I’ve started to pack up the house. If I was to look at the whole picture, I’d sit down with a bag of balsamic vinegar and onion potato chips and a tub of sour cream and forget the whole thing. It works best for me to approach it in sections. My grandmother always told me to do the things I least wanted to do first, and the rest afterwards. That advice has served me well over the years. I prep my food, for example, in the morning when I’m fresh, that way when I get ready to actually cook the dish the prep work is done and cooking is relaxing and fun.
This will be the thirty sixth move I’ve executed in my lifetime. Whew. At one point I’d rented so many U-Haul trucks in such a short period of time that I qualified for frequent driver miles.
As with everything in my life, there has been a dash of humor mixed in with the chaos.
After three years in Massachusetts my first husband accepted a job offer in California. The company included the move in the hiring package, which included our household goods as well as our car. The plan was that I would take the children and fly to the west coast, and he would follow two weeks later after tying up the loose ends.
Arriving in California, the children and I stayed with my parents until the truck arrived. The driver called early on a hot Southern California morning, to let me know he was in the area. I agreed to meet him at the house at a scheduled time. Stepping out of the cab of the truck was a man that was equally as wide as he was tall, wearing a tank top, shorts and flip flops looking little like the man painted on the side of the van smiling in his crisp blue shirt and ball cap. The tank top was actually two toned from obvious perspiration issues. He explained that his helper was sick so he was on his own, but before he could unload we needed to find a place of offload the vehicle, which would mean the children and I would need to ride in the cab with him so I could drive the car back to the house.
Hoisting the children up into the cab first and then me, the driver took a moment to consult his map and call the local mover for instructions and we made way. It seemed that finding a ramp to offload the car presented a problem. I sincerely hoped not a big one because the cab, as well as having a greasy smell emanating from the old French fries littering the seat and the floorboard, had reached the suffocation level and mixed with the perspiration was no place for women or children. It seemed that to add to his helper situation his air conditioning had gone out.
For the next four hours we took an extended tour of the area, even stopping at a truck stop because the children were starving, where the waitress actually mistook the driver for my husband. We finally found a ramp at an old warehouse he could use to offload the car. The children and I stood off to the side as he positioned the large van at the end of the loading dock and opened the tailgate door. I handed him the keys and we heard the engine start. Soon after, the back of the station wagon emerged. It occurred to me that the dock was considerably lower than the van but it didn’t seem to bother the driver who sailed off the back simultaneously shearing off the tailpipe and shooting the license plate like a Frisbee across the parking lot. Claim form please.
I have to give this man credit, however. Back at the house he unloaded all our heavy furniture on his own carrying it on his broad back like it was made from balsa wood.
Another time, I was moving from Alabama to West Virginia. We had stored a lot of our household goods In Florence, Alabama, but the rest required a small truck to haul. A friend, who was also going to the new job site, offered his horse trailer in exchange for us transporting his horse. My husband was an ex rodeo rider so the horse posed no problem for him. The animal was loaded in one stall, and we filled the other with our items. The last to go in the trailer was my husband’s weight set, consisting of an assortment of round weights, bench, and bars as well as our newly purchased round dining room table and chairs.
It was late at night when we finally broke camp and hit the road and we were both tired. At some point during the night we hit a steep upgrade. In the passenger seat half asleep I remember hearing clinking sounds, but dozed in and out. Just cresting the hill a loud bang woke me up. Unaware that the gate has sprung open, my husband stepped on the brakes. This set the weights in motion closely followed by my new table, all standing on their sides. On a downhill slope with nothing to stop their forward movement they broke free and headed for the border. We pulled over. The horse was still there, although it became obvious by the smell that the stress wasn’t agreeing well with his digestive system. We watched as our table picked up momentum down the grade and disappeared into a copse of trees. Half the weights were still rolling with the others wobbling and dropping here and there on the pavement. Thankfully, there was little traffic that time of night, and no damage apparent so we gathered what we could find, calmed the horse and secured the latch on the truck.
Lastly, we were moving from West Virginia to California. This time we hired packers because both of us were working full-time as well as overtime. The packers were alerted to keep doors shut because we had an indoor cat and small dog in the house. I came home around seven in the evening to find our boxes neatly packed and labeled.
After changing, I went into the kitchen to make my favorite Roquefort chicken recipe. The dog was enjoying a meal at her usual dining establishment by the stove, but I hadn’t seen, Kitty, the alpha cat in residence. At the time I didn’t think much of it because she was not by nature a social creature and probably found the moving crew an inexcusable intrusion of her air space.
Exhausted we hit the bed, and sometime later in the evening I heard the cat meowing. Dragging myself out of my warm bed I followed the sound coming from the living room area but couldn’t see her anywhere in the vicinity. Just getting ready to head back to the bedroom I heard her again, only this time it was definitely coming from the pile of boxes. Moving some down from the top I zoned in on the sounds, now more insistent. Grabbing a knife, I cut open the tape on the top of the box that was now moving and found the old cat sitting at the bottom looking seriously annoyed. These guys really lived up to their slogan, “Sit back, relax, and let us pack everything for you”. Meow.
Roquefort Cheese Chicken Breasts with Madeira Sauce
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. Roquefort cheese, crumbled
3 oz. grated Swiss cheese
1/2 lb. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 cup flour
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. paprika
Flatten each breast with a mallet to 1/4″ thickness. Salt and pepper each side to taste. Spread a thin layer of mustard on each breast.
In food processor, add Roquefort cheese, Swiss cheese, and 1/2 oz. butter. Blend to form a roll. Divide into 8 rolls.
Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together. Set aside. Place roll of cheese filling lengthwise on each breast and fold breast around cheese, tucking in the ends, Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate.
Whisk together egg and oil. Mix flour, black pepper, white pepper, paprika and salt, and place in a pie pan. In a second pie pan put bread crumb/Parmesan mixture. Remove breasts from refrigerator and roll in flour mixture to coat. Roll next in beaten egg/oil mixture. Lastly, roll in bread crumb and Parmesan cheese mixture.
In large skillet melt 1/4 of the butter on med. heat. Cook 2 chicken rolls at a time until golden brown, repeating the butter after each batch. Place each batch on ovenproof baking pan.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place browned chicken in oven for an additional 15 mins, or until tender.
2 cups Demi-glace
1/2 cup Madeira wine
2 tsp. butter
Heat demi-glace on simmer until it has reduced by half, about 5 mins. Add Madeira wine and cook an additional 2 mins. Add butter and stir until melted. Serve over chicken.