Archive for July, 2009

Published by PaintingChef on 30 Jul 2009

Some self-indulgent bitching on the state of humanity, if I may…

I’m not, by nature, an angry person. I like to think of myself as a generally happy-go-lucky person with a basic trust in the inherent goodness of people.

But can I just tell you? That is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

I can’t get into the details much with you as there are actually legal proceedings pending and this is a whole new area to me as far as what I can tell people and what I cannot. Probably I should just put this all in a recently emptied wine bottle, cork it and smash it against a brick wall. (That sounds oddly therapeutic and would probably happen if I weren’t already so damn tired of picking invisible pieces of broken glass out of my feet wince I dropped my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl from about shoulder height last week…oops…)

As you know, I now work for my father, a man I consider to be one of the most honest and ethical people in the world. I shit you not, the man’s word is his bond and he has no tolerance for dishonesty, opportunists and laziness. (Or Bluetooth earpieces but that’s another story.) Up until recently, our company has had an impeccable safety record but lately we’ve had what can only be called a “Series of Unfortunate Events.”

In the past week, so much questionable information has arisen about some of the injuries sustained by some of our employees that I honestly feel like I’m losing my faith in humanity. I know how dramatic that sounds. And I roll my eyes just reading it. But when the hits just keep on coming like this, I don’t know how long our company can weather them.

So I come to work and I seethe with anger as the shit keeps piling on. And I go home and the anger festers and I get madder and madder until I honestly just want to punch something. Naturally, this seems like the perfect time to add a big fat shot of fertility drugs right smack in my ass, doesn’t it?

There it is. No details. Just the fact that our company, an organization who treats its employees well, pays them very generously and provides a package of benefits unparalleled in this industry is getting screwed by a few individuals with dollar signs in their eyes. Apparently we just weren’t giving them QUITE ENOUGH. And I watch the toll that this, combined with the general slow state of the construction industry, is taking on my father and I just want to cry. He started this company 12 years ago and has built it into a very strong business with a stellar reputation. People in our industry know that he is honest and hard working. They know that the work our company performs is solid. They trust that when we show up to a job, shit is going to get DONE and done right. And I think it’s becoming harder and harder for him to see all he’s accomplished because people keep trying to take him out at the knees.

It’s something a hug just can’t fix. And that’s the only weapon left in my arsenal.

Published by PaintingChef on 20 Jul 2009

Some would say they see a theme developing. Or perhaps call this a trifecta. I’ll just call it the moment I realized my life was going to continue to happen.

Friday was Patrick’s birthday. It was the day he finally worked his way out of “Mexican 30” limbo (at the ripe age of 453) and, even more tragically, the day I once again became his older woman by nine whole months. An amount of time that would be significant in the baby-incubating realm were I to ever get my Busted Uterus and Punk-Ass Ovaries to properly incubate said fetus.

None of which is the point of this entry.

I have taken on the role of official Birthday Cake maker in my family. Something that I think would make my grandmother very proud because every ounce of baking knowledge that I possess came directly from her with two exceptions (the secret to chocolate chip cookies and the perfect pound cake; two things that I will NOT be sharing. You are welcome…)

I think my mother is secretly grateful for my choosing this role because she confided in me that baking just makes her sad now. But I think we all mourn and grieve in different ways because whenever I open my pantry to gather ingredients I feel my grandmother in my heart. As I gather flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla beans and butter, I feel like she is standing next to me, reminding me not to overmix brownie batter or teaching me the perfect way to temper egg yolks. I can close my eyes and see her perched on a stool, pushing aside a looming deadline for half an hour without a second thought to place her tiny hands over mine and gently guiding me as I practiced the lacy designs that she could do in her sleep.

And so I’m not sure what happened Saturday evening as I was assembling my husband’s birthday cake. Two layers of vanilla bean cake with a strawberry filling. I know something went wrong as I was making the strawberry-almond filling. Somehow I just didn’t have the touch to thicken the filling. Perhaps a forgotten ingredient. Maybe just a lack of patience. I don’t know. But I do know that as I watched that filling ooze out from between those two cake layers I just wanted my grandmother. I just wanted to hear her voice tell me not to worry, that it would be easy to fix and then we would just “cover our sins with icing”.

