Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Having My Cake and Eating It Too

My fourth child left for college with an orange frying pan and a cook book from her aunt who is a fabulous cook. The cookbook is practical. The frying pan is necessary. The orange is fun. This great desire to learn the culinary arts came quickly and urgently last spring, when she spent a weekend with her older sister at Utah State University. They lived on Hot Tamales, not the Mexican kind, the candy kind. She is now rooming with her sister (brother is down the hall) and they have not eaten a single Hot Tamale, yet.

After years of me begging and pleading to teach her how to make good food, the tables finally turned. This summer SHE begged ME to teach her. Now, I am not a great chef nor am I a naturally qualified teacher. That’s why I taught her a few basics and sent her to school with a couple boxes of Pasta Roni and the number for Little Caesars.

I remember the first time my husband and I invited another couple over to eat in our small apartment, the husband sat next to his wife and said, “Look honey, biscuits. I love biscuits.” The wife kicked the husband under the table and said with strained enthusiasm, “No, dear, I think those are rolls.” She then picked one up and took a bite and said, “Oh honey, you were right. They are biscuits. . .” Only they weren’t and it had taken me all day to make them. They tasted like hockey pucks.

Not that my husband was complaining. His tastes are simple. To be happy, he needs white bread, cereal, Oreos and additional chocolate in any form. He is the inventor of the bread sandwich. The first time he asked for one, I asked for instructions. I will now pass this family heirloom recipe to you. Take note: The bread sandwich is two pieces of bread with a piece of bread in the middle. Voila! My husband is also the genius behind homemade Oreo cereal. Recipe: Put several Oreos in a bowl. Cover with milk. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Eat with spoon. Drink milk from bowl when cookies are gone. Very easy. I’ve memorized them both. I think I will write a family cookbook.

As newlyweds, we were eating dinner with his brother and wife who were only slightly less newlywed. The wife brought out a beautiful cake and announced that she had made it from scratch. My husband took a bite and gave her the best compliment he could think of, “Wow, this tastes as good as a mix. . .” This is the man I cook for and it has been a fairly easy task. Thank heavens.

Yesterday was my birthday and I actually got a year younger. I thought I was turning 45, but my brother, on the eve of my birthday, informed me that I was only 43 turning 44. For an entire year I thought I was 44. . . I’m not sure if I feel like I got an extra year, or that I missed out on my whole 43rd year. I’ll let you know. Anyhoo—

It was my birthday so I wanted to drive to Utah State with the husband and 3 kids to be with the 3 kids that are there and make sure they got a good meal because I am also having some sort of a mid-life crisis thingy. Although my house is much quieter and miraculously cleaner with 4 of the 7 gone, THEY ARE STILL GONE and I haven’t quite figured out how to not feel guilty while I enjoy it, because a part of me misses waking up and finding them and their friends asleep on the floor, and buying groceries just to have them eaten in an hour, and having a shoe of every sort and size by my front and back door, and having a rainbow colored assortment of sports bras and spankys (spandex) drying on my family room railing.

Anyway, I took all the fixings for spaghetti because I have figured that one out after 25 years. I did garlic toast too and I miraculously burned only one pan of the three. (Why is it that 2 minutes after you’ve taken the burnt pan from the oven all the helpful voices chime in, “Check the bread? I think it’s burning.” Thanks.)

We all ate; the roommates ate. We laughed and took funny pictures. The kids commented on how well they were eating. They told me about the great dinners they’d been making. My son actually said that he was eating better at college than at home. If I was the jealous type, I would have been, but I’m not, so I wasn’t.

Then said son pulled out a birthday cake. It sagged in the middle, but it was dripping with chocolate frosting and love. They put 44 candles on it because I am not 45 this year, and tried to light them. Only nobody had a match. So we lit cardboard on the stove burner which burns quite faster and bigger than a match or candle and puts off a lot of ash and fyi-- if you light candles with a candle, it drips wax all over the cake. So, I finally blew out a mere 20 or so candles, feeling 20 at heart anyway, to save the cake from being an ashy, waxy, molten mess.

