Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Have Some Questions

Another potential title for this post could be: Why I Should Not Be Left To My Own Devices in Safeway.

While on a quest for sandwich bread, oil for a squeaky hinge, and terrible jarred salsa for Ed, I began noticing various products. Specifically, products I never buy. I am always mystified by how many things there are displayed that I would not even consider purchasing for the most fleeting of moments. Where are the people who buy them? Can their really be such demand for these products that it's actually worth it to PRODUCE and SELL them?

Par example:

Cheese Whiz. Alright. Honestly. People PURCHASE and CONSUME cheese whiz? in this day and age? This is one of those products that never appeared in my house growing up, that I don't think have ever even tried (consciously). Every jar seems like a relic from the fifties, that mythical time when anything could be tipped into a mold with some gelatin and called a "salad." I expect to find dust on every jar I see. The presence of Cheese Whiz in a postmodern world is mystifying to me.

95% of all Air Fresheners. I am completely behind having some sort of deodorizing spray in the bathroom. Lord knows it has saved my life on more than one occasion. Being a cat owner, I am also a fan of the occaisional spritz of Febreeze. But all the little smelly plugins and independantly powered fans that blow rose-stink throughout the house? All the vaguely ass-and-citrus scented aerosoles? Do we really need these things in every room of the house? I clean. I swiffer my floors regularly and keep all my surfaces sanitized, and the garbage gets taken out as soon as the bag is full. That seems to do the trick. Covering up filth with "Jasmine Wisteria Spring Breeze" gives me the jibblies.

Baffling Pickled Vegetables. I can't really say I've ever had a craving for pickled asparagus. fresh grilled asparagus with a spritz of lemon juice or some coarse salt and olive oil, but never limp, pickled asparagus in urine-yellow brine. Yet the shelves are regullarly stocked with such dubious vegetables.

Horrifying Frozen Meals. Every once in a while, when we were kids, my mom would have to work late, or go shopping in the states (usually at Pace. Remember Pace?), or take my Mima out to see a movie. On these nights, my dad would invariably give us either a dinner my mom had prepared for us in advance or, rarely, as a very special treat, a Swanson TV dinner. With the bizarre little brownieoid that would bake before your eyes in the microwave. I can, in some fashion, understand the existence of microwave dinners in such a capacity. I can't, for the life of me, even begin to understand the Hungry Man XXL dinner with riblets, beer battered chicken, and cheese fries. FROZEN CHEESE FRIES. When the great Cthulu comes and eats everything, I am certain he'll be leaving the FROZEN CHEESE FRIES behind.

And, finally:

Vegemite. It's like a joke food that you can get inte the supermarket. It should be in a special aisle along with little cakes that look like dog turds and super hot chilli pepper mints to surprise your friends and spite your enemies! Vegemite shouldn't be sold at Safeway. It should be sold at county fairs and travelling sideshows. Vegemite shouldn't be eaten; you should travel to see it and pay two bits a gander to satisfy your curiosity. Vegemite deserves its own BARKER.

One food I do admit to missing: aerosol cheese. There's nothing quite like carrying atrusty container of spray cheese with you wherever you go, and brightening an otehrwise cloudy day with bright orange, plasticy goodness.
Natalie Zed updated @ 6:24 p.m.!! 6 comments

Friday, July 14, 2006

catching up and getting up there

Last weekend, Ed, Tara and I attempted to go to the mountains. It was supposed to be a lovely weekend for hiking, so we though a long walk up to the Grassi Lakes just outside of Canmore would we perfect. We did the hike last year, and it was definitely my favourite -- hilly enough to be a challenge without being impossible, and with possibly the best payoff ever with the strangely green alien pools of beautiful water that are the lakes.

So we're driving up, and it's gorgeous.

We stopped in Canmore for breakfast (pretty darn good, even the bacon, though all the grease made us a bit sluggish). We take our time to let the meat settle, have a good talk over orange juice, and after an hour or so set out again.

And then this is what we see.

Forbidding black clouds suddenly billow in o'er the mountains. Knowing the weather can improve just as quickly it goes south, we bought some fudge then ducked into a used book store to browse and ride out the storm.

Then it started to hail.

We eventually gave up on the idea of actually hiking and, during a brief lull between sheets of rain, we scurried to the car and headed back home.

Then it REALLY started to hail.

More than once we passed people who had parked their cars beneath an overpass or just at the side of the road because there was no way in hell they were driving in THAT. We were dead certain Tara's windshield was a goner. Somehow we made it back to the house mostly unscathed, ducked inside, and I spent the rest of the afternoon reading my new cookbooks and starting Gene Wolfe's The Book Of the New Sun series. Two hours of driving for breakfast, a storm and some used books? Eh, alright.
* * *

So I'm 23 now. Thanks to everyone who called and said nice things and called me drunkenly to tell me I had to come out and party right now Woooo! This was a very low-key birthday -- no milestone, just a comfortable step in my early twenties. I spent the morning at the stampede grounds, ate an elephant ear, and got some sweet Nintendo swag from thr excellent DS booth flip flops designed like original NES controllers? awesome. Nintendo hat? brilliant. getting my ass handed to me by 10-year-old boys in wifi multiplayer tetris? Priceless..

