I’m happy to report that the Bud and Jan Show had a swell Christmas with lots of fun and good cheer and reasonable health and my dear sisters and their families, who showed up while Rich and I abandoned everybody for Florida sunshine. We called a lot and screamed, "What??" at each other and it was fun.
The best part of Christmas at the Bud and Jan Show is they get all these boxes from us and my brother out East and then all the other gifts that get dragged up there and by 10AM on Christmas morning no one can remember what they got, what they gave or who’s present is whose. And I’m no help since menopause has wiped out even the names of my children. At least five times I’ve called to say, "What did I send you and did you like it?" They didn’t know but it was around there somewhere and they were certain they liked it. Then my mother says, "What did we send you? Did you like it?" and I assure her that I did, even though I can’t quite remember what it was at the moment.
In terms of what we sent them, I know the Clapper arrived and March of the Penguins and the play tunnel for the cats because I got online receipts for those. And the photo coasters of their eagle and cats and lake and mountain- those are a big hit. The cat tunnel idea (thanks, Max ) has been a resounding success with all the family cats. It’s just a giant cloth covered springy tunnel that has a flannel lining plus some kind of crunchy sound- sort of like the Lexus of paper bags. The cats can run through it, attack each other on both ends or curl up midway for a nap. We collapse ours here half the time because it takes up space; at my folks it must eat up every spare inch because things are very tight there. They literally eat, sleep, yell, visit, read and everything else in their tiny living room and I always get pretty claustrophobic. Bud’s frequently tripping over my mom’s oxygen line and cursing; what was I thinking sending this giant new obstacle/death trap? But my mom assures me they and the cats love it.
A couple visits ago I suggested my mother and Bud either take a break from CNN and screaming at the TV about the-sumbitch-who-is-ruining-the-country and watch something else or pass me some of those pill bottles. The intensity gets to a person, especially someone who is as conflict avoidant as I am (stop laughing). My mother informed me, with great authority, that they didn’t get any other stations up there. I said, “what a coincidence, that CNN is the ONLY channel that comes in. Pass me that remote.” I had to wait until Bud was out at the garage refrigerator sifting through overflow leftovers and then I wrestled my mom to the ground and got it away from her. And, well, she was almost right. They get CNN and the Food Network.
Now, my mother has a lot of trouble eating. Her eating problems fall under two headings: She can’t swallow well and nothing sounds good to her. As a result Bud spends about 18 hours a day trying to fix her appealing soupy food to keep her strength up so she can yell at the TV. This from the man who used to make spaghetti with ketchup and noodles.
So, it seemed particularly unfair that the Food Network was the only other channel, given my mother’s food issues. I was about to flip it back to CNN when my mother said, “Wait! What channel is that? What’s that? What are they doing?” They were replaying the original Iron Chef. The one with English dubbed in and the two Sumo chefs see how many different dishes they can create with eel brains in one hour. I said, “Oh, that’s just a goofy food program…” and moved for the remote but she already had it back, tightly grasped in her hot little hands. Bud came back in and stared for a minute and said, “What the Hell is that? Where the Hell is Wolf Blitzer?”
Well, that marked the beginning of a new era at Lost Loon Lodge. My mother is now hopelessly addicted to the Food Network and, in the same way she knows every fascinating detail about Wolf’s personal life, she now knows about Emeril’s wife and mother and the Barefoot Contessa’s favorite places to shop. All those judges on Iron Chef, little known Japanese actors? She knows their middle names and birthdays.
Her favorite show is Emeril Live and she especially likes it if it’s a re-run. She squeals, “Oh! This is the one where he uses crayfish and andouille sausage and dirty rice! Watch this! This looks so delicious!” Bud is in the kitchen, muttering, “That f-ing Portuguese…” The reason he feels this way about Emeril is because my mother wants Bud to try to cook everything Emeril does and then turn it into soup.
So, imagine. You’re at the IGA in Calumet, where they carry canned peas, Charmin and 6 kinds of pasties. And you have a list that has ingredients like butterflied veal shoulder, fresh bay scallops and poblano peppers. And you know that you have to not only find these ingredients but you must turn them into a delicious creamed soup.
Anyway, my mother’s favorite gift this Christmas- the one she remembers every time I talk to her on the phone- is the Emeril Live cookbook my sister,
Laurel Betsy, gave her. And, now, as I write this I’m remembering what Bud and Jan gave to all of us this Christmas. We all got KitchenAid Immersion Hand Blenders, these wicked little electric appliances with deadly whirling blades that can turn anything into soup. Anything. I tried mine the other night on some black beans I was cooking for soup and it ground up the ham hock right along with the beans. Blew that bone to splinters. My mom is hoping someone will give Bud a regulation size Cuisinart for his birthday in February.
Fortunately, Bud and Jan have a good sense of humor about things and yesterday when I suggested there was a new show for the Food Network hidden in here somewhere, my mom jumped all over the idea. Can’t you see it? Filmed in a tiny Lake Superior cottage in the northernmost woods, in a tiny cluttered kitchen, Bud wearing an apron and the counter lined up with various blenders and food processors? Cream of bear soup, anyone?