At Home

Activating the Death Grip at the Cottage

Driving to the cottage on Friday night: 

Beast: Hypothetical question: If you could be a little waterfall, a big waterfall, a stream or a babbling brook, what would you be?

Foodie: [Silence]

Beast: Take your time on this one. I really want you to think about it.

Foodie: We are going to eat like kings this weekend! I think we’ll do up the sausages tonight and then have the macaroni and cheese tomorrow night. You should see the wine I got. I don’t even care that it’s supposed to rain all weekend.

Beast: Have you thought about it?

Foodie: Yes. I’d be a stream so that I was always moving and discovering new things.

Beast: Interesting choice. I’d choose the big waterfall because then I’d be huge.

Settling in at the cottage, where the trilliums were blooming:


Foodie: I don’t think there’s any olive oil here. OMG. There’s no butter, either. I was going to bring some but it’s always just here.

Beast: What kind of savages do my parents think we are? We should drive to Parry Sound right now because we also need wood. We can get everything and then just settle in.

Foodie: But we just got here! And the sun is about to set and it’s going to rain all weekend!


Beast: I am not going my entire birthday weekend without butter and olive oil! I am not an animal! Plus we will freeze without firewood.

His argument was convincing. We got our provisions, and then boy, did we settle in. I got dinner ready while the Beast chopped kindling, although I’d asked if we could reverse those chores on account of his back being sore. He said chopping wood would be easier than grilling, which is bull shit.

After dinner, we chose a movie together without any debate: Tea with Mussolini.


We fell asleep 15 minutes in, right after we ate two pieces of the Beast’s favourite “Marie Antoinette” cake from Nadège.


I think it was the soothing sound of the rain on the rooftop that caused us to sleep into 11:00 a.m.

It rained all night and continued all morning and afternoon. So we read all day, pausing only to make the best breakfast, despite overcooking the eggs, I’ve ever made in my life.


After finishing a book (Jean Stein’s West of Eden), I started in on another (Tessa Hadley’s The Past) and nearly finished it, too. That’s when a bout of cabin fever struck us.

Foodie: You want to play Scrabble?

Beast: Is that the word game?

Foodie: Yes.

Beast: Maybe.

Foodie: What about Trivia Pursuit? No, never mind. I don’t feel like playing a game. [Pause] What are you doing?

Beast: Playing solitaire.

Foodie: That looks like fun. Are there more cards?

Beast: That drawer over there has about 12 more decks.

Foodie: I think it might be time for a drink.

Beast: What time is it?

Foodie: 4:00 p.m. OK, it’s 3:30.

Beast: OK.

Foodie: I’ll open up the Willamette Valley pinot gris.

Beast: Did you select that especially for me?

Foodie: I did. This is nice, isn’t it? Just sitting across from each other playing solitaire on the floor in front of the fire.

Beast [picking up wine glass]: ACTIVATE DEATH GRIP.

Foodie: Excuse me?

Beast: [drinking wine]

Foodie: Did you used to do that as a kid?

Beast: I don’t know.

Foodie: I used to do robot arm.

Beast: What’s that?

Foodie [picking up wine glass, like a robot might]: I AM A ROBOT

Beast: [silence]

Foodie: One time I’d just got home from school and still had on a nice dress and I was sipping Welch’s grape juice like a robot and my mom told me to stop because she said I was going to spill it, which I was certain I wouldn’t, until I did. She made me go sit on the front porch. She was “crazy mom” right then, you know?

Beast: Oh god do I. Marg was “crazy mom” for like four years.

Foodie: No wonder. I mean, four boys. How did she do it?

Beast: I don’t know.

Foodie: You hungry?

Beast: I will be.

Foodie: We should eat those zeppole I picked up from Sud Forno.

Beast: We can have them for dessert.

Foodie: We still have six slices of cake to eat for dessert. We have to eat them now or else they’ll be garbage.


Beast: Why don’t you just say We’re eating the zeppole now, instead of telling your lies?

Foodie: It’s easier for me this way.

Beast: What’s for dinner tonight again?

Foodie: Mac and cheese, remember?

Beast: Mac and cheese? This is my birthday weekend! I thought it was going to be gourmet food!

Foodie: I told you yesterday that’s what we were having!

Beast: What kind of wine?

Foodie: A brunello.

Beast: Are you insane? A brunello with peasant food?

Foodie: You love my mac and cheese!


We ate dinner while finishing Tea with Mussolini.

Foodie: God, the costumes are great in this movie, especially Judi Dench’s.



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Foodie: That’s how I’m going to dress when I’m older.

Beast: [Silence]

We had more cake for dessert, which left four slices for breakfast.

We woke up at 8:00 a.m. Since we’d used up all the firewood, it was quite cold. So we curled up on the couch with our cups of hot coffee and our books and our double helpings of cake.

When it gently started to snow, we knew it was time for us to leave.

Driving home from the cottage later that morning:

Beast: Let me ask you a hypothetical question: Would you prefer that I masturbate to old photos of Dame Judi Dench or old photos of Dame Maggie Smith?

Foodie: [Silence]

Beast: Take your time on this one. I want you to really think about it.

Foodie: To be honest, after the initial shock wore off, I’d be fine with either. Maybe I’d prefer Dame Judi Dench, though, only because we have the same body type.

Beast: What if they were present-day photos of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith?

Foodie: You know, I think I’d be fine with that, too.

Beast: I think I’d be in shock because that would mean I just masturbated without pornography.

Foodie: [Silence]

6 replies »

  1. What’should “West of Eden” like? It’s on my list of to read. Already have it just waiting it’s turn. Hope the cottage is warmer for you next time.

    • Highly recommend West of Eden, Kim–if you’re at all interested in the lore of old Hollywood, the power of the big studios, and stories about (and from) everyone from David Geffen and Jack Warner to Frank Sinatra, Dennis Hopper, Marilyn Monroe, and Cary Grant.

  2. I sincerely think you are a brilliant human and am so thankful you share snippets of your life with us 🙂 It’s endlessly fascinating to look in at the window of someone’s world whether it be through a book, movie, or blog!
    You shine on the social, and I am always excited to listen to your points of view and to hear a snort or two 😛
    Thanks for being awesome!

    • Hey Rebekah, thank you so much. (And coincidentally your kind words came precisely at a moment when they were especially appreciated.)

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