Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Should Eat Here. It's That Simple.

Midwestern life includes farming. It's just the way it is. And on farms, you get fed. You get fed real good because they need you to keep working, and let's be honest, a plate of raw fish is not going to get you to stack hay in a 300-degree haymow for very long.

Lunches (or dinners, as they're called) on the farm is simple: You sit down at the table and you eat what was cooked. There's no pesky decisions to be made; no choice of appetizers, no "put that on the side, please"- just good, wholesome, food on your plate, waiting to get et. Those were the ways of my youth.

Fast forward to the present, when my main meal of the day usually comes bagged by some pimply kid in a dorky hat. I missed the old farm lunches. I missed the love the food was made with. I missed the wholesomeness and the way the food stuck to my bones....


It is with my pleasure (and a certain amount of giddiness)
that I introduce you to Sharon's Sweet Shop.
A little restaurant in the humble Village of Sharon, Wisconsin.

Yes, it is worth the trip.

Want to know what's for lunch?
She writes it on the chalkboard that stands outside!
You don't get a choice.
You just eat what's for dinner.
It's that simple.

The place is small. And quaint. And cute. And welcoming.
And it has a piano.
(And no one plays Chopsticks. Ever.)
And it has homemade soup.
As in, I didn't open a can to get this Cream of Broccoli soup.

The day I went, pork chops were being served.
They were juicy.
And delicious.
And there was a homemade roll.
That was straight from the oven.
And my butter melted.
Like heaven.

I'm not sure what the Loaded Garlic Mashed Potatoes were loaded with,
but I loved them.
I loved them more than my children.
(Not really. That wouldn't be very mother-of-the-year like, would it?)

And if you're not yet convinced to try this place out...

then you haven't been introduced to her homemade dessert.

I call this:

Americana On A Plate

and also


Let me know when you want to meet for lunch.
I'll save you a seat at my table.

Black & White and Nothing In Between

"Okay, Mom. I'm ready to go now."

There stood my 8-year old daughter. The one I affectionately refer to as Dotter on my blog. Because 'dotter' literally means "daughter" in Swedish. And "literal" is the best way to describe my daughter, Dotter.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg joked, "I once saw a forklift lift a crate of forks. And it was way to literal for me." My daughter would've been in heaven. Of course a forklift would lift forks. Why else would they call it a forklift? Any other explanation would be ridiculous.

I sighed. Loud. Obnoxiously. Rudely.

"Mom, you said we could go to the store sometime. I'm ready to go now." She had her money ready to go in a Ziploc bag. I knew it she had already counted it out. Probably twice.

"Go comb your hair," I directed as I lifted my hands out of the kitchen sink where I was washing dishes.

Really, it was easier. Easier than trying to explain that the definition of "some time" is endless... it could mean in ten minutes, or an hour, or six, or a month from now. I want to go to the French countryside "some time" but that doesn't mean I'm packing just yet. But I knew what the argument would be: If "some time" could be any time, then couldn't it be that "right now" is actually the realization of "some time?"

Confused? That's why it was so much easier to just direct her to comb her hair. Gather the baby. Throw him in the car seat. Sigh again. Loudly. Obnoxiously. Rudely. Again.

Obviously this is not new to us. When she was two she completely freaked out when I turned left off the highway exit ramp instead of right because I needed to stop and get gas. In her world we turned right. It was that simple. We always turned right. To suddenly turn left rocked her world to extremes. Probably similar to what I'd feel if a group of armed men suddenly stormed my bedroom at three in the morning.

She doesn't function well when she doesn't know what to expect. You have to explain what's about to happen - and then pray to God it happens the way you explained it. And when she has something organized and explained in her mind it can be quite challenging to veer from that. Sometimes it's just way easier to just go with her flow.

"Do you know how much money you have?"

"I have one dollar and ninety-one cents."

"Do you know how much money you need?"

"No. But Bean knows how much they are and I can call her."

"So let's call her."

Bean was out with her friends, wandering aimlessly around stores that are probably sick of seeing all those goofy teens on summer break taking weird pictures of themselves with their cell phones and updating them to Facebook... and never buying anything more than a Monster and a pack of gum. It'll be a long summer... but Bean knew how much a pack of Crazy Bands were. Which turned out to be fifty-nine cents more than what Dotter had.

And the meltdown began....


Sigh. Loud. Obnoxious. Rude. I know. I'm like, fourteen. I think I may have even rolled my eyes.

What I want to say is something along the lines of get a grip! It's not the end of the world if we don't do exactly what you have planned in your little head. Life will go on. You will survive this!

And then God smiled upon me, because the Bean, of all things - offered to lend money to Dotter. "It's okay," she said calmly. "You can take four of my one-dollar bills. If you go in my underwear drawer I have a little box that I keep my money in. You can take four of the ones that say one-dollar, okay?" (Praise Jesus, she was with friends and not home alone, where the response would've been more along the lines of, "What is your problem?")

