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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Food Star International Market

This spring I am enjoying my last few months in the United States.  However, I know that before long I will be cast adrift from my native soil, a stranger in a strange land.  Changes come to everyone and a big change is coming our way soon.

So, to practice for our new environment (wherever that may be), I like to go to my local grocery store, Food Star.

The first clue that one is entering foreign territory is the sign pasted onto the front window: 'We have the best food at low price.'  As one approaches the store other clues being to manifest themselves.  Iron bars are sunk into the sidewalk, wide enough to let people in, but not wide enough to let shopping carts out.  The only exit available to a shopping card is zealously guarded by the same shopping cart man that is there every day.  And several signs are posted in various languages warning customers that taking a shopping cart is illegal and will be vigorously prosecuted.

Once entering the lovely Food Star, one is greeted with a rack of Mexican pastries, waiting to be enjoyed.  And the aisle that these pastries lead to is labeled 'Indian food, Middle Eastern food,' with the adjoining aisle being the one for various Latin American foods.  The refrigerator case is filled with innumerable types of tortillas, and the freezer case with frozen fruits and vegetables unknown to me.

The denizens, of course come in all colors and love staring at me, the lone white woman perusing the selection of canned juices (tamarind anyone?).  But this is all practice for the real thing, so I ignore them and head to the check-out aisle and buy my mango juice before heading back to my native land.  For now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Speaking of Mothers

Each family has its own lore, usually involving embarrassing incidents with various family members.  The butt  of each story is endlessly regaled with 'I remember when you...' and hilarious laughter.  Just ask my brother Mike about Mrs. Tudley.

Evidently when I was about Sophia's age, my family (at that point just my parents, older sister and me) went on a camping trip to Hanging Rock in western North Carolina.  I was of an age to enjoy exploring and grubbing around in the dirt.  According to my family members, I took a liking to pebbles and ingesting them.  I still get 'And you ate rocks!! What was wrong with you?!,' even from my siblings that weren't even a twinkle in my mother's eye.

And now this blog will make immemorial Sophia's equally dubious behavior.  

This morning Kathleen, Sophia, and I decided to go outside and do some gardening.  Our house has a large, lovely yard that is full of weeds in between all of the lovely plants.  Kathleen was happy to go outside and play on our swing set.  Sophia initially tried to follow her sister, but crawling just isn't nearly as fast as walking, and Sophia would get halfway to the swing about the time Kathleen decided to come running back to me.  

Worried that the neighbors would call CPS because of Sophia's screaming, I set her next to me in the dirt where she was happy as a clam.  She found a spade and chewed on it for awhile, then enjoyed the feeling of damp dirt through her fingers.  And finally she showed her parentage: after finding a nice-sized stone she sat in the dirt with filth covering her face and tried to eat it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As a child growing up, I had many complaints, as all children do.  One of the many complaints was about my mother.  She would walk into a room with 3 or 4 piles of things in it and exclaim, "Stuff!  There's stuff EVERYWHERE!!"  We, being children, would roll our eyes and try to ignore the shouting woman in the corner. 

Another complain was my mother's Cleaning Lists, which had completely ridiculous items like 'dust the baseboards,' 'dust the picture frames,' and 'wipe off the cupboards.'  Obviously such things were not necessary because the house was always so clean.

It is often our fate in life to become that which we mock, and when I was in college, I started to notice some symptoms of my mother's disease.  I tried my best to ignore them and live my life like a normal person.

Alas, I must now admit to having become just like my mother.  A few days ago I found myself attacking all of the moulding in my house with magic erasers.  The next day Brandon found me reveling in my newly cleaned stove knobs.  And that night I ironed and starched my pillow shams.

We will be seeking treatment soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Monday afternoon I got out a bread knife, put a cutting board on the counter, and cut myself a piece of bread.  Then I opened the butter dish, took a butter knife and buttered my bread.  After that, a danced a small dance of happiness.

Yes, the mythical UAB finally arrived after finally taking matters into our own hands and tracking down the boxes ourself (I have no idea when anyone would have gotten around to contacting us).  I never knew how happy making dinner without any frozen food would make me.  I'm sure, however, that through the years I'll begin to appreciate it more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bid List

Most marriages have points of friction, where disagreements spark that, if left 
unattended, can turn into raging bonfires.  Generally the points of friction involve small details of everyday life - who has to do the dishes, how one asks for help, or even perhaps what kind of furniture one spouse prefers and the other spouse doesn't.  I remember one discussion in my early marriage about how Brandon washed silverware (we've come a long way).

Recently, we got to do a different level of wrangling.  A few days ago, Brandon came home from work with a list.  The list contained 92 items and various dates, ranging from now to a year from now.  Also included were languages.  Oh, and places.  Have you ever wondered where in the world you would live if given the chance?  Just join the Foreign Service and you can entertain that daydream.

So over the last while, our discussions have sounded like this:

B: 'How about Colombo?'
A: 'Now where's Colombo again?  Do we get a house?  How is the weather?  Do they have mangoes?'

A: 'How about Chisinau?  We'd get a house!'
B: 'But there's nothing to do in Molodova!  All of Eastern Europe makes fun of Moldova!'

And so on.  However, as our list is due soon with all 92 places given their due High, Medium+, Medium, and Low, the wrangling will stop soon.  Then we just get to see where the Bid List deities will send us and we can start discussing furniture again.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Yesterday, Brandon, Kathleen, Sophia, and I decided to go to Costco. As we are living in a new place, I looked up the location, entered the address on Google Earth, and very carefully scrutinized our route.  Not very difficult.  Down a road, turn right on another road, pass under a lot of big roads, and then we're there.  It shouldn't be hard to miss - it's right next to the Pentagon (yes, that's right - out here Very Important Buildings are shoulder-to-shoulder with food warehouses.  There just isn't much space).

