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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: Kitchen Table Linens (Supposedly) Drawer

One goal of mine has been to eliminate Junk Repositories from my home. I detest cutesy Crap Containers, so-called Organizers, any flat surfaces designated for detritus to accumulate, and all manner of Clutter. Part of the reason is that we have a very small house; another is that I am home now for a large part of the day and have to deal with it/look at it.  (I dream of getting rid of my coffee table, but we do use it.)

When we went to set the breakfast nook table for our Informal Thanksgiving, the Kitchen Table Linens Drawer quite simply exploded. In the search for tablecloth and matching napkins, (and a placemat for Zydrunas's dishes on the floor), stuff was rooted through, and only with superhuman effort would the drawer begrudgingly close again...almost. Rick and I rarely use an actual table for meals now, opting for more casual dinners on the couch while watching the evening news. The Drawer, therefore, had become neglected, and while I was aware that it needed editing, I was unaware of exactly what had been squirreled away in there of a decidedly Non-Linen nature.

Here, then, is what got Thrown Out of the Drawer today:


First of all, that Lowe's receipt is so old, you cannot even read what the item was or how much it cost.  It was stuffed way in the back.  The little plastic tub was not in the drawer, but it is overflowing with the doodads that somehow found their way into the linens:  screws, a plastic bag of hooks from before my subway tiles were installed, a key safe, a light timer (like for when you go away and want burglars to think someone is home), a broken cover for my refrigerator's water filter, a partial tube of silicon adhesive, some hooks for my pot rack, and a slew of other stuff, including a ceramic cow's ear for a cow I no longer have in my collection.  Rick will have a little sorting job to do.

(I'm sorry to see that cow hook up there get tossed.  I love it, but I have nowhere to put it, and while the repair is an easy one to make, it will also be easy to see.)

And yes, those are actual linens from the drawer I'm either tossing, donating, or selling cheaply at the next garage sale.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: Baking For My Father

Saturdays were a very special day at our house when we were growing up on East 38th Street. My mother always baked something on Saturday afternoons so that we had it for dessert on Saturday night after our baths, and sometimes we had it for breakfast on Sunday mornings before twelve o'clock mass. My father adored fresh pastry, pie, cake, and every once in a while, a homemade pudding like tapioca or a meringue-topped bliss entirely misnamed Graham Cracker Pudding when it should have been called Fantastically Wonderful But Horribly Worky Sweet Delight.

My father often requested terribly complicated and labour-intensive baked goods, and my mother, for some reason, complied. I can vividly remember sitting under our kitchen table while she made strudel dough, stretching and stretching it thinner and thinner, its transparent edges hanging long over the sides. Every so often, I'd reach out from under the table and tear a bit of dough off to taste it. She would sometimes see me and reprimand me, but she never made me get out from under the table.

When my mother made pies, she often had leftover pie crust and allowed me to use it to make my own creations which she would then bake along with her pies. I would roll the bits of pie crust into pinwheels or shape them into flowers or animals. Then I'd sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, or if I was given enough crust to form a small tart or two, fill them with jam. When they came out of the oven, I'd be so proud of them! Carefully, I'd look them over and choose the nicest of them to present to my father on a pretty saucer.

My dad was always so complimentary and loving about whatever I had made and given to him, but he never ate a single thing when I presented it. "That looks great!" he'd say. "I don't want to eat it right now. Have your mother save it for me and pack it in my lunch, and I'll have it at work with my hot tea." Always disappointed, I'd say okay, and take it back to the kitchen and relay the message to my mother, who would put the plate away. I would snack on the remainder of my little treats that I had made myself and think no more about it.

I can't tell you exactly when it finally occurred to me that my father never, ever ate any of the little treats I baked for him. Embarrassingly, it was probably not too long ago, relatively speaking. As I've said before, when it came to my Childhood, I was Blissfully Unaware a good ninety percent of the time, trusting always in The Grownups and spending most of my life with my nose buried deep within books. Like cookies put out for Santa, my little pie crust treats were never consumed by the person for whom they were intended.