As I stood in the middle of my kitchen, tears streaming down my cheeks, I just whispered softly to her, asking her to help me. Not because it was a big deal that the cake wasn’t turning out. Not because I was afraid of not having a perfect cake for Patrick to blow out candles on (we are YEARS from that!!). But because this was the part of her that I was carrying on. This was how I was honoring her. And I didn’t have all the answers which meant I still needed her. And that’s tough shit because she’s gone.

But as I stood there quietly crying, praying that Patrick wouldn’t stand up and see me, I started to feel calm. I started to feel… not so helpless. And I started to just get a little damn creative. As I stood in front of my pantry reasoning out what would fix what had turned into something that can only be described as a bleeding cake. A few deep breaths and I remembered the cans of pastry filling I’d bought on a whim a few weeks ago. Almond, raspberry, blueberry! And as I “patched things up” and “covered my sins” it dawned on me that maybe she really had taught me everything she knew. Because sometimes the secret is just stepping back, taking a few calming breaths and making it work.

I still miss her everyday. People say that it gets easier. So far that hasn’t happened. But for the first time since she died, I finally feel like I’m going to be okay.

Published by PaintingChef on 13 Jul 2009

Except for when I’m thinking about Tim Gunn, wine, my puppies or 90210.

“There are so many options. You don’t have to decide right now.”

“It’s JUST a birthday cake.”

“I know!! But there are so many CHOICES to make. I can do Vanilla bean with a raspberry filling. Or with fresh strawberries in the middle. Or I could do chocolate with a caramel icing. What about an orange cake with a…”


“Damn dude. I was going to say something kind of creamsicle or Orange Julius inspired but never mind.”

“Oh. Sorry, actually that sounds kind of good.”


“These are a LOT of options. It’s just a birthday cake. You seem to have put a lot of thought into it.”

“Patrick. You seem to forget that I think about cake pretty much ALL the time.”

“Yeah… that’s true…”

Published by PaintingChef on 10 Jul 2009

I’ve earned cake, right?

It was so sad. The way she looked up at me with those big brown eyes as the vet assistant LITERALLY dragged her across the floor and into the back room. And I’ve tried. For like two days now. I’ve TRIED to explain to her that she was going to have a little surgery and spend a few days with the doctor but that she would be home lickety split and we would make sure she was all well. I told her that she would get to swim in the pool to make her leg better. I PROMISED her that she was going to be all fixed up.

And all I could hear, in the sweet little girl voice that I like to pretend she talks to me in (SHUT UP! You KNOW you do it too…) was “But Mommy… I thought you had me fixed years ago!”

I CRIED. I cried in the lobby of the vet this morning. The surgeon had to come out and hug me and tell me it was going to be fine. And you know how you can tell that some people just aren’t huggers? This was most assuredly NOT a hugging woman. So I’m crying. The non-hugger is hugging. The dog is being dragged against her will. Oh, and some bulldog in the corner is peeing on a plant.

But I don’t fault him. When you have to go, you have to go.

Published by PaintingChef on 07 Jul 2009

There are no words…

I don’t know why writing here has become so difficult for me. I’m not sure why, every time I open up a blank Word document I find myself staring, typing and deleting over and over. There is not a lack of things “going on”. I’m full of stories.

We got a new boat. A wonderful, beautiful boat. It was as close to an impulse buy as something that you have to go to the bank and take out a loan to purchase can possibly be. One day we were wading in the pool wishing we were out on the lake but because I didn’t like the boat we had (yes, I’m THAT spoiled) I didn’t like to go out on the lake and the next day we were driving to Norris to look at a new boat.

Hello new boat.

Guess who won’t be able to enjoy the new boat?

This sweet angel…

Why, you ask? Well. She tore her ACL last week. And has to have surgery. Followed by rehabilitation. Which apparently does NOT involve taking flying leaps off of boats into the lake. (Sadly… this is the only thing she knows how to do on a boat.)

So yes, our dog is having surgery. Which some people may think is crazy but guess what? I’m a crazy animal lady with no kids and a Punk Ass Uterus.

Speaking of said uterus (isn’t this fun? The way it just rambles and rambles as though I’m trying to make a point or talk about something and then it doesn’t ever happen? Kind of like watching “The English Patient” in that you know something COULD happen, it just never does and you really have to pee and honestly? Would you miss all that much if you just snuck out to use the bathroom and maybe get some Milk Duds?) it is still decidedly VACANT.

And from there, I really don’t even know what to tell you. Perhaps we should investigate my recent and odd craving for all things cheese ravioli related?