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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

W Is For What I'm...


Working On. As I have said so many times before, I see myself as being on a Journey Of Continuous Self-Improvement. To that end I am always striving to better my character in many Arenas. Currently, I am Working On most Strenuously and to some Success: graciously accepting Compliments, never saying Never, defaulting to Kindness, being Quieter and Listening. For some of you, these things may seem quite Simple and Natural, and you may be saying, "I don't get it." Trust me, neither do I to a large extent, but that's why I have to Work At Them.

Weeping About. For some reason lately, I have become quite sentimental/hormonal and teary. This is extremely unusual for me and very unsettling. I find myself thinking of people no longer in my life and whom I miss terribly. In a few cases, I'm sure it's due to a lack of true closure; in others, the finality of death. Also bringing me to tears is the sight of the small Syrian boy from Aleppo, the victim of airstrikes. Even now, having to search for the image has brought me to tears yet again. One more--have you ever heard the song Cecilia and the Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness? I love it, and yep, it's making me tear up, too. Sigh. When (and Why) did I get to be such a crybaby?

Wishing For. While I am everso grateful for airconditioning, I am heartily sick of it this summer. We have had to have ours On more than Off, and I crave some fresh air and more moderate temperatures with low humidity. How on earth do any of my friends in the Delta states or places where 90+ with high humidity as the norm survive? NEO is also in a Moderate Drought, so while our air feels like we are walking through a bowl of soup, our yards are crisp and hard and brown. I know, California--Old News to you--but here, we're crabby and outraged. And the Death Toll in my landscaping continues: two cedars, one Japanese maple, one lilac, one viburnum...one more and this will be another thing I'm Weeping About.

Wild About. As many of you might recall, we here at the Dept. are Cord Cutters, and have eschewed cable television for lo these many years now. Very few network shows are Destination Television for us, but we are crazy about Life In Pieces, which we find funny, smart, and quirky in just the right doses. We continue to be avid viewers of Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards on the Netflix (thank you, Jared). I continue to mourn the absence of Hugh Laurie In Anything, and wish that House was on in perpetuity, no matter how awful it got. Isn't it a shame he isn't Doing Something, and Immediately? (And hasn't Modern Family gotten...really terrible?)

Wearing. No more high heels. Lots of easy pullover dresses. Camisoles forever, especially with breezy, loose, gauzy tops. My fleece blanket every evening on the couch, thanks to airconditioning. My hair long, past my shoulders. Makeup every single day, even if I stay at home. Perfectly arched eyebrows, waxed myself, thank you very much. No perfume. As much navy blue as I can find (which is damn little).

Well, that about Wraps It Up. Please share your W's in Comments.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Dept. Of Nance Is Eleven

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The Dept. of Nance is Eleven! Trust me; that is far more astonishing a fact to me than it is to you. The Very Idea that I have been yammering on here for that long is almost as Crazy as the Notion that People Still Read Me. And often have Things To Say right back.

Incredible.

And so very Nice.

Eleven itself, as a Number, does not bring to mind anything I can use as a Theme, so I shall borrow a tired old construct and use the letters of the word ELEVEN and yada yada from there.

E is for Eternity. As in how long the Olympics from Rio seem to be lasting. This blog has seen SIX Olympics, starting with the Turin (Italy) Winter Games. I am absolutely certain that the Rio Summer Games are Eleven times longer. Rick has already complained that he cannot come home from work and unwind by watching Dr. Phil because our local NBC affiliate insists on having 90 minutes of news instead. And results are all over the Interwebs and aforementioned news, so unless the event is live, there is no point watching anything time-delayed. We already know the outcomes.

L is for Lists. I've done lots and lots of them on dozens of topics, both here and over at my now-defunct blog that I used to co-write with Jared, Stuff On Our List. Between the two of us, we've listed favourite pies, cakes, Christmas music, and most-hated songs played on the radio. We listed ways to turn around a bad day and Stuff That Is Dead To Us. In 2010 I listed my Five Most Dangerous Food Nemeses, and in 2016, they are still the same. But The List--you know The One--has changed a bit. I think it's almost time we Revisit that in another whole post.

E is for Elections. The Dept. of Nance is normally Very Political. While I make no secret of my Party Affiliation (Strenuously Democrat), I am so disgusted and disappointed in my country this year that I generally have refrained from The Politics this go-round. I have long decried The Wisdom Of The American People as nonexistent. This presidential Election proves it via the entire republican party and the media who had a major hand in creating its nominee, as well as the party faithfuls who continue to support and countenance him, even while they denounce his statements and sentiments. That they would sacrifice their entire country and its people in the name of a party victory or affiliation is revolting. And lest anyone think I am equating the republican nominee with the Democrat in any way, let me be clear: I'm With Her. And like Senator Sanders, I'm sick and tired of hearing about her damn emails. And all of it has caused me to break my Self-Imposed Ban Against Using The Eff Word. So there's That.

V is for Victory! The Dept. of Nance has long celebrated books, authors, poetry, poets, and all manner of writing and reading. It was with the Most Profound Sadness that I wrote about the deaths of some of my favourite authors like JD Salinger, Arthur Miller, and most recently, Harper Lee. Another Great Sadness was my inability for the past two years or so to read books. I mourned this loss so keenly; books were always a huge part of my life. Well, as of June, I'm back to reading as before! I'm so happy. And the book that broke the spell? My old reliable that I reread every June, Gone with the Wind.

