Flour in the time of COVID-19

When your husband Gets You and brings you flours

Amish flour

I guess this is related to Sourdough in the Time of COVID-19. Yeast has been hard to find and so has flour. I had thought there was not a yeast problem in Milwaukee but I was wrong! It is not on the shelves! And flour is on the shelves, but purchases are limited.

This really wasn’t an issue for me, as I keep huge inventories of everything. I learned at the knee of my mother, who is prepared for the Apocalypse.

Actually, as she explains it, you never knew, living on military bases abroad, what might be available when at the commissary, so it was a good idea to stay stocked up with essentials.

I suppose also, living in western Europe during the Cold War and in the Panama Canal Zone during the treaty negotiations, there were also other supply chain disruption concerns, but I was a kid and we didn’t have the internet back then, so who knew about these things? My dad did, but I sure didn’t.

So I have a jar of yeast in the freezer, which meant that I was able to send my mom a few tablespoons of it for Mothers Day, because it is absolutely unavailable in Colorado right now.

And I have a bunch of flour in the basement, but

  • I had run out of my fun specialty flours
  • I am unemployed
  • I am stuck at home
  • I am bored
  • I have the sourdough starter that Bonus Daughter #1 sent to me
  • I finally got Tartine Book No. 3: Modern Ancient Classic Whole from the library

All of this means I have time and inclination to experiment with bread.

And here the stores either don’t have the flour I want or they have it and I can’t buy it.

Mr T and I came up with a solution.

He had to go up north to pick up injection molded frames from my cousin’s shop (for the face shields project where we are volunteering), which meant he was going into Amish country, which meant he would be going by the Amish shop where my grandmother always shopped.

And this is where it gets weird because I have just discovered that not everyone knows what the Amish store is.

I thought the Amish store was just part of the background.

And then I realized it’s just part of my background.

My mom and dad are from northern Wisconsin. My mom grew up on a dairy farm. My grandfather would drive his Amish friends places. When we lived in Spain, we came back to the States for a whole summer and stayed on the farm. My grandfather rented a pony from the Amish for my brother and sister and me to ride.

Kittens
The kittens were part of the farm. My grandfather did not have to import them.

There are highway signs warning of horse and buggies and in the parking lot at KMart, you see horses and buggies.

So – part of the background.

And the Amish store is – you know – the Amish store. They sell a lot of bulk items there, a lot of unbranded goods.

The prices are FABULOUS.

And you can get stuff, because being Amish, they don’t sell online.

Oh sure those Ohio Amish people sell online, or some of them do, but not the Wisconsin Amish people.

My #1 Bonus Daughter – let’s call her Kelly – sent me the sourdough starter. But she can’t find all the flours she wants, so I ordered some for her from a sort-of Amish store in Ohio. I wanted to send her some from Wisconsin but I couldn’t find any in Wisconsin that are online.

I saw a week ago Thursday that the box had been delivered but – I didn’t hear anything from her.

Kelly is lovely. She has wonderful manners. She is thoughtful and considerate and we had just spoken a few days before about baking bread. She had lamented (again) that she had no rye flour and I had smiled mysteriously.

So it was weird that UPS tracking showed the box had been delivered and yet there had been no word from Kelly.

On Sunday, I finally messaged her.

Me: Kelly, did you get the flour yet?

Kelly: Flour?

Me: I sent a bunch of different kinds of flours to you, including rye. I mean, I ordered it online and had it shipped to you 🙂

Kelly: Aww how sweet! I don’t see anything yet.

Me: Hmm. UPS said it was delivered on Thursday night. They say they left it at the front door 😞

Kelly: Oh no! Damn! That said there have been thefts but ups is the most reliable shipper because they always drop at my door

Me: They said they left it by the front door! SHIT!

Kelly: Argh not cool!

I go to the UPS site and pound out a very annoyed email.

Mr T says You don’t need to talk to UPS you need to email the vendor they’re the ones who matter.

I tell him to shut up I know what I’m doing Lord have mercy that man annoys me sometimes

But then I email the vendor anyhow. I am very very polite because I know everything is crazy and they are busy.

And actually, I was polite to UPS. But I was annoyed. Politely annoyed.

Ten minutes later, Kelly writes again.

Kelly: I DID get beef jerky from a mysterious person. The note said “Happy Birthday Kaley.” From Walnut Creek Cheese in Walnut Creek Ohio.

