Thursday, June 14, 2007

My indulgence...

...while Eveliina and the Chickabiddy are away in Europe.

"One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough."
-- James Thurber

Last night - in celebration or mourning of my current status as bachelor - I treated myself to Stilton, bre and a wonderfully decadent pomegranate and blueberry martini.

Yes, I know one is supposed to partake of Stilton with port...but I really am not overly fond of port. And I am fond of martinis.

The pomegranate and blueberry martini was not actually planned. Neither was the Stilton. Let me back up a bit. The day before I was at our favorite local market buying the essentials of bachelorhood - things one does not typically keep in the house as a father and a husband to an avowed hater of "skeezy cheeses" - namely alcohol for martinis and a nice blue veined cheese. Earlier I had explored our often neglected stock of compotational essentials. A nearly full bottle of Vermouth sat next to a lonely, empty spot. No vodka. No gin. I'm no martini purist. Far from it. And although I look upon a Cosmopolitan with some disdain, a flavored martini is a treat. So I was getting vodka. And Danish Blue.

That evening I made the most unsatisfying apple martini I have ever had. It was almost depressingly bad. So I turned to the Danish Blue for consolation. It had gone bad.

There are those in this world - my lovely and refined wife among them - that will profess that cheeses like Danish Blue are already bad. That is simply not true. That's like comparing wine and vinegar. I won't spend time defending my tastes except to quote Harvey Day, "People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime".

I returned to the store the following day, bad cheese in hand. I returned it with the intention of just getting more Danish Blue. But how could I trust that each and everyone one of those packets was not contaminated like the first? I got the Stilton instead. And then I got the pomegranate and blueberry juice. All very unplanned. Kismet? Perhaps.

I am happy it worked out that way. I highly recommend a pomegranate and blueberry martini. It is fruity, strong and somewhat tart.

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. pomegranate juice
1/2 oz. blueberry juice

Shake it with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with blueberries.

And have it with some Stilton on light rye. It's decadent and yummy.

I'll admit to having had somewhere between "all right" and "not enough".

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Single again...

This morning I put my wife and daughter on a plane bound for Chicago, and ultimately Helsinki. For the next two and half weeks I will be a bachelor.

I imagine that the first few days could be fun. I can eat whatever I want. I can fall asleep on the couch and sleep there all night. I can make our dogs talk to each other in little annoying, goofy voices and have pretend philosophical debates - Topsi is a staunch Catholic Apologist and Dinky follows more of a Reformed Calvinist theology. (Oh, wait, I do that even when my wife and daughter are at home.) I can stay up late and watch "Night of the Lepus" or "Vampires in Havana" while drinking apple martinis or Disaronno. I can listen to two-and-a-half-year-old-inappropriate 80's punk as loud as I care to - which really is not as loud as when I used to listen to it in the 80's. I can drink milk right out of the jug - which I swear is purely hypothetical; despite my status as a die-hard galactophage, I would never do something as desperate and, well, gross as that. No, really. I wouldn't!

But I know that mostly I'm going to miss them terribly. I'll miss the familiar presence of my wife when I shift in my sleep. I'll miss going into my daughter's room at night when I just can't sleep to listen to her breathe and feel God's presence. I'll miss bumping into my wife as we try to get ready in the morning and find that there really is not enough room for two adults in our bathroom. I'll miss their laughter. Their hugs. Their smiles.

I already miss those things.

It's hardly a fair trade for being able to drink martinis and watch bad movies. Two and half weeks. That's 17 days...420 hours...25,200 minutes...1,512,000 seconds.

I hope they are safe. I hope they are happy. And I hope they know how much I truly, deeply, madly love them.

See you guys in Helsinki in two and half weeks!
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Surprise! The eyes have it!

No more glasses. No more contact lenses.

After mulling this over for quite a few years, my wife and I decided to finally get Lasik surgery done. And I am so happy we did.

After more than 24 years of wearing contacts and glasses, it is so strange (in a wonderful way) to see so well - both Evelina and I ended up with 20/15 vision. I keep reaching to take off my glasses at night when I go to bed and wake up in the morning thinking "Oh no! I left my contacts in last night."

On the day of surgery, after some additional tests to make certain we were still good candidates and that I still had enough money to cover the equivalent of our mortgage payment several times over, they gave me a little blue pill. Xanax. Xanax is a benzodiazepine, like Valium and Librium and a host of other "minor tranquilizers". Which is interesting, I suppose. But I digress.

Being unfamiliar with Xanax or any of its cousins, I inquired of the friendly staff attending my wife and me what I could expect from this little blue pill. "You'll feel like you've had a couple of cocktails before dinner," came the reply. Good enough. It's not like I really need to be any more gregarious and extroverted than I already am - my wife will agree - but if increasing the frequency of my witticisms would make the surgery go better, so be it.

After taking the little blue pill we were arranged in huge leather seats to await the procedure. Seated comfortably, I awaited the coming of the "couple of cocktails" euphoria I had been promised. After 20 minutes I began to be suspicious that whomever was tending this particular anteprandial bar was watering down the drinks because nada, nothing, no alchoholesque glow.

As I contemplated this, we were moved into another room, the pre-op room. "Who goes first?" asked the attendant. My wife indicated that I should go first by pointing at me and sticking out her tongue. "I just need to mark your corneas," said the attendant. That sounded...ominous for some reason. But I seated myself in front of the chin-and-forehead rest apparatus that is so ubiquitous in eye-care facilities. "Open your eye wide," she said when I was properly placed. And then she came at me with a green Sharpie.

I'd like to think there are special, disposable, 100%-sterile medical instruments made with exacting standards that are used for things like "marking your corneas". But this thing looked like a green Sharpie. Much like the green Sharpie that sits next to my keyboard at work, in fact. I've never been comfortable with things close to my eyes, but it really did surprise me that a green Sharpie coming at my eye would rank in the top ten of uncomfortable moments in my 36 years.

Fortunately, my eyes were numbed and so had no feeling, however I had a pretty easy time imagining what that green Sharpie must feel like pressed against my eyeball. She made two marks on my right eye and asked me to sit back. "You did great," she said. Nice to know.

"I was more than a little anxious," I told her. "In fact, it was all I could do to keep myself from screaming and jumping backwards."

She frowned. "Maybe we should give you another Xanax." My wife quickly raised her hand and nodded, indicating her desire for another round.

If a single Xanax does nothing to me, I can attest that two Xanax do exactly twice that. But I sat through the marking of my left eye and the remarking of my right eye - how lucky! - with as much stoic calm as I could muster. I was led away into the surgery room, my wife looking very much like she had hit pay-dirt at that bar that failed to deliver for me.

The actual surgery was fast; perhaps seven minutes. And although I never did get my "couple of cocktails", I made it through without any trouble. The laser making the adjustments was actually very pretty. And it didn't hurt. A tad uncomfortable, but no real pain.

So now I see very well, with no glasses and no contacts. My eyes feel so much better, healthier. They certainly "breath" better. I'm happy we got it done. As I told my wife, she and I can now see with crystal clarity all the things we can no longer afford.
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