Actually, yesterday was the day I did all the hard work. Yesterday, I was a warrior!
Because I am me, and my purpose in life is to do absolutely everything the hardest way possible, I put together a portable grill by hand. I was down to the very last step, about to put the halves of the grill together with pins through the hinges, when I realized that there had been a screwdriver in the package all along. I had been using various pieces of the grill to hold screws in place while I turned wingnuts with my fingertips, and frankly I was deeply impressed with myself when I finally dug out the screwdriver and found that few things needed much tightening. It was too hot to even think about lighting a fire yesterday but I had everything I needed in the fridge.
And then, today:
Why do I have a grill? How, for that matter, did I manage to afford wild salmon on my shoestring budget?
Put simply: my mother came to visit me over the weekend. And when my mother comes to visit me, my mother spoils me rotten.
To put everything into context, my birthday is coming up soon. In a spectacularly such-is-my-life twist of fate, it just so happens to fall within the only time frame my father has ever found in his schedule to pack my mother into a car and drive across America to visit my sister in California. One thing my mother excels in is her ability to give herself a grand guilt trip. In end result: she blows all her available money on a trip to the East Coast to celebrate my birthday in advance.
She snatched me up from my apartment after work (and being who I am, I managed to pack a change of clothes for the next day, my toothbrush, extra socks, a Games magazine and my knitting, but no pajamas or contact solution) and we drove to the hotel in the outer suburbs where she’d reserved a room. There, she generously provided me with sleepwear and then did her level best to keep me awake until a reasonable, non-“pass-out”-y bedtime (which involved a lot of giggling and muttering of “…I hate you so much!” on my part). After a long, exhausting couple of weeks, I was totally ready to crash but she did manage to keep me awake long enough to watch some Antiques Roadshow. Love that show!
Saturday morning, we lazed about for a while before heading back to my apartment, where I restocked my overnight bag and we stowed the car before catching a bus to one of the local town squares. The original plan was to just drift around until we found something interesting but Something Interesting had other plans: Artbeat! We stepped out of the bus smack into the middle of booths filled with handcrafted items, music stages hosting anything that could be desired, bizarre costumes and performances, and mobile food sources (Mom and I both particularly liked the pizza-kiln-on-wheels that had a bird house perched atop it).
When we tired of wandering the festival, we ducked into The Burren for lunch and were treated to a really fantastic bluegrass band. The Burren is a really solid pub, with fantastic food and almost constant live music. They have Smithwick’s on draught. Go there if ever you’re in town.
We returned to my apartment after a while, to lounge (mom) and to suck down five swimming pools’ worth of water (me). In a completely “JV” move, I never even thought about sunblock while we were wandering around. I know better: I am whiter than white and instead of tanning I vacillate between “blank sheet of paper” and “Elmo on fire.” I didn’t even have my sine qua non SPF70 in my purse! Utter lack of planning. I also failed to think of harvesting my aloe plant for its intended purpose, so chalk another checkmark next to the “sometimes Meg fails at life” count.
That night, I strong-armed my mother into attending the Post Meridian Radio Players’ first summer show: a triple feature of mystery, science fiction and horror. [Not that her arm required much twisting – for, oh, a decade of my life she and I sat in front of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 every Saturday morning. I am not alone in my adoration of terrible movies, okay.] The performance was a blast. I particularly loved the characterization of the police detective and the rat facepaint on the sound effects girls.
Back to the car, back to the hotel, we both promptly showered and fell asleep only to wake up at about 6:30 in the morning. Despite the early rising time, we were exceedingly lazy for the morning. I showed her my latest attempt at knitting and she showed me the little cross-stitch sampler she’s carrying around with her these days. We decided to use the day for going to the Book Oasis (where, on previous excursions, we’ve blown an easy $90 on used books) and catching an afternoon showing of HP7B (which was fantastic). We also found ourselves at TJMaxx at one point, where I stocked up on some air-tight glass jars to move onto the next phase of my battle against recurring grain moth infestations (particularly of my sushi rice).
Monday was Mom’s last day in town, so naturally we celebrated by her being awake at three in the morning and me ignoring her and snoring happily until about nine. Then we loaded our sundry into the car (again) and headed roughly in the direction of my apartment. “Roughly” because she had made the (clearly misguided) decision that she was going to buy me some groceries. Even if it meant that she had to drive through the oh-dear-heavens-what-IS-this-someone-save-me-all-these-people-are-crazy roads of Cambridge to get to the supermarket. […Okay, I claim guilt on this one. I just kept telling her enough to keep her driving deeper into the insanity in order to go shopping at the reasonably affordable supermarket where none of my friends work and thus I don’t hear stories about which make me question if food is really necessary for survival. And yes, I know that is a terrible, run-on sentence. I regret nothing.]
So my mother bought me fish. And cherries and blueberries and salad and bread and frozen veggie burgers and milk and general tastynoms. Then she carted me and my ill-gotten foodgoods back to apartment (again). We unloaded the plunder of the weekend as well as the box of goodies she brought me from home (ingredients for no-bake pie, a new Games, some mail, granola bars in a pencil case, et cetera). We also unloaded some things she had brought which I had received for Christmas: tongs, fire starters, steel brushes, a long lighter, and a portable grill.
Once Mom had headed back home, I
fell over dead took a nap. It was tremendously, awfully hot, and I felt too much like a rag even after I woke up to think about cooking anything. I made myself a pb&j and went to sit in front of the front door and twist together the pieces of my very own grill.
WHICH brings us back, at long last, to where you found me: stuffing my face. I knew lighting the coals was going to be a challenge, simply because I’d never done it before, and I didn’t want to spend a great deal of time out of eyesight or easy running-for-help distance of the grill, so I opted for a low-maintenance fish. I laid the entire 1.28 pound slab on a sheet of tin foil brushed in olive oil, brushed more oil on top of it, brushed some balsamic vinegar on top of that, spread a liberal dusting of dried rosemary, and finished off by going to town with some good old sesame seeds.
Then I went downstairs and tried to pretend that I’m not inches away from pyromania. It took a couple of tries and half of the fire starters but after an hour I got a nice slow smolder going. I ran back inside, tugged the fish out of the fridge, and did a little swing loooooow, sweet chaaaariii-ho-ootttt as I set it on the grill. Or maybe that last bit was just the choir of angels in my head.
I ate more of that beast than I care to admit in polite company. I have a few generous portions wrapped up in (ever more) tin foil in my freezer, waiting to join salads or rice for later meals. And then I ate my way through an entire blueberry thicket for dessert. Yum!
To sum up: this was a pretty spectacular weekend. Fun was had by all!! Even, I bet, my father, who couldn’t come this weekend because he co-directs a community youth theater group whose performances were happening this week and whose dress rehearsals were happening all weekend. He was, after all, the first person I called on my birthday present – an iPhone (lovelovelovelove!!) – even though Mom and I kept asking him to change the position of his phone while we were trying out FaceTime so that we could see the dog.
Even (especially?) the ants.