Crabs, Rabies, and the Jersey Shore

6 Jan

It’s been so long, yet again.  I have to say, my hiatus from work, from kids, and from blogging (not that I need a hiatus from blogging) was, an entertaining time.  I think only Dennis Leary could top these stories.  Let me explain:

Last year, Rob and I had a bit of a ghetto Christmas, starting with a tree hatching baby spiders.  So this year – our first holiday together as a married couple – we made sure our tree was “washed” clean on any uninvited guests.  We did not, however, make sure the tree would fit in our house.  After shoving it through the back door, we were relieved to see that the top of the tree was a mere 5 inches from the ceiling.  And despite washing the tree, we still encountered a half-drowned hornet and a very confused ladybug (causing Rob to run around the room flailing a broom.  He thought it was another hornet).  Finally, we sat down to enjoy our tree with some spiced nuts and wine, but heard a commotion outside.

“No, Tom!  Don’t even think about it, Tom!”

As a strobe light of flashes whizzed by our windows, we ran outside to see what was going on.  Like two looky-loos with our heads poked out the door, we saw a fire truck, police cars, and lots of men running around with flashlights, including our very bloody next-door neighbor.  After Rob inquired, he informed us that he was looking for his cat, who had literally just mauled him.

Mr. Rogers would NOT have been impressed by my neighborly ways, as my first instinct was to close and lock the door.  I didn’t want to be mauled by some cat, and plus, I didn’t want to interfere with the important job of the firemen.  We did end up going next door a bit later to check on our neighbor, and walked in to find a blue Tubberware storage container duct-taped closed.  They found the cat.

Needless to say, the cat had rabies, and now, so did our neighbor.  Though it is a very unfortunate situation, a few weeks later I had to giggle when my friend – unknowing this story – was telling me about her neighbor who is an ER nurse and had to give some guy a rabies shot from an attack from his one-feral cat.  Oh, the joys of a small town.

Onto Friday, Dec. 17th, the last day of school before the holiday break.  Rob was on duty, and it was a cold, rainy evening, and I thought of nothing better than fresh Dungeness crab straight from the ocean, cooked into a  creamy dip with rustic bread and a fresh, crisp white wine.  I drove to our local fisherman’s town and seeing the crab boats unloading their loot, I could feel my mouth start to water and hear my belly gurgle with anticipation.  As soon as I got home, I put my huge stock pot on the stove and started boiling the poor sucker.

Delighted and excited, I turned on the fire and went to plug in the lights on the tree, only to have the gigantic damn thing fall over on top of me.  Really?  After all that work the day before?  I called Rob, and we decided to prop it up in the corner of the room until we could get it in a more sturdy stand.  Sigh.

It was about that time when I started to smell that familiar, yet alarming, scent of burning.  I ran to the pot and looked for any leftover price tags, or something stuck to the bottom of the pot.  I figured there must have been some leftover food that had probably spilled over onto the burner, causing the smell.  No biggie.

My second phone call to Rob was a few minutes later, after the smoke alarm started screaming, doing its job of making me notice that my kitchen counter was covered in flames.  I screamed, let out a few 4-letter words, threw the burning towel (that had been licked by the flames coming up over the sides of the stock pot, starting the fiasco) in the sink, turned on the water, and quickly put out the fire on the counter.  Opening all the windows to let out the lovely scent combination of cooked crab and smoke, the doorbell rings.

I do as I teach, and I teach my kids never to answer the door to strangers.  But then I hear the sound of a big truck pulling up to the curb.  Was the fire department making yet another trip to our street?  This led to my third call to Rob, and the event which landed me literally on my face.

Our bedroom window looks out over the street, allowing full visual access to whoever may be visiting us.  I was running up our very steep stairs when a flash of white-hot pain made that familiar nauseating feeling rush through my stomach and up my throat.  Having just jammed my big toe into the stair, running at full-speed, I laid on the top of the stairs, speechless.

“What happened?  Are you OK? ” I could hear a bit of urgency and some confusion in Rob’s voice.

“No!  I think I just broke my toe.”  Trying then to stand on my left foot, another expletive flew out and with a bit of persuasion, Rob convinced me to go to the Emergency Room.

The truck and the doorbell happened to be UPS, delivering a package to put under our defunct tree.

After x-rays, my toe proved to be badly jammed rather than broken, and I felt embarrassed when the doctor told me to just take a lot of Advil (he said it in a way that made Rob and I realize how many “injuries” must come in hoping for a Percocet or Vicodin perscription.  I wanted to offer some reassurance to the Dr. letting him know that I was, in fact, NOT a drug addict, but I realized that would probably just make the situation less believable).

Having our holiday start off with bugs, rabies, the ER, and an invalid tree, we looked forward to a relaxing couple of weeks.  It rained (can you believe it?!), it hailed, we had a birthday party with fried pickles, and Christmas Eve midnight mass led by a priest with such a thick accent, we weren’t clear what we were singing “Joy” to.  We drove to Portland and went skiing, where Rob face-planted and I fell off the chair-lift (no injuries).  We had our Tacky New Years party, where many dressed up in their best Jersey Shore impressions, and so far, we have kept our Resolutions.

And, like Dumb and Dumber, or any other great classic story, every memorable period of time is given significance by the “bookend” events that start and finish it.  On one of the last days of our holiday, I ran upstairs to answer the phone – and, once again, jammed the exact same toe.

Where’s the food, you may ask?  It definitely didn’t take a backseat to all of the excitement, but rather a passenger-seat drivers view.  We made shredded pork and green chili tamales as a Christmas Eve So-Cal tradition.  They turned out fabulously, however the 2:1 masa:lard radio left me, well, feeling it.  Christmas was a gorgeously cooked 3 1/2 pound Beef Wellington which was even more succulent than the meat at our wedding.  There were hor’doeuvres galore, and lots of fantastic wine.  And yes, I still made my crab dip.  Fresh Dungeness straight from the ocean was definitely worth the ER doctor thinking I was a drug addict.

Happy New Year!  Healthy Resolution dishes soon to come!

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2 Responses to “Crabs, Rabies, and the Jersey Shore”

  1. Gen January 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Oh Chilly Jilly! What an eventful holiday break! And you just proved that you don’t need a jerry-rigged cardboard box splatter guard to set fire to a kitchen. But it sure does help.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Endless Sushi, A Bloody Nose, and Lamb Two Ways « 42 Potatoes - April 26, 2011

    […] To spare any of my more queasy readers (and, this is a food blog after all), I’ll skip the gory details just to say that I had a nose-bleed of epic proportions.  Simply, it was gross.  Also a mess.  And as I’m standing over the sink trying not to faint from rapid blood loss, the very familiar ring of the smoke alarm sounds, reminding me that 1) I have very specifically-timed food cooking, and 2) I’m about to burn the house down.  Again. […]

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