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A Mixed Ending

July has been an especially hard month for me. I know. I know. Life is what we make of it. Our attitudes define everything. If we have a positive outlook, positive things happen. God is in control.

Platitudes make the world go round.

If there’s one certainty in the universe, it is that I am frequently wrong. I’ve been wrong about people; wrong in things I’ve supported; wrong in decisions I’ve made; wrong in actions I’ve chosen to take or allowed to flutter by.

I’m grateful that, in the midst of all this wrongheadedness, at least I’m not wrong about a few of the people in my life. The joking I’ve done on this blog this week has served to mask bereft disappointment. Something that I desperately wanted, even profoundly needed, didn’t happen for me.

I don’t always get what I want.

Between all the tears I’ve shed, my friends have been there – listening as I talked in circles; righteously angry at what seemed unfair; cracking witty jokes in my lowest moments, engineered to hit my oddball funny bone; and being kind enough not to point out how a red face and swollen eyes aren’t a good look for me.

True friends are like breathing air. You helped me more than you know this week, and I thank you from the depths of my bruised, not broken, heart.

The Beauty in Boiled Peanuts

My husband MTM is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up eating things like frozen custard and cheese curds and Friday Fish Fry. Amazingly, he is a hot, slender man in spite of that early diet.

On the other hand, I have never lived north of the Mason-Dixon line. While I love to get out of the South, I would probably spontaneously combust if I tried to live anywhere else on earth. My Southern genes would likely attack themselves trying to recreate the hot, humid Hell I’ve always lived in.

I grew up eating all the usual Southern fried suspects – fried chicken; BBQ (vinegar base only – everything else is crap); shrimp and grits; fried okra; fluffy biscuits. I could go on and on and on.

Boiled peanuts have to be at the top of my list of things that make me feel Southern. Hot out of the pot, their salty goodness is next-to-impossible to top. When the hot water runs down my arms and I’m covered in wet peanut shells, I am always supremely happy. I cannot fathom anyone else feeling differently about something so decadent.

Only MTM cilantros boiled peanuts. In fact, one of the biggest arguments in our marriage occurred at a Charleston RiverDogs game over the issue of peanuts. He wanted roasted; I demanded boiled. A stalemate ensued as we purchased enough peanuts to feed our entire stadium section – mine boiled; his roasted.

What was worse, we tore into them at once, loudly proclaiming with mouths-full-of-peanuts why one selection was superior to the other. That MTM eats his roasted peanuts SHELLS AND ALL only added to the dramatic impact of the escalating carnage. I mean, I had never in my whole Southern life seen another human being eat a peanut shell. WHAT do they teach people about eating in Milwaukee?

Our dapper friend Ray Huff quietly came over, sat down next to me, pointedly looked at MTM, and started eating my boiled peanuts with me. “Some people just don’t get Southern,” he said conspiratorially.

Maybe so. But everyone should get boiled peanuts.

When I last made boiled peanuts, I did it this way:

Bring water to a boil in a large, deep pot. Add enough salt to the water to make it briny, anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 cup. The amount of salt is contingent upon how salty you want them. I prefer less salty, but some people prefer more. Stir to dissolve.

Wash 4 – 5 pounds of raw peanuts, leaving the shells on. When the water boils, place the peanuts in the water. Cover, stirring occasionally, and let boil for at least 3 hours, though I prefer the peanuts very soft, which usually takes at least 3 1/2 hours.

Remove from water and let cool just enough to be able to not burn your fingers when you rip into them.

The Game of Chance

Bad puns are something I never truly appreciated until I met my husband. I adore bad puns now, because I have numerous people in my life, including my husband MTM, who entertain me with them. Last night was a feast of bad puns served up by several of the men in my life.

All of these bad puns occurred on my Twitter page over the following post, made by me: My friend Chance’s wife just had a boy, also named Chance. MTM actually had me ask him if they will call the kid “2nd Chance.” #badpun

Chance is my oldest friend. I’ve known him since I was in 5th grade and he was in 6th grade. His wife had their third child, a 10 pound 12 ounce toddler, I mean newborn boy, on July 22. This is Chance’s first boy, so please forgive him for being more excited about this event than he was about his two poor little girls.

Anyway, I tweeted the #badpun above, and within five minutes my Twitter stream was full of #badpuns.

@carnellm: If they had another kid and named him something different, he would be “Not a Chance”!!

Also @carnellm: Then there is the poor picked on chubby kid – “Fat Chance”

And again @carnellm: And if they were all very, very good and well behaved? “Not a Chance in Hell”! :)

@jaredwsmith then enters the conversation with: And if they had another kid who was a bit small, they could call him “Slight Chance.”

@carnellm yet again: And every once in a while, when he bathed, there would be a “Chance of Showers“.

@andrawatkins (that’s me in the world of Twitter): At least he did not have this child though a “Chance Encounter.”

@carnellm (he’s a punny guy): Ok, I liked Chance Encounter. And when they lose the remote control? Maybe they will find it “By Chance.”

@kennethandrews now enters this sick, twisted game with this one: And if she had a kid with the actor who plays Dwight from The Office she could name him “Chance of Rainn.”

@carnellm shoots back: Excellent! And if they took a ride in his British truck, they would be in the Chance-Lorry. Ha!

@kennethandrews (and I really soiled myself here): when “Not a Chance” cheats death one day he could legally change his name to “Not a Ghost of a Chance.”

@carnellm: And at the family reunions, there would be many Chance Encounters.

