My 2014 theme: Boobs, boots and Netflix

We put up a tree, which means needles all over the place. The only cat who cares is Pea, who sits either blissfully under it, beside it, or hovering over it because Ari put her scratching post right beside it so she can “still see out the window”. Ornaments that have lasted decades are now on death watch.

There is precisely *one* present under the tree, a smallish perfect red box with a white ribbon. Inside the box are two ornaments for my friend and her daughter across the street. We’ve been swapping ornaments for 18 years. I never have any wrapping paper because I’m cheap, but Honda sent me this awesome chocolate in this beautiful red box with a white ribbon. See where I’m going here? I just had to eat the chocolate, so I did. I took it in my room and hid it. I asked Pammy if she wanted some the other night. She said “oh, yeah, that stuff is great”. Note to self: get a better hiding spot next year.

Last night was my last show until the new year. It’s been an awesome new season; we reach most of Ontario now, which means I have to up my game. Upping my game meant last night I managed to say arse instead of ass at the very last second as I spoke.

I need a vacation, which won’t happen any time soon. I’m forgetting words and it’s bugging me. I’m tired, but that kind of tired that’s beyond tired. Like seeped into your bones tired. I read some article about some singer who is “back”. I stared blankly at the article, thinking, “when did he leave, when did he get here the first time, and who is he?” And then I just didn’t care. I’ve stopped learning new little poptarts names unless they stick around for more than a couple of years. I had to realize who Taylor Swift is, but I feel safe taking a pass on Ariana Grande, which I seriously thought was a new drink at Starbucks when I first heard it.

A new gig and a new project starting up after the holidays. Details when I have them. So much for lying on a beach in a coma…but, not complaining. Really looking forward to 2015. 2014 has been a trial, to put it mildly. Job changes, surgeries, and so many lessons learned. As Martha told me as we made mac ‘n cheese the other night, “it’s a good thing.”

The best part of the surgeries was the anesthetic. I had a couple of fuzzy days, then boots started arriving. Online shopping is the best. I have great taste even when stoned on totally legal drugs.

 

 

 

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Macaroni and cheese and “skillets”

I made a reference to macaroni and cheese earlier this week. It’s a cheater topic, like sex and pizza, because even a gluten free, lactose intolerant, detoxing, paleo, Atkins, South Beach, if-it-has-a-face-I-won’t-eat-it vegan with a pinched sciatic nerve likes all three of those things. Yes, they do. If someone is going to fall off the wagon, it will be for one of those things: diarrhea, blazing back pain and muffin tops be damned. Your thighs are supposed to meet in the middle, ladies. Unless you’re a cowboy.

So I decided to make it for real. I Googled ‘best macaroni and cheese’ because that is what Google is for. Martha Stewart popped up. I don’t hold against her the fact she did jail time; I imagine she showed everybody how to make omelettes with a lighter, a Snickers bar and a pair of flip flops. That woman is crafty.

The recipe got all these rave comments, and I read them all. I was not reading to assert that Martha is a goddess; I was determining if buried in these comments, amidst the people who pretend to know what a roux is, there are harbingers of doom. I needed to know if there were landmines in these recipes. I’m no Princess Diana, though I do look darling in khaki.

I discovered how people do recipes on the internet: people read and declare that this recipe is so good my family made me a crown, someone else will say I made this and it’s a disaster, and most of them will say “I made this recipe, but I used Velveeta for 8 year old Vermont cheddar, Ritz crackers for homemade breadcrumbs, Parkay for unsalted butter, root beer for condensed milk and since garlic and onions make Mike gassy,  I left those out. This recipe is terrible.” There are also a lot of people who put bacon in things. All things. I’m sure there are people who would put bacon in a Poptart.

I read the recipe. I learned the hard way that you have to read all the way to the end. Do I need to tell you how many times at 6pm I’ve hit “marinate for 24 hours”. That is a thing. WTF? I went shopping and No Frills didn’t have one of the cheeses Martha preferred, but thankfully she admitted you could use another cheese I couldn’t pronounce instead. I learned this standing hunched over my phone at 5pm on a Friday in No Frills. I eventually spent over 20 bucks JUST ON CHEESE. AT NO FRILLS. I was in the expensive little section where the cheeses are all different prices, and you know in your heart they smell like socks that have been in work boots for 12 hours. With feet.

