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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Escape to St. Pete

So, Saturday. I had been in Lakeland, Florida for 11 days, following my mom's stroke and her rush to the hospital. I had probably seen my mom a total of 15 hours the whole time I had been in town. My sis and I were both winding down our stay. We had decided on a rehab facility for my mom, pending her release. She was less responsive whenever we came to visit, but I kept wanting to believe it was because she had tests, therapy and visitors in the morning, and we rarely got there before 11am. This was one of the inconveniences of me not having a vehicle - and having to help take care of the needs and wants of a 3 year old and a 79 year old. But, we were getting things done.

So, Martha - the lady that my parents had rented a room from until their house was to be completed - was going to the beach overnight with her sisters and daughters and nieces. She had asked if we could stay at her place with my dad. I'm not sure if she was worried about my dad or about her place with him in it alone. So my sis and I got up and packed the car and headed over. My dad was not there. We put our things in Martha's bedroom. Openheart, my sis, got on the computer. My nephew, Duwende, discovered the organ as soon as he walked in. He figured out how to turn it on and was playing it. Of course, I felt like I had to keep an eye out so he didn't break the thing. I found the toy box and tried to distract him with a plane or boat or some boy toy. It distracted him for a half a minute. Then he was exploring the house.

So, to give you some backstory. We were staying at my bf's dad's house. My parents had demolished their house, foundation and all, and they were rebuilding on the same site. So my bf's dad is anal. He has a very clean house, with nice expensive things. As his kids say, he decorates like a gay man, but allegedly he's 100% straight. So every night, Duwende would run around and pick up expensive decorations in one room, run around with them, and then put them somewhere else. Crystal hearts and whatnot. There were these like crochetted or knitted coasters with different birds on them - cardinals and bluejays and the like. Two were on end tables to place the remote controls on. Others were on the coffee table. So they all faced a single direction, and they were carefully placed on the tables. Every morning or night, Duwende would shuffle them, put them all on a table, not organized. Then every night or morning, they would be put back in their "home positions", the two with the remote controls back in place. It was tiring to try to stop the kid from rearranging everything, as the whole day was spent running errands with my dad in very exhausting and inefficient ways, sitting with my mom, looking for positive signs of change, trying to keep Duwende in line/ entertained and not crying.

So, when we went to Martha's, there was a whole new level of vigilance to be employed. Martha's house has 100 times more breakable valuable stuff. It's like a museum. There are tons of glass doored curio cabinets with doll collections, glasses, figurines - lots of Hummels. So Openheart was on the computer, and I was trying to keep Duwende away from the cabinets. But he couldn't resist. The cheap plastic toys weren't nearly as intriguing as the expensive porcelain houses that looked like the houses set up on model train towns. The kid is obsessed with trains. Everything references a train in some way. So it was very important to Duwende to get to those houses, and rearrange them, and bring them to different parts of the house and leave them there. But I knew he couldn't touch them. Once he touched one, it was all over. Bring him back, give him a toy. Catch him at the cabinet, bring him back, give him a toy. Tiring.

So, I decided to eat. I heated up our leftover Jamaican food. I ate some, then Openheart and Duwende decided to eat. But then, Big Boy (my dad - it's a funny nickname because he's the tiniest man without being a little person) came back. He shuffled into the kitchen from the garage. He saw Duwende apparently trying to get into the glass case again, and he started yelling at him. We went to see the commotion, and Big Boy started yelling at us about how expensive everything was and we would not be able to afford to pay for if Duwende broke something. So Openheart took Duwende in and tried to get him to eat.

So, then, Big Boy shuffled into the kitchen, where we were. He went around to the table, opposite my sis. He started yelling at her about making an appointment for him with the contractor to settle the final installment payment for the house. He said she wanted to control everything, and how he couldn't just pay without checking everything - it would take at least a week, etc, etc. If she wanted to control him it would put him in the poor house. She yelled back how she was just trying to help, she didn't have to be there at the meeting. He got very angry (which is very easy) and he raised his fists at my sister across the table. Openheart provoked him, saying go ahead, hit me. Duwende curled up in the fetal position on his chair, and I yelled at my dad. He had a crazy look in his eyes. I said something like, "No. You don't raise your fists anymore." We had a stare down, but I was so pumped with adrenaline, I didn't back down. I knew I couldn't touch him. If I had so much as pushed him away, he probably would have fallen to the floor and cracked his head open. That's how small he is. So we went to Martha's bedroom and gathered our stuff and packed the car. I grabbed some of the food from the kitchen - provisions. We walked out, and Big Boy was still just sitting at the kitchen table not moving when we left. Openheart smoked a cigarette. We went to the hospital. We decided to go to St. Pete to visit Lavender and her family. All the emotion and commotion and running to Lavender's house for asylum felt like my childhood. Our families were very close at one time, and her family knew a little too well about my dad and the abuse. And now, as an adult, I felt like a helpless battered child.

