Notes, Errata, End of 2008 Roundup and Other Stuff
by Nicole Freire
Happy New Year Edhatians!
Before this column devolves into a marginal wrap up of the year's events, here is a picture of Melanie, our big holiday cookie winner.
Doesn't she look happy? She should, because she's holding about 2 pounds of butter and sugar made into various cookies. I met Melanie and her 92 year-old mother, a very sweet old lady who seemed unfazed when I forced her to eat a gingersnap.
I may have to make this an annual event, because there were many people eager to win some holiday cookies, especially when I provided photographic evidence that I was using real ingredients to make them (I think it was the possibility of being able to partake in all that butter).
I've been looking over some of my past columns and boy, do I talk about food a lot. And I don't even like to cook! I talked about Froot Loops, Cream of Wheat, Jell-O, cookies, OMG Granola, spaghetti sauce, honey, malasadas, diner breakfasts, candy, and coffee.
I insulted the state of West Virginia, apparently insulted some lady at the Steve Miller Band concert, twice had my identity and bank accounts compromised, and had my tonsils out. I questioned my ability to get dressed without looking ridiculous, bemoaned my children getting older, and totally lost my mind when my husband lost his job. I told you all about my so-far benign brain lesion, my sadness over losing a good friend, my failure at buying beer, and then I bought new washcloths and some new underwear.
I mourned the death of a favorite author and bought pencils at the gift shop at the Ronald Reagan Library. My daughter escaped death in a rockslide and my dad opened a brand-new library. I got angry, put up ceramic snow villages, and showed you pictures of me wearing a shirt with dragons and skulls and bones on it.
I'm still taking ballet classes and I'm still not drinking coffee. My anxiety levels are still high and my husband still does not have a job. Weird trees make me nervous and I have glitter on my rug and piles of books next to my bed.
It's been quite a year and through it all, you readers have been supportive, left funny comments, and only got snarky once in a while.
I think I like you guys, so I'm going to be sticking around for another year of Wednesday columns.
I will not promise to stop talking about food, however, as I have a great story to tell you this week.
Every Christmas, our family receives a gift from my brother-in-law's mother, who lives in Virginia. Do you know what you can get in Virginia?
These are not the peanuts we all grew up eating. Planter's Peanuts? They are not really peanuts. We have been lied to.
THESE are real peanuts.
In return for the peanut gift, I send her a box of See's Candy Peanut Brittle. It may be made with inferior peanuts, but See's is See's and it's all good.
In previous years there have been heated discussions in our family about The Hubs (that's what they're called, the real peanuts). Last year, someone who will remain unnamed discovered that eating a handful of Hubs along with a handful of chocolate chips was the world's most excellent combination of yummy goodness. This ‘someone' ate almost all the Hubs and there were some other members of the family who went without their fair share of Hubs. It was ugly.
This year we have attempted to stave off fights over the superior peanuts by parceling the can of Hubs into baggies containing equal amounts of Hubs. We used two different sizes of measuring cups and spoons to achieve Hubs equality.
Wish us luck.
And before I leave you for the New Year holiday, which Chez Freire will be celebrating by sleeping in, staying up too late and watching the Twilight Zone marathon, here are some of my favorite books of the year. I can't do them justice by trying to describe them, mostly because I would end up parroting the blurbs on the back of the book jacket. "Gripping!" "Lyrical beauty and wonderful character insights." "Gripping!"
In no particular order, here they are. They cover almost every genre, so you'll have to judge for yourselves if you'll like them or not.
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
Run, by Douglas E. Winter
Halting State, by Charles Stross
Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
Traffic: Why Drive The Way We Do, by Tom Vanderbilt
The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
I also read all the Stephanie Myers Twilight series and yes, I saw the movie (loved it). You know what? The dialogue was so-so, the characters weren't always that well developed and the entire "Twilight" series became the butt of many jokes, but you know what? VAMPIRES.
This is why I subscribe to The New Yorker AND People magazine. You have to take the high with the low.
That's my big advice for 2009 by the way. Take the high with the low, take your meds and see your therapist, bake granola every Sunday for your health and if you order pancakes, always go for blueberry.
See you next year.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.