finish unloading their moving van.

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