Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Far Beyond the Pukeweeds

What are "pukeweeds", you may ask. In the language of my family, there are various meanings:

1. The tall weeds one frantically searches out, away from the invading eyes of others, when one needs to puke. For instance, at the county fair, when you've stuffed your imbecilic face with cotton candy and elephant ears and orange Push-Ups and caramel corn and corn-on-the-cob and Lemon Shake-Ups and pig-on-a-stick, and then you ride the gut-jarring Tilt-A-Whirl, you may stagger down the metal ramp afterwards and find yourself in great need of pukeweeds. Those same weeds are used when you're in the middle of a rural area with a full bladder and no hope of enduring the bumpy ride back to town on the gravel road. Thus, pukeweeds can accomodate all bodily waste products, projectile or otherwise. Note to the wise: pukeweeds can contain poison ivy. You can get a face-full of it while honking your guts, or expose your clammy buttcheeks to it if you don't pay close attention.

2. Pukeweeds is also a geographical location, usually included in a phrase such as "out in the pukeweeds" and "way out past the pukeweeds." You'll know these places when you find them. Don't even bother to try your cell phone. Coverage doesn't make it to the pukeweeds.

Why do I bring this up as I'm writing about my wedding? Because my wedding was so far out past the pukeweeds, at my niece's farm, that even Mapquest was of no help. You can't type in a road that is merely nicknamed by the locals as your destination. Special maps had to be designed for our guests and signs were stuck into the mud that said "Wedding. 1 and a half miles this way." We considered spelling it "Weddin'."

Our guests entered an extra special degree of rural isolation, one my mother describes as "Out where the hoot owls screw the chickens." When she is in such a place, and looks out the car window down into a ravine at the weeds and mud and damp shade, she claims there are "snakes down there biggern yer arm." In circumference, not length of course.

My niece and her husband and son live on an expanse of land that is breathtaking. Big rolling hill, sparkling lake-let (pond), a pasture full of dumb, happy cows with hay breath and cheerfully poop-encrusted butts, and 3 giant silver grain bins that look as though they have just landed. In other words, the perfect spot for a wedding.

On Thursday morning, June 21st, the fine people of Terre Haute Tent and Awning came and put up 3 tents for the wedding. One big one for the ceremony and 2 smaller ones for the food. We knew it would be raining and/or Africa-hot and hoped the tents would save us from either scenario. However, Thursday night a storm with ridiculous wind (made more ridiculous on a big tall rolling hill) took down the tents. Knocked them over like 3 tipsy 13-year-old boys sharing one can of beer. My niece Michele ran outside to roll her barbecue grill up to the house so it wouldn't take flight and knock out a picture window. The wind trapped her between the grill and the house. She made it inside without a broken pelvis, which was happy news indeed.

A couple hours later, the tent boys were there to re-do the job.

Meanwhile, back in town, Scott and his brother-in-law Jimi and nephew Patrick were cooking up their own storm. Get this: Since Scott is a chef, (went to one of them fancy Cordon Bleu ((pronounced Bluh)) schools and everything) he insisted on making the food for his own wedding. I thought he was not exactly cooking with all 4 burners from the beginning of this idea, but he said it would be fun. The extremely generous woman who was making our wedding cakes (both of them, the normal one and the kitty litter one) offered up her entire business location and its professional kitchen facilities to Scott and company to use any way they liked. He was overjoyed.

Here is a small piece of the pre-planning that took place:

This past winter, when Scott would come to the midwest to visit me, he would make several gallons of home-made, scrumptious tomato sauce. (He planned to make 2 kinds of lasagna and eggplant parmesan for the wedding.) He would freeze it in Ziploc bags at -20 degrees, then put it in his suitcase and bring it to my freezer. I would, in turn, eventually transport it to my sister's deep freeze in my hometown where it would stay until the cooking started in June. There were 3 such shipments. He made numerous gallon bags of meatless sauce and meat sauce. These were odd looking packages. Frozen cubes of something dark red. As though he was a mule for a black market platelet business.

The night before we flew out of Phoenix to Indiana, he blended bread crumbs and cheese in his Cuisinart to take with him to use as a topping for the eggplant parmesan. He even packed his own aprons. All this is stunning to a woman like me whose idea of cooking is to plop 2 black olives on a frozen cheese pizza and add salt & vinegar chips as a side dish.

The three guys did their culinary magic while I was out express-mailing papers to the attorney for the house closing, and doing girlie wedding things. I stopped by the bakery every once in awhile to see the hubbub, which was punctuated by splatters of tomato sauce and noodle arranging (no, that is not a metaphor about the trio of chefs) and wiping olive-oily hands on freshly stained aprons. Scott's sister, Beth, is about as interested in cooking as I am. She claims to do one percent of the cooking in her house. So I invited her to go with me to my almost favorite place anywhere: Walmart. This is a sacred invitation. Candy normally walks the aisles alone, in a meditative state. Beth was sort of the Candy Wrangler, making sure I kept my wits about me and didn't tarry too long in the oasis of fluorescent lights.

When we got back to the bakery, Beth went behind the counter and started picking up the crumbs from the empty no-bake cookie tray. I squealed on her: "Mary! Beth's behind the counter picking up crumbs like trailer trash!" Mary's response was to bring a long rectangular tupperware the size of a coffin out from the kitchen, flipping open the lid to reveal around 100 of her world famous cookies. The gooiest, sweetest, fudgiest, big-as-cow-pies cookies ever made. It was a moment before we could move. We first had to take in the awesomeness of such a huge quantity of high school bake sale booty. Then we ate until our teeth hurt from the grinding of the sugar. We were desperate for milk. Or pukeweeds.


  • At 8:12 AM, Blogger Domhan said…

    "Out where the hoot owls screw the chickens" OMG! That's where all them Hoosier cousin/spouses git their inspiration!

    Another term: what you got eatin' them cookies wuz "picnic stomach." You sure nuff know picnic stomach when you git it.

  • At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I gotta stop cooking, I have picnic stomach all the time...

  • At 6:47 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    I love it. Your posts never fail to make me feel like an anthropologist on excursion. Awesome. = ]

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger E. said…

    Hey, congrats on your wedding! Sounds like my kind of wedding. (Actually, it sounds a little like my actual wedding, since we too got married out in the sticks, probably only a stone's throw from the pukeweeds). And congrats especially on landing a man who not only cooks, but is a fancy-schmancy trained pro.

    I love the kitty litter cake. Nice touch.

  • At 5:08 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, E.! The "sticks," much like the pukeweeds, are highly under-rated.


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