The cake was dished up and passed around. Everybody eagerly dug in. I’m not quite sure how it’s possible, but the cake tasted like dish soap. If I was the jealous, revengeful type, I would have smiled smugly, but I am not. We Campbells, generally speaking, are hardy, resourceful folk, so we rolled up our sleeves and ate it anyway. It was the best birthday cake ever.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Hello everybody. I've had a few people tell me that they would like to receive some sort of notice when I update so they can make sure they are not the subject of my blog. If you happen to be one of those people, e-mail me at soupermum@msn.com and I will notify you.

BTW--there are lots of great things I could write about many of you. . .those things might include things like scrambled omelets, karate moves, mechanical skunks, NGCR, some of you know what that is, moose sitings, caramel apples, and the point and snap.

p.s. I never would have guessed omelet was spelled like that. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marley and NOT Me

I finally saw the movie Marley and Me. I was on a flight to San Diego. Actually, I was on a plane that was supposed to be going to San Diego but was sitting at the gate for an hour instead. (I think to be classified as a flight, the plane would actually have to be in the air.) Anyway, to make us feel better about sitting in a plane instead of flying in one, the airline handed out free headsets and showed the Marley movie.

I should say right up front if you haven’t seen Marley and Me this blog could be a spoiler. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED. Okay, the dog dies. Not soon enough. If I had a dog like that (which I have) I would get rid of it, kill it (okay I wouldn’t really kill it, because I can’t even kill spiders. . . most of the time) or have myself locked away somewhere where there is lots of padding.

As much as I hate to admit it, I did get a little tear in my eye when Marley went to that great dog kennel in the sky. NOT because I was going to miss a dog like that, but because I thought of my sweet, blind, diabetic dog who died a couple years ago. BTW --(By the way, that stands for by the way.) -- I would highly recommend owning a blind, diabetic dog, but that’s another story.

Before the sweet, blind dog, we had dogs from Hell. Exhibit A. Toby. Dalmation. That dog not only had spots, he had me seeing spots. He ate everything. I planted rose bushes. He ate them. Didn’t chew them, engulfed them, swallowed them thorns and all. No more roses. I baked plates of brownies as Christmas gifts for my neighbors. He got them off the counter, not quite sure how, and ate every last crumb. Chocolate is supposed to be toxic to dogs. Apparently it’s not toxic enough. He ate his own collar while it was on his neck. How do I know this? After his collar turned up missing, I found it again. Coming out his back end. He’s lucky he didn’t turn himself inside out.

The worst was when he would get out, which was often. The front door would open and he would plow through small children, frazzled mothers, and terrified visitors like a crazed woman at Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving.

Now I am not one to be messed with. Actually, I’m a total pushover. But you know, one can only take so much. So I devised this ingenious plan. I would go out the front door and stand against the house with a newspaper. . . okay it was a frying pan. One of my children would then open the front door. When Toby bolted, I would give him a little thump, thus teaching him never to plow through the door again. Dang. That plan still looks good on paper. . .

However, I didn’t reckon on him being so fast and me being so old and slow. Missing my big chance as he flew through the door, I dropped the pan and dove for him. (What was I thinking??) I managed to grab his back legs as he/we sailed off the front porch. He landed on his feet in the front yard while I landed on my stomach and was dragged a few feet before his feet slid out of my hands. I laid there with a mouthful of front lawn and grass stained clothes wondering if I was alive and how many of the neighbors saw.

Now with this kind of dog, you just want to let them go and hope they never come back. But everybody knows when you have a monstrous, abominable Dalmation. The phone starts ringing: “Your dog’s out again.” (I should be so lucky.) “Your dog just pooped on my lawn.” (I’ll bill you later for the fertilizer.) “My kids would like to ride their bikes, but your dog keeps chasing them. . .” (Tell them to pedal faster.)

