Friday, September 30, 2011

Extreme Pizza Delivery

And Jacob boiled pottage; and Esau came from the field, and he was faint.  And Esau said to Jacob, "Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage, for I am faint." ... And Jacob said, "Sell me this day thy birthright."  And Esau said, "Behold, I am at the point of dying.  And what profit shall this birthright be to me?"  And Jacob said, "Swear to me this day."  And he swore unto him, and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he ate and drank, and rose up and went his way.  
Genesis 25

To all who hunger,

It was a Thursday evening.  Seafoam and I were staying with the IncrediParents and the five kids that night, and driving down to the Navy base in the morning.  It would take us about an hour and a half to drive, and we would stay the weekend with our husbands in hotels.

Generally our plans change by the time we've put a period on the end of our sentence, so it was no surprise that evening when everything got turned into an uproar.

It was nearing seven in the evening, and my husband sent me a text.  They had finished working for the day, but the galley was closed so they couldn't fetch dinner there.  And the power had gone out in town!  They had walked to every place they could and, famished, still found nothing.  An enterprising ice-cream shop was selling cones as fast as they could for half price, and so the boys got some of those; but their bellies were still as empty as a blonde's head.

I got on the computer and soon found that the power was out in parts of Mexico, Arizona, and southern California from the south border up into Orange County.  We turned on the news and saw traffic reports fly in as the chaos piled up.

Meanwhile, the boys were starving.  They put in long hard days and needed sustenance!

No, this is not real food ...
Seafoam and I devised a plan.  It was simple, really.  Go to Costco, buy a bunch of pizzas, and drive down to see the boys that night.  We didn't have hotels - our reservations didn't begin until the following day, but hey, we'd cross that bridge when we got there.  It was well after eight o'clock by the time we were on the road with pizzas in the back seat, pedal to the metal (will I ever learn?  Don't worry, no coppers were out that night), and as we drove I told Seafoam my plan.

If I've learned anything about the Navy, it's that the many constituents thereof are happy to let you feed them and drive them around, and it doesn't necessarily occur to them to pitch in on the cost.  I'd love to do it all pro bono, but hey, we're all getting the same paycheck here.  I was going to squeeze some pennies out of them at great personal risk!

At the bay museum, this display on kelp as a food ingredient
in the form of alginates is less than a little appealing. 
As we drove through the blackness, I was reminded of Montana.  No lights were visible because no power was to be had.  As night sank in, fewer and fewer cars passed us on the road because there was nowhere to go.  And, of course, we didn't know where we'd be staying the night.

We made it there by an impressive nine-thirty at night.  Sure enough, as I pulled up I saw a crowd of sillhouettes in the moonlight.  Like zombies, they staggered forward, clawing at the air and exclaiming, "Pizza, pizza!"

I made sure the doors were locked, and rolled down my window a crack.  "I'm not opening this door," I said, "until I see some money!"

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils.  What would a man do for a piece of pizza?!  I knew if I fed them first, and asked for payment later, they'd disappear into the mist and "forget" about the money.

Five dollar bills came poking through the crack in my window, and I heard my husband chuckling.  "The woman says five dollars!" he told a man who walked up looking for his pizza.  I got out and opened the boxes of now-cold pizza, and they descended like the locusts of Egypt.  A few guys heard the rumors of food and made off with the greasy delight without pennying up, but I was content that I made enough to cover the cost of the pizzas.

And now all we had to do was find a place to sleep.  One of the fine Navy gentlemen proposed the empty bunk in the barracks, but this suggestion (met with a scathing retort from my husband, and exclamations and colorful language all around) was politely declined by the gentle author.

But by the time the night was over, that offer was looking pretty good.

Mrs H

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

(Almost) 1,001 Nights: A Hotel Story

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

To those who love a continental breakfast included with their overnight package,

This is a story about hotels.

One hotel, two hotel, three hotel floor!

I spent the last one-hundred and forty days traveling the US and bouncing between hotels and homes.

 Five hotel, six hotel, seven hotel more! 

Like the great Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, my world travels inspired me to put finger to keyboard and the words of choleric passion flowed.  Yes, I just compared myself to two of history's greatest poets while I hardly understand enjambment myself; no, I do not think it was fair or appropriate of me to do so.

With a hotel here and a hotel there, here a bed, there a bed, everywhere a bed-bug!

And so this is, more or less 1,001 Nights: A Hotel Story

The Navy is definitely one way to say
You've seen the whole country the 'Merican way.
It's been four long months of intense world-travel
Flying and driving with clothes books and chattel

There's much to be said for the choices at Quality;
They do their own part to compete with the Holiday.
A continental breakfast that's nearly two-star -
Why wouldn't we keep coming back here for more?

This inn won't let you check in until seven;
This place will turn you outside by eleven.
This one has WiFi and TV to boot,
This one's just part of a migration route.

Aha, this place offers a special discount,
For those of us with a convenient account.
Triple A comes in more handy than not,
For those of us wanting a vacation spot.

The ol' Lazy J was a star of its own;
Some might call it festive but that's overblown.
It's just simple lodgings but this much is true:
The nearest alternative is too far for you!

I've seen just a few of our finer hotels,
And I've seen even more of our tiny motels.
I've participated in more than my share
Of regular standard small-microwave fare.