My father was, in his own way, a bit of a germophobe, and had deep misgivings about the Unknown Ingredients in my cookies. Had I licked my fingers as I sprinkled on the cinnamon sugar? What if I had not thoroughly washed my hands before I prodded that dough? Perhaps my mother had not made sure my pigtails were pulled back and not able to brush across the cookies' surface. Worse, what if I had coughed on them? There was no way to be sure, so there was no way he could possibly eat them. Instead, he spared both of our feelings with his kind fiction, and I remained happy for the most part, if a bit puzzled.

I buy my pies, except for two pumpkin pies every Thanksgiving, at a local pie shop. I buy premade pie crusts, and there are never any leftovers; you just unroll a circle of dough and push it into the pie pan. It's very easy to do, and when you're done, you're done.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Quick Language Pricklies

This is the last Teacher Tuesday of November, and it's a gorgeous, sunny 62 degrees here in NEO! I want to spend a little more time outside, storing up some natural Vitamin D before Nature looks at her calendar and corrects her mistake.

Here are a few Language Burrs that sneaked under my saddle this week and caused me some discomfort.

1. On Accident. I read this online, but I've heard it said time and time again; e.g. "Travis locked himself out on accident." The correct phrase is "by accident." The mixup most likely occurs because of the converse phrase "on purpose."

2. A Real Trooper. I'm pretty certain that this is going to go the way of many, many olde fashionde sayings and because of its constant misspelling lapse into tolerated and grudgingly accepted usage. The proper spelling is "trouper" after the word "troupe," which is a group of performers. Just as the old saying attests, "The show must go on;" a trouper, therefore, is a performer who keeps going on despite problems and hardships.

3. Lightening/Lightning. This drives me absolutely crazy. If you are making something paler or blonder or weigh less, then you are lightEning it. That is a three-syllable word. If you are referring to bolts of electricity in the sky (which one of my junior regs once told me Benjamin Franklin invented), then you are writing about lightning. That is a two-syllable word.

Going outside now! This warm weather is bliss.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Meme: Firsts

Someone or something always has to Be First. A few Firsts are memorable, pioneering, momentous, and life-changing. Others are mundane, routine, and incidental. Let's take a look at a few

Firsts In The Life Of Nance

1. First thing you'd do if you won a million dollars?
Call my financial planner and ask how much fun we can have with it.

2. First real grownup job?
Bank teller

3. First thing you do when you get bad news?
Wallow in fear and look for solutions as fast as I can.

4. First place you lived on your own?
My college dorm, then my apartment with my husband.

5. First thing you look for on a restaurant menu?
If it's a nice restaurant, seafood or duck. If it's a casual place, pasta.

6. First choice for dessert in restaurants?
Creme brulee

7. First choice in career?
I always wanted to be a teacher, but had a brief year and a half of veterinary medicine study before I went back to education.

8. First book to make a significant impact on you?
It's a tie between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird. I read them at about the same time and was deeply affected by both. But TKAM has had the most lasting effect on me.

9. First movie you went to without adult supervision?
The Sound of Music

10. First thing you do in the shower?
Think about how cold I am.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: The Huh? Edition


Okay.

Even after the viewer overlooks the missing apostrophe (and two upside-down S's), this sign has problems.  I'm struggling to find its message and meaning or any semblance of coherence.  It's as if there was a sign meeting and

Chairman of the Sign Committee:  Okay, everyone.  What should our Holiday Sign say?
Member 1:  Technically, it doesn't say anything.  People read it.  It's not a talking sign.
Chairman:  Ha ha, Joyce.  Okay, anyone else?  I'll write down everyone's suggestion on this legal pad.
Member 2:  Happy Holidays!
Member 3:  How about Welcome to Cinnamon Lake?
Joyce:  That's always on the sign already.
Member 3:  You don't have to get snotty, Joyce.  And it says "Welcome To Cinnamon Lake A Great Community", if you want to get technical.
Member 2:  Come celebrate Christmas with us!
Chairman:  Well, not everyone will be coming just for Christmas.  Over at the Lodge, we're having a Thanksgiving dinner, and also, don't forget the Christmas Eve Bunco Game and our New Year's Eve Euchre and Trivia Countdown Party.
Member 4:  I have to leave early.  Carl moved the Recycling Committee meeting to tonight.  We need to move this along.   
Joyce:  What's on our list?
Chairman:  Okay.  I think I got enough.  Meeting adjourned.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Free For All Friday: A Little Throw It Out Thursday Gets Accomplished In This Thanksgiving/Dog Show Recap


