December 30, 2008

All I got for Christmas was a carcass...

sort of...
I did get a beautiful stainless steel pot, a comfy fleece blanket, a beercentric dining experience voucher, mugs, and a book-the 10th muse: My life in food.

After midnight mass on Christmas, I stayed up to make two different soups for my family's Christmas gathering. Nothing says Christmas like chestnuts apparently, and nothing says Feliz Navidad like some Chili. Right? Right?Just agree with me...So I decided to make both.

The chestnut soup was a struggle. Have you ever roasted chestnuts? It sucks. Chestnuts suck.
Like the song. Hate the nut. I couldn't get the nut to crack perfectly out of the shell. I was scraping my hands on the shells nonstop. I think I even got a splinter. Note that nowhere in the glossary of the joy of cooking, do they mention splinters, thus that was my first and last chestnut roasting experience.

I was stirring my chili around 5 am when I heard the worst noise. It was a shoulder shivering barking. I was alarmed. Intruder? Rabid dog? I lowered my cheesy christmas carols on digital cable, double checked the locks on my doors, and transferred my chili to the crock pot.

I eventually went to sleep to dream of sugarplums dancing in my head and woke up around 10 am to move my car. Because if there was a Philadelphia resident that would be scrooged by the parking authority on Christmas- we all know who he or she is.

I had not 2, not 3, but 4 loads of laundry to retrieve from my laundry room which is in the basement of my building. I have to go down my fire escape to get there. This is actually kind of frustrating as I often drop things on the way back up-sometimes dish towels and sometimes unmentionables.

As I approach my basement, I find my trash has been ripped apart. Aha... thus the disrupting dog noise.
It's sort of a nuisance on Christmas morning, but as to not upset my neighbors- I figured I would go up get a new trashbag, some gloves and deal with it.

But then...
there was something more important to deal with.
A 10-12 pound dead beast of a miscellaneous massacred animal two feet away from me, blocking my entrance to my newly cleaned clothes.
It was a fresh kill. Eyes staring right through me, with teeth-savage enough to make mince meat out of me. I had never felt so inferior to something 1/10 my size.
1/10 my size and dead.

I walked away immediately. I used the front entrance of my apartment instead.
I immediately called my sister and told her of the murder scene.

I have had some very interesting things happen to me over the years on Christmas day.
Like the time I started a fire in high school. And tried to put it out with napkins...only increasing the blaze. Or the time I got stiffed on a two hundred dollar check.
But nothing like this. I had to be at my brother's house by 3. And my train left for Connecticut at 5:15 the next morning.

So I started researching animal removal services online. One of the sites was teeming with photos of dead animals. Great. Him again. It did help me to identify my carcass though.
I decided that the victim was a opposum. Jenny hobbs told me she spotted one on our fire escape once.

Nobody could come out to the next day. This didn't surprise me. But certainly didn't help me.
I needed to take care of this before I left for my brothers house. I was desperate and a bit delirious, having hardly slept.

I call the cops. She thought I was crazy. She literally said to me, "Do you think we do this? Do you actually think our job is to clean up dead animals off of private property? Because it isn't."

She told me. So now I've offended the philadelphia police department, and I still have a dead opposum blocking me from my laundry.

A couple more hours go by. I fall more and more in love with my Chili. This time made with ground pork, Chicken breast and Old Rasputin stout. I used a bit more spices and it wasn't as sweet as my last one.

I call everyone in my family. I even mentioned to my sister- that I had hallucinations of opposums. She asked me if I was on drugs. Great. Now I am dealing with the removal of a massacred animal and my sister thinks I'm on an lsd trip gone awfully wrong.

I get a call from Jenny Hobbs- that her brother, my soon to be hero- John Hobbs had to redeem himself with the family after bailing on Christmas Eve. And what better way to seek forgiveness that to come to my abode, shovel in hand and help the damsel in distress.

He arrived about an hour later. I gave him gloves and some trash bags...I stayed upstairs but left the back door open to communicate. As he approached the backyard bastard I heard him say,"Oh my god." Yeah, it was like that. Finally I had someone to share this gruesome vision with.

As I explained to lance- Police could show up at the crime scene -and it might just be an overdose. Then there are the times, when things had gotten a little ugly.
This was one of those times.

He disposed of the opposum. I awarded his brave effort with 2 bottles of a Sly Fox. Trash was cleaned up and life could almost move on.

But my nerves were shot, and my Christmas with myself starring in the role of Calamity Jane continued.

I tried to turn the bacon up that I was frying to put in my chestnut soup.
I turned the chestnut soup up instead causing it to boil all over my stove.
And I had no paper towels to soak it up.
I grabbed my pop's christmas ornament, that said "Merry Fishmas" and dropped it.
causing a "candy cane" hook to fall off of the "lore."
Then I was rushing around trying to finally get out of the I punched myself in the mouth while brushing my teeth, thus giving myself a fat lip and an abrasion.

I head to my dad's house, have an enjoyable time. Come home, get my laundry and sleep for a few hours before I board my 5:15 amtrak.
I call for a cab at 4:33. At 5:02 - there's still no sign of a cab. I call Liberty back and ask them how much longer? She yells at me and tells me not to call for a cab 10 minutes before my train.
I remind her that I called 42 minutes in advance. Cabbie finally comes. Drops me off. Three minutes to go. I run for the train. I hold my paper to be scanned at the Amtrak kiosk in my hand.
Ticket prints out in seconds. The ticket checker yells at me for running. I board the train.
As soon as I sit down- the wheels are in motion.

I thought to myself how great it was that I had a seat all to myself so I could rest the next 3 hours. 10 minutes later I get kicked out of the car.
I was in business class.
It was almost unbelievable.

And there you have it Christmas 2008.
So as people keep asking me how my Christmas was- I simply say, "It was interesting."


  1. I hesitate to say, "count your blessings," but: The way the rest of the story went, I was fully expecting you to end up on the only Christmas express to Newport News.

  2. No pictures? WTF? I'm seriously disappointed.

  3. You seriously scare me, Suz. You've just had the Murphy's Law of all Christmases. Truly. Count yer blessings.

  4. hahaha you called the Philly cops...they didn't even come when I was robbed while stopped at a light, inside my vehicle! but i wasn't really expecting them to either, so i drove on lol. your story is awesome Suzanne! amazing that you made the train.

  5. I have an old Meta Givens (google it) cookbook with a recipe for Opossum, in case you need it next time you get a free carcass and don't know what to do with it. Just tryin' to help.

  6. Thanks anonymous.
    Of course the Woods family joke of the day was that I made Opposum chili.

  7. wow all that in one Xmas day....imagine if you celebrated about 8 crazy night

  8. rock paper scissors lizard spock

  9. if you spray the trash area with a cayenne pepper solution nightly, I wonder if the animals would come around still. My ex boyfriend used to place satchels of extremely hot peppers, his hair etc. to ward deer off from his garden. these scents put them off..something to do with territory.