October 10, 1998
Potato Soup

Good morning, Dear Reader, and welcome to another Weekend In The Tree House (starring **SecraTerri** as "Herselves").  
I woke up this morning with a huge, inexplicable craving for ...

... potato soup.

Not just any potato soup, either. Certainly not that phlegm-in-a-can that Campbell's [gack] tries to pass off as "soup." And not that ridiculous frozen stuff that takes a year and a half to thaw, even when I have the hairdryer set on the "Blowtorch" setting.

No. What I'm talking about is real potato soup. The old-fashioned stuff, with celery and bacon and onions and a big buttload of chicken stock and healthy shit like that. The stuff that requires actual peeling and chopping and stirring. The stuff that I used to spend hours and hours making for The Ex and The Tots ... filling the house with wonderful smells, all afternoon long ... making me feel all warm and domestic and Donna Reed-like, as I lovingly filled their bowls with steaming aromatic healthy wonderfulness ...

(Just before they dumped it out and called Pizza Hut.)

Of course, I know what's prompting this sudden desire for potato soup: it's the change of the seasons. All of a sudden summer is over, here in Oregon, and autumn has landed with a thud, and I find myself instinctively craving all my favorite autumn comforts.  Like ... socks. And thick library books. And new crayons. And central heating.

And soup.

The thing I love most about the changing of the seasons is the fact that it's always such a surprise, regardless of how many times you've experienced it before. When you're in the middle of a blistering hot summer, for instance, you totally forget how autumn feels ... how the light changes, how the air feels different on your skin, how everything smells, what the leaves sound like. So when autumn finally rolls around, it's brand-new to you, all over again. And it happens with the arrival of each new season. It's sort of like receiving four wonderful surprise *gifts* each year. I could never live in a place that didn't have four distinctive seasons.  Like Arizona. Or Mars. 

(But I digress.)

So, here I sit with this raging craving for soup ... and absolutely nothing in my cupboards/refrigerator/medicine cabinet with which to make it. Which means only one thing.

Bus trip.

I'm going to have to find the broken black umbrella and run a fork through my hair and throw on some shoes and dig under the sofa cushions for $1.05 bus fare and trudge up the crooked alley to the bus stop and ride up the hill to Thriftway and buy the ingredients for potato soup ... or go absofuckingtively insane, sitting here thinking about it.  Unfortunately  --  and this is hard to admit, let alone to post on a website for the entire universe to giggle over  --  I'm not sure exactly how much money I have in my checking account at the moment. I believe I have about eight bucks, give or take a dollar. That's enough to buy some celery and a bag of potatoes and an onion, anyway. There might even be enough left to spring for some bacon ... who knows? But I won't know until I get there.

The other embarrassing "Unfortunately" is (swallowing hard as I type this) that I'm not sure I entirely trust myselves alone in a grocery store, at this particular point in my life. Celery and potatoes and onions and bacon are innocuous enough. But what if I'm tempted to buy something ... bad?

Like candles ? (Oregon City Fire Department: "Oh wonderful.")

Or a National Enquirer?

Or a 50 gallon drum of Industrial Strength Cheap Chablis ... ?

Oh well.  Off I go. I think I can handle this. I HOPE I can handle this.

Dear Reader: "You can handle this."

To Be Continued ....

Later That Evening:

Well ... I "handled" it. In a manner of speaking.
I didn't come home with any cheap chab, at least ... or with much of anything else. Sigh.

I do not in fact have "about eight bucks, give or take a dollar" left in my checking account ... I have minus thirty-eight dollars and seventy-nine cents. I stood there at the ATM in the pouring rain, with the broken umbrella in one hand and my soggy shopping list in the other hand, and I watched the little numbers twinkle accusingly onto the screen, and I let out a stream of expletives that caused the construction workers building the new Red Soils office complex across the street to blush like uniformed schoolgirls. 

And then I kicked the ATM machine, hard ... just for fun.

I'd forgotten all about the stupid second AOL account ... the one I opened for The Tots a few months ago so we could all be online at the same time ... the one I was planning to cancel because I can't actually AFFORD two AOL accounts (but hadn't yet gotten around to exterminating). $26.95, sucked right out of my checking account, like a fine Electrolux sucking kitty litter from the carpet.

"Now what?" I asked myselves.

"Guess we're gonna hafta use the laundry money," Myselves replied.

Fortunately  --  or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it  --  I'd had the presence of mind to scoop up my precious stash of laundry quarters as I was leaving the Tree House for the bus stop ... just in case.  Even as I stood there Dialoguing With Myselves, I could feel the weight of $8.50 worth of quarters in my coat pocket, and I knew that there still might be potato soup in my immediate future (if not clean underwear).  I had to dramatically alter the shopping list, of course. The optimistic "bag of potatoes," for instance, was downsized to two medium Idaho russets. The Cranky Young Produce Guy refused to allow me to break off one lone stalk of celery from the bunch  -- I had to buy the whole damn thing for eighty-something cents  --  but onions were cheap (and HUGE) so I bought two. Bacon, obviously, was out of the question, but I figured I could use the ancient jar of Bac-O Bits in my fridge. (Or chocolate chips, maybe.)  Milk and margarine were unavoidable essentials  --  so was a loaf of bread  --  but I bought all store-brands and got off fairly cheap.

That left only chicken broth, which (I discovered to my horror) was sixty nine cents per can. Luckily, just at that moment I happened to spot a big display of packaged ramen noodle mixes  -- one of those Top Ramen knock-off brands  --  ten for a buck. Perfect. I could buy one of those for a dime, toss the annoying little wooden noodles into the garbage and use the seasoning packet for my soup.

I walked out of the store with everything I needed and still had $2.25 worth of laundry quarters in my pocket. And I never even got CLOSE to the cheap chab aisle.

Well. That part is not strictly true. I got close. Some idiot Store Planner, in his INFINITE WISDOM, decided to plunk a big display of Almaden Cellars right in the middle of the SOUP aisle. I had to shut my eyes and walk around it. But that's as close as I got, I swear.

The candle aisle, however,  is another story ...

To Be Continued ...



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