Monday, February 28, 2011

I Heart Sherlock Holmes

I heart Sherlock Holmes.

Ok, maybe that’s not TOTALLY accurate. Yes, in high school I had 2 different versions of the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries (one with the original illustrations, leather bound), and yes, I read them and read them and read them. I used to fiddle with our tv antenna so I could watch Jeremy Brett on the PBS Mystery version of Sherlock Holmes when I was in 8th grade, huddling close to the fuzzy tv and trying to drink in EVERY detail of my beloved stories. I aspired to BE a Baker Street Irregular. When Young Sherlock Holmes came out during my high school years, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I was like a screaming teenager at an Elvis concert, without the screaming, or the music, or the white leather jumpsuit…just the smitten joy of the whole thing.

But still, to be TRULY accurate…it’s not Sherlock I love.

I heart Dr. Watson.

I do. I have had a major crush on a fictitious 19th century sidekick for 25 years.

Dr. Watson is just so…solid. He humanizes the fiercely analytical Holmes. He’s friendly, normal, reliable, occasionally even jolly. Holmes needs him, depends on him, seems constantly a step ahead and yet when Dr. Watson gets shot, it’s a distraught Holmes who saves him. Watson may not be on the cutting edge of mystery solving, but without him around, Holmes would be lost. Watson brings out the best in Holmes.

For a teenager who pretty much always felt lost in her own bleh, Dr. Watson seemed like a wonderful guy to have on your side.

In the Young Sherlock Holmes movie, Watson loves pastries, and his terrifying hallucination after the evil society shoots him with poison is about Pastries Gone Wild (ok, that seemed much more plausible when I was 15). Watson shares my passion for ├ęclairs! What else do I have to say?

A few months ago, a modernized version of Sherlock Holmes appeared on PBS. In this version, Holmes is a “high functioning sociopath” and Dr. Watson a vet recently home from Afghanistan. The writers worked on Dr. Who, so the whole show has a sharp, witty, BBC-esque edge to it that frankly is almost better than chocolate for my brain. My spouse and I watched the series together, a rare moment when we actually enjoy the SAME tv program.
And in watching this remake, in the surprise of feeling that long lost excitement at

seeing a Really Good Mystery with characters I love, I had a moment of enlightenment, an epiphany, if you will, one that blew my adolescent longings to smitereens.

Guess what I realized?

I married Dr. Watson.

Bear with me here…I really did. For those of you who KNOW my spouse, think about it. I actually DID marry an Italian version of Dr. Watson.

Reliable? Check.

Hard working? Check.

A good listener, even if he doesn’t quite get it the first time you say it really fast? Check.

Generally thinking the best of others? Check.

Just a genuinely NICE person? Check.

Patient as all get out with the odd cluttery foibles of the people around him? Um, check.

Really good at what he does, even if it’s not always flashy? Check.

Deeply loyal? Check.

See what I mean? I MARRIED DR. WATSON!!!

The real mystery is why the heck he married ME…probably because I look like Heidi Klum, but I could be wrong. Hm.

So see, watching tv isn’t always a waste of time. Who knew PBS Masterpiece Theater/Mystery would be a celebration of marriage?

Of course the first 2 times I meant to post this I got randomly irritated with the resident Watson, and said forget posting this nice post. Ahem. I am so mature. And early winter was a rough season here on many levels. But really, at the end of the day, I am grateful for my spouse, and kind of tickled to discover this weird parallel to my teenage world, a world before I really knew my spouse at all. Now there’s a narrative arc for you…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

(my delicious crumb cake)

“Food, glorious food! Hot sausage with mustard!
While we’re in the mood—cold jelly and custard!”

My love of most things edible is not a newsflash to anyone. Eating is one of my most favorite pastimes. I only really have two criteria for food:

1. No tentacles
2. Not a garden pest

If these two criteria are met, I will eat almost anything.

As a child and young adult I admit, I was picky. Once I had kids, and endured hyper-emesis for 9 months straight 3 times, I could eat nearly ANYTHING. I have to be careful of certain rich foods and sadly cannot eat Mahi Mahi or Chilean Sea Bass (alas! I was a slow learner on both of those), but generally if it can be eaten, I will eat it.

Granted, my family picked up where my pickiness ended, almost as if I birthed my pickiness right out of me with the delivery of my kids! My eldest will try nearly anything, but Kids 2 and 3…eek. We have pictures from Easter several years ago of all of us around the table of feasting…and Kid 2 has a bowl of Cheerios in front of her.

It took the squashing of certain key portions of her brain for her to become a good eater. Now we have trouble making her stop. But still, vegetables are taboo.

Anyway, we have never wanted for food. There are about a half dozen grocery stores within 10 minutes of my house. We have a couple of big box stores only a bit further than that. I generally hit one grocery store and one mega store at least once a week.

When life looked a bit bleak at the end of last summer, I created a food hoard. I still have pasta from that time…my pantry was PACKED with canned foods, sauces, pastas, peanut butter. I was afraid, and I met my fear of the unknown with cases of Orville Redenbacher.

But this isn’t the situation for everyone.

This isn’t even the situation for most people, I’d say.

Our family volunteers at an urban soup kitchen about 25 minutes from our house. Just over a week ago we arrived at St. Ann’s to discover that it was not a meal day but a food pantry day. Lined up on the floor in neat rows were brown shopping bags full of groceries. Most had one bottle of juice, a bag of rice or pasta, some random canned goods, and a bag with some meat and cheese.

Each client had to present ID to get a bag, and multiple IDs (for kids, etc) to get 2 bags. The system is strictly adhered to and runs pretty smoothly for the most part.

As we worked to distribute the bags, alongside clients who help out before they take their bags (I love working with them), I was struck by how flipping lucky we are.

The idea that THIS could be our food for the week: a bag of random what not, all healthy and generously given, but beyond my control as mom, was staggering. Folks asking if there was any toothpaste to be had, folks wishing they could change what they had in their bags for something different (not allowed, chaos would ensue)…it was staggering.

The idea that I would have to get a number, wait on a line, present ID, and then get a bag of something that would become my family’s meals: I just felt flattened by the psychological enormity of that.

When my kids need food, I run to the store. When I was first married, and our budget was really tight, we ate more simply. We made do. My kids have NO CLUE about those days. Not that we are eating filet every night, or only drink Perrier (we don’t), but still: I buy food in packages (! The Tightwad Gazette lady would have my head!) , we always have cheese and meat in the house, we have plenty of milk and I no longer only get half and half on holidays.

We are so lucky.

I love being able to go work at St. Ann’s, and I wish we could go more often. I need that reminder to be grateful. It’s not like we did anything to be lucky. We are just super blessed that life, while smiting us in an awful lot of areas, hasn’t messed with lunch.

With new energy I am getting a bag for our county food pantry for collection next week at church. If we all gave one can of corn or one can of tuna, just imagine how many more people we could feed? Even if we don’t have a ton, just one can could really help someone who has less than we do.

Food brings people together. Sharing food with those who are hungry brings the world together, I think.