Friday, November 20, 2009

for love of cauliflower

 I like my doctor because his office is just down the street from the most fabulous grocery store in the whole world, Jungle Jim’s. Frolicking in a playground of fruits, vegetables, fish, sauces, candy and crackers from around the world softens the blow of having to see the doctor every other month for blood work. My regular visits keep us well stocked in exotic garlic-stuffed olives, flavored hummus and fresh buns like I haven’t eaten since Grandma died. Olives for your birthday, an act that would lead to divorce in most marriages, works for ours. Instead of flowers and jewelry, my husband surprises me with more olives when I’m running low. I like to sock one away in my cheek, nursing the flavor out of the thick green skin much as tobacco chewers are wont to do with their vegetable of choice.
Yesterday as I walked through the acres of produce at Jungle Jim’s, I came upon a beautiful sight. Sitting before me was a table displaying the largest cauliflower heads I’ve ever seen. The densely-packed-white-flowers peered like coral from their thick-veined greenery. A perfect package; and all for only $2.50. I know Erich’s been wanting a new car, maybe he’d like this instead. I bought one, but I wanted two. On the way home I kept thinking of things we could do with it. At each stop light I’d gaze at it through its clear plastic bag – sitting bold and beautiful in the passenger seat next to me. What a lovely table decoration it would make. Visions came to me of my daughter Emily someday walking down the aisle with a head of cauliflower such as this as her bridal bouquet, ribbons flowing. A sprig of cauliflower in a button hole – the perfect complement as the groom and best man’s boutonnieres. I wanted to call all my friends. The good thing is that Jungle Jim’s is a twenty-minute drive from our house. By the time I got home I had come to my senses and decided that Erich, Emily and my friends would probably not be as tickled with the huge cauliflower head as I was.  I resisted the urge to take a photo of it and resigned myself to carve it up for cauliflower soup.
No matter how the world tosses me about with troubles and cares, I will always have that moment - just me and my most gigantic cauliflower head - on our twenty minute ride home, when anything was possible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


“Dad!” I yell as I rake through piles of shoes in my bedroom closet looking for a match to my desert boots. “Dad! Is Karen at the bus stop yet?”
“Zabbazee!” I hear him chime back from the distant downstairs kitchen. This word, zabbazee, was invented by my family and is one you won’t find in any dictionary. As children from every era make insistent demands and shout muffled orders to parents from distant locations, “Zabbazee!” yelled at the top of your lungs is the appropriate response.
Eskimos have dozens of words for snow that precisely describe each snowish nuance from “crunchy dry” to “wet-snowman snow” to “ice-coated topper.” The beauty of zabbazee is that this single word encapsulates what would otherwise be a long-winded-irritated speech yelled back at the selfish sod who is too lazy to change locations to speak to you in person. If zabbazee were in Webster’s Dictionary its entry might read something like this.
Zabbazee  \zab’-u-ze\ interjection Used as an exclamation when expressing frustration with someone who thinks you can hear them. SYNONYM FOR… If you have something to say to me missy, you’d better come and say it to my face. Who do you think you are that you can simply yell something from one end of the earth and expect me to know what it is you’re saying? I absolutely DID NOT hear what you just said and if it was something important like I’m running away and am moving to France, then you need to know I have not heard you.

The trouble with zabbazee is that your children come to understand the richness of this word and begin incorporating it into their own vocabulary.  As my daughter leaves the house, car keys in hand, I blather on from the open front door with endless words of caution, “Be careful. Don’t drive too fast. Remember to lock your doors…” Pulling out of the driveway she responds with an all too appropriate Zabbazee!

Friday, November 6, 2009

dropping the “h”

This is the note my husband Erich found on our kitchen counter when he returned from the hardware store.
Eric,   I’ve gone for a walk with Beth.      Ann

It might seem innocuous enough, yet to my husband of 22 years, this simple message spelled danger! First, the note was found on the kitchen counter where I never leave important messages. My mother taught me right and insisted we leave these precious scraps of scribbled-on-paper on the kitchen floor where they are sure to be spotted. Countertops are dangerous places. An electric bill can go weeks without detection under the kitchen camouflage of junk mail heavily sprinkled with homework and dirty dishes.
The fact that my note was discovered on the kitchen counter at all is highly suspect for two reasons. One, that I would go against a lifetime of training to put the note in such jeopardy and two that the counter itself was clear enough that it wasn’t swallowed instantly by countertop debris. Something must be wrong! My husband was also alarmed by the misspelling of his name. Surely the woman he’s been sleeping next to for 22 years would know how to spell his name. Perhaps I had left off Erich’s “h” and placed the note in a dangerous place as a cry for help. Erich immediately tried calling my cell phone and heard my usual voicemail message warning callers, “Hi, This is Ann. You can leave a message if you like, but I need to let you know that my phone is often in the drawer turned off so you might want to call me at home if it’s something important.” Erich called Beth’s cell phone to see if she, like normal people, might have her cell phone with her. And if she, like normal people, might have it turned on. Luckily my friends are normal people. They carry purses, cell phones, and always have a tissue or a pen when you need one – that’s why I hang out with them. Beth assured Erich that I wasn’t in someone’s trunk, but was actually by her side. The misspelling came in my rush to leave the house and the fact that for 8 hours a day I write emails and take messages for my boss who has the same name as my husband but spells it Eric.

My Erich now spells my name Anne with an e for the fun of it.