Tuesday, December 02, 2014

In Which I Catch You Up On All Sorts Of Things And Offer The Afflicted A Freebie (With A Side Of Salinger)

Welcome to December, Dearest Readers, a month for which I have the Highest Hopes. Before I begin with the actual Innards of this post, let me remind you that, Officially, you may set out your Christmas Mugs, put up your Christmas Trees and Other Yuletide Decor, and listen to all the Christmas Music your merry heart desires. Now that November has cleared out, it is Perfectly Acceptable and sanctioned by the Dept. of Nance.

November was a Massive Disappointment for me, and while it's a little early for Festivus and The Airing Of Grievances, I have a little bit of Random Business to attend to in this post. I know you'll indulge me.

1. The Medical. Yesterday was the first day I actually felt Well. My cold developed into sinus and ear infections, and I became so very weak and sad. Complicating matters was the fact that I am presently without a general practitioner, and I was in no shape to sit in a waiting room, alone, trying to fill out forms when I could barely sit up. My situation was dire, so I resorted to technology and downloaded the app Doctor On Demand. Within twenty minutes I:   had a private consultation with a doctor, was prescribed medications which were called in to a local pharmacy, and had a comprehensive write-up of my session to refer to any time I wanted. All for $40. All while I sat in my chair in my jammies and blanket. As much as I hate going to the doctor and sitting and waiting, this was worth it. And I was given a code to share with anyone I wanted, which offers patients a discount. Here it is if you're ever in a similar, non-emergency situation: ac68f0se . (No, this isn't a sponsored post.)

2. The Holiday. As you might imagine, being so ill made Thanksgiving difficult. Luckily, I live with a Superhero. Rick made everything except the dressing/stuffing, and that included the two pumpkin pies. The boys (and Zydrunas) came over early in the day to help out with things, too, so all I had to do was check on the turkey and eat. My oven soldiered through it all, which is good because when I called to get service, I was told that it would be Impossible--Frigidaire (aka The Great Satan) no longer makes any parts for that appliance. Just so you know, That Appliance is less than ten years old. I want to say Terrible Things about Frigidaire, but I have used them all up already. Since so many of you Gracious Living-ers are dying to know, we did not have a centerpiece on the table; I served an oaked Chardonnay and a Rosé, and no silver-polishing was necessary because we didn't use anything which required it. Zydrunas was angelic until Marlowe suddenly made an appearance, and then all bets were off for approximately the four seconds it took for the chase which ensued. (I didn't see Marlowe again until approximately 11 PM.)

3. The Government. I've kept calm and quiet here regarding all of the governmental bullshit over the past months because A) I'm trying to maintain my Zen, and B) it's pointless to get my undies in a bunch, but honestly, it's crap like this quote from Sen. Harry Reid--yes, a Democrat--that makes me want to zip down there and smack the entire Congress: “We have a lot to do. And there isn’t much time to accomplish it. I urge all senators to work hard to complete our work in a timely and efficient fashion. We may have to be here the week before Christmas." Can I see a show of hands from Every Single Person Out There who has/had a Lot To Do and had/has to work the week before Christmas all of the time? I'd like to quote the nitrous-addled kid from the YouTube video when I say, "Is this real life?!" If you want to make yourselves sick, go here and look at how little your Congress is working for you. These goldbrickers are rarely in session, ever. And many of these blowhards are the same snots who want to cut teacher pay because, according to them, teachers only work nine months a year. So when these Congresspersons tell you that many of the days that they are not In Session, they are still, in fact, Working, tell them THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT TEACHERS DO TOO! And teachers don't have paid staffers to help them. Not even ONE.

4. The Paid Cyberbully. Speaking of a paid staffer, let me say this about republican EX-staffer Elizabeth Lautner, the congressional aide who took to her TwitPinFace account to bully the President's teenaged daughters. It's the ugliest thing in the world to use kids for your own adult agenda. Why in the world would you ever, ever be mean and nasty to a kid simply because you didn't like his or her parents? It's hard enough in the world to be a kid in the public eye, and someone like Elizabeth Lautner just made it ten times harder. I'm not going to parse her objectionable comments because we all know what she said and what it meant. But picking on teenaged girls via social media is, to me, the equivalent of beating a toddler at Candyland. And I'm still waiting for a true apology because the one Lauten provided--after several hours of intense prayer, supposedly--was a non-starter, and every sincere person in the world knows it.

