Jul 22, 2014

A Summer Tradition

This past weekend we went to a Steam and Gas Engine/Tractor Show.

Have you ever heard of such a thing?

 One of my little cousins and my Grandma's John Deere H.

 My uncle driving Grandpa's John Deere D

As I wandered around the grounds of this particular show, which hasn't changed much, if at all, in recent decades, I had a sudden feeling that most of the world probably has no idea that "tractor shows" or "steam and gas engine shows" exist.

Hard for me to imagine, as I attended this particular show on the day before I was born, and many of the summers since.

A tractor and engine show comes about when a bunch of people who own tractors and engines load them all up on trailers, truck them over to the prearranged spot, and arrange them in neat displays in a field or fairgrounds.

Then tractor and engine enthusiasts spend a weekend driving each other's tractors around--oftentimes there's quite a bit of buying and selling and trading of one engine or another. At this show, huge steam engines roll steadily around the field periodically. Most people wear the logos of their favorite brand of tractors, and you'll see plenty of cheeky slogans among the different groups, such as "Why farm half when you could FARMALL?" and "If it ain't red, leave it in the shed."

Did you know that brand wars existed between tractor fans? I imagine it's somewhat like fans of different sports teams. My family is a John Deere family, which is why you might notice the preponderance of green and yellow. My Grandma had her 1941 John Deere H at the show and my Grandpa had his 1931 John Deere D, so there were plenty of rides to be had for all of us.

Engines and tractors aren't the only draw, and driving them around and talking about their horsepower isn't the only thing to do--in the opinion of this not-particularly-mechanically interested girl, that's a good thing. There's also a blacksmith at work, and a running sawmill to inspect (am I the only person who instantly thinks of the tragic accident that took place in Lemony Snicket's The Miserable Mill every time I see a sawmill?)

Activities go on throughout the day--there's a tractor parade, and a tractor pull (which involves tractors pulling a huge weight, to see which tractor can pull the heaviest weight the furthest--with the strongest tractor winning.) This year was the first year they had a pedal tractor pull. Angel and I joined in....because how many adventures can you have if you don't join in?

Only three women did the pedal tractor pull, and I placed 3rd...if that tells you anything about my capacity to pedal a tractor while pulling 313 pounds behind me. But still...I got a 3rd place ribbon!

A lot more men did the pull, and Angel placed 4th from last...to be fair, the guys who won it were a good 100 lbs. bigger than Angel and he didn't really stand a chance when it came to brute force.

My favorite part of the show is the model radio control airplane show they have the in evening--it boasts quirky model planes like lawnmowers and flying John Deere tractors and irons...another key feature is excessively corny jokes and explosions. They also have specialty planes, some with real jet engines and helicopters that can do some pretty awesome tricks. They've been doing pretty much exactly the same script since they started the show, but I always think it's fun to watch!

There's the lawnmower, about to take off! And below, you can hopefully make out that it's a plane in the shape of a truck:

Have you ever attended a tractor show and experienced this little piece of culture?

Jul 21, 2014

Angelisms, part 7

Scene: Angel, carrying his laptop, walks past me and into the kitchen announcing:
"I'm just going to make myself some chocolate chip cookies."

Knowing that my husband can cook, but has never actually baked, I volunteer to help him in his sudden quest for home-baked goods. He took me up on  a suggestion of making "the big cookie" as my family always called it, slightly easier than actual chocolate chip cookies.

Scene: Playing Boggle

Angel tries to pass off gleet and gile as real words.


Scene: Hanging out on the couch.

Angel: "So-and-so {his coworker} has a TON of chest hair."

Rachel: "Umm, why and how do you know that?"

Angel: "Because I asked him whether or not he had a lot of chest hair."

Scene: Making lunch together

Angel: "I was just thinking about the question "What object would I dis-invent in order to ruin my Rachy's life?" "

Rachel {In horror}: "WHY were you thinking about that question? That's awful!"

Angel: "I decided on the perfect answer: Malaysia."

Rachel: "You cannot dis-invent Malaysia and you should not be thinking about how to ruin my life."

Angel: "Well, what would you dis-invent in order to ruin my life?"

Rachel: "Chocolate."