Somewhere in there, we managed to make a wrong turn.  Because we ended up in the Pentagon parking lot.  Then the Jefferson memorial.  After that we passed the Treasury building, the Holocaust museum, and had to turn around at the Washington monument (no time for tours), and narrowly escaped being herded into Arlington cemetery before we made it to the mecca of bulk-food.

Last time I got lost on the way to Costco, I just ended up at Wal-Mart.

Friday, March 6, 2009


A few days ago, Kathleen, Sophia and I went to the store.  As our UAB (with all of my pots, pans, knives, cutting boards, and wooden spoons) still isn't here, we haven't bought much but the bare essentials.  Kathleen, however, was adamant that we needed to buy ketchup, so the ketchup was bought.

After coming home, we had this conversation (and this is verbatim.  I'm not making any of it up).
Me: Kathleen, where did you put the ketchup?
Kathleen: I hid it somewhere.
Me: Where did you hide it?
Kathleen: I hid it in the closet.
Me: Which closet - the bedroom closet or hall closet?
Kathleen:  The hall closet.

I went and looked in the hall closet.  It wasn't there; Brandon had put it up in the fridge.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why I Want to Live in A Third-World Country

On Monday, after dropping Brandon off at the Metro, I went grocery shopping.  I have gone grocery shopping many times, but this time was a first - I took both my daughters with me.  

Only having one car, my grocery trips were restricted to Brandon's days off when we lived in Utah.  However due to our location, I get the car now.  Which means if I leave the house, both of my adorable headaches get to come with me.  

So, off the Harris Teeter in the middle of an Eastern snow storm we went.  Everyone was happy for awhile.  After all, grocery stores are a lot of fun to little house-bound girls who don't even have a TV to add some variety to their lives.  Kathleen's favorite form of entertainment presently is to push around the wheeled office chair.

However, things began to unravel as they always do.  First Sophia lost a shoe (we found it).  Then Kathleen decided that talking was so two minutes ago, and screaming was a better way of expressing oneself.   Then a nice man decided to help us out at the check-out line which sent Sophia into fits.  Which then brought all of the employees over who had nothing better to do (what crazy lady ventures out in a snowstorm like this?  One who has no food in her house) to try and make Sophia happy.  Which of course made her worse not better because she's a baby.  

Finally after having checked out all of the food and paid while trying to ignore Sophia, we had some help out of the car.  In to the trunk went the food, and into the car went the balloons from the nice man.  And then I looked for the keys.  Not in my purse.  Were they in the trunk?  The car was locked.  Where would I get another set?  I didn't know anyone around here.  I couldn't walk home, and the door was locked anyway.  A locksmith maybe?  But what about the children?  And then I looked in my hand.  

Yesterday when Brandon was talking with the FLO lady, she leaned over and conspiratorially told him, 'Two small kids, eh?  Now what you want to do is move to a third-world country.  I always had a maid who could watch the kids when I went to the market.  All. By. Myself.'

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


 noun - the irony of a situation PARADOX, incongruity, incongruousness

Sunday, March 1, Brandon and I finished our drive across 2/3 of the country.  According to our travel orders, the shortest distance between Springville and Arlington is 2185.  We did not take the shortest route, but instead took a victory tour, stopping in Rock Springs, WY (for the night), Omaha, SW Missouri, Nashville, and Raleigh.  

Our drive haven taken place in February, we skirted some snow storms, but never ran into snow.  Until Sunday, on our last leg of the journey, 90 miles outside DC.  Luckily, we drove through the snow.

But then it caught up with us.  So on Monday, March 2, Brandon's first day of work when he had to be in downtown DC at 7:45 in the morning, we woke up to 5 inches of snow on the ground, with more coming down.  

For those of you who have never lived in the not-north east, 5 inches is a lot of snow.  Unlike Utah where nothing bats an eye until at least 2 feet are dropped at once, out here 1/2 inch is enough to paralyze the city.  Nobody has school, nobody goes to work, and everyone pulls out their snowboots (which are still in an unknown location, packed in a box) and goes out to play.  Except Brandon.

Sometime back when this scenario had played itself out (with less snow), work was cancelled.  But not on Monday, due to some changes in the way things are done around here.  So we all piled into the car, wading through the snow with our two little girls, and drove to the nearest Metro stop to drop Brandon off.  It was a good thing, with all of the snow, that his nice new warm overcoat is in the same box in the same unknown location with everyone's snow boots and coats.

So on Monday afternoon, after his first day of work was done, Brandon got to enjoy an hour of freezing weather while he waited for me to find that I had missed all of his calls to my cell phone (at $1 a call) because our phone line wasn't (and still isn't) working. 

And neither was (or is) our landlord's on Sunday night when we came into town.  It's a good thing that they live in the same neighborhood and I found the address on our lease agreement.  

But I suppose we can't complain.  We live in a house that's at least 3 or 4 times larger than our last one.  Brandon can walk to work (now that it's in its normal location).  I haven't had to cook for almost a month (because all of our pots and pans are hiding with the snow boots and coat).  Our neighbors are all very kind.  We didn't have to wake up until six o'clock this morning.  And Brandon won't need his coat soon anyway - the forecast calls for 68 and sunny on Saturday.