Allergies are plaguing me this year. More so, even then in years past. Perhaps it’s the early spring? Outside my yard is in full bloom and yellow bursts of pollen release across the deck each time a gust of wind moves through the trees. To add to the mix this time of year tiny worms string webs across the trees and entryways. By the time you get to the car you’re swaddled like a newborn baby. Although we have a two car garage we leave the SUV outside. Not because we choose to. When we first moved in boxes filled one side of the garage. Even when the boxes had been broken down and I’d found a spot for everything, it was still a small space. This, largely due to the fact the former owner was a tinkerer and had built a massive attached work area to one side. To appease Rick who hated to see his baby exposed to the elements I worked all one weekend to minimize the stuff in the garage so as to fit both vehicles inside at one time. The plan was nearly foolproof with the one fly in the ointment being both cars inside I couldn’t open the door far enough to exit the second vehicle. Not only that I wasn’t sure I could back it out without stripping the rear view mirror off its mount or sacrificing some paint. I honked the horn but Rick didn’t respond. Struggling, I finally climbed over both seats and went out through the tailgate door. Hmmmm. Though a workable plan in an emergency situation not something I want to attempt every time I need to go to the store.
Rick is a stickler about his vehicles. Not as rigid as when we first met certainly, I can eat a snack while driving these days. But to be fair when we met he was driving a slick red Corvette convertible named Lucille, now replaced by our yet to be named Chevy SUV. With the pollen draping itself all over the SUV’s lovely deep red paint and water regulated due to the drought, frequent trips need to be made to the car wash. Usually we stop after gassing up and use the drive thru mini-wash but as bad as the pollen has been this spring we opted this last weekend for the full monty car wash down the hill to give it the works and a little wax job for sticking with us for thirteen years.
I have what I would term “car wash phobia”. Sounds ridiculous, I know. It sounds silly to me and I am the one who experiences it. Back in the late nineties I took my car to a car wash I had not frequented before. A warm summer Saturday morning, a long line of cars awaited their turn outside the facility. I pulled in behind the last car and inched my way up to the front. A young woman asked me what I wanted by way of a wash. I replied, and she pointed in the direction of the entrance to the washing area itself. At the front of the wash area several men busied themselves around my car with long-handled brushes and soap. Another guy was gesturing with his hands for me to pull forward which I did. Suddenly he was waving more rapidly and my car jerked violently and was being pulled along listing to one side. I had everyone’s full attention by that time. Apparently whatever machinery you are supposed to maneuver your tires onto to be conveyed through the wash I overshot and my tires were hung up. Rick would say, “only you Nelson”. I know. Everything came to a halt. The attendant asked if he could get behind the wheel and the car was finally straightened out and I went through the rest of the ordeal without injury except to my pride. Needless to say I did not clip their coupon for a return visit any time in the near future. I’m sure my picture is on the wall riddled with dart holes.
These days I simply get anxiety. Rick pulls in and those damnable flapping leather pieces slap at the window and I begin to hyperventilate. Rick tries to look nonchalant as I grapple with my apparent fear of waving soapy leather straps and water. What can I say. I looked it up to see if I was the only being on the planet suffering with car wash phobia and was totally surprised to find I was not. Perhaps they have an annual reunion in a leather/water free zone I could attend. Smile here.
Knowing someone else not wired correctly is sitting in a car wash somewhere breaking out in a cold sweat is comforting. Add a bee to the picture and for me that would be the perfect storm. My mother is afraid of heights. Once on a road trip along Highway 1, a particularly beautiful stretch of California highway hugging the impressive cliffs along the coastline of Big Sur, my mother actually laid in a fetal position on the floorboard in the front seat of the car waiting for the end to come. I know this because she kept yelling “God, please let it end”.
I have a friend who has developed a fear of driving. This is based on several bad accidents, but for her getting in the car is like being in the front line of an infantry unit. Not good. Not good at all. Back in the day I dated a guy who was terrified of spiders. Not just black widows or the nasty little brown recluses but daddy long legs or your basic innocuous house spider. Once while working on a leak under the sink on encountering such a six legged beast he nearly knocked himself out on the pipes getting away from it. I’m not picking on him. Anyone who’s afraid of undulating leather strips is not in a position to throw stones.
Lamb shanks were something I saw often growing up, and they never scared me. Lamb in any form was a familiar sight on our table. These have a Mediterranean flavor to them and when done fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. I paired them with rice with grapes and braised red cabbage. Yum.
Crockpot Mediterranean Lamb Shanks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lamb shanks
salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 1/2 oz. can beef broth
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with onion, celery, green peppers
1 cup water
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
Mint jelly (optional)
Sprinkle shanks with salt and black pepper. Heat oil over high heat. Brown meat on all sides.
Spray 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Line bottom with sliced onion. Top with carrots. Add browned meat to pan.
Mix all remaining ingredients together and pour over top. Cook on low for 10 hrs.