Scene: Chatting in the car.

Angel: "So, I was thinking when we get to China, I should introduce myself to everyone with a nickname."

Rachel: "Why, exactly?"

Angel: "China's like a fresh start, so maybe I should have a new name."

Rachel: "What nickname were you thinking of?"

Angel: "I'm thinking either Ang or AJ."

Rachel: "Ang rhymes with mange, so I don't like it. What is the J in AJ supposed to be for?"

Angel: "Angel Junior, of course!"

Rachel: "Okay.... I vote for sticking with Angel. Unless we want to give you an entirely different name, like Geoffrey."

Angel does not want his new nickname to be Geoffrey.


Scene: Angel had made smoothies for us to take to the park for a picnic. I had suggested putting them in our thermos-type water bottles. When packing for the picnic, I couldn't find the smoothies in the fridge.

Rachel: "Hey, where are the smoothies you made?"

Angel: "Right here! [in my Rubbermaid storage bowls that usually house leftovers, this is why I didn't recognize them as containing smoothies] I wanted to make a LOT and I didn't think the water bottles were big enough, we'll just pack these and drink the smoothie with a spoon."

You gotta give him points for creativity...I'm pretty sure it would never occur to me to bring a smoothie to the park in a Rubbermaid storage bowl and drink it with a spoon...but hey, if that means I can have more smoothie than will fit in a water bottle, that's a good thing!


Scene: An 8 year old kid asks Angel if I (Rachel) am his mom.

Angel: "No, she's my grandma."

(By the way...I am not even remotely old enough to be Angel's mom. Or grandma.)


Scene: During a lull in the conversation. With a friend, coworker, or family member. This has happened several times, but Angel always asks the question to a married man.

Angel: "So, did your wife have a lot of boyfriends before she married you?"

(The response is usually spluttering, laughter, or "What kind of question is that?)


So, everyone's funniest Angel just had a big birthday. His 30th, to be exact.

We went to his favorite restaurant on his birthday, and discovered that Culver's was born the same time he was! 
My secret goal in my 22 while 22 post last year was to create a surprise of some sort for Angel's 30th birthday. I had many different ideas for surprises throughout the year, from big gifts to vacations to parties, but eventually settled on one that took our plans to move just days after his birthday (and our upcoming vacation) into account: his surprise was a little black notebook. I spent the last 6 months coordinating its travel from one friend or family member to another with orders for them to write out a memory of Angel in honor of his birthday. The result is a seemingly ordinary notebook with a compilation of over 30 stories from his family, mine, and our friends handwritten inside. Angel said it was the best birthday present he'd ever received, so I'd count that a success. I also asked my grandma to secretly make him a Texas Sheet Cake, so he got a surprise dessert, as well!

By the way, he got me curious. Is it normal to contemplate what you would 'dis-invent' in order to ruin your spouse's life and if so what would you dis-invent?

Jul 18, 2014

Meals for the Rest of Your Life

 Roti Bawang--the breakfast of my dreams

I think it's time for another icebreaker question involving a hypothetical scenario. I truly believe that such questions are important for understanding society and building strong relationships. And yeah, I ask them probably more often than the average person does...

Today, I'm asking, if you could only eat 5 meals for the rest of your life, which would they be?

I'm just going to go ahead and completely disregard health and basic nutrition in my answer. I realize that these five meals are probably not the building blocks of a balanced diet. I'm going with my absolute favorite meals in the whole wide world:

1. Butter chicken masala with naan bread and papadam as appetizer.

No explanation necessary. Heaven on a plate.

2. Roti telur bawang with curry

Okay, explanation probably necessary. It's a kind of fried flatbread (roti) filled with eggs (telur) and onions (bawang) and you dip it in curry....this is the kind of food I literally dream about. Best served with ais limon (iced water with sugar and limes) to drink.

3. Raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry crisp

Totally not a meal, but you eat dessert for a meal sometimes, right? This is the best dessert of all time.

4. Popcorn fried chicken with mashed potatoes and ham gravy and steamed broccoli

But only the kind I make. No one else makes fried chicken like I do--popcorn style (tiny bites and boneless) and very spicy (okay, fine, my mom's and my brother's fried chicken qualify, too, but that's it). I almost never have ham gravy (because how often is someone cooking a ham?) but this is my ideal meal, so what I say goes.