E is for Eating.  In the early years of this blog, I wrote often about the protracted and terrible dramas our family enacted when trying to decide What To Have For Dinner. Unfortunately, though the characters are reduced by half, these skits are ongoing. Both Rick and I are bored with food a great deal of the time, and we are ashamed to say so, knowing that there are vast populations of the world going hungry. I try to snap myself out of it and, in bursts of Culinary Energy, create marvelous entrees to great admiration, but then back into the Slough Of Suppertime Despair I go.  Perhaps I need to take a Vitamin.

N is for Necessities.  When I first began writing here at this space, my Necessities Of Life were high heels, red pens, coffee, and martinis.  And, of course, the migraine drugs.  Now my Necessities Of Life still include the migraine drugs and coffee, but that coffee is half-caff.  I've pretty much traded in my martinis for wine because these days, I'm a very cheap drunk.  And I still have all my high heels, but I only visit them in the upstairs closet, like trophies in a case.  As far as red pens, I do all my editing and commenting on documents in a computer program, so those are another relic of a previous life.  (A friend just asked me, upon hearing that school started here this week, if I missed it. All things considered, the answer is still No. )  So, what are my New Necessities Of Life?  Migraine Drugs, Coffee, Wine, ... oh, that last one.  Such a Toughie.

Let's enjoy some cake whilst we mull it over.  Happy Eleven, Everyone.  I think there's enough.

image via Bing/Pinterest

Sunday, August 07, 2016

V Is For Vanilla Ice Cream


About eleventy hundred years ago when I was a child, the Mr. Softee ice cream truck used to come down our street during the summer. It wasn't often that we could stop him and get a soft-serve cone ourselves, but a kid down the street always did. And he always got the biggest cone on the menu, the double one. And he always got the same thing, a double header of Vanilla Ice Cream. My sister Susan, his best friend, made fun of him for it every single time. As a matter of fact, whenever we went to get ice cream at Home Dairy or any other ice cream place, Curt always ordered the same thing, a double or triple dip of Vanilla. Even if the ice cream parlor had a vast array of flavours: raspberry ripple, mint chocolate chip, peach cobbler, peanut butter and jelly, daquiri ice, triple fudge brownie, orange pineapple, and rainbow sherbet, it didn't matter. Curt would wait patiently and with an absolutely serious face (he looked stunningly like Charlie Brown) he'd give his standard order, "I'll have a triple dip of Vanilla, please." Susan would exhale dramatically and ungraciously, roll her eyes, and sometimes even let loose a "Cu-urt!" out of sheer exasperation.

To Curt's credit he responded pretty much the way he responded to all of her outbursts and fits of temper; he merely looked at her, maybe blinked once or twice, and spoke calmly. "Suze," he would say, "I like Vanilla." This usually did nothing but provoke her into more pique. All the while, Curt placidly licked his ice cream and stayed loyally by her side.

My grandparents were also major Vanilla Ice Cream loyalists. I don't think there was another flavour in their house, ever. During strawberry season, berries atop Vanilla Ice Cream was the only dessert offered (besides the ever-present homemade molasses or sour cream cookies) at their house, and it was usually eaten on the front porch. When it wasn't berry season, the Vanilla Ice Cream accompanied one of Grandma's pies (usually elderberry, rhubarb, or apple) or the aforementioned cookies. I think if Grandma had ever offered me chocolate ice cream at her house on East Liberty Street, I'd probably have fainted, assuming she'd left the church or lost her faculties. Even now, I cannot even imagine something so patently ridiculous. Chocolate ice cream at Grandma's? Impossible.

Rick is also a pretty solid Vanilla Ice Cream guy. Once, when we stopped at our favourite soft serve stand, he shocked me by ordering a twist cone. "Are you surprised?" he asked me. "I thought I'd switch things up for a change." As I started in on my own small twist, I watched him. "Well?" I asked after a few moments. "How is it?" He looked at me, his face disappointed. "I don't know why you like this so much. It all blends together and just tastes like chocolate.  You can't taste any Vanilla. I'm going back to Vanilla." And he has, although he is relatively adventurous at our favourite hard ice cream scoop shop.

Vanilla Ice Cream...bores me. I do appreciate (and insist upon) a Really Good Premium Vanilla Ice Cream, but I need a little something to jazz it up. Like chocolate syrup. Or fresh berries. Or...Something. (Not sprinkles; never sprinkles. Ugh.) But in an ice cream shop faced with a staggering array of fantastic flavours like mango sorbet, lemon black raspberry, and toasted pistachio, I'm not defaulting to Vanilla. (Even superb Vanilla.) I definitely appreciate the role of Vanilla Ice Cream in a hot fudge sundae. You don't want any other flavour in there, really. But I don't want Vanilla Ice Cream mucking about in my pie or birthday cake. (And that goes for all ice cream and all cakes, by the way.)

Are people either Chocolate Ice Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream people? I know I'm a Chocolate Ice Cream Person. If I were stuck with only one kind of ice cream for the rest of my life, and it had to be either chocolate or Vanilla, I'd pick chocolate. No question.

Tell us your Vanilla Ice Cream memories. And which Kind Of Person--Chocolate or Vanilla--are you?

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