Did you all have a pleasant Thanksgiving or Thursday or both? It was important to me that I take the day off from Something, so Writing was that Something. Truth be told, I also took the day off from Behaving Myself a little bit, and did quite a bit of Curse-Filled Pontificating And Narrating during the Dog Show. Once again, my most favourite dog in the universe, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever did NOT win, nor did it get any camera time beyond its speedy introduction as part of the Sporting Group. To add Insult to Injury, the Brussels Griffon won Best In Show, and I was completely outraged. Here, you tell me:

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
This dog did not win.

Ugly Brussels Griffon Icky Thing Dog
This one did.

I think my point is made.  I only hope the Canadians don't take it personally and stop making wine for me in Ontario.

This Thanksgiving taught me that, in addition to Throwing Out some pretty good Swear Words and Rants Against Lesser Dogs, I could also Throw Out the following:

1. Rolls
2. A second vegetable side dish

I fussed and fumed about not finding The Good Rolls this year, and went on a ridiculous 3-Store Hunt for them. After finally securing this coveted item and putting out said Good Rolls on the Thanksgiving Table, they were assiduously ignored and forgotten, left untouched to be put away, pristine and puffy, likely to be frozen for less festive meals in the future.  I also made the Executive Decision to serve only one vegetable--Jared's sauteed Brussels sprouts (the best thing from Brussels, ahem!) with onions and balsamic glaze--and it was more than enough.

So, to recap, here's What I Threw Out On Thanksgiving Thursday:
1.  Lots Of Indiscriminate Profanity Directed At Dog Breeds And Dog Show Judging
2.  Any Notion Of Ever Serving Rolls (Even The Good Kind) At Thanksgiving Dinner
3.  The Idea That A Second Vegetable Dish Was Necessary
Oh, and--
4.  All Pretense That I Can Make "A Lot Less" Stuffing

We were one less at the Dept. for dinner this year since Sam was vacationing in warmer climes.  I was determined to make A Lot Less Stuffing.  I still have NO IDEA why this did not happen.  I truly feel like I did not buy the same amount of ingredients I used to; I honestly feel that I mixed, chopped, sauteed, and seasoned way less.  YET, when I finished shaping the little balls of stuffing, I still had three pans full of them.  Each and every time I had to get out another pan, I was stunned and amazed.

I was not even drinking. No lie.

Speaking of drinking, we served two wines with dinner, an oaked Chardonnay and an unfiltered Pinot Noir, both lightly chilled.  And both Canadian. 


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: The Lesson Of Dessert


When I was much younger, lots and lots of our extended family get-togethers (like most people's) involved sharing food. The aunts would bring casseroles and Jello salads and pies and cakes and vegetable dishes that made filling a plate a Logistics Nightmare. Very rarely was there a clunker on the table; besides, my grandfather would eat anything, and plenty of it.

One of my aunts, Aunt Eileen, married into the family, played golf, drank booze, and was fiercely loving.  She also made terrific desserts.  She once brought a towering bowl of butterscotch pudding topped with billowy whipped cream to a family gathering. I kept my eye on that bowl for the entire meal, but by the time I got to dessert, it was gone. My heart is still not healed from that, but it taught me a valuable lesson that I put into practice at a subsequent event.

The family was having a big eat-for-all at my grandparent's cabin, so we went down for the day to visit with the relatives, swim in the lake, and eat a lot. We met first at Grandma's, and my Aunt Eileen dropped my cousin Tim off there to go down with us since they weren't coming. Tim arrived with his bathing suit, towel, and one of Aunt Eileen's double chocolate cakes.