At home I told the kids it would be ready by 7. I started at 5:30. Martha, you lying slut. First, I realized that many of these cooking steps all seem to need to happen at the same time. WTF? I also realized that Martha says things like, “use a small saucepan” and “use a medium saucepan” and “use a large skillet” and I’m all jeesuzchrist, woman, get your shit together. I don’t use this many dishes making Christmas dinner. I also spend half the time on my computer Googling my conversion amounts and staring at measuring cups that I usually use to water plants.

Oh, did I mention that I’m doing this from a recipe on my computer? It’s in the kitchen, but I have to keep running back and forth and refreshing. Maggie the Cat sits on the mouse the entire time, wondering when she can get to the cheese. THE VERY EXPENSIVE CHEESE.

It rapidly became apparent I needed a battle plan, not a recipe. The recipe rolls out like everything happens in the time it takes to write it. Let me assure you, this is a lie. Shredding nearly a pound of cheese takes 30 minutes, not including hitting the cat who keeps sneaking up on the counter or the kids who come in saying “you finally bought good cheese” or the fact you haven’t worked out in 3 months and your arm gets all rubbery.

You know what melts really fast? Butter melts really fast. And that part where it says to “whisk until it bubbles and thickens” takes forfrickingever. I got through a whole Judge Judy and into Three Men, or whatever, because my choice was watching a former Prime Minister’s really irritating son or Charlie Sheen. We have basic cable because we only watch Netflix, so choice is limited on my little TV in the kitchen. I don’t mind Jeopardy, but I draw the line at Wheel of Fortune; have you seen how stupid some people are? They get L_WN FURNITUR_ and yell out “cookies and milk”.

I also had to use my favourite big non-stick pan (sorry, “skillet”) that I’ve had forever. I only had a metal whisk, but I threw caution to the wind because at this time of year, Canadian Tire puts these things on for 20 bucks. When they say “regular price, $60” and you know it’s a lie, but you tell yourself it’s a great deal and buy it. Come to think of it, I need all new pans (sorry, “skillets”) but I’ve also been known to cook a hotdog on two nails connected to a battery.

Ari wandered down when all the work was done because he’s a man, and picked up the spoon to stir. “Holy crap, this is a heart attack in a pan” he said. I said “no, it’s a skillet”. After stirring in a pile of cheese as big as my head, I had to add ¼ tsps of things, which to me is dumb; ¼ tsp is like a speck in this huge blob of mung. Ol’ Martha said to grate some nutmeg, but I just had a little bag of it because I don’t know what a nutmeg looks like in its original state, and when I first saw ginger I was horrified because it looked like my father’s toes.

But I followed along because how can you question a woman who could make a festive wreath out of a bike tire, some pine cones and 7 unmatched socks? I put the specks of things in. I swirled the whole mess together, and dumped it into my biggest casserole dish. I’d already ascertained that it was big enough; Martha said use a 3 quart one, so I found out that was 12 cups, and put 12 cups of water in my biggest casserole and it fit. Ari and his girlfriend came in while I was doing this, and Ari held up his hand and said “don’t ask”.

I’m just happy I have casserole dishes. They were wedding gifts, and by far the most useful thing that came out of time of my life, if you don’t count the lesson of learning to recognize sooner rather than later that you’ve run out of road and you’re standing there pedaling your legs fiercely and then you drop. Like the Roadrunner cartoons.

It was nearly 8:30 when it was ready. 15 minutes in front of the cheese display, 2 and a half hours of prep time, half an hour to cook. I used 3 glass measuring cups, a couple little tsp things, 3 other measuring scoop things, a bowl, 3 pots, a huge pan (sorry, “skillet”), a thousand wooden spoons and cutting boards, a grater, a colander (what Ari calls a hole bowl) and two glasses wine. So sue me.

With great ceremony we sat down to eat. Pammy had steamed some veggies to help push all that cheese along everyone’s lower intestines. The girls made heavenly faces, and I admit, this is some serious macaroni and cheese, Martha. Ari took a bite and asked why there was so much pepper in it, then said “this would be great with bacon in it.” My mom used to make macaroni and cheese every Christmas so any little kid picky eaters could have it. The adults used to eat it all, so she kept making more every year, and her version wasn’t even that great. Sorry, Mom, but remember what I said: sex, pizza and macaroni and cheese.

Here’s a link to the recipe. There’s a bunch of gobbledly gook at the beginning that I didn’t read, because telling me Thomas Jefferson invented macaroni and cheese doesn’t mean I have any fewer pots to go wash. I mean “skillets”.

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That’s *Miss* Potato, to you.