So, you leave a 5 year old in charge of the 3 & 2 & 1 year old while you go catch the dog from Hell, bring him home, just so you can repeat the whole process in an hour.

I finally found a good home for Toby, and no I absolutely did not cry when he left. I did the victory dance with a capital V. A Hell’s Angel biker man bought him. Even paid me money. I braced myself for the worst when Toby ran at tough-biker-Hell’s-angel guy full speed. (He was a pretty protective dog, when he was around.) Toby planted his front paws squarely on biker man’s chest. His tail started wagging and he licked his face. Hell’s-angel-biker man cried tears from heaven (for me). He took him away (for-e-ver), telling me they were going to sit in the recliner, watch t.v., eat pizza and drink beer every night. “Rock on,” I thought, “rock on.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Animal Communication 101

Monday I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about a woman who could communicate with animals. People would actually take their dogs and cats to her to see what they were thinking. Her remarkable skill was not limited to domestic animals, but to wild animals as well. I believe she said that a bird said to her while trapped in her backyard that it wanted out. Hmmmmmm. I may be going out on a limb here along with the bird, but I bet I can communicate with animals too. In fact according to this woman, we all can. It’s something we’re born with that we lose.

Yes, I have to say, I am a firm believer. I think that I have been communicating with animals my whole life. I had more animal friends as a child than people friends. That could still be true.

Candy was my best friend when I was twelve. Candy was a horse. We were two souls living in one body or maybe that’s one soul living in two bodies or something like that. I was sure that we were so in sync that we could communicate without halter, bridle, saddle, not even a stinking carrot. So, I jumped on my naked horse and nudged him through the open corral fence. I hugged his neck, feeling his mane gently brush my cheek. I felt the rhythm of his breathing, the beating of his heart. His muscles quivered beneath me. I willed him with my mind to be one with me, to go where I wanted. I pictured the headlines: Girl Rides Horse Using Mental Telepathy, or Girl and Horse Share One Mind (or maybe that’s brain. . .)

Upon closer examination, Candy communicated to me the following: I really don’t care a rat’s whisker where you want to go. I would personally like to leave my footprints in the neighbor’s newly planted lawn. I would like to trample and eat most of the vegetables in the Terry’s and Ferre’s gardens. I would love to run at small children just to hear them scream. And the last, hardest blow from my mind speaking session with my soul mate: I know you think that I like you to ride me, but you are really just an added burden, a burr under my saddle so to speak, and I think you’d be happier here in the mud with the neighbors all yelling at you, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Now that you KNOW what I’m thinking, just try and explain to them what you were thinking. Then he mind-spoke a little “hee, hee, hee” to me as he trotted off. Actually, he might have said the hee hee hee out loud.

After this episode, we were not one soul living in two bodies, but two souls living in two bodies, one in the pasture and one in the doghouse. Speaking of dogs. . .

I once owned a dog that said to me in mind-speak, I want to make you look like a total idiot in front of all your friends and neighbors. And he did. When I put him outside, he would make a sound like I was peeling the flesh from his bones. When I’d try to bring him in, he’d move out of reach and crank up the volume on the death scream. Naturally this forced me to chase him harder and yell at him louder as he would move faster and scream louder drawing a small crowd on the other side of my fence angrily accusing me of boiling him alive which I certainly would have done by this time if I had a fire, a pot and some hot water. . .and if I could catch him. (Deep Breath)

My amazing ability to communicate with animals does not just include my own. I once saw a dog that said, I want to eat your hot dog. The drool, the jumping up on and knocking down of my body were all sure signs that I was not mistaken.

I saw a dog the other day and do you know what he said to me telepathically? He said, I want to sniff your nether-regions. I replied, all telepathically of course, I don’t think so dog. Don’t even try it. As I juggled an armload of stuff, trying to free a hand to stop a protruding nose, he replied, I’m sorry. Was that a telepathic message from you because I don’t mind-speak with people. He said this with a big dog smile of course as he took a big SNIFF.