5. The American People. You know, I've covered this territory before, but holy crap, how pathetic are They? And don't say, "Nance, you are an American Person, you know!" Honestly, I am seriously starting to wonder. I really, truly am. Because It's scary. Look at the results of the newest CNN/ORC poll:

50% of Americans believe the GOP taking control of the House and the Senate next year will be bad for America
52% expect it to lead to more gridlock

68% Americans polled say the GOP isn't cooperating enough with President Obama
57% say it's Obama who's not cooperating enough with the GOP

44% of Americans view the Democratic Party favorably
50% view it unfavorably

41% of Americans view the republican party favorably
52% view the republican party negatively

Who voted in this last election?  Did they bus in a bunch of idiots who think that the earth is flat and that spray cheese is all the science they ever need?  I know I voted.  I voted SO HARD.  But thanks to careful gerrymandering, it's not going to matter much anymore. Take a look at Ohio's district map.

6. The Theory. As I've mentioned before, both of my sons have a Twitter account, and occasionally I stalk them (purely for amusement). I've often felt that Jared has a little Holden Caulfield in him, and that quality twinkled at me when I read this particular tweet:

Women always show up to a place like they're going to be there for a couple weeks.

(Oh my, Chapter Eight; Ernest Morrow's mother who leaves her goddamn bags in the middle of the aisle and her hands lousy with rocks! Sigh.)


It's good to be Alive again.


Monday, November 24, 2014

We Only Have Time For A Few Of Your Questions Before The Entertainment Part Of Our Show

Good Day, Readers. In today's installment of Ask Nance, we'll be following up on a few previous topics and taking questions on some new ones. We hope you find it informative.

Question: Nance, are you any further along in your Thanksgiving Preparations?
Nanceswer: In addition to the two bags of cranberries in my freezer, I now have my fresh turkey and two bags of fresh cranberries in the basement refrigerator, and the remaining ingredients for Thanksgiving Dinner residing in various cupboards, freezers, refrigerators, and pantry. While it was 64 degrees today, I wisely harvested the last of my sage, rosemary, and parsley. And I grocery-shopped at 8 AM today, which might be the Smartest Move I Have Ever Made.

Q: Does this give you time to consider Decorating for Thanksgiving?
N: This gives me time to dog-proof the house and figure out whether or not I can afford a therapist for Piper once Zydrunas has scared the crap out of him for the day.

Q:  Have you thus far escaped an Appliance Betrayal, unlike in years past when on the Cusp Of A Major Holiday?
N:  Surely you jest.  Just this evening, the stove threw an F1 error code accompanied by an obnoxious beep. Additionally, the oven would not turn off.  Was this sort of occurrence mentioned anyplace at all in the literature that came with the stove?  Of course not.  Rick threw the breaker, waited for a moment, then flipped it back on and went into Cleveland to watch professional basketball.  I will be calling the appliance store tomorrow to beg for a repair slot before Thanksgiving.  And hoping like hell that it doesn't happen again tonight when I'm home alone.

Q: But, are you feeling better?
N: Marginally, and with no thanks to homeopathy and natural cold remedies. Here are the Tree-Hugging Rainbow Methods I tried:
homemade chicken soup; hot water with honey and lemon; hot shower; hot bath; apple cider vinegar and honey; drink plenty of water; Vicks VapOrub on the soles of feet; Vicks VapOrub on the chest; SinusBlast hot pepper nasal spray; resting; keeping warm; megadosing Vitamin C; propping up to sleep.

Finally, I said Screw This. I bought Alka Seltzer Severe Cold and Flu Formula Night And Day (or something) and started knocking that stuff back. Now I can sleep without hacking up Huge Phlegm Wads and choking and gagging like a ten-pack-a-day smoker. Soon, I hope to get My Life back.

Q: Can we salvage November?
N: No. Not this year. It sucks. Ask Buffalo. Ask President Obama. Ask anyone in NEO who wants to listen to FM radio and not hear Christmas music. It's hopeless. I have been hard pressed not to open up the Industrial-Sized Can Of Whoopass on The Politics this month. It's killing me. Did you hear that Lindsey Graham--Lindsey "Senator Old Lady Fussypants" Graham is considering a run for the presidency? Of the United States? OF AMERICA?

Q: Is someone A Little Bit Crabby?
N: Yes. Someone really is. And here's what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to watch this and laugh. Join me.

base image

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Toast To Toast!

Back in The Olden Days when I was teaching, I often inspired gales of laughter, sneers of disdain, and hoots of disbelief when I identified Toast as being among my favourite foods. Especially memorable was the response of a certain Senior Football Player who leaned back in his ridiculously small chair, folded his arms across his chest, fixed me with an extraordinarily disappointed look, and shook his head. "Now that," he said, "is messed up."

At that time and with that audience, there was no credible defense to be made. None. That was a lasagna, steak, pizza, and crab legs crowd, with maybe a few lobster or barbecued ribs tossed in. Toast? Toast and I took our ball (butter?) and went home.