I got some spammer mail from a place that makes duct tape. I know they make duct tape because I opened the email, which I usually refuse to do. Now you’re wondering why I did that, right? First, because the mail said it was from ‘Maggie’. Like I’m not gonna be at least a little interested in a message from a Maggie. But the best part was who it was addressed to:

hi,Miss Potato | Lorraine Sommerfeld

I love this so much I can’t even begin to explain. The great spam deities have finally dialed in the right combination to make me open their garbage.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like I don’t have a new calendar yet.

First, I forgot to put up the link to this, Driving.ca’s recent round up of CUVs under 40K. We all played for two days with 9 models, and it was fun as well as a great way to test them all back to back, and trade notes in between. Surprisingly, my colleagues and I have differing opinions and concerns on most vehicles. Surprise! At the end of the 2 days, we had to break down every CUV into rankings based on everything. Assign scores on every single aspect of them. My editor looked over my shoulder and started laughing at me, accusing me basically of giving everyone on the team a trophy because I was so nice in my marking scheme. I said that was not true, though I can usually find something nice to say about most things. I took my job seriously. At the very end, we had to go on camera and say which one we’d chosen as our overall winner. You should watch the video; it’s fun, and I’m in it. Anyway, at the end, I’m the only one who says, “Hyundai Santa Fe Sport!” with an exclamation mark at the end, which you can’t see obviously, but you can hear. All my colleagues named something different. When they’d collated all the scores from everybody on every vehicle? The over all winner?

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.

Did you know it’s possible to eat an entire row of Premium Pluses? It is.

Did you know if you hide the ah-mazing chocolate that Honda sends you each year in your room, your kids will still find it?

I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy, which I love. Of course I do. So, Katey Sagal is awesome. I’ve loved her, like most people, since Married With Children. She also sings. But on SOA, as
Gemma, the mom, she is superb. She’s also pretty hot, which I like cuz she’s basically my age. On the show, she wears tight jeans, a lot of leather jackets, and boots. I know, I know, I thought the same thing! That I dress just like a killing, rampaging, stealing motorcycle club mama! Her stuff is a little over the top – the jackets have some pretty crazy/tacky things cut out or embedded in them, which even *I* know is a bit much. But I had a thought: I googled Katey Sagal the real person and thought I’d see what she wears in real life. Imagine my relief that other than the fact that she shows more cleavage than I ever do, we still dress priiiiittttty much alike. Carry on, both of us.

I’m off to do some work. I got home last night after the show at 11, as always, and the damned cats were chasing around at 5 and 6. I tried an experiment the other night: I closed my door with them kicked out. I slept great. The next morning, Ari comes out sputtering, “those damned cats kept me up all night…they just kept taking turns scratching on your door and yelling…” Well. At least someone thinks I’m worth breaking down the door for.

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Reign on me

I’m barbecuing because I think it’s July, apparently. Maggie keeps poking her addled little head out the door when I open it, and Little Pea is on the table yelling “Maggie, no, you don’t want to go out there! Trust me! Take it from a former feral – it’s cold! We have it good in here!” except Maggie doesn’t get it and still believes she would like to roam the deck. I’ve mentioned Maggie is kinda losing it. If I don’t make a little fun of her, I cry instead. I’ll keep making fun. She’s taken to eating everybody’s food at meal times. Not ours; the other cats. They are not amused. But she’s ravenous, and she’s so tiny and bony I just give her more food.

I watched this terrible/awesome show on Netflix called Reign. They spelled it wrong, of course – it should be Raine – but it’s a hoot. It’s supposed to be about Mary Queen of Scots. It’s not really; they’ve invented new characters and twisted history to make it more MTV than Masterpiece Theatre, but Megan Follows is awesome as the bitchy Queen Catherine. I stumbled on some chat room when I was looking something up about it and found all these ridiculous women screaming that it wasn’t historically accurate (seriously: one of them snarked to another commenter that she obviously didn’t have an Ivy League education because she knew nothing about history. Really? I guess they hog all the best information) and it was terrible and they have no right and other stuff. How I wish I could haul them aside and ask them who they think wrote up this history, and how accurate do they think it was? I seriously believe there were more stable boy-sired kings on the throne than not; ferchristsakes, these are people who lost a game of backgammon or whatever and took off people’s heads to get even. You really think they were recording things in their diaries that were true?

I did some Christmas shopping. Yeah. Ick. I like what my niece told Roz, when asked what her brother wanted for Christmas: “Five dollars and a hearty handshake.” Kid is already a Sommerfeld at 16….

