Friday, August 19, 2011

My Girl

This is Zen.

Zen is my first furchild.  I'd never been allowed to have pets as a kid and when I moved out of my parent's house it was into my sister's.  She's allergic.  About a month before moving out of her house to a condo in Herndon where I'd end up starting my furry collection, Zen came into my life by a twist of fate.

Originally I planned on only fostering her.  Even through I was grown and in a place of my own I'd not yet had the realization that I'd actually be able to get, and keep, an animal.  Once I brought her home, though, we fell madly, truly, deeply in love.  Me with all of her, her for my opposable thumbs and ability to fill her food bowl.

Because Zen (originally Fen) came to me from a heartless, ungracious man who was angry at his ex-wife I never received any of her medical records.  As far as I was concerned she was just a full grown cat that magically appeared in my life.  We guessed her age at the time but I never thought much about it until a year or so ago.  I went to pet her as she walked by and froze with a horrifying realization: Zen had old lady hips.

Now, don't read too much into that.  It's not a slam or insult or jab of any kind, but during all the years I worked in vet clinics I would always think to myself how bony and fragile a cat's hips felt when they were in their senior years.  More often than I should I would equate that feeling to a lifeline much closer to the end than I wanted Zen to be.

Zen is in wonderful health though she's overdue for a trip to the vet.  I'm in denial about how old she might be, conveniently forgetting that she has been with me for nearly a decade! 

I'm very stiff and sore this morning, significantly due to a week full of physically demanding classes back to back, but plenty of that can go to Zen, the Empress of Casa Castle.

You see, Zen is part Siamese and as the reigning presence in our home she has no reservations about clearly vocalizing her opinion.  Brush her with the tip of your finger on the fringes of her fur and she's demanding more.  Try to walk down the hallway and she's telling you you must be crazy because she ain't movin'.  Move her from her throne of comfort and she's like a 2-year old who missed their nap.

At night Zen has taken to sleeping with me.  Not just with me but curled up against my side, physical contact and pinning the blanket so that any movement would illicit complaints at volumes that would wake Clif who in turn would unceremoniously chase her off the bed.  To avoid interrupting everyone's sleep I've taken to not moving throughout the night as I normally do.  Hence frequent mornings of body stiffness and protests from staying in one position too long.

Zen, what I want to say is that my physical sacrifice might appear to have much to do with not exacting your vocal indignation in the wee hours, but it has so much more to do with how much I love you and want to gather every single moment I can with you, even when I'm sleeping.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nostalgic Noshes

Somewhere in the Arlington Bullach household there is a picture of a summer blonde me around the age of 6-ish sitting at the bottom of the rickety wooden stairs to the basement of Luray. My grandparents used to keep those awesome bottles of Dr. Pepper around and something about that picture and the vague memory of drinking out of the ice cold bottles in the cement cold basement in scorching summer days has helped solidify it as one of my all time favorite beverages.

Birthday dinners rocked because the birthday celebrator got to pick their favorite dishes for the menu. For me that almost always meant Brussels sprouts and cauliflower mountain - a head of cauliflower dripping in melty mustardy cheesy amazingness. I have never claimed to be normal.

Whenever I was sick or had an upset tummy Mom would pour me a glass of Coke and stir it until it was completely flat. After a dose or two of tummy-settling syrup she'd follow up with toast topped with a little butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

According to my recollections when my bother moved into his condo he started turning into a chef extraordinaire. The standout example being when he began experimenting with a recipe he found for Aztec soup. Donald hosted the big family birthday gatherings for years in a row and always served this deletable soup bar. I could never remember the official recipe name so it became and remains the birthday soup.

My all-time favorite dessert treat when I was growing up was a root beer float with vanilla ice cream and A&W. A close second were the butterscotch Popsicles Mom made in those do-it-yourself molds.

Over the past couple of years Mom worked hard to compile recipes from all corners of our extended family. With each recipe she found a picture or story to go with it so the final produt was more an overall family history than just a collection of tasty food. Receiving my copy and watching others recieve theirs I waas struck by how intregal food is to friendships, family ties and life Lon memories.

What are your nostalgic noshes?