But there is a place where I frequently stayed
And it's not as nice as is often portrayed.
This place is no Mariott that much is sure,
And the rooms can't compete with what Hilton offers.

The Sheraton has a leg up on their service,
And few large hotels offer such a small breakfast,
But the cheapest and closest to what I love best
Is undoubtedly 'ssuredly the great Navy Suites.

Now listen my children and you shall hear,
The final great truth, my word please revere! 
Hotels can be oh-so-much fun to come visit
But they're really not all that much fun to come live at. 

And so it is that a hotel's greatest advantage is also its greatest disadvantage: it is not a home!

But it's better than the alternative ... stay tuned for the surprise ending to an unplanned pizza party.

Mrs H

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Poetic, Apologetic, and Roasted Carrots

Dear audience, so widely-read with an exquisite palate in verbiage,

As you know, it's been a wild ride the last few months.  I recently toured a full-rigged ship in the bay here in California and learned of a family that traveled on it for several months, migrating from England to New Zealand.  I was fascinated and duly impressed by the tiny berths, the micro-capsules of home and the misery they must have endured to achieve their goal successfully.  Their experience makes my trip look like a walk in the park!

This is the self-same ship as I toured!

Formerly called the Euterpe, now called the Star of India (see hand-written notation
on photo above), she is the oldest iron-hulled merchant ship on the water today.

But I found a few words in the diary of Mr. Stead Ellis, the good patriarch of this family, that seemed to sum of how I have felt over the last four months.  It was a dear pleasure to read the words as I felt such an affinity to them. 

Most of the passengers with their friends and a great quantity of luggage cumbered the decks and what with the seamen working at the ropes, people coming and going and one thing and another, it was a perfect pandemonium.  However all things come to an end in time and so it was with all the hurry and bustle of our embarkation, things after a while got quietly settled down and though we could not readily find anything we wanted, still we did somehow manage to find sufficient to make ourselves pretty comfortable

All of this travel has put me in the mood to write, as most things do.  Now as you know, my acquaintance with the world of poetry has been poorly cultivated, if it was ever planted to begin with; that never stops me, however, from imagining vainly that I can try my hand at it.  And so it is only fair to warn you in advance:

It's hardly a blessing when I wax poetic
To me poems mean just a lame sort of rhyming. 
My ditties are usually weak and pathetic
For I have no sense of timing.  

Storm's a-comin', 

Mrs H

Roasted Carrots
Carrots were the only organic produce I could find in town here, so they have rapidly become rising stars in my kitchen.  This is a delicious variation on beta carotene.  How many carrots you use depends on how large they are, how much you like carrots, and if they are (as they were for us) a main course in your meal!) 

Carrots, 1 - 2 per person 
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher or coarse sea salt
Olive oil
Optional: dill weed or fresh minced parsley, or your herb of choice

Wash carrots, peel if desired.  Halve or leave whole depending on diameter, and cut into 1 - 2" lengths.  Toss in olive oil and grind fresh pepper over, and sprinkle with salt to taste.  

Roast at 350 F for approximately 20 minutes, longer if the pieces are larger.  Toss with the freshly minced herbs if you like; serve hot. 

Hoorah for knives that match the carrots

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet the IncrediParents!

My dearly beloved readers,

And you are so dear to me, because you are the only thing in my life that hasn't moved in the last four months!

Seafoam and I are in California now.  Her auntie and uncle, the IncrediParents, live here and graciously offered us a place to stay for a little bit while we look for apartments.  They welcomed us both and treated me just as if I were family, too.  They're doing their part to support the US Navy - and I can't imagine a bigger blessing; I've pretty much had my fill of hotels ... both the bland microwave dinners, and the hefty price tags!

We were able to bless the IncrediParents in a way, too.  They already have a three-year-old son, and IncrediMom had given birth only four months ago and had surgery the day before we arrived.

Did I mention she gave birth ... to quadruplets?

That's right - they went from one kid to five kids overnight!  Top that!  This courageous mother is my hero.

 She can literally feed all four at one time.

I don't ever want to hear you complain about changing diapers AGAIN!  This mom is a pro.  She and her husband have their system down to a science; the feeding, diapering, burping, bathing rotation.  You think it's bad when one baby cries for an hour?  Try having four cry for an hour ... or four taking shifts to keep the air filled with howls for an entire afternoon!

Seafoam swings the chair a little vigorously ... I think I'd cry, too ...

So it's a lot of work, there's no denying that.  But try having four beautiful children laying on their playmat kicking and cooing and giggling after their afternoon feeding, in clean fresh diapers and tiny onesies.  One precious wee girl clinging to your finger and blinking dewy eyes with long curled lashes, three handsome little boys pounding a tattoo into your leg with miniature toes and laughing between hiccups.

Four babies swaddled in clean, sweet-smelling blankets, their eyelids drooping, drowsing off to sleep.  We debate occasionally - what do they dream about?  Bottles of milk?  Clean diapers?

Big brother is watching!

I think twins would be a snap, now ... it's all relative, right?

So we wash bottles, burp babies, talk women talk, and search every day for places to stay near where our husbands are based.  And the neighbor practices his trumpet.

Soaking up the sun,

Mrs H

P.S. The neighbor really does play trumpet ... it's kinda crazy.



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