Instant happiness. "Thanks!"

Let's get this show on the road. Quicker we leave the sooner we get back and I can finish these dishes.

Except that happiness was short lived. Five minutes later I'm looking at Dotter sitting on the edge of Bean's bed sobbing. What now?

"She doesn't have an underwear drawer!"

"It's the top drawer."

"NO IT'S NOT! I looked and it's not her underwear drawer."

"Yes it is," I explain, walking over to the drawer and opening it.


(And if you think I'm kidding you'd be so wrong.)

Sigh. Use every ounce of my energy to not pound my head against the dresser. She was right, of course. I knew before I looked. I was praying one lone pair of underwear would be in that drawer. Just one. That's all I needed. But no. Bras. Just bras.

"Dotter, people consider bras underwear, too. This is the drawer. See the box here? It's got her money inside."

"You need to follow the RULES, Mom. And she didn't say I could take money from her bra drawer."

"Yes," I sighed. "Let's call her."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Don't Like You - Come Here!

Last night I holed up in my bedroom to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey uninterrupted and all I kept thinking about is are these women for real? How hard is it to just stay away from the people you don't like. I guess I just don't hate anyone enough to spend that much energy on them. Of course, I'm also kind of lazy, and this much bickering about one person seems to take a lot of energy. More energy than I'm willing to spend. I choose to save my energy for the finer things in life, like dipping my chips in guacamole while having a glass of wine with my friends.

Is a fashion show (or any event, when you think of it) that important that you simply must show up and duke it out with your mortal enemy? I watched these women full of piss and vinegar (love that saying, by the way!), staring each other down and boring everyone at their respective tables about how much they hated each other. Honestly, there are other things to talk about. Like the oil spill in the gulf. Or how you feel about the latest Supreme Court nomination. Or what Hugh Hefner really looks like under that robe. I watched as one of the women very purposefully sat waiting to pounce on the other one - you don't like her! Just ignore her! But no. She just had to say something. Had to start the drama. Let her walk away. Be the bigger, better person. She doesn't like you. It's okay...

Really, what are you going to do? Chase her down at the local WalMart and verbally attack her as she's checking out her frozen pizza with her daughter? Run her down like a mad woman in the parking lot and pin her against her car with your cart? Screaming and yelling, arms flailing about as people walk by wondering what medication you forgot to take? Because if I was in that situation, and you were screaming at me in public, here's what I'd be thinking:

Holy, Mary, Mother of Jesus - this woman is a lunatic. Truly, a lunatic. I don't think I've ever been this close to a lunatic before. Maybe. Well, our algebra teacher was pretty nutty - but he mostly talked about stars, so he was kind of like a non-dangerous lunatic. But this woman! Woah! Check out how purple she's getting. That can't be normal. Is it raining? Was that rain? Oh gross - that was spittle. That was her spittle hitting my cheek. Her spit is on my cheek. But I can't just wipe it off - she might take the raising of my hand to be an act of aggression and who knows how she'll react to that. Is it safe for her vein to stick out that far? She's going to explode. Seriously. I think her head might actually erupt. Are skull fragments sharp enough to be considered shrapnel? What if I get a piece of skull shrapnel stuck in my eye. Can you imagine going blind from someone's exploding head? There'd be brain matter raining down all over this parking lot. Great. It's going to get on my car. Which means I'm going to have to wash it off right away because you don't want that stuff drying up in the hot sun; probably take the paint right off. Crap. I don't have any cash. The nearest car wash only takes cash. What is with that? It's brand new! Shouldn't they have all the modern conveniences of the world like the little machine that accepts a debit card in exchange for a washed car? I'm going to have to go to the one behind the bank. I hate that one. It's dirty. Last time I was there that creepy bearded man was going through the garbages. But it does take debit cards. You know, that's why kids today don't truly appreciate the value of money. But can you blame them? They never see it. Think it comes from a card. Back in the day, parents would pile their kids in the car on Saturday morning and head on down to the bank to cash their check. My checks have always been direct deposited. I can't remember the last time I was actually inside a bank. But back then kids saw their parents put some money in an account and take some money for bills. Then they were dragged around town while the bills were paid - a little at the phone company, some more at the electric company, and the rest for groceries. You didn't buy what you didn't have money for. My kids don't see that. They think I magically wave the card and we get stuff we like. They're never going to retire debt-free. They better have nice children to live with - because they're not living with me at my nursing home, that's for sure!"

So, the way I see it, life is way too short for you to waste worrying about whether or not my kids will be able to retire debt-free.

(Of course, this does not discourage me from tuning in for the next episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey when things really heat up and Danielle has a breakdown. I can't wait!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's Mention

Just thought I'd mention.....

I really like watching Big V with Cletus the Used to be Fetus.

I think they're both kind of cute.