But since I've been down with this egregious cold, I've renewed my love affair with Toast, and really, isn't Toast simply Lovely? Isn't it just The Best? Honestly, how can you go wrong with Toast? I mean, yes, you absolutely can Go Wrong if you burn it (although I did have a colleague, Fran, who purposefully burned two pieces of wheat toast every single morning in the lounge at The Rock for breakfast, its acrid stench scenting the hall for an entire period because she liked it that way), but beyond that, my goodness! Toast!

My personal favourite for all time has to be a very dark pumpernickel rye toast spread with plenty of Real Butter, lightly toasted so that it still has some of that characteristic chew. If you can slice it yourself, how glorious! Thick--thick as you can without having to use a dangerous butter knife in the toaster slot to free it. (We've all done it at some point in our lives and felt that burr of electric shock. Admit it.)

How comforting is a warm slice of cinnamon toast? That's what I have been nibbling on the past few days. Wheat bread, darkly toasted, buttered, then sprinkled all over with a mix of sugar and homey-smelling cinnamon. I don't drink hot tea, but a mug of hot water with honey and lemon accompanies it just fine.

Apparently, a restaurant in San Francisco has an entire menu devoted to Toast. The average price is about $3.50 for one piece, but they use a thick slice of organic, in-house baked bread and local ingredients for the spreads. (One famous food blogger and cookbook author went there and raved about it.) I thought about it for a little bit: would I pay $3.50 for a big piece of Toast topped with, say, cream cheese and black pepper? Yes. But, looking further at the Menu, I would not pay $16.50 for a 12-ounce cup of coffee to accompany it. And that is the cheapest.

But I don't need Fancy Toast, do you? Decent bread, good butter, pleasantly warm and all with the right balance of crisp and tender. Some people, when there is nothing else to eat, or it is too late to cook, they eat cereal. I eat Toast. In that case, Toast with butter and peanut butter. Perhaps, if I'm really hungry, I'll skip the butter and lay on a slice of cheese instead.

Oh, Toast! You're so versatile and so wonderful. So underrated and unappreciated. I will dedicate my eventual Recovery to you.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do You Know What You Need To Know? It All Depends On What "Need" Means

Yesterday, we discussed Perspective a little bit, and today, thanks to some troubling puzzling journalism over at USAToday.com, we are continuing in that vein. While I am still Unwell, I am resting and exploring the Vast Reaches Of The Interwebs, and becoming Increasingly Distraught at what passes for The Fifth Estate out there. Let me be more clear.

According to USAToday.com, these are the "5 Things You Need To Know Wednesday", meaning yesterday. I have no idea how I happened upon this article, but it is likely that the title, stating that I "needed to know" them, made me do it. Anyway, here they are, and be ready to check them off if You Knew Them Wednesday, and feel smug and the better for that Knowledge.

1. The 'Piano Man' receives top music award from the Library of Congress
2. Rev your engines for the LA Auto Show
3. 10th anniversary of the "Malice in the Palace"
4. Say it ain't snow! No, it's definitely snow
5. And the sexiest man alive is…

These are THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW! ON WEDNESDAY! Now, that was yesterday. If you did not know any, or all, of these things, how did that ignorance affect your life? Let me tell all of you, with unabashed honesty, that I knew two of these only, Numbers 4 and 5. And the only reason I knew Number 5 was because all of the Cleveland news outlets made a huge deal of it since he was here filming The Avengers. As to the others, please. Their Necessity Quotient is zero. I am currently at the very tippy-top of all ten teams of our fantasy basketball league. I hold the trophy for highest points two weeks in a row. My basketball knowledge is, therefore, excellent. But even I did not know that ten years ago Wednesday was the day that the huge brawl happened between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in which Ron Artest climbed into the bleachers and assaulted a fan.  Yet my life is largely the same, and so is my status as Fantastically Crushing All Comers.  And aside from the ten million people who live in Los Angeles County, how many of the 300 million Americans NEED to know about the LA Auto Show? And even then...NEED to know?  Right.

How trivial these Necessaries seem to me! And once I saw that they were for Wednesday, I snorted with derision when I contemplated what the USAToday.com people could deem Necessary That I Know For Thursday. Something about a TLC reality celebrity? Was something sculpted in Spam someplace? Will Ft. Lauderdale have a boat show? Let's take a look:

1. President Obama readies national remarks on overhauling immigration
2. Transgender hate crimes remembered across the country in Day of Remembrance
3. Inside trading schemer reports for nine-year prison sentence
4. Climate change to increase flood, crop insurance losses to trillions
5. American Cancer Society encourages kicking butt for Great American Smokeout



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In Which I Am Contrite, Yet Managing A Little Sprightliness In Spite Of Things

After yesterday's Shameful Display of Bitching and Wallowing, I got a good dose of Perspective, courtesy my news addiction. Thanks to NBC Nightly News and the Interwebs, I have been duly Chastised.

