A blizzard is not in my plan for this week

I was 14 and my brother was 10 when The Great Blizzard of ’93 hit. We woke up to almost two feet of snow, which is certainly enough to shut down a small town in Western North Carolina.

We didn’t have power or water for two weeks, and we couldn’t get to town for about six days. My brother and I got a little stir crazy and went for a long walk on the empty highway after the first few days, but we didn’t have the wherewithal to hike 7 miles into town. I think we just kicked snow around in the elementary school playground and then headed back home.

We did have a wood stove in the living room, though, and my mom kept it blazing constantly. She used it to melt snow so we’d have water to drink, and she cooked a lot of fried potatoes and eggs in a skillet. I think she tried to make biscuits in it, too, but I don’t remember if it worked.

We also had visitors for a couple of days. My Granny had been calling to check in on some of her friends who lived on our road, and she hadn’t been able to reach one couple. So she called my mom and asked her to check in on them. Mom bundled up and trudged a few miles down the road. She found them huddled up under every blanket they owned. Their electricity was out, too, and they didn’t have a wood stove. They did have a couple of bottles of Wild Turkey, though, and that’s what the lady had been using to keep warm. Mom bundled them up and brought them back to our house to stay for a few days until things thawed out.

That storm was 25 years ago this week, and we have snow in the forecast again today. We’re just expecting a few inches, though, which is good because I don’t think I have any potatoes in the pantry and I know I don’t have a wood stove.

Monday: Breakfast for dinner
Forecast calls for toast and veggie sausages, with a 95 percent chance of soft-boiled eggs.

Tuesday: Chicken piccata
Rockford originally made this week’s menu plan, but it was pretty heavy on eating out and heating things in the microwave. I figured I could cook a real meal at least one night.

Wednesday: Frozen pizza
But not every night, obviously.

Thursday: Tacos
I don’t think I ever really thought about what I’d eat as a grownup, but I think YoungNichole would be surprised at how often OldNichole eats tacos.

Friday: Ordering in
I’m going to pick up dinner from a nearby foodery, and I might not leave the house again until Sunday.

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.


I am grieving.

I am grieving, but I am hesitant to say it aloud because it feels somehow wrong and small and silly to grieve for a cat.

But she wasn’t just a cat. She was my constant and my comfort. She was waiting at home 14 years ago when our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. She was waiting at home 12 years ago when we brought our first baby home. She always knew which one of us needed her, be it because we were sick or sad or just a little bit cold. And she was always there.

I wanted her to be the Oldest Cat Ever, but it wasn’t in the cards for her. We’ve known for a few months that she was in her final days. We took her to the vet after a sudden and dramatic weight gain, and we learned that she had advanced heart disease. We could try to treat it, the vet said, but the medication would hurt her already-struggling kidneys.

She was a strange, funny little cat. She was the runt of the litter, and she chose us. She loved to be carried, and she liked it when we danced around the living room with her. She always wanted to be where her people were, even if it meant being dressed in Santa suits, doll dresses or cowboy hats. She never met a person she didn’t like, and she adored every member of our household.

I thought I was ready. She was always a communicative cat, and she let me know she was ready to go on Saturday morning. I was not ready. I carried her to my bed and woke the kids up, and we gathered around her and thanked her and told her we loved her. Then we took her to the vet and said goodbye. It was peaceful, and it was horrible. I was not ready. I would never have been ready.

I’ve been struggling a lot this week. I cried when I put some ice cubes in my cup, because she wasn’t there to remind me that she too would like some ice cubes in her water. I cried when I walked past her spot on the couch and absentmindedly reached out to scratch her head. I cried when I drove past the vet’s office and when I cleared away her litter box and when I heard a sad song on the radio.

Marsha T. Cat was the finest of felines. I am so grateful to have had her in my life, and I am heartbroken that she’s gone. She was 16 years old, and she was beloved for each and every one of those years. I hope she knew it.

On Joy and Sorrow
“The Prophet”

by Khalil Gibran

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

In which Nichole may or may not have stolen a salad

This is the third or fourth or fifth week that I’ve planned to have a rotisserie chicken and a salad for dinner one night, and after many hours of ferrying the children hither and yon, today I finally took my free-chicken-and-a-family-salad coupon over to Whole Foods.