I don't remember how we managed to do it, but Tim and I hid that whole cake from Grandma, my mother, and everyone.  We hid it at Grandma's, and we hid it in the car on the way to the cabin, too.  We probably draped his swim towel over it, but more likely no one paid much attention to us. We sneaked that magnificent cake up into the loft in the cabin, hid it under a bed, and later, when no one was going to notice, we grabbed two forks that we had sneaked up there too and ate gorgeous, chocolatey cake at our leisure and by ourselves.

With absolutely zero regret, shame, or guilt.

And it was delicious.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Reader Mail For The Dept. And Me (Or Should That Be I?)

Devoted and Long-Time Reader John from Gettysburg sent me an email today questioning me about this sentence in yesterday's post:

The parade will provide several opportunities for Rick and I to exhibit our complete lack of awareness in the areas of Broadway Musicals, Cartoon Stars, and B/C-List Celebrities...

wondering specifically about the particular phrase for Rick and I.

I wish John did not live so far away in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, because he really needs to be right here in Northeast Ohio to give me a Good Hard Smack. Immediately and with Great Alacrity.

Because, holy crap, what a Rookie Mistake. And if I saw it or heard it anyplace, I'd be all over it like...well, Me On A Grammatical Or Spelling Error Made By Someone Who Knows Better.

I'm so mortified, my face is falling off.

But every Mistake is a Learning Opportunity, so here is the reason why the phrase should have been for Rick and me:

"For" is a preposition; therefore, it requires an object, the objective case pronoun "me." One way to check is to remove the compound ("several opportunities for me"). You wouldn't say "several opportunities for I", would you? No, nor would I, even though I made that silly error.

"Perhaps this will make Nance more forgiving and less of a Language Martinet," some people may be saying. Sadly, they would be wrong.

And yes, of course I corrected yesterday's post.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Meme: Thanksgiving

I had to make a Final Grocery Store Run this morning. Suddenly, I was out of foil. And garlic powder (Rick can no longer abide real garlic) and plastic storage bags and cat litter. And no one had Brussels sprouts or the Good Dinner Rolls, so I'm Over It. SO Over It.

Say hello to the first ever Thanksgiving Grinch.

But it's Okay. "Maybe Thanksgiving doesn't come from a store. Maybe Thanksgiving...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Let's see what it means to Me, at least, in these Thanksgiving Questions:

1. Turkey--white meat or dark?

Dark meat. Tastes better and isn't as dry.

2. Cranberries?

I insist on making cranberry sauce, plain, and I prefer it warm. Rick makes cranberry-orange relish.

3. Single most favourite food of Thanksgiving Dinner?

Turkey gravy. I do make my own, and I think turkey gravy is the best gravy. I wish I didn't have to put it ON food, but could merely eat it like a soup.

4. How do you feel about stores being open on Thanksgiving?

I'm decidedly against it and disappointed by it. I wish the employees could be at home. I wish there were one day besides Christmas that commerce could take a break. But it's disingenuous to be so lofty and idealistic, isn't it? The truth is that some people don't have Thanksgiving: they don't want to or can't be with their families; they welcome the chance to work and earn some holiday pay; or they don't celebrate the holiday, period. And if brick-and-mortar stores close their doors, they'll lose out to online retailers who never close for the holiday, and who are struggling to maintain their status in the marketplace as it is. They're serving a Need, and whether Created or Existing, if it didn't profit them to do so, they wouldn't.

5. Dog show, football, or parade?

All, in bits and pieces, but sadly, the primary focus of the TV will be football. I would prefer it be the dog show, which I find far more interesting, exciting, and fast-paced, but I will be outvoted. The parade will provide several opportunities for Rick and me to exhibit our complete lack of awareness in the areas of Broadway Musicals, Cartoon Stars, and B/C-List Celebrities as we continually turn to one another and say, "Who the hell is that?" and "What did they say he/she was in?" and "I never heard of any of them" and "What is that a balloon of, something from a movie or a video game?"