So, the family welcomed us with open arms and paws.

This little guy, Ricky Bobby (that's his real name - the Will Ferrell character in Talladega Nights) greeted us at the door. Lavender picked him because, when her and the husband were discussing dogs, they decided they didn't want to have to pick up big poops like ones that labrador retrievers make. So she picked the smallest Papillon instead. So Ricky Bobby jumped right up to kiss Duwende, and knocked him flat on the floor. He was terrorized, but damnit, that was a total youtube moment if I'd ever seen one!

So we dumped our stuff in the front room, and then the husband, we'll call him Silent Bob, cooked us dinner. Lavender had bought some pita chips and hummus, because she figured that's the type of "exotic" food we would eat. And of course, we ate it. They had a Zephyrhills water cooler, and we drank water out of little plastic kid cups, so I had to refill every other drink I took.

As she was talking about the "hippie food" that we must eat, Allen, her son, said something about being allergic to bananas. Openheart told him, he probably just had a bad reaction to bananas because they weren't organic. So then he started asking Lavender to only buy him organic bananas from then on.

So Silent Bob whipped up some steak quesadillas.

They were making jokes about cooking for a chef food blogger - but I gotta say, the inviting warmth of the home and the company and the food, it was so comforting. Those were the best damn quesadillas I have probably ever had in my life. I gobbled them up!

They had strawberry shortcake... but for whatever reason I didn't want any. I was too tired and worn and jaded and... just didn't want something so sweet at that time.

So we watched some episodes of Community that I had not seen. Community is like their family's favorite show that they watch together. It happens to be probably my favorite current sitcom. So that was great.

We went out to look at the pool and hot tub, the nonworking boat they have in the marina - poor things. We looked at the landscaping.

I got to see how small Ricky Bobby's poops were - I stepped on one on the carpet. Thankfully, he wasn't a labrador retriever, or that would have been some big poop, and I probably would have slid across the floor and pulled a calf or something.
Later on, Openheart came and said, I think Ricky Bobby ate some cheese. Lavender was confused, they didn't have any cheese out. He had dug the cheese out of my purse. In our flight from Martha's house, I had grabbed the block of cheese we had been snacking off of, and I had shoved it in my purse. So, he had eaten almost half of the block! And he was like a tiny dog who weighs less than my cat! I felt really bad. But Lavender and Silent Bob both seemed very nonplussed about the whole situation. Well, Lavender thought it was weird that I had a block of cheese in my purse... which of course, was weird.

We stayed up pretty late talking.

Then we got up early. It was Mother's Day. Violet gave Lavender a handmade card that said what a beautiful mom she was. Lavender cooked bacon, and she made a pot of french press coffee. She had bought almond milk because that's what Openheart drinks. Neither of us drink milk - I drink soy milk, but Openheart can't drink soy. So Lavender made Allen taste the almond milk. He was hesitant, but then he liked it. He liked it so much that he made Lavender buy it from then on.

They took us to the beach. A little locals beach. I sat in front in the Odyssey, and Silent Bob gave me the rundown of the areas we were driving through. There were alot of empty store fronts. It seemed like a sad nice place.

We got to the beach, and when we were unloading the car, we lost Duwende. We didn't see him anywhere. So we ran up the stairs, and there he was, in the sand, almost to the water! This was his second time seeing the ocean, but I guess he was drawn to it. And it was so warm. Like bathwater. I had not brought my swimsuit - I didn't have any thought that I would be going to the beach when I hurriedly packed. So I just had a tshirt and shorts. I did have a sports bra on, but all my sports bras are old and loose, so I kept the shirt on and just waded in the water. It was nice. I could live there. There on the beach, that is. In St. Pete or Tampa maybe - not Lakeland.