I worked all day. I deserve some Sons of Anarchy…as if I could choose just one.

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Let’s play “deciphering Raine’s dream…”

So, the plan, as far as I can figure it out, was that I walked from my house to the home of one of my high school friend’s, except now we’re older. I guess it’s now, except I haven’t seen this other girl in decades. She lives in the house of one of my mother’s old friends, who died years and years ago. She is married to some guy I’ve never met. I have no idea why I go there, only that I am going to leave there and walk to the bar.

This is my neighbourhood bar, Emma’s, which when I was a kid was called Sharkey’s (I think). So I’m old but going to the bar of my youth. Whatever. As I’m putting on my coat and shoes, I realize I’m putting on these red pumps my Mom had that were awwwwesome. I’m wearing those, and for some reason, I ask Friend’s Husband to drive me because I’m now too tired to walk. He drops me at the bar in my fabulous red shoes.

I go into the bar only for a few minutes, and then I leave because I have to walk to Dundas. Dundas is a 15 minute highway drive, but I’m going to walk there. I’m walking and walking in my fabulous red shoes, and when I finally get to the edge of Dundas, it’s raining and really muddy. I sigh (I remember sighing), and wonder how I’m ever going to walk the last 200 yards or so, and it’s getting muddy and the water is rising. I finally realize that this is a great thing, because I can swim instead. I’m a good swimmer; it’s dark and awful out and the town of Dundas is getting kind of flooded which is not so good for Dundas (which is in a valley, now that I think about it) but is good for tired me in my red shoes.

As I step to the edge of the water, I see two thorny humps and realize it is an alligator. I actually paused here and figured out if it was a crocodile or an alligator, which when you see them up close is terrifying and you can be excused for not immediately remembering the difference, it’s not like a toad and a frog, except it kind of is because frogs and alligators are more green and crocodiles and toads are more brown. I think. But these were alligators. It swam right past me, and so did some guy. “Oh my god is that an alligator?” I asked Swimming Man. “Yeah, be careful,” he said and swam away. I yelled “how many are there?” and he yells back “there’s ten.” And I looked across the couple of hundred yards to the road I needed to reach and saw all these alligators.

And then I woke up. I’ve spent too much time this morning Googling alligators and crocodiles. My identification was correct. My dream was nuts. And now I want red shoes.

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There’s always one…

People have asked if I ever get nervous doing a live TV show. I don’t, really. I’m in a studio with a few camera crew, my guests on set with me, and my producer whispering (or yelling or laughing or being rude) in my ear. I have fun.

Lemon Aid Car Show has expanded this year, and we have a viewership across much of Ontario. This is excellent news for the show, and it’s bumped up the incoming calls like crazy. The calls make the show, so I’m thrilled when we get a cross section of things happening. Nearly every caller starts out by saying “I love your show” which is kind and I usually smile and make a dorky face because I am a dork.

Last night I had a great call. My guests were a mechanic (Bob Baker, Vertex in Scarborough, great guy) and my APA car researcher/reviewer, Ron Corbett who knows everything about cars and is a total enthusiast. Good panel. Until the call came in. I will try to get it close to verbatim:
Me: “Welcome to Lemon Aid, do you have a question for our panel?”
Caller: “No I have a question for the experts.” I made a little face at Ron and said, “Oh well, I see this isn’t for me…” and Ron laughed.
Me: “Go ahead.”
Caller: “Yeah, so for the experts, I wanna know about Porsches. Like, I hear guys talking about getting a 991 or a 997 and I’m just wondering, after you get it they say the cost isn’t much different for repairing it…” So. This is not a question at all. This is just a ball of stupid masquerading as a question. Our callers all have make, model, year, mileage and a question.
Me: “Well, Ron, he only wants an expert, what do you think?” Bob, my mechanic is kinda looking off, waiting for a real question to come in.
Ron: “Lorraine, this is for you. You’ve driven way more Porsches than I ever have. You better take this one.” We cut out the part where I kiss Ron on the cheek.
Me: “Well, I like Porsches, no secret, and Porsche buyers usually appreciate that as one of the smaller manufacturers, they often take a more direct line with their customers. Maintenance is German; you’re going to pay more, as you would with a BMW or a Mercedes, but I’ll tell you this, people I know who own Porsches usually keep owning Porsches.”
Ron: “And you can use them year round…”
Me: “That’s a common question, whether they’re any good in the snow. And I’m like, Germany invented snow! Slap on winter tires, and whether it’s mid engine or rear engine, great handling and balance…so much fun in the snow…”
Caller: gone.