6. Pies?

I make two pumpkin, but I don't eat any. I dislike pumpkin pie, which to me is boring in the extreme. Instead, I eat a bowl of whipped cream with chocolate syrup and chopped nuts. Perhaps this year I will eat some of my Hagen Dazs coffee ice cream.

7. Are pets invited?

Zydrunas (the granddog) will be here for the holiday, which means Piper and Marlowe (resident cats) will be safely tucked away in the upper stories of the Dept. While Z is a guest here, he is not a Full Participant in the actual meal, except to be with us in the dining room until he has tired considerably of (usually) Jared's comments, at which point he leaves with a huff and retires to his chair in the living room. And yes, I do have a recent photo:



8. Do you have a dress code?

Oh, my. That would be the day.


I await your 8 and more in Comments.




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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: Meet My Nemesis


This sign.  I drive by it every week, and each time I feel as if it's mocking me.  Other signs on this scrolling marquee advertise plural things, too, but only this noun has the errant apostrophe, not Fridays, not Games, not Events, not Nights.

I wish they'd change Tuesday to Chili Night.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Free For All Friday: Wish List Edition


Today is One Of Those Days. We were supposed to have some sun and reach fifty degrees. Instead, it is (again) grey, gloomy, 43, and we are under a wind advisory, so with the Wind Chill Factor, the real-feel temperature is more like 36. I feel cheated and fussy. On top of all of that, I am on Day Two of Not Sleeping Well, so I am achy and crabby. I desperately need some sleep, or I am in for a Major Headache Event. Why not just grab a nap? I hear my Dear Readers asking. And Today's Post Is Born.

Here are

3 Basic Things I Wish I Could Do, But I Cannot

1. Nap. I have never been able to sleep during the day. It is impossible for me to do. I can't even simply Lie Down unless I am ill. All that happens is that I see or think of things that Need To Be Done, perseverate over them, and then get up and do them. I can't even imagine being able to actually fall asleep during the day.

2. Drink Soda. Because I am on Topamax (medicine to help prevent migraine), I cannot drink anything carbonated. Do you know how many nice cocktails this eliminates for me? Do you know how I crave a Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Root Beer every once in a while? The reaction of the Topamax and the carbonation not only tastes horrible, but the foaming in my mouth is bizarre.

3. Back A Car Out With Confidence. Oh my god, this is the worst. First of all, turning around to do it hurts my neck like crazy. Second of all, I worry about the front of the car hitting whatever is next to it. Finally, I have zero depth perception/distance judgment. We have lived at our residence for thirty-two years, and I still dread backing out of our driveway which, in my defense, has a goofy jog in it and is bordered by a fence on one side and our house on the other. Nightmare.

See how lucky you all are? (And talented!)

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: The Kitchen Pantry



Today's project was easy and took me all of about six or seven minutes, and that includes taking the photo and getting on and off the chair to reach the uppermost shelves.

My Throw It Out Thursday took place in the kitchen pantry cabinets. I call them my Working Pantry because I store any extra cans and boxes of items on shelves in the basement so things don't get too cluttered. That way, if there's a great sale on something, I can take advantage of it and not have to always heave around a bunch of the same items in the cupboard if all I want is a can of olives or a box of brown sugar.

This guise of efficiency does not mean, however, that I don't have a few Antiques or Forgotten Foodstuffs lurking in there. Since I have to use a chair for the top shelves, and since Stuff Happens, I ended up with some things that Had To Go. Here then, is what went out the door today:




I absolutely abhor waste, especially food waste, so this was No Fun for  me.  But at least some of the items are mostly empty or empty or, well, just awful.  The two fancy olive oil bottles are actually empty; I was saving them to return to the Pricey Olive Oil Store for credit on refills.  I finally realized that I'm not going to do that.  The rice box is empty, too, for a similar reason.  It is too worky to fill it from the gargantuan bag of rice that I buy, so I keep on hefting the bigass bag of rice, forgetting to toss the box.   

