Sunday, November 28, 2010

My House Smells Like Garbage! Part Two.

     As I mentioned earlier, my husband stunk up the house a week ago attempting to manufacture sauerkraut in our garage. After I convinced him to store the stuff out in the back yard, I figured that would be the end of it.  Humph.

    Well, yesterday, he snuck a couple heads of cabbage into the house while I was outside hanging Christmas lights with my kid. When I opened the front door, it only took a second for me to smell what he was up to. I ran to the kitchen, and sure enough, he was chopping away. I stared at the uncut half of the cabbage. The outer leaves were a combo of black and hunter green, the middle was salmon pink, and the whole downstairs reeked of methanethiol. (The gas that causes farts to smell.)

     When he saw me, he smiled brightly and said, “I am making a few jars of sauerkraut. I am going to give them to my friends as gifts.”

    My jaw dropped so far the bone popped. “As gifts?" I said slowly, with my voice rising on the word gifts.  "If you let your friends eat that, the only thing you’ll give them is food poisoning."

    His face twisted, he chopped a few more slow deliberate chops, and then froze; he seemed to be deep in thought.  “You know, the cabbage here is not like the cabbage in Bulgaria. There is something wrong with it. It’s been sitting in the brine for almost a month, and the outside is soft like it’s suppose to be, but the inside is still hard. If this were Bulgarian cabbage the whole thing would be soft by now. You just can’t get good vegetables in America like you can in Europe. 

   "Uh, huh. Well, whatever, but that cabbage is rotten," I smirked.
    My husband's eye narrowed. "Or maybe it didn't work cause you made me put my cabbage outside,” he accused. (Refer to earlier blog)

    Not up for another fight, I left, leaving the front door wide open. A couple of minutes later, I heard the disposal running, and my husband flew by with a bag of garbage. I flipped him the bird, but he didn't see me. 
     Curious, I peeked around the corner and saw the cabbage was no where in sight.  I had to giggle. With my husband’s intense aversion to wasting money, throwing out that cabbage must have killed him. (Can you picture me snickering behind my hand?)

P.S. My son and I were headed to the Walmart and my husband called down the stairs, "While you're out, could you pick up a couple of jars of sauerkraut, please. I did so, gladly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Fort


