Category Archives: food

Circle of Life, Bitches

There is nothing cute about mouse shit in your pantry.

There is nothing sweet about the staccato scrape of their hard little feet in your drywall, rousing you from a dreamless sleep. The fuckers may be fuzzy, but they are neither adorable nor benign. There is a reason they are called pests.

And they must be controlled.

“I think I heard a mouse in the house,” I said to Pat as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and made his way to the kitchen.

“Did you see it?”

“No. Just heard the little tap-tap, and I looked for it, but then it stopped.”

“Probably just the ice in the refrigerator.”

I should have known better than to bring it up before coffee, but I’d been sitting with this invisible interloper for two hours, listening to it rummage through the walls as I shook the curtains, crawled beneath the sink and shined my iPhone flashlight along the dust bunnies haunting our baseboards. The next day, I heard it again and uncovered hard evidence.

“There really is a mouse,” I told Pat. “I looked behind the couch. There’s poop.”

He grunted. It was 6:30.

Days later, I returned home from a holiday happy hour with friends. The whine of our shop-vac greeted me at the door. The closet hung open, disgorging heavy coats and fleece jackets on the dining room floor. In the living room, sofa cushions tumbled across the carpet. The TV and its spaghetti of cables and wires hung out of their nook.

The back door gaped open.

“I saw that mouse,” Pat said. “Sumbitch jumped out of the coat closet and ran right between Coolidge’s legs!”

Coolidge, our 117-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, was nonplussed. His sidekick Winslow, the vicious pitbull, cowered in the kitchen. The game was afoot: Pat wanted to use the sonic cannon of the shop-vac and the gentle nudging of a broom to encourage the mouse to surrender peacefully and leave through the back door. I wanted to get a shovel.

Instead, we chased it out from under one set of sofa cushions into the pantry then under the refrigerator then across to the dishwasher and behind the stove.

The dogs had long gone to bed.

“I want to call an exterminator.”

“It’s just one mouse.”

“How do you know? There was shit every where we looked. It could be an infestation. I want to bring down a toxic cloud of death on this fucker and all his four-legged friends. I want him and all his kind to think twice before they ever cross our threshold again.”

“I’ll get some humane traps and take care of it.”

The humane traps were set underneath the sink. The next day, a daisy-chain of turds surrounded it. Pat asked me to give it a little more time before I called in air support.

A week later, my birthday arrived, and Pat gave me the greatest gift of all.

The motherfucking circle of life, bitches.

The bird is a kestrel falcon and it rains holy terror from the skies in the most joyous and beautiful illustration of predation I’ve ever witnessed. Take that, mouse, and enjoy your delicious treat, falcon. You and your kind are welcome at our house any time.

SNAP Judgment – Week in Review

Peanut butter foldover. Banana. Boiled egg. It's what's for dinner... and lunch... and breakfast.
Peanut butter foldover. Banana. Boiled egg. It’s what’s for dinner… and lunch… and breakfast… and snacks.

On Sunday, October 12, my SNAP Challenge came to an end. For the folks scoring at home, I had $27 to feed myself for the entire week: The same amount a single adult receives for a weekly food budget on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps). That’s about $1.28 per cibum or $3.86 per diem.

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The Five Stages of SNAP Challenge

1) Denial and Isolation: On Saturday when I unloaded my $27 worth of groceries, I smugly wondered: How am I going to eat all of this food? By myself? Seriously: A POUND of black beans, a whole head of cabbage, a 5-pound sack of potatoes, two boxes of spaghetti, eight chicken-thighs and 18 eggs. Eighteen! I didn’t even know what I’d eat first – the chicken or the eggs? I filled my crockpot to the brim with hearty, homemade black-bean soup. Parting it out into six massive servings, I figured I should just go ahead and freeze some since I’d probably be eating it for the next three weeks. Sure, I was light on the fresh fruits and vegetables, but still: $27 can buy a lot of food, especially with coupons. I got this in the bag (Actually it was three reusable bags).

According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who identified the original Five Stages of Loss and Grief, denial is “a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.”

Make that pangs. Hunger pangs.

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Oh, SNAP! Coffee is food

Chicken and potatoes. Brown: It's what's for dinner.
Chicken and potatoes. Brown: It’s what’s for dinner.

I stumbled out of the gate on Opening Day of the Arizona SNAP Challenge. At 5:02 AM, I trudged into the kitchen. Made the coffee. Drank the coffee. Realized the coffee was not in my $27 weekly food budget.

Talk about your  wake-up call: When I went shopping on Saturday at my neighborhood Safeway, I thought only about what I’d be eating this week. It took me about an hour to spend $27… which is about as much time as it normally takes me to spend $270. I kept adding (proteins, starches) and subtracting (fresh fruits, vegetables), trying to see into the future of servings that could stretch to next Monday.

Thinking about how I’d be eating on $1.27 per meal, I never considered what I’d be drinking! Because you cannot use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase alcohol, I knew I could abstain from booze for a week, but I hadn’t figured on skipping the one beverage I am truly addicted to: COFFEE.

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SNAP Decisions

$29.06 doesn't buy a lot, and I have to give the pears to Pat to fit under the $27 limit.
$29.06 doesn’t buy a lot, and I have to give the pears to Pat to fit under the $27 limit.
  • Two 28-ounce cans of tomatoes.
  • One 14.5-ounce can of sweet corn.
  • A 1-pound sack of dried black beans.
  • A 1-pound sack of brown rice.
  • 3.95 pounds of chicken thighs.
  • Three bananas.
  • Three Bartlett pears.
  • One head of green cabbage.
  • One 15-ounce jar of extra crunchy Skippy Natural Super-Chunk peanut butter (lower in sugar and fat).
  • 18 large eggs.
  • One gallon of 2% milk.
  • One 5-pound sack of russet potatoes.
  • One loaf of wheat bread.
  • Two, 16-ounce boxes of Barilla pasta (Yes, I realize their chairman is a homophobe… but the pasta was on sale for 79 cents a box. We all have to make sacrifices).

Grand total: $29.06. Damn you, Bartlett pears. I knew I shouldn’t have, but I wanted a little something extra in the fresh fruits-and-vegetables column. Suffice it to say, I’m giving those sweet treats to my sweet husband, Patrick, when I begin the 2014 Arizona SNAP Challenge on Monday.

The goal of the SNAP Challenge is to live for one week on the same food budget of an Arizonan on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as “food stamps.” For a single person, that’s $27. Per hebdomadem, not per diem. I can easily spend $27 on a single meal – and this week, I have $1.28 per meal.

Sadly, I could not persuade Patrick to join me on this journey in order to score a luxurious extra $18 on our food allowance.

Continue reading SNAP Decisions