Ya know, I never, ever pretend to be an expert about any of this stuff. After 8 years in the industry, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve learned it from some amazing people. But I never, ever try to fake it, because that would be insulting to my colleagues and deadly with viewers/readers. Besides, I don’t have to know everything, I only have to know where to find someone who does. Oh, and Porsche Dude? Nice try. But if seeing me in that chair offends you so much, just stop watching.

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The Right Stuff

Great read on a great movie. This is one I watch every year at the cottage.

And that pic of Ed Harris ain’t too shabby, either.

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Here, there, everywhere

Things I will admit today:

We were supposed to go to my sister’s to Christmas bake. No, whoa up. I’m not allowed to actually do anything except wash up (or warsh up, as one of my Mom’s Ohio friends used to say…dunno where that came from just now) and we had to postpone it. I’m torn about Christmas baking: this was Mom’s turf and I’m thrilled that Roz can and does do a bunch of the stuff, but I also really, really miss the weeks ahead of Christmas dropping into the house (which I basically did daily) to snitch whatever she was making.

She’d smack my hands because she would be busy filling tins and tins and tins. She’d make fruitcake which I didn’t eat, but I loooooved when she put all the stuff in her huge canning pot, dump tons of booze on it, then make everyone who came in the house take a stir and a wish. I wish I could do a stir and a wish.

She would make mincemeat tarts (for me, Roz said they had worms in them), coconut tarts, walnut roll (yum), poppyseed roll (ick, for Dad), quiche Lorraines (well, of course), blueberry tarts Roz now calls Snow White tarts, which totally fits, sausage rolls, the aforementioned fruit cake, Christmas pudding (she’d have to put money in it to get us to eat it; we’d take out the money and give the rest to Dad), butter tarts (which I do not like, Sam I am), and things I’m forgetting. Roz makes thumbprints, which I don’t think my Mom made, but I love them. Ari used to help her; one year, he was about 4, and his little thumb was the perfect size to make the divot, so we’ve called them Ayrton’s Thumbprints ever since. We’d say that and I’d see people sneak a look at my kid’s grubby little hands.

I miss Mom.

I tried to Black Friday shop on line, and kept refreshing the page waiting for the boots I want to plunge in price. It didn’t happen. I am distraught. I needed boots.

I finished watching Californication last night, a show I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Hank’s final line, “till the f*cking wheels come off, baby” made me weepy for romance. That show is 7 seasons of a guy getting absolutely everything wrong, and the amazing (or stupid) chick who keeps forgiving him. I totally bought into it.

Maggie is getting meaner and meaner. I told Pammy I think she’s getting kitty Alzheimer’s and Pammy yelled at me. And then Maggie bit her.

Oh, and this link is awesome. Another guy who thought it would be way easier to kill his wife instead of, you know, divorcing her. And the cast of clowns that ended up involved. The writer kinda buries the lede by not mentioning the Coen brothers until near the end. This should have Coen brothers written all over it.

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Oh, the weather outside…

I have a crazybusy week ahead, so today is a writing day. That is good, actually. I’m in a calm mood, the house is silent, it’s overcast outside, Maggie has assumed the position (digging her claws in on my lap) and I have the first pot of tea going. It’s perfect. I couldn’t write yesterday because I helped the Rotary Club in Toronto with their Telethon. Rogers produces it, and I made like Jerry Lewis for a couple of hours. Yes, it’s as corny as it sounds, but it was fun and it raises a lot of money. They put you at a table of three – I was the middle person, the Rogers person. They told me ahead of time that John Tory would be sitting to my right. I replied “of course he will be.” He’s a sports freak, so could pimp all the sports things we were pushing without reading the little description. This was helpful, as the only items I had any clue about were 1) winter checkups for your car and 2) gift certificates from the LCBO.

As usual, I just popped up a couple of sites before I settled down to write. A little news, because you never know what can happen on a Saturday night. I made the mistake of clicking on Longform.org by accident (I swear) and wouldn’t you know it, they have a William Langeweische http://longform.org/writers/william-langewiesche on. Dammit. I will never get out of there. I loooooooooove him. If you, on the other hand, do not have to write today, and you have a cat on your lap and a pot of tea and a silent house, I strongly suggest you go read his stuff.

Off to read. I mean write.

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