Remember last year when my mantra was "Hey! At least my house didn't explode!", referencing my newfound sense of Zen imparted to me by the sudden destruction of a home around the block from me due to a gas leak? Well, I'm trying out a few more New Mantras, and I'd like to see which one you like the best.

1. "Hey! At least an airplane didn't land in my livingroom!" This one is, I know, awfully similar to last year's. But it happened (not in my neighborhood this time), and here is a picture that proves it.

2. "Hey! At least I don't live in Buffalo!" We here in NEO get the phenomenon known as Lake Effect Snow, but Buffalo got it like they were in the middle of the lake. The kind of snow that they got--more than 70 inches in some areas--is beyond snow. It's like having your period, a broken leg, a PAP test, a gall bladder attack, AND a migraine while you're taking thirty-seven toddlers to Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party before their naps. The governor needs to call in the National Guard of several states and have them bring flamethrowers. Attached to tanks. Because this:
3. "Hey! At least I have butter!" This one might need some work. While I generally feel grateful for the existence of butter overall, I do feel far more smug about the abundance of it on my grocery shelves right now. Because in Japan, according to one news story, there is a massive shortage of butter due to JAPAN'S EXHAUSTED COWS. "The agriculture ministry has blamed the shortage on a brutally hot summer that affected milk production. The high temperatures left dairy cows simply too exhausted to meet their usual milk quotas." The story goes on to remark that bakeries have started using margarine "in the hope that the slightly inferior taste will be more palatable to customers than the inflated price of cakes and loaves made with butter." DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA! JAPAN NEEDS YOUR BUTTER! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! (No one, and I mean NO ONE should ever have to use margarine.)

Koichi Kamoshida/EPA

So!  You pick a mantra while I struggle with my Shame, And I will try to remember the words of Leon Trotsky, revolutionary, who said, "Everything is relative."  He died when an assassin punctured his skull with an ice axe.  Sigh.  Winter....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rally For Thanksgiving: Forget It. November Is On Its Own. I'm Sick, Freezing, And So Over It.

If you could hear me right now, I sound like Demi Moore with laryngitis, that's how badly my throat is damaged from postnasal drip and coughing. And that's not lipliner I'm wearing; my lips are chapped from wiping my nose, which alternately stuffs up, then randomly starts draining like a leaky faucet. So attractive! I'm alternately crusty and sticky, depending if it's nighttime or daytime, respectively. Oh, November, what a Joy you are!

Yesterday, I had to go out early in the morning. November greeted me with this:

That is the view at the very end of my street.  At 7:45 AM.  My poor little Prius did not care for this at all.  "Oh, but it's so pretty!" so many of you are saying.  Yes, it is. It's very pretty.  I'll give you that.

As a matter of fact, the route I had to take was absolutely gorgeous and, thankfully, clear and only wet.  The snow was heavy and, because it was exactly 32 degrees, wet and clingy.  Every single tree branch, wire, and structure was frosted.  It looked like something out of a movie.  This road in particular, was breathtaking.  But I couldn't stop for photography, as much as I wanted to.  I had to be somewhere.  I caught a few breaks thanks to school buses and traffic heading toward the junior college, but pictures don't really capture it.

Later, the wind picked up, and the temperature dropped.  The snow froze.  The wind started blowing it off of all of the trees and structures in hard clumps.  I could hear it hitting the house, the road, the deck, all in thuds and clunks.  I worried about some of the more beautiful, aged trees in the city, as well as power lines.

When Winter sneaks in this quickly, with this much force and cold and snow, it can do a lot of damage.  We still have leaves on some of the oaks and maples here that are slow shedders.  They can hold lots and lots of heavy snow, causing huge limbs to break, downing power lines and crashing into roofs.  Not to mention the sadness of losing the trees themselves, many of them gracious shade-givers or landmarks.  And a lot of residents haven't yet raked up the last of the leaves; the city has not yet come by and vacuumed up the piles along the curb.  If we get a thaw and some rain, which it looks like we will, those leaves will clog up the sewers and cause some flooding.  
By the way, the Tuesday weather is very misleading.  Right now, it is 14, but because of 29 mph winds out of the WSW, it is actually -4.  My furnace has been running since 7:15 AM, struggling to reach 72.  It is now noon, and it is still trying.

November, you've caused a Big Mess.  I hate you a little bit.  Except for Thanksgiving, so far you've brought me nothing but a bad cold, crappy weather, and a bunch of republicans.  After all I've done for you!  

Rick will be the first to tell you that I am Not One To Suffer.  After thirty years in a public school classroom, I honestly feel like Those Days are over for me.  I no longer have to suffer unwillingly. So, this is the end of my Rally.  I'll still post as often as possible this month, but I'm no longer going to try to stick to The Theme.  I'll write whatever the hell I want to.  

So that's that.  I quit you, November, cold turkey.


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