Me: WHAT? That’s the vendor, but that’s not what I ordered. When did it arrive?

Kelly: Ok we were scratching our heads wondering… whose this mysterious sender? I don’t like beef jerky thaaat much (2lbs). It DID arrive on Thursday.

Me: And somewhere, Kaley is wondering who Texan In Exile is and why I am sending her flour.

Kelly: Meanwhile we’re thinking, “who the Hell misspells my name Kaley when the shipping label has it right and thinks I’m a jerky connoisseur?!”

And we figure it out.

Someone had accidentally put the wrong mailing label on the box.

I email the vendor again, this time saying that yes, a box did arrive, but it was Kaley’s jerky, not Kelly’s flour.

They wrote back the next morning and said, Oh no!!!! We’ll get a new box out right away.

And they said to keep the jerky.

So now Kelly has flour.

And Mr T drove up north and he went to an Amish store in person (which, had we known this two weeks ago, we would have just bought flour there for Kelly but oh well) and bought from the list I made after I carefully read through Tartine.

Now I am stocked with buckwheat and dark rye and light rye and pumpernickel and whole wheat and bread flour. I have rye berries and oat berries and wheat berries.

However, in the interim, in my attempt to re-create the Latvian rye bread we got at the Latvian Lutheran Church bake sale in December, I have found a recipe for Lithuanian rye bread, which calls for red rye malt, which I do not have.

So now I have a new quest.

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays in the time of COVID-19

Actually, this is Birthdays in the Time of Always but I am in a groove here

Birthday card

Even though I live in Wisconsin now only because I was tricked, my people are from here.

You know the story, right? Have I told you? My family is from here, but my dad was in the air force, so I grew up outside of Wisconsin, in Spain, Texas, and Panama. The only time I lived in Wisconsin as a kid was the year my dad was in Vietnam.

I was living in Memphis when I met Mr T. He was living in Milwaukee. Why was he in Milwaukee? Because he didn’t want to live in California anymore but also did not want to move back to Pittsburgh, where he grew up, because – well, if you’ve read the Old Blog, you know.

He had been to Milwaukee to see a baseball game in the old stadium before they tore it down. He liked it here and moved here.

We met at our 20 year college reunion in Houston.

And – in the battle over where to live, he won.

A lot of it was that he was living in an apartment at the time, an apartment where the heat was included with the rent, there was an attached, heated garage, and someone else did the shoveling.

As in – I got an absolutely unrealistic picture of winter.

When you live in your own house, you pay your own heating bills, which means you keep your house really really cold unless you are rich which we are not.

When you live in your own house, unless you are in deep suburbia, you have a detached garage, which means that to get to the car, you have to go Outside. Which means The Icy Driveway of Death and the Icicles of Damocles and all that that entails.

When you live in your own house, you have to shovel the driveway (well, you don’t have to, but if you want to use the car, it’s an important first step) and the sidewalk (this you have to do – it’s the law).

Anyhow.

I digress.

I now live here. My people are from here.

(But still – the second Mr T is dead, I am throwing away all of his crap in the basement, taking the cats, and going south. This place is gorgeous in the summer, but I hate winter. Also, I am getting really really tired of being in the national news all the time for stupid things.)

And My People Do Not Waste.

We have never wasted.

My grandmother almost never had anything to put in the trash.

She didn’t throw food away, ever. EVER. If there was food that humans couldn’t or wouldn’t eat, she gave it to the neighbor’s dog.

She saved her recycling and would carry it to the recycling center on her walk every morning. The walk she took when she woke up at 6 a.m. and walked to early Mass, then to the post office to get her mail, then to the senior center, where she would sometimes play a hand of Sheepshead or two.

Some plastic isn’t recyclable – the bags frozen vegetables come in, for instance. So she would carefully cut those bags open, then would save the bags for re-use. A person would think the bag of frozen corn in the downstairs freezer actually contained frozen corn but a person would be tricked if a person did not look carefully and see the label of “rhubarb, 1992.”

Cool Whip containers in the freezer also did not always contain Cool Whip.

My grandmother was sneaky that way.

This is my history.

These are my people.

So a few years ago, when I was visiting my mom and saw the birthday card in the photo above, I got it immediately.

My mom and her sisters have been sending each other the same card back and forth for a few years.

Which honestly?

IS A BRILLIANT IDEA.

I hate buying birthday (and other event) cards.

First, I hate wading through the stupid syrupy sentimental crap that’s out there.