The chicken part was pretty straightforward. I picked up a rotisserie chicken, and I put it in the cart. Done and done. The salad, though, I wasn’t sure about. Whole Foods has a vast array of salads and salad bars, and I wasn’t entirely sure what the coupon meant when it said “a free family salad.” So I asked one of the cute millennial people on staff.

“Hi,” I said. “When this coupon says ‘family salad,’ what exactly does it mean?”

“One of those in the cooler under the ‘Good Stuff to Eat’ sign,” the Cute Millennial Gelato Girl said, gesturing in the general direction of the coolers. She didn’t say “Good Stuff to Eat,” exactly, because that isn’t what the sign said. But when I was there I remembered what she said and I found it.

Pixabay didn’t give me any results when I asked it for a free stock photo of a cute millennial, but it did give me this when I asked for a picture of gelato. // photo by Daria Yakovleva
So those directions narrowed it down from the 16,870 salads available at Whole Foods to about 3,457 salads. And I still wasn’t sure exactly which one the coupon was talking about. But I figured the Cute Millennial Gelato Girl wouldn’t steer me wrong, so I grabbed a pasta salad in a larger box instead of a pasta salad in a smaller box — because the “family salad” oughta be the bigger one, right? — and I went to the checkout.

“Are these vegan brownies good?” I asked the Cute Millennial Checkout Girl.

“They are so good,” said the Cute Millennial Vegan Checkout Girl. “That’ll be $10.79.”

I did have a box of 99-cent macaroni and cheese and, suddenly, a vegan brownie, so I wasn’t surprised that the whole order wasn’t free. But I was surprised that a vegan brownie and a 99-cent box of macaroni and cheese came to $10.79.

“Didn’t the coupon cover the chicken and the salad?” I asked.

“Oh no, not that salad,” she said. “It has to be a green salad. You can go ahead and check out and then just grab one of the green salads.”

This is what Pixabay offers up when you ask it for “vegan.” I’m going to go ahead and assume she doesn’t know much about brownies, either. // photo by Croisy.
A green salad. OK. I finished checking out with my free chicken, my 99-cent macaroni and cheese and my vegan brownie, and I went back to the Good Stuff to Eat cooler. Armed with the new knowledge the Cute Millennial Vegan Checkout Girl had imparted unto me, I discovered that I now had only 145 salads from which to choose.

So I chose one, and I went to the express line.

“Hello,” I said to the Cute Millennial Checkout Guy. “I’ve already checked out, but I got the wrong salad for my coupon and I want to make sure I have the right salad because I don’t want to accidentally steal a salad.”

“Oh no,” he said, “not that salad. The one you want is about the same size, but it’s not round.”

Downtrodden but not yet defeated, I went back to the Good Things to Eat cooler. I was now faced with only two options: A green salad in a square container, and a green salad in a rectangular container.

And I — I took the one in the square plastic, and I don’t know if it made all the difference or any difference because I did not stop to ask.

But there are two things I do know:

  • I need the Cute Millennials of Whole Foods to understand that I an old dotard who needs very specific instructions. Like maybe you could just hand me the right salad? Thanks.
  • That vegan brownie was not so good. I’m sorry to say it, Cute Millennial Vegan Checkout Girl, but I think you’ve forgotten what a brownie should taste like.
  • This was the first result Pixabay offered when I asked for ‘cash register.’ I’m beginning to think Ashton Kutcher is running Pixabay. // photo by annca

    Anywho, here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

    Monday: Rotisserie chicken and a salad
    This’ll be some combination of cheese, bread, ham and a saute pan.

    Tuesday: Cracker Barrel chicken
    This is a ridiculously easy recipe. It’s meant to be a copycat recipe for Cracker Barrel’s “grilled” chicken tenders, which are delicious and you can’t tell me different.

    Wednesday: Korean BBQ tacos
    I found a Korean BBQ slow cooker sauce at Aldi’s a few weeks ago. It sounded promising.

    Thursday: BLAs
    That’s a Bacon Lettuce and Avocado sandwich, because tomatoes are gross.

    Friday: Grandma’s choice
    Rockford and I will be embarking on our annual Weekend of 1,000 Films — in which we try to watch as many of the Best Picture nominees as we can squeeze in — so Grandma is in charge of dinner.

    Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.