5. Black pepper chicken, with a fried egg and onion side dish, with a bok choy side dish, with fried rice.

This would be what I would order at your typical sit-down Chinese restaurant in Asia.

Those are my 5 meals. Unfortunately, I can't even make all of them at home! Making roti telur bawang is an art that I'll never be able to master. My mouth is watering at the mere thought of these dinners. It's probably obvious, my weakness is fried foods and I would happily eat no other meat besides chicken for the rest of my life.

I asked Angel what 5 meals he'd choose, and he said he wanted my fried rice, his mom's ceviche, his dad's steaks, his own hamburgers, and tandoori chicken with rice. What 5 meals would you choose?

Jul 16, 2014



I don't understand it, but Angel likes sponges. My family never used sponges for cleaning or for washing dishes when I was growing up. We used washcloths, which I think are a better option because they are washable and reusable and they don't sit there staying damp all day and collecting germs.

But Angel likes sponges. Not only does he like sponges, but he likes them so much that the only way he'll wash dishes is if there is a sponge to wash them with, rather than a washcloth. I do not like washcloths enough to insist that all dishes in our house be washed with a washcloth, because that would mean I would wash all of the dishes. So, I always make sure that we keep a good supply of sponges handy. And I also make sure to change sponges and throw away the old ones before they get gross. I'm slightly suspicious that if it were up to Angel, he's just keep using the same sponge till it fell apart.

Sometimes adult men remind me very much of the men I knew in college. And sometimes, a little compromise is part of the privileges of being married.

What have you chosen to compromise on?

Jul 14, 2014

My Strangest Job

I know this is a stretch of a topic for an outfit post, but I was looking at these photos and thinking about how cotton dresses get wrinkly the minute you put them on, which, of course, led me to think about my days as a professional ironing girl.

What is the strangest job you've ever had?

Some jobs seem to make sense for certain people, and others not so much. But it seems that the vast majority of us have to pick up at least one or two jobs that don't quite suit our personalities at some point in our lives because of the simple fact that life costs money. For example, it makes me giggle to think that once upon a time Angel worked at Target.

Probably the most unexpected job I've ever held was that of "ironing girl" for a family wealthy enough to hire separate "ironing girls" and "cleaning girls." And yes, that's what my employer called me, "Ironing Girl."

Now, on the surface of it, it's not that odd of a job for me. I grew up with 6 younger siblings--I am very skilled at just about any household chore, and I am especially skilled at ironing. I'm fast and thorough at ironing, and I liked that the job didn't require a lot of commitment, just 3 hours once a week, and that it paid well over minimum wage.

But the experience of being someone's "ironing girl" was, I must say, rather a strange one. Every week I showed up, and headed to the basement to iron the rack of clothes, tablecloths, pajamas, etc., that would be ready for ironing (Yes, I regularly ironed pajamas and t-shirts). Sometimes my boss would sit in a chair next to the ironing board and talk to me while I ironed--mostly about her children and about how out of all the ironing girls she's ever had, she'd never had anyone that was as skillful as I was at the job. That was a constant theme in her conversation--that I was excellent at ironing. So you can imagine that it came as a shock to me that she fired me, twice.

The first time, she called me up on the day I was supposed to come and iron and told me that she could no longer have me working for her, goodbye. The next day, she called me again and told me that she was so sorry, she must have been crazy, and that of course she still needed me to come and iron for her. So I continued working for her. I knew when I got married that I would no longer be able to be her "ironing girl" because moving in with Angel would mean I would live about an hour away from her house. I told her that I needed to quit, giving her several weeks notice, and at first she responded that she would be very sad to lose me. However, the day before I was supposed to come over for my last ironing session the week before my wedding, she called me and told me that my services were no longer required, making no mention of the fact that I had already planned to quit.

For three semesters of college, I was an "ironing girl," and I did a pretty good job of it. I have to admit, the first time she fired me, I cried. I was 18 and had never been fired before, and I thought it was really strange. But the second time, I didn't. I was happy to put my career in ironing behind me!

So, what strange job have you held?