Every year, I think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have ice cream cones at home?"  No.  I eat my ice cream straight out of the pint container like every other grownup who is glad to have gotten her kids out of the house so that she can do all the things she told her kids not to do.   So that box, unopened, went straight into the trash.  So did the jar of Amish elderberry jelly, unopened.  I dislike elderberries, and we do not eat jelly.  Unfortunately, it is also true that Amish jelly is intensely sugary, containing not very much fruit at all, so it had to go.  There's probably a teaspoon of Wondra (a product I no longer use) left in that canister; it had fallen over on the top shelf and I didn't know it was there. 

Goodbye, Elderly Bottle Of Karo whose origins I know not.  So long, enormous bag of Marjoram, herb I rarely cook with.  Off with you, partial bags of Flavoured Decaf, each supposed to taste like something different, but both tasting oddly the same.  And fare thee well, numerous packets of Red Robin seasoned salt, chucked into the bag of takeout then saved for...who knows what?  You can join the rest of the Refuse Rejects in the trash bin, jockeying for space with the forgotten peanut butter chips, empty spice jar with the broken lid, and the Canadian marmalade and raspberry jam, squirreled away in our wine-tasting bag, then unpacked and put away by mistake.  You are all off to the Big Dumpster Of Eternity.

How about you?  Are you Throwing anything Out this Thursday?  Got any kitchen pantry items that need tossing?


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: Even As A Child, My Hair Drove Me Crazy

My mother had very specific ideas regarding her three daughters' hair when we were young. My older sister, Patti, had a long, single, blue-black ponytail, high up at the back of her head. My younger sister, Susan, startlingly blond amongst all of us dark-hairs, wore a blunt Dutch Boy cut. For some reason, my long, dark brown hair was always woven into two tight braids, one on either side of my head. I hated those braids and the agonizing procedure it took to get them.

St. Patsy was a no-nonsense mother when it came to things like Routine Maintenance. When it was time to braid my hair, I had to stand there with my back to her, motionless, and hold my own Implements Of Torture. As she combed or brushed my hair free of the dreaded Snarls (using either Implement, depending on which I could find), a minimum of fussing on my part would be endured, and no movement. "Stand still! Stop fussing!" she'd say, exasperated. "Hold the brush. Now hand me that rubber band. Now the other one." No amount of pleading and placating would convince her to allow me to wear my hair loose and free, either. Nope. It was braids, braids, braids. "You look so nice in braids, and everyone thinks so. Look how nice they are! You're lucky to have such nice, thick hair for braids," my mother would say every time I asked, and it never once occurred to me to take out my braids as I walked on my way to school.

Washing my hair, which back then was done weekly, was a complicated affair. I was raised in a house that never had a shower the entire time I lived there, twenty-two years. We always took baths and found it easier to wash our hair in the kitchen sink. In order to wash my extremely long hair as a child, my mother would have me lie out on the kitchen counter with my head over the sink; she would then shampoo my scalp and the length of my hair, which was a terrible trial for me. And her.

Not only do I hate water on my face, but I have always had a very sensitive scalp and forehead. Once Mom would start wetting my hair, I would start getting ticklish and jumpy. And then start laughing. And pretty soon, the laughing would become crying and things would get really ridiculous. My mother would try to settle me down, and invariably my father's voice would come floating over it all from another room, mildly concerned (but not enough to put down his reading and come in), and we would both yell, "It's okay!" and something about me getting my hair washed. By the time it was all over and my mane was in a towel turban, I could barely sit up and hop off the counter.

How the hell was it worth it? You'll have to ask St. Patsy; she was the Insister Of The Braids.

I do remember one day in first or second grade, a day when I was allowed to have my hair down at school. I was wearing a beautiful dress--one of my favourites, with a big fluffy skirt and a little Peter Pan collar. At some point during the day, I started feeling a pain in the back of my head. As the day went on, it hurt more and more, and I had to go up to tell my teacher. She asked me to point to where it hurt. She turned me around so that she could look, and when she brushed my hair aside so that she could see more clearly, I heard her gasp. She asked me to go to the nurse's office where she would meet me shortly.