     When my mother took me off the meds the doctor prescribed for me because I had an attention span of about an inch long, my school worked suffered, but my imagination tripled. Being a child with an ADD afflicted mind can be a disability, and a wonderful thing. Millions of adventures were at my fingertips because of my ever-churning brain and massive imagination. My world was an intriguing conundrum of colors, movements, and ideas, many of which I interpreted differently than the majority of neurotypical brains around me. Something so simple as a spare mattress mounted on the ceiling could become a magical fort that carried me into a world of fantasy. And consequences were eye-opening experiences that I realized only after the fact.
     I am going to take you back to the summer of 1968 in Omaha Nebraska. Lyndon B. Johnson was president, Richard Nixon was waiting in the wings, and the protests against the Vietnam War were escalating. I was just shy of nine-years old and not much interested in the news. My world consisted of playmates, mulberry trees, and mischief.
    My best friend Gayle lived directly across the street. She was a grade below me, but her birthday was early, and mine as late, so we were the same age most of the year. Gayle was the third born child out of four.
My sister Donna, my dog Sam, and Gayle, standing Mary
    Although I was welcome in Gayle’s house, her mother never smiled at me as broadly as she smiled the other kids who came over to play. This bothered me. Mrs. H. was “a cool mom” and I vowed to figure out why, but on this particular day, I had more important things on my mind.
     After an hour or so outside, Gayle, Stevie, (her five-year-old brother) and I came inside to play. Mrs. H. promptly escorted us down to a finished room in the basement and told us to behave ourselves and not make a mess. The room was 60’s mod! It had a poster of Jim Morrison on the wall, a record player, and indoor/outdoor carpeting on the floor. It was cool enough, but to my right was a door that remained shut, making it an all consuming point of interest to me.
     “What’s behind the door?” I asked.
     “That’s my dad’s workshop.” Gayle answered.
     “Wow! Can I see it?”
    “We’re not supposed to play in there.” Gayle shook her head warily. Stevie mimicked her.
    “Okay, we won’t play, but it couldn’t hurt to just take a look around. Could it?” I persisted.
     Gayle shrugged.
    Now, Gayle and I got along really well, I came up with lots great ideas, and she was always a willing accomplice. Without giving it another thought, she opened the door and the three of us entered one of the most fantastic rooms I had ever seen in my life. There was a workbench with a slew of power tools. Along the wall, was a metal shelving unit with hundreds of little glass jars with all different sized nails, screws, and small metal hardware Gayle’s dad had meticulously labeled and organized.
     My eyes followed the line of the shelf past the jars, and all the way up. That’s when I saw it, our next fort. Mounted to the ceiling with two-by-fours was a spare mattress. At one time, the bracket must have contained two mattresses because there was a space of about two feet between the hanging mattress and the ceiling.
    “Look you guys!” I said. “We need to climb up there. That could be the neatest fort in the world. We could bring food and clothes, we could stay up there all week and our parents would never find us.”
     Gayle and Stevie thought it was a great idea too. The three of us were always concocting ways to live parent-free.
     I put my brain to work. “Before we get all our stuff, lets climb up and check it out so we know how much we can bring. Once we reach the top of the shelf, we can get on the mattress with no problem. It’s your house, so you go first Gayle.”
     Gayle began her ascent. Stevie and I stood directly below her to catch her, incase she fell. She made it all the way to the top in a minute or so, and slowly tried to maneuver her body onto the mattress. At that moment, something went terribly wrong. The metal shelving unit began to quake. Loosing her balance, Gayle latched on to the outer rail of the shelving, wrapping her leg and arms around it as if she were a bear hugging a tree. The shelving unit rocked forward. Stevie and I tried to hold it in place, but Gayle’s weight on the outer rail was more than we could handle. The unit began to tip over.
   The glass jars, that Gayle’s dad had so meticulously organized, began fall off the shelf one by one and then six by six. Glass was breaking all around us, sounding like an out-of-tune version of Tubular Bells (The theme song from The Exorcist) Hundreds of jars crashed to the floor, sending shards of glass and a millions tiny screws, nails, nuts and bolts sliding across the floor in different directions. Stevie and I were quickly losing our battle with the shelving unit, as Gayle watched from above with a look of terror on her face.
    “What the heck is going on in here?”  Mrs. H. screamed as she flew down the stairs.
     Her eyes popped and she gasped when she saw Stevie and I with panic stricken faces about to be crushed by the shelves, while her second born daughter dangled from above.
    She sprang into action and rescued Gayle first, and then she helped Stevie and I push the shelving unit back into place.
     “Steven! Gayle! To your rooms,” she growled. They ran.
    I was alone with Mrs. H. whose face was red as a beet. She looked around at the glass and metal all over the floor and then her eyes shot flames directly at me. I got the uncomfortable feeling that she knew I was the instigator of the disaster.
     In an attempt to calm her down, I asked, “Do you want me to help you clean up?”
     “Susan, the only way you can help me is to go HOME!”
     I crunched though the broken glass and quickly fled out the back door, leaving Mrs. H with a broom and dustpan in her hands.
     This was not my last visit to Gayle’s home. After a couple of weeks, I was allowed back in, but it was quite a few years before I got any kind of smile out of Mrs. H. again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My House Smells Like Garbage!

     My husband only allows a 1-gallon trashcan in the kitchen, and I had to fight like a tiger for that. He insists the regular size trashcan must be placed in the garage. It’s not a terrible idea, but it is a considerable inconvenience. I’m not sure if this is a Bulgarian thing, or a him thing, but he thought hanging a plastic grocery bag full of trash on the knob of the faux-cabinet drawer in front of the sink was a better idea.
     Pissed off by the continual eyesore, and my husband’s stubbornness, I refused to haul the rogue bag out to the garage when it became full. I just hung more bags. Everywhere. After a few days, there were Food Lion bags full of trash hanging off all the cabinet doorknobs in the kitchen. He finally caved in. 
     Because my husband also complains when I use the garbage disposal, (The majority of people in Bulgaria don’t even have a disposal.) I keep him shut up, by tossing vegetable peelings into trash.

    Three days ago, when I entered the garage the smell of rotting vegetables nearly knocked me out. I quickly hauled the hefty bag outside to the large trash receptacle in the backyard. But for some reason the smell did not go away. In fact, every time I walked into the garage, it seemed to get worse.
      I confronted my husband. “Something stinks. Did you leave the garage door open again?"

      He waved me off. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m making homemade sauerkraut. It always smells like that.”  
      One of my eyelids drooped and I took a deep breath. Everything would be okay in a couple of days once he jarred the stuff. No need to start World War Two million and thirty-three, right? And yesterday, just as I had hoped, I watched my husband fill four jars with homemade sauerkraut. The stinky garage  was now a thing in the past.

      Well, when I returned home today, and walked into the house, I gagged. The entire house smelled of rotting garbage. Swearing under my breath, I went out to the garage, and removed the four jars of sauerkraut he made the night before. I put them on the porch until I could figure out what to do with them. Then, I promptly put on a jacket and opened up the windows and the garage door to air out the house.
      Brushing my hands together I muttered, “That’ll take care of that!”