Second, I hate paying $5 for a card. That’s a lot of money. I see that and I think, Sheesh for that much money, I should just call someone. A phone call is cheaper.

And then I think, But really what I am paying for is not to have to talk on the phone, which is one of my least favorite things in the world.

So – reusing a birthday card?

SOLVES ALL THE PROBLEMS.

So I was very impressed with my mom and my aunts.

And I went on facebook to say so.

And discovered that My People really are My People all the way back, because my Aunt Mary said, “That tradition started with our aunts on our Dad’s side. We come from good stock. 😄”

Oh man we sure do.

I suggested to my sister that we carry on the tradition.

Sister: Sounds good to me. Problem is, I’m terrible about getting the card into the mail. Can I steal the envelope from the store?

Me: You could just take a photo and email it.

Sister: Now THAT would be right up my alley.

I think we will carry on the spirit of the tradition just fine.

 

 

420 in the time of COVID-19

Why go low when you can get high?

E$
Almost ready for harvest.

Did you guys notice how I kind of buried the real story last week when I was talking about E$ and men vacuuming and how it’s hot even though it shouldn’t be? Men doing housework shouldn’t be noteworthy. It should just be.

Just as men do not babysit their own children, they don’t “help” with the housework any more than women “help” with the housework. It’s just something we all do as part of a civilized society and civilized households.

/rant over

So buried in last week’s post – did you even notice or did it sneak past you? – was a reference to E$’s new business.

The grow operation.

Which – yeah.

Totally typical of Women of a Certain Age, right? Kids leave home, sudden void, hard to maybe restart that legal career that was set aside when babies were born.

It’s the next logical move.

Start dealing.

Only – it’s legal.

OH E$ I HEART YOU YOU ARE THE COOLEST.

Little did I know when we met in college.

We didn’t hang out as undergrads. My strongest memory of E$ is from when I took her photo for the 1980s version of facebook, which was a black and white photo of every freshman or transfer taped to the window of the commons.

Very old school.

Literally, I guess.

And as in, to quote a former co-worker who spoke English (and Spanish and Italian and French as second, third, fourth, and fifth languages), “the school that is old.”

E$ posed, leaning against the wall, casually holding an apple in both hands and between her breasts. She was wearing a loose turtleneck sweater and 1980s jeans, which – were they loose then? Or tight? I think we were still in the tight years.

Anyhow, she had this slight smile and she was very Eve in the Garden of Eden and she was gorgeous.

Maybe I still have it somewhere. I have a box of old college photos in the attic. I should look.

But like I said, we didn’t hang out much and then I didn’t hear from her again until recently, when we connected on facebook. Our college classmates have a pretty strong group and we suck in anyone that we can in our online vortex.

We were chatting online and she wrote, “I’ve got a cannabis company here with a couple of partners. It’s fascinating and fun and the wild west. We have two retail stores and an indoor farm. We cut our first harvest tomorrow, which, with luck, will help us be operating in the black.”

Which.

What?

I knew she went to Rice.

I knew she went to law school.

I knew she lived in – well, I won’t be more specific. But it’s a state where this is legal.

But. Whoa!

But I’m cool.

I’m cool.

Me: That’s AWESOME!

Me: My former company had bought a software company from this guy in Montana. He stuck around for a year or two, but then left to start a grow operation. His software was all about managing maintenance and processes for institutions and factories, so he is all about process. He weighs the dirt and has all the processes down. The regulators love him.

E$: It’s scientific. Everyone thinks it’s going to be easy. Only the super scientific, business oriented people who have the processes down are successful.

Me: How did you even get into that?

[Thinking – I need a job. Is this something I could do? I can grow tulips. I can grow tomatoes. Or I can when it doesn’t snow in May. OH WAIT IT’S NOT LEGAL IN WISCONSIN.]

tulips
From my garden. That I had to cut. Because it was going to get down to 23 degrees.

And she tells me how she got into the grow business.

Which is just as you would expect.

She used to deal a little on the side when the kids were younger and decided to integrate vertically.

NO THAT’S NOT IT!

Ha!

No, it’s the OBVIOUS path, which is her manicurist recruited her.

E$: The woman who does my nails. Her son went to cannabis college, “oaksterdam,” in Oakland California. She asked if maybe I knew someone who could back him.

Because this is the kind of conversation I have ALL THE TIME with the guy who does my pedicures.

Wait.