After the most glorious nap in the world, Ed and I had dinner at Thai Sa-On ( possibly the best Thai in the city), and then saw The Phantom of the Opera at the Jubilee Auditorium. It was a surprisingly good production. All the principles were very good -- John Cudia's Phantom is clearly influenced by Peter Karrie, my favourite Phantom of all time. I don't think the Jubillee is really a theatre designed for the pyrotechnics and all the technical flummery involved in the show, but they did a fine job with what they had and it was a lovely night.

Yesterday, I had a great, productive meeting with Der Advisor regarding creative revisions to the THESIS, and think I have a real strategy to revisit some things that have been bothering me. A few things have died on the petri dish, and other need more space to grow. I'm quite excited about it. Also, as cool as the letter a is, I think I need to spend some more time with the o. They are holy doughnuts, after all.

Finally, yesterday I recieved what may be the best present of all time. In the history of the universe. My parents, my ridiculous, amazing parents, got me a RED KITCHENAID FOOD PROCESSOR for my birthday. The one I have been mooning over for YEARS. The one that matches my Prefessional Heavy Duty mixer. It PROCESSES FOOD and is EMPIRE RED. We picked it up today from Home Outfitters and I almost had a heart attack. Oh the hummus and pesto and perfect fluffy pastry I will make! I think her name shall be Martha. How could something so useful go by any other name?

Also, while we were at Home Outfitters, my brother informed me that the money my Mima had sent me was specifically intended to buy me a Kitchenaid Mixer in the same perfect colour, but after a quick look, I was a little out off by the price, and the capacity was lower than I really wanted. Right NEXT to it, however, was a Hamilton Beach blender, with a beautiful heavy glass bowl and flower-style blade, for half the price. And there sat a H.B. toaster. In the EXACT SAME beautiful enamel red. My brother very patiently played the sherpa while we got all the appliances to the car. In gratitude, he was bequeathed all my slightly used UNRED appliances to be used as soon as he gets his own apartment. Not a bad deal at all.

Am I a little spoiled? Definitely. Will all those around me reap the benefits of my having new food toys to play with? most definitely. I am thinking of having a party specifically to showcase all the delicious dips and salsas and chutneys I can now make with Martha. You bring the chips and bread, I supply the tasties. Do we have a date?
Natalie Zed updated @ 9:51 a.m.!! 6 comments

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Girl Who Lived

So. This weekend, we went camping. Camp we did, and a fine camp was had by all.

I'd like to start off by saying it was nearly as bad as I expected. That seems terribly negative of me, but being one who always relished the ability to shower at least once a day and inhabit accomodations free of wildlife, I was a little leery of spending 48 hours outside of civilization. Happily, things went very well, I had a lovely time, and I'm even planning on going again before the end of the summer. Wonders never cease.

I learned many wonderful things on this trip.

fact: the smell of woodsmoke, and whatever else you burnt on the campfire, permeates ever cell and fibre within a 100-foot radius.
what this means to me: while camping, everything smells smoky and yummy. As soon as you get home, your brother will make a face a demand to know why the living room is filled with the stench of smoke and sausages.

fact: we were warned that the mosquitos might be bad.
what this means to me: people in alberta have NO IDEA what bad mosquitos are. NONE. I came home with a few itchy spots, sure, but I do not feel actually anemic or look like I was attached by a swarm of bees, which would ahve been the case were I trying to camp in Ontario during a wet summer. These were wimpy mosquitos that the camp fire drove away, not the murderous bugs that can drain all life from a large dog in 30 minutes. Fie on your mosquitos!

fact: despite the fact that I roasted alive in my apartment every night leading up to the trip, when actually out of doors at night, it gets cold.
what this means to me: actually changing into pajamas is no longer an option, since it means taking off the precious clothing that is trapping precious heat. Any bit of clothing that can be used for warmth becomes a blessed cocoon. I don't think I have ever snuggled with Ed so much. Body heat is so attractive.

fact: the weather in alberta is unpredictable.
what this means to me: Saturday, after a morning of beautiful sunny skies, we found ourselves huddled under a tarp riding out a FREAK HAIL STORM that threw down so much ice Ed was able to bury, and thus chill, all of his bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade inside a monstrous hailbank. We think it dented the car.

fact: it gets bright out early.
what this means to me: When your husband misreads the time, you can get up, wander around, make and eat breakfast, and then discover it is only 8am and you've been up for over 2 hours. You take a long walk and do some climbing and it is still mid-morning. Lunch starts to sound good by 10am. Your sense of time is completely telescoped and the day lasts for a kind of lazy eternity.

Aside form gaining these educational todbits, I also waded into a mountain stream so cold I felt the ache all the way from my toes to my hips, saw the World's Largest Killer Wasp, ate surprisingly amazing food, got a little drunk, and sat still longer than I thought was possible. It was glorious. despite coming back exhausted and itchy and smelling really very bad, I am quite eager to go again.

Also: welcome home Mo!
Natalie Zed updated @ 6:14 p.m.!! 2 comments