     Knowing my husband would be distraught if he found his jars of sauerkraut on the porch, I set about finding a container to suffocate the smell. Luckily, I had a plastic thirty-gallon container in the garage that I purchased for storage. That would be a good of a place as any to put the saurcraut until my husband could gobble it up. When I removed the lid the container, I was smacked in the face with a scent so awful,  tears to pooled in my eyes.

      Inside the container was a dozen or so of rotten cabbage heads bobbed up in down in water, looking, and smelling like victims of the mob. I dragged that container out of the garage quicker than you could say Tony Soprano.

    When my husband returned home he greeted me with a scowl.  “Why did you put my cabbage outside on the driveway. Someone is going to steal it!”
      “Steal it?” I tried control the smirk busting out on my face. “No one will go near that container; it smells like there is a dead body inside.”

      My husband’s forehead scrunched together until he formed a unibrow. “I have to work hard to make sauerkraut. I have to remove the lid everyday and blow bubbles into the water with a straw. I know it stinks, but you're a control freak. Removing that container from the garage was a violation of my rights.” 

     My husband told me that he attended four years of college while he lived in Bulgaria, but I have my doubts.
     I smacked myself upside the head and  tried to find another way to reason with him. “If I had taken the stuff and thrown it in the garbage where it belongs, that may have been a violation of your rights. But I want you to listen carefully; I had to leave the windows open for over two hours while the heat was on just to get the smell out of the house.”
         My husband gasped. And I knew I had him.

      (If there is one thing my husband hates more than losing an argument, it's wasting money.) Reluctantly he agreed to leave the rotting cabbage outside, and I willingly helped him carry the container to a safe place in the backyard. But I still have a problem.

      Even though I won the battle, I am not sure I won the war.  Unfortunately, sauerkraut is a gift that keeps on giving. The thought of the smell I am going to have to deal with after my husband ingests a year's worth of the crap is even more troublesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Rebel Trait

 (A family story)

     My adventurous, offbeat, and sometime stupid behavior in regards to marriage isn’t my fault!  I inherited a rebel trait. And the mutant gene my family slipped me is a doozy. It decodes something like this: If there isn’t some big ass controversy surrounding the guy, the guy ain’t worth marrying.  For me, the something big and exciting has got to be almost out of this world to make me want to get married, and I’m not talking a gargantuan diamond ring. (Evidently, I'm not that smart.) 
     My first husband and I ran off and eloped when I was just seventeen. I strong-armed my parents into signing the consent form by getting pregnant. Boy, did I teach them a lesson. The things I could tell Bella about controlling men.
     My rebound number two was just a blip in my life who turned out to have a multiple personality disorder. Yikes! Shudder. Restraining order. That’s all I have to say about that.
     My current hubby is the prize I won after duking it out with the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a year and a half. (I'd had enough of American men.) I won the battle, but they got the last laugh. (Refer to my earlier blogs for clarification).
      So where does this mutant gene come from?
After many happy years.
     Let me start with my paternal grandparents. Now, I’d heard the family lore, as told from my dad's perspective, but, over the years, it had become so sugar-coated, it was way too sweet to swallow. So, at my therapists advise, I interviewed older family members one by one, pieced all the different stories together, and came to a feasible conclusion by myself. 
    My grandmother—from whom I inherited the blue eyes and blond hair—was the child of Catholic Czechoslovakian immigrants who lived in Baltimore. Both her parents died when she was twelve or thirteen. Another Czech family who lived nearby took her in and raised her to adulthood. Her life was riddled with sadness, and she was educated sporadically, but she was a beauty—which was certainly an indispensable asset in the days before the Woman’s Suffrage victory.
      My grandfather was the boy next door, and the son of German immigrants. He was studying voraciously to be a Methodist minister. But the stars crossed, and Grandma and Grandpa fell in love. When they expressed their desire to get wed, both were directly excommunicated from their churches due to their relationship outside their respective religions. To make matters worse, both their families disowned them for a time, as well.
     This did not stop their love, a true love that was so strong, they fled to Kingston, New York to “escape religious persecution.” They said. Several months later their first child was born. She was named Juanita May after a woman who had helped them out while they were in Kingston. (Does anyone see the synchronicity here?)
        My grandmother must have discarded any information related to the exact date of her wedding day, with the same fervor she cut the size tags out of her clothing. I couldn’t find any supporting documentation, but I strongly suspect that it was after Juanita’s conception—just as I strongly suspected she was no longer a size 14 as she had claimed in her later years. This theory would explain the families’ temporary rejection and the sudden flight to New York.
     My grandparents eventually resumed residence in Baltimore where my educated and verbose grandfather became a milkman to support his new family. They raised five children,  my father being the youngest born after his mother thirty-ninth birthday, eighteen years after the birth of Juanita May.    
      My grandparents never went back to church, but they didn’t give up on religion all together. Even though, they had both been excommunicated, they were Christians and didn’t want their children to go without, so they sent the kids to the Lutheran church down the street because it was closest to the house.
     Now, the rebel gene is a strong one and recurs quite often in my family—it has yet to skip a generation. The next in line was my Grandma’s youngest daughter Maynard.
Before Uncle Joe
     Always a feisty, adventurous child, Maynard grew up tall and beautiful. She became a fashion model and was the pride of the family until she brought home Uncle Joe Shapiro. Don’t get me wrong, Uncle Joe was a well-to-do business owner and devilishly debonair. There was just one little problem in Grandma’s eyes, he was Jewish.
       I need to back up a moment because this is the clincher.  I don’t  see where Grandma's head was at, because she had first-hand experience with religious persecution in her early life, and one might have thought she would have understood. But history repeated itself, and Grandma threatened to disown her own daughter if she defied her and married a Jew.
      Maynard’s rebel gene kicked in and instead, she disowned her mother, converted to Judaism, and ran off and married Uncle Joe anyway. Grandma stomped her foot and temporarily disowned her back, but the feud didn’t last long.  Uncle Joe, the peacemaker, sent Grandma a round-trip ticket for a visit to their humble home in Beverly Hills.  
     While she was there, Grandma met her idol Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Uncle Joe and Aunt Maynard’s next door neighbor Frank Sinatra—they all shared a maid.  I guess that must have evened the score, because Grandma accepted Maynard and her Jewish husband back into the family with open arms. Aunt Maynard got the guy and the ring. (Don’t believe me? Google Bomber Shapiro, Nancy Sinatra writes about him in her memoir. Bomber was Uncle Joe and Aunt Maynard’s first child. His real name was Douglas after the WWII bomber. )
    Anyway, the rebel gene that resided in my grandparents and then my aunt in generations wound far more tightly than mine, was the family jewel that was genetically passed on to me to carry to our future clan. I think that it is essential to mention that though I was not the first child to make my grandmother grand, my father always told me that I was innately always her favorite.
     I have one more thing to say before I sign off. There was a slight mutation in the gene before it was passed on to me. The part about happily ever after was lopped off. However, that may have come from my mother’s side, but I am not sure. I don’t know Mom’s history since my  biological maternal Grandmother gave Mom up for adoption. I heard she never married. Ever. Hmm…..