I don’t even remember pedicures. I had one last year. Then I thought, Why am I even doing this when my feet are covered all the time? This is just dumb.

Even when I had pedicures at the beauty school and talked to the students, we talked about boring stuff

My. Life. Is. Boring.

E$: I thought it sounded interesting, and my friend K thought it was a good idea. K backed out of it, but I started looking at warehouse space to retrofit for an indoor grow.

I don’t even know how I would start to look for warehouse space.

My. Life. Is. Boring.

E$: I realized that it was going to cost $1 million, but then a friend said he knew a guy who wants to get into the business and already has warehouse space. He needed growers. I had growers.

And that, my friends, was that.

E$ was in business.

My. Life. Is. Boring.

Me: Had you ever run a business before?

E$: Nope. Never run a business. Honestly, I’m still not running it. I have a partner who came along with the warehouse owner guy.

Me: Are you having fun?

E$: I’m having a blast. It’s crazy. I am selling weed!

Me: I thought Hotel California was about caliche but it’s about marijuana – something that sounds like caliche but means bud in Spanish.

E$: Wait, what? Calichie means bud or something? What the hell? I’ve been singing that song to my kids at bedtime for years now.

Me: Colitas.

Me: Not caliche.

E$: The smell of colitas rising up through the air. Right? Except Siri wants to call it colitis.

Me: Yes. “Colitas” means “little buds” which is slang for pot,

E$: I have no idea. Now it makes perfect sense. The buds are called colas. DUH!!!

Me: But it also means little tail/ass, which is not proper. COLITAS!!!!! COLA is tail in Spanish but it’s literal tail and also – ass – tail. I just learned this two months ago when I discovered that Mr T, who is from Pittsburgh, had no idea what caliche was and I felt all superior. I told him it was in an Eagles song and then I was wrong about it.

E$: As in chinga me arriba in mi cola.

Me: ESO.

E$: Your mind is going to be exploding about this for the next 24 hours.

Me [super cas]: Nah. I’m cool.

EXCEPT I AM LYING.

MY MIND IS EXPLODING.

I am absolutely fascinated and impressed and in complete awe.

This might be one of the coolest things I have ever heard.

So I am impressed.

And here it is, days later, and I am still thinking about it.

So she was wrong.

My mind was not exploding about it for 24 hours.

It’s been exploding about it for days. And days.

I know the coolest people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot in the time of COVID-19

Really is there anything sexier than a man doing housework? Not to me

vacuum

I was messaging with a college friend, E$ (pronounced “E Money”). We knew each other in college but ran in different circles but now it’s corona time and I’m unemployed and I have time and we are on facebook and dang, it’s nice to talk to people who already sort of get you who aren’t the same people in the house with you with whom you have had the same conversation like a gakillion times.

Ooops. Typo.

I was going to correct that “gakillion” to “gajillion” but then I thought nah let the Freudian chips fall where they may.

I JOKE!

Anyhow. E$ and I were messaging and she’s hilarious and wonderful and we are both wondering why we didn’t hang out more in college and then we remembered that we were busy with other things back then but isn’t it nice that we can be friends now?

She asks if I knew her husband, whom we shall call Mr E$, when we were in college. She, too, married a guy from our college (which is Rice U, as should be obvious from the sweatshirt that Mr T is wearing in the photo above, although perhaps not everyone knows what a Rice Owl is, I guess), although she didn’t wait until our 20 year reunion to find a Used Husband.

Yes, I tell her. I did. I mean, I knew who her husband was because we had several mutual friends.

And then I think about what to say next because this is kind of delicate and possibly weird but then I think oh for pete’s sake it’s been over 30 years —

OMG we are old when did we get so old?

I remember bartending when I was in college. I was bartending at Homecoming at the 35 year reunion event. One of the attendees was asking me about my major and school and all kinds of stuff and all I could think of was, “YOU ARE SO OLD YOU ARE OLDER THAN MY DAD.”

He looked at me as if he knew what I was thinking, gave me a small smile, and said, “It all goes so fast.”

And he was right. It’s been over 30 years – 35! 35 years! – since that happened and I still remember every word he said. It. Goes. So. Fast.

So we are old. It’s been 35 years since we were in college and I would not recognize Mr E$ if he walked up my driveway, so I say, “Ummmm. How do I say this? He was hot. I thought.”

E$ laughs (I imagine) and agrees with me (I know, because she writes it).