@kennethandrews: If him and his father had Robert and Roger as middle names they would be the Chances R.

@carnellm: And if he were French, he would be “Bonne Chance.”

@jaredwsmith: It’s getting late. “To sleep, perChance to dream…

@carnellm: Poor kid though. When his parents died he didn’t get a thing. They left “Nothing to Chance.”

This whole stream is one of the things I still love about Twitter. It can be so organically, immediately hilarious. Thanks guys, for reminding me in such a brilliantly funny way.

How to Read This Wacky Blog

I Cilantro Cilantro. I don’t know what this blog is actually about, other than keeping me honest about not blurting out the H-word hundreds of times per day. In a way, it’s a really easy path to get to know me, because this is pretty much who I am, warts and all.

I don’t take myself seriously, which must be blatantly obvious by now to even casual readers. I like to laugh, even if it is at myself. Sometimes, I get woefully down, and I try to be honest about that part of me here, too. I enjoy reading the stories that others have taken the time to post here, every single one of them, both in the body of the blog and in the comments.

Everyone doesn’t have to like me, but there’s more here than a first impression or a quick pass can communicate. That’s likely because I’m wacky, and in no way an assertion that I’m deep.

With that in mind, for those of you who read this blog regularly, there are some key markers that might help you savor it even more. Or, roll your eyes more. Or, gnash your teeth and scream “Why is she persecuting me with ANOTHER blog post about nothing?” If it makes you feel anything, and I mean anything, then I’ve accomplished something.

There are links imbedded in every blog post. Joy, the editor at WordPress, gave me lots of helpful feedback on this blog a couple of months ago, and including more links is something she will avidly suggest to any serious blogger. The links look like this, and when you click them, they will open a new page or a photo. Some of the links are funnier than the writing, particularly in this piece, “Inception’s Dream of the Architect.” In other instances, I include links to more detailed information than I can possibly convey in a few hundred word blog post. So, click the links. Rest assured that I will *never* link to somewhere that you wouldn’t want to go.

Some of my most frequent commenters are awesome bloggers in their own right. It pays to read the comments. On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone contribute a comment that eclipsed my post for the day or took the conversation in a strange but lovely direction. Those are the posts that make my month. Click through their names to see what they may be saying elsewhere on the web. You may find several other people you want to know better.

Unless time gets away from me, I always read and reply to your comments. I reply to them individually, not in groups and batches, because I am always so humbled that anyone would care enough to take the time to read this blog or contribute anything to it. Sometimes, I read them more than once because they’re just so amazing, like Jason Ogden’s comment here or Amber Deutsch’s comment here.

If you’re reading this in any other format, please help me by making your comments on the blog. The comments help carry on the conversation that the post has started. If people can’t see a great comment that you made on Facebook or Twitter, they can’t respond to it on the blog. So many of your comments are witty and amazing, and every one of them deserves to be read by this little community.

I don’t know whether writing every day is making me a better writer, but it is enriching my life by getting to know the people who visit here, and it is, slowly but surely, making me a better person. Your reading, your feedback, your compliments and your concerns all enrich me. Thank you.

The Exquisite Tastiness of a Flat White

This whole post  came off of Twitter. Sometimes, that happens, my friends and sometime readers. But, a flat white is too tasty a concoction to be ignored by a wanna-be blogger.

Because I actually read things posted  by my Twitter-verse peeps, I noticed that one of my friends, @thebrandbuilder, is apparently in Australia as I type. So, this post is dedicated to having everyone drink the kool-aid that is a flat white, in honor of his visit to the AU.

A little over six years ago, I went to Australia on my honeymoon. It was not a pretty journey, people. Two days of travel, on the heels of being married by Mayor Joe, likely had my poor husband wondering WHAT exactly he had vowed his life (or whatever portion thereof) away to. Scary wife with no sleep equalled just plain freaking frightening as we landed in Sydney to begin the journey that is the rest of our lives together.

No matter. He disappeared to get cash from the money machine (or whatever it’s called there), and I stared off into space like a sleep deprived lunatic. After a few minutes, he reappeared with – get this – a Krispy Kreme doughnut and a Starbucks coffee. I fly for two days for such delicacies, I’m thinking as I inhale all of it at once.

We take a cab to our hotel, on the Circular Quay overlooking the Harbour Bridge. Because it is 9:30am, I would be ridiculous to go to bed (though I desperately want to), so we leave our luggage and try to find a coffee, something that will let us know that we are on the other side of the earth from where we began.

We wander into some random coffee making establishment, and I spy something on the board called a flat white. I don’t care what it is. I just order it. I’ve never heard of it, and if I cilantro it, I can just learn my lesson and try something else next time.

Only, the flat white is amazing. It is exquisite. Utterly delightful. I have them almost every day for fifteen days, sometimes more than once per day in my caffeine inhaling “I may never have this again” frenzy.

I return home, and people look at me like I am insane when I order a flat white. They actually shove my “latte” to me across the coffee bar as if I’m some sort of coffee pervert who needs to get a life.

I still cannot get a decent flat white in the United States, though I keep trying. And, offending people. Regularly.

Luckily, flat whites are all the rage in London, where I went for Rotary Friendship Exchange. That means by sometime in 2011 or 2012, they will be the “brand new thang coffee drink” in the United States. Maybe, finally, over seven years later, I can enjoy a flat white on my home soil without any ugly looks from the snotty barista.

One can only hope……….


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