At the nurse's office, she and the nurse gently pushed most of my hair away to reveal the problem. Apparently, as the day had gone on, many strands of my hair underneath had wound themselves around and around the top two buttons on the back of my dress. They had to cut some of my hair to free me.

It was, I guess, a partial vindication of St. Patsy's Ban On Loose Locks.

By the time I got to third grade, I was released from Braids once and for all. And my long, long hair was cut slightly above my shoulders, too. Better days for us both.

How about you? Any hair-raising tales? Please tell me I'm not the only one (and not the only one who wore braids).

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: The "Language: It's What's For Dinner" Edition

Words are making me Crabby this week. Maybe I need to get away from this Editing Gig for a little while. Yesterday, I saw a license plate that read LOOSNUP. I immediately dropped my shoulders and exhaled deeply. Then that car started dropping its speed and swerving deeply. As I hurriedly passed it, I saw its very, very loose driver with her glasses perched on the tip of her nose and her tablet/Kindle propped on her steering wheel. I TITNDUP all over again.

But onto My Mission, and it is Restaurant/Menu Words.

I am stymied and annoyed at how lazy and sad many restaurants are about their menus. This is, after all, the first way they communicate their culinary image to the customer. Lots of small restaurants just don't give a lot of consideration to that. Or spelling, actually.

Here is a menu for an independent restaurant not too awfully far from where I live and where Rick used to go and meet his buddies from his former job. Its menu contains a few Sadnesses: French Dip "served with a side of au jus"; Shrimp Po Boy, described as "Blackened shrimp, romaine lettuce and bistro sauce served on a Cajun cheddar cheese baked hoagie", and one which makes me want to shred my eyeballs, their "Chicken South Of The Boarder" sandwich.

Then they make the Mistakes Involving The B-Word, and they beat it up hard. I'm just happy that I don't go there and hear the waitress and guests actually SAY the B-Word, inevitably MISPRONOUNCE IT, and then have to sit there and try to Live Through It All.

Somehow.

What? The B-Word? It's BRUSCHETTA. BROO-SKET-UH.
 Broo. SKET. Uh.
SKET. SKET. SKET. K. K. K. OKAY!? EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE:   LEARN HOW TO SAY IT.

Here is a handy visual.  It is my pleasure, really:

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Thank you. And now, if people could just learn what it is. Bruschetta is THE BREAD. It's not a mixture of tomatoes and herbs. It's the charred or toasted bread. IT'S THE BREAD. BR = BREAD AND BRUSCHETTA. SK IS LIKE BASKET. BRUSCHETTA--BREAD BASKET. OR SOMETHING. ANYTHING TO HELP PEOPLE REMEMBER.  HELP ME TO HELP THEM.

HOLY CRAP, AM I EVER INVESTED IN THIS MOVEMENT.

***

Here is the Entree inspiring my despair:

*Chicken Bruschetta Dinner

(2) Grilled chicken breasts smothered in fresh mozzalla served with asparagus, Baby baked potatoes topped with tomato bruschetta, pesto +a balsamic glaze


Oh my god.  So much despair.

1. Mozzalla? And is just the mozzalla served with the asparagus, or is the chicken, too?
2. And is it the Baby baked potatoes that are topped with the bread and tomatoes, pesto + a balsamic glaze?
3. Why is anything covered in bread?
4. Is Baby a brand of potatoes or the name of the person who baked them, or what?

And so much BREAD. Consider this appetizer:

Mozzarella Bruschetta

Freshly breaded and fried mozzarella served on a French baguette with homemade pesto and tomato bruschetta topped with a balsamic glaze


(Apparently, the mozzalla is not a good complement to the baguette.) That, my friends, is a bigass appetizer. Fried cheese + a baguette + pesto (not the homemade for this dish; it is unworthy!) + tomatoes + bread + glaze. I would think it is shareable.  And bready.

