Monday, August 15, 2011

On swimming

It's hot, y'all.

I warned you there would be a lot of complaining about the heat, right? Because it's HOT. Like, really, really hot. All the time. And muggy. So very, very muggy.

And here's one thing that pisses me off about this. Everyone told me all this humidity would be great for my skin. I expected to glow. So why do I have scaly patches spreading across my face? Oh, right. Because it's too frigging hot to go outside and soak up the humidity.

I spent one night at my friends place at the south end of the beach (farther away from me but, from what I understand, slightly preferred to the resorty madness in Myrtle Beach). We did make it to the beach. It was nice. Stiff salt breeze, hilarious people watching of mahogany-colored blond girls who will doubtless end up looking like old luggage one day. Waves. Honestly, if I lived near the beach, I imagine I'd go there with some regularity. And since I wear sunscreen, my dry lizard skin might go away. But a) I don't live near the beach and b) have I mentioned that I'm kind of afraid of swimming in the ocean?

It's not that I'm not a swimmer. I love swimming. I was on a swim team for awhile when I was a kid, and I actually would have been good if I'd had a drop of competitive spirit in my blood (I've since developed that drive, but not related to physical pursuits. For the only race I've ever participated in, a half marathon, my only goal was finishing. I don't even like competitive ping-pong. But get me on a monopoly board and I will make you my bitch - or pout when I lose).

It's not that I fear swimming in natural bodies of water, necessarily. I grew up swimming in rivers and lakes. I have very distinct memories of swimming in the Santiam River with my sister when I was a kid. There was one swift channel that the little kids were too scared to swim across, and I remember with pride the first time I made it. I was finally big enough to hang with my big sister and the older cousins on the far bank. My older cousins were awesome.

However, where I'm from, you do not swim in the ocean. First of all, it's cold. Year-round. Frigid. Numbing. There's also the fact that there's usually a giant, terrifying break far away, dangerous riptides, something called a sneaker wave, and great white sharks. But really, it's the cold. When you're a kid, you wade in until the water comes up to maybe your hips, you laugh and splash for about five minutes, daring your sister to go out a little father, then your feet turn blue so you return to your sandcastle. Before long, it's off to Moe's for some chowder. And that's if it's not raining on the day you make it to the beach, which it usually is, year-round.

My first experience swimming in the ocean was in Mexico when I was in my early 20s. I didn't know that when a wave was coming for your head you were supposed to dive under it, so I just closed my eyes and got knocked into the sand. When I recovered, my top was around my neck and my sunglasses were floating toward my boyfriend's dad. Sweet.

Plus. Jellyfish. Ugh.

While explaining the ins and outs and complications relating to my many excuses for taking constant shelter in the loving, frigid arms of central air, a friend asked me why I don't go swimming in the river near my house.

That's fucking hilarious.

Here's an illustrative anecdote: Roomie and I recently tried to take an early morning kayak trip on the Waccamaw River. Not only was it 90 degrees by 9 am, but the river is largely swamp. So, you know, gross. And the parts that aren't totally swampy are still blackwater. As in, the color of black tea. I know I've covered this, but it bears repeating. The Santiam, when you stand above it, is green, but when you're in the water, it's clear. You can't see your own boobs in blackwater. In the Santiam, or the Deschutes, you can watch trout swimming by. You can check out the periwinkles nestled in the rocks.

I hope the "where I come from" rant hasn't gotten old, but if you haven't been, have you at least seen pictures of Oregon? Just google Crater Lake. I'll give you a sec. Or, another of my favorites, Clear Lake. Crystal clear mountain runoff, kids. This is what I'm used to.

And the thing is, no one can say that there's nothing to fear in the blackwater! Snakes! Venemous ones! Vicious biting turtles! Fucking alligators! No, for real. We had to turn around on our little kayak outing last weekend when we saw a 6-footer ahead of us.

I'm not sure what to do except whine, moisturize, and wait for autumn. I'll be the one sitting inside with the blinds drawn, dreaming of scarves, sweaters, boots, and pumpkin pies.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review - Quaker instant grits

I didn't try grits for a very long time. I just wasn't really interested. They sound gross, for one. Just the name.

Then when grits were served to me, they had been cooked with water and not seasoned much. I didn't see the point. Grayish, goopy and grainy? I think I'll pass.

Then I started dating a southern boy (so many delightful stories begin with that sentence ... ). When I told him I didn't care for grits, he shook his head and explained that I hadn't had his grits.

Apparently, that was not a euphemism.

I now keep grits on hand, and make them as a breakfast or dinner side quite often. They're easy and good, and I usually add a bit of milk, cream or butter because what isn't better with butter and cream? He likes to spoon bacon grease in his. I recommend it.

So, when I moved to South Carolina, I was excited to check out the grits selection at the grocery store - they can sometimes be hard to find out west. You may not find any, or you may just find one kind. Out here, the grits section is bigger than the oatmeal section. And they make instant grits in little packets--just like the oatmeal my mom wouldn't buy for me when I was a kid.

Naturally, I had to try it out.

Flavors: American cheese, three cheese, cheddar cheese. I also plan to try the bacon-flavored variety.


Detail. Because I'm all about details.

 Difficulty: Can you figure out how to stir something and microwave it for 1 minute and 15 seconds? I hope so. This is a crazyshort cook time.

Nutrition: There's 100 calories in a packet, plus the calorie content of the milk - if you use it. So, not a lot. And there's no nutritional value really, unless you're looking for more carbs in your diet.

Taste: These are gross, y'all. I know, SHOCKING.

Why am I surprised? I don't know, I like those little Quaker oatmeal packets. They're like the candybar of breakfast grains. But these were extra gritty and hard, and I swear they had enough salt in them to preserve an entire ham. And it's not that I don't like fake cheese flavored powder. I'll eat a tub of cheeseballs, cheetos, and a box of Kraft mac and cheese (Kraft dinner to my Canadian friends).

My advice? Run far away from these things.

Unless you're one of the friends to whom I've mailed a novelty package of instagrits, in that case, YUMMY! Enjoy! They're a southern delicacy!