Whew. Because I didn’t want her to think I was coming on to her husband, whom I have not seen in decades. It was more of, We are women we share intimacies as part of our conversation.

Is good.

Then we have a long conversation about the business E$ and some partners started a year ago, which, is the typical business for Women of a Certain Age – a grow operation. And it’s going well. So that’s cool.

And then I have to go because Mr T is vacuuming and he is about to vacuum by me and I do not want to stifle his muse ever.

I send E$ a photo to prove to her that I am not blowing her off – that Mr T is indeed vacuuming by my computer.

And she replies by noting that Mr E$, he does not vacuum.

To which I reply – well, there is the employment/housework tradeoff.

Mr E$ Is Still Hot

Two days later, she messages me again.

E$: So, remember when you said Mr E$ is hot? I just watched him vacuum bits of Cool Ranch Doritos off of his bare belly.

E$: Marital nadir achieved.

Me: You don’t think that’s hot? 🙂

E$: I guess I can’t complain anymore that Mr E$ doesn’t vacuum.

And Then Something Happens

And then two days after that, E$ scares me. I worry that there is something really wrong. It’s Saturday morning and I see a desperate message from her. “Everything I knew to be true is no longer true.”

Crap. I know she has three kids.

I know she has a new business.

I know she’s married.

What horrible thing could have happened to my friend?

I am so worried.

My phone buzzes with a facebook messenger call, but I can’t figure out how to answer it in time.

In a few minutes, there is another message.

“Trying to figure out how to use the video thing on this phone so I can show you what is shaking my foundations.”

Now I’m really scared.

And then

And then

And then I see this.

It’s a video.

Of Mr E$.

And

He

Is

Vacuuming.

It’s a COVID-19 Miracle.

A tear comes to my eye.

vacuum 2

It’s more than a tear for E$. 

It’s hot.

E$: This can be viewed only as foreplay. I’m sure of that.

Me: Seriously one of the hottest things I have ever seen.

Me: Also, the fifth horseman.

So my friends. Heed this warning. Husbands are vacuuming.

The end of the world is coming, one way or another.

But either way, we are going out with a bang.

Marriage in the time of COVID-19

How much for the leetle girl?

Covid

Do you guys remember when we were teenagers and we thought marriage was all about s-e-x and it would be all s-e-x all the time?

And that was a very very exciting idea?

Oh? That was just me?

OK well never mind.

So you guys knew even back then that marriage was not just about s-e-x but was really a lot of arguing about things?

Things like – even in ordinary times – the proper way to wash dishes?

Or how to put them in the cupboard? (One of us maintains by color and then by size, as even the large white plates have some slight variations in thickness.)

Or how to store food in the fridge? (One of us maintains by which foods go together, like the rice and the gumbo, even if the rice is in a square tupperware and the gumbo is in a round glass container. The other says that the containers should be stacked by shape and size to optimize storage efficiency and that of course USERS ALREADY KNOW WHICH FOODS GO TOGETHER.)

Or when to go to bed?

So imagine if you will all the Togetherness that comes with quarantine and add ordinary marriage to that.

Oh wait. You don’t need to imagine! If you’re married, you’re already there!

And if you’re not married, let me assure you this is not all a bed of roses.

It’s all the things that bug you the most about the other person EXCEPT IT’S EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF EVERY SINGLE DAY AND YOUR HAIR LOOKS LIKE CRAP AND YOU ARE WEARING THE SAME CLOTHES 40 DAYS IN A ROW AND WHAT DAY IS IT EVEN?

In addition to the regular things we argue about, Mr T and I have added to our repertoire.

We have argued about the proper timing for sending a wedding gift. I have always sent the gift before the wedding, when I get around to it.

Mr T maintains one takes the present to the wedding or sends it after.

I said why does it matter and why are we even arguing about this, but no, it is Not Done to take the gift to the wedding anymore because People Are Crap and steal presents and even if they don’t, it just means someone has to Be In Charge of taking the presents from the reception to the bride and groom’s home and that’s a pain in the neck AND WHY ARE WE EVEN ARGUING ABOUT THIS?

We now also argue about – because we decided that quarantine was the perfect time to abandon our previous successful for 15 years policy of each of us having our own tube of toothpaste – how to squeeze a tube of toothpaste.

covid toothpaste

Which led to, as I am sure you can understand, arguing about How To Argue.

Which did not go well, as I am sure you can also understand.

We are now each in our separate corners. Fuming. But back to separate tubes of toothpaste.