There's Lavender and Silent Bob. Lavender said how they don't take it forgranted that they live so close to the beach. The Food Pimp and I don't go to the beach in San Diego as much as we would like, living so close, but we never take it forgranted. The smell of the air as you drive to the beach. The driving around in circles, looking for parking, the traffic and tourists. The overpriced waters that they have at the convenience stores by the beach. The wind, the cold water, the dirty sand, the lifeguards waving you in if you are having too much fun in the big pacific swells, the no alcohol on the beach rule - I don't take any of it forgranted.

Anyway, it was almost 1pm. My other sis, Buffalo Rib, was already at the hospital. So, I said we had to leave. So we packed up, and Silent Bob, ever the gentleman, got the Odyssey and picked us up by the showers. As we were loading our stuff, a girl walking by said, The Food Ho? (Actually, she said my real name) and I said Absolut (again, alias). This was my friend of a friend from New Orleans... here at Sunset Beach in St Pete. Weird.

Silent Bob informed me that the gay beach was the next beach over. For some reason, he kept pointing out the gay areas of the city to me. Was he inferring something? People have thought that TFP and I were married for convenience before. I'm a little butch, TFP spends a lot of time doing his hair, but a lot of guys do, these days. Okay, he spent a lot of time doing his hair back when it was gay to spend a lot of time doing hair, and he notices appearances, specifically shoes. Wouldn't this be embarrassing if I'm one of those women, who years from now find out the dirty little truth, and it's one of those situations where people whisper behind my back,"I always knew." Of course, I feel like sometimes that's what people are waiting to hear about me. For my mom's God's sake, my own husband thought I was a lesbian when he first met me!

Anyhoo, getting back to the topic at hand, food. We went back to the house, and Lavender fried up some lumpia for us.

She had been nervous the whole time about me writing about them in my blog, because of my less than generous descriptions of friends and family. Also, because when I slam a restaurant, it can be pretty ugly. I do have to say, that I've had to keep the blog a secret from certain people, who I've written unflattering descriptions of, or who I expect that I one day will write unflattering descriptions of.

So, I'm not kissing Lavender's ass. But they were damn good lumpia. They were just shanghai lumpia. They were just seasoned meat, which I am a big fan of. She mentioned how some Filipinas (I don't know of any Filipino husbands who make lumpia)put the stuff and the raisins in their lumpia. I hate raisins in lumpia. It's almost as gross as finding a fly in my food. Almost. But yeah, I give her lumpia the thumbs up. We crunched them up and ate em. She packed the leftovers for us to bring, but sadly, we left them on the kitchen table.

That brief stay was so comforting. They are really a very funny and loving and lovely family. So it was a nice time, and we were happy to have hung out with them. I was anxious to get back to the hospital, but at the same time, I didn't want to see my dad. We got there, and it was like grand central station. Everyone was coming in. There wasn't enough room in the hospital room for everyone. The physical therapist came in, and she didn't want us all in there, but she didn't kick us out. Finally, I walked out. My dad was having a loud conversation with one of my mom's friends - because he is only capable of having loud conversations, of course. This was not helping my mom at all. Finally, my sis told them to not talk loud and to leave the room. Needless to say, the physical therapy did not go well.
I wondered silently if anyone had realized that not only was it Mother's Day, but it was also my parent's anniversary. I didn't bring it up.

Later on, Lavender told me that Ricky Bobby had been having big soft poops, but other than that, he seemed fine.


caninecologne said...

hi fh - sorry to hear about all that drama in your family...man, that's pretty heavy...

on the other hand, that's great your friends let you guys stay over.

i made a note not to put raisin in my lumpia if i ever make it for you. my mom would put them in for me, but make a raisin-less batch for my bro and sis when we were young.

re: the beach, i'm pretty much a lifelong san diegan, born and raised and i really dislike going to the beach. i guess i do take it for granted but i really don't like being in the sun, getting dirty and being around lots of people.

re: butch - as a straight chick, i love the butch look on chicks. i'd rather totally rock the butch look than a flowery, ruffly femme look anytime. btw, i don't think you look that butch or even butch at all!

Lesleigh said...

who's lavender?
very much enjoyed that post. it was filled with drama. and dog poop. which is always funny.

the food ho said...

CC - re: the beach - man I would like to live at the beach! We went to OB yesterday, and it wasn't too bad I guess because of the less than optimal beach weather we've been having.

re:the butch look - oh, you didn't see me with the short hair...

Lesleigh - it's kinda an anonymous blog... but Lavender is my childhood Flip friend who grew up in Winter Park