© 2010-2011 Each Head Is A World - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Artwork is Subjective!

     My mother always told me that ones taste in art was subjective, and she was right. I am not a huge art collector, although I would be if I had the money. Who wouldn’t love an original Picasso? But because I can’t afford real artwork, and the majority of the furnishings in my home are collectible Mid Century Modern pieces, I hunt for moderately priced Carlo of Hollywood, Ran Su and other rare finds from the Eames era.
     Unfortunately for me, I married the Neanderthal of the world of art and design. Until we tied the knot, my husband pretended to like my style. I should have known our tastes would clash when I saw the bad print of the Mona Lisa mounted in a plastic frame on his parent’s living room wall. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. (Wink, wink.)
     I’m not a complete snob.  Having cheap artwork hang on the wall of ones own home does not make one a bad person, but if one wants to hang the cheap shit on my wall, it does.
     The big problem here is that every time my husband returns from a trip Bulgaria, he brings home some fake gold framed piece of junk he tries to pass off as artwork. And then he insists we have to hang it on our walls somewhere. I gave him two rooms plus the garage where he can have all the bad taste he wants to, but that is not good enough. Now, he wants to hang the latest junk in the rooms that other people see.
     I know that there are wonderful artists in Bulgaria who paint pictures that would match the colors and the themes of our rooms. It’s just that my husband never seems to find them. He would rather spend his nickels buying cheap oil paintings or mass-produced prints of famous Roman Ruins sold in the tourist shops of every city.
     The latest piece of trash he brought home and called art was a painting by a famous artist stamped on a two-dollar post card. He mounted it in a plastic frame from Staples and placed it on my dining room buffet for all to see. When I asked him why he thought a cheap framed postcard was worthy of a place in our dining room, he said, “It may be two dollars in Bulgaria, but in the US it is worth a fortune. Americans will be impressed by this picture.”
     Let me see, I am not sure of the daily exchange rates today, but the last time I checked, 1.5 Bulgarian Lev equaled one dollar, so that makes his piece of artwork worth whole three dollars including the frame he bought at Staples. You get the gist.
    Somebody hand me a big gun! I want to blow the brains out of that postcard. 
    My daughter warned me that because I choose to stay with my husband it is just something I will have to put up with. And I will--over my dead body--which may be the case since my husband out weights me by sixty pounds. But I've been thinking. What if we had a mini earthquake right beneath our house that no one else feels and all his crappy art work accidentally falls of the wall and breaks? Whose fault would it be?


Over 100 strong.

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