In their defense, this "Bruschetta Chicken" misnomer is not unique to them. It is a widespread phenomenon, like saying "irregardless" (NOT A WORD) or pronouncing "Reese's" of peanut butter cup fame "Ree-sees" (WRONG; ALWAYS WRONG). All you have to do is go to Red Robin and order it there, or search for one of the 3.3 million recipes for it on the Internet. That doesn't make it Okay, though; just because a lot of people do something doesn't validate it or make it correct.

You know? ;-)

Feed me full of your Wonderfulness in Comments.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Meme: Music


Monday, Monday...This day sneaked up on me like a little grey cat wearing lambswool slippers. It's gloomy and cold and cloudy and I'm trying to get Out From Under a tedious and picky editing job that is making me cross-eyed. I only have time for a few meme q's, so let's get to them!

1. What music are you listening to lately?

I've put my Carly Simon albums (Coming Around Again and No Secrets) into heavy rotation. I'm bored with You're So Vain, though, so sometimes I skip that song when it comes on.

2. What was your favourite concert that you attended?

Rick and I got all dressed up and went to see Michael Crawford in Cleveland back when he was just retired from being the Phantom of the Opera. (No, we were not the youngest ones there.) It was a beautiful, captivating, gorgeous night of lovely music. I still feel privileged to have heard him live.

3. What concert would you like to go to now?

None. I get irritated by the people who have to stand up the whole time and block my view. I don't like how the artists encourage everyone to sing when I paid huge money to hear THEM sing, not a crowd of fans. I don't like all the extraneous noise and people who act like goofballs. If I could go and NOT be subjected to all of that, I'd like to see Bruno Mars (because he's entertaining and cute). Maybe Elton John because I was supposed to go see him forty years ago, but I got terribly sick and couldn't go. But if he sounds really bad and forgets the words to his songs, I'd be so disenchanted and sad.

4. What music did you listen to in college/high school?

I was a huge Queen fan in college. I still love Queen, but that kind of music, I have to be in the mood for, you know? In high school, I listened to a little of everything, from Elton John to John Denver to Kiss to Cat Stevens to Blue Oyster Cult to whatever my sister Patti was listening to, like Al Stewart--remember him? That album might be my next free download. And once I met Rick, I started listening to a lot of Motown. A. Lot.  (It wasn't a Bad Thing.)

5. What about Rap Music?

Every once in a while, I can listen to some of it. Not very often, but there is some that I don't mind too much. I don't like ugly, hateful, disgusting, misogynistic rap music. I loved the new Eminem rap against 45*, just like I loved the last one he did against a republican. (Can you believe Eminem is 45?)

Your turn. I hope I don't end up feeling too much like an old lady.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: Feeding My Addiction To Names

Along with shoes, cows, and books, I've been sort of obsessed with Names since I was a child. I've written about Names quite a bit here at the Dept., and I've mentioned more than once how I feel disappointed with my own. My given Name, Nancy, has never suited me; I shortened it to Nance early on and have gone by it professionally and personally for decades. I'm not excited about that Name, either, but oh well.

Having a boring and unsuitable Name has made me a noticer and coveter and collector of Names. I love beautiful Names (like Annabelle), unusual Names (like Barkevious), melodious Names (Vivienne), evocative Names (Tristan), and am fascinated by trends in Names. Lucky for me, there is a Sign that feeds my Name Addiction, and I pass by it at least once a week. It is on the grounds of an elementary school not very far at all from where I live, and it lists the Names of all its weekly Pride Award Winners. Here are this week's:

(I've blacked out surnames and the name of the school for privacy/security reasons. These are, after all, elementary kids.)

This is quite a hoity-toity, high-tea-in-the-drawing-room-sounding collection of Names, is it not?  I feel like Victoria, Cameron, and Elizabeth are probably sitting there, backs nice and straight, politely applauding with gloved hands whilst Caleb collects his Pride Award, hoping that their Good Example is followed by the rest of the class.

Those Names are a bit of a departure from the previous week, when the Pride Awards went to Dallas, Raven, Liam, and Aniyah.  These Winners probably had to take an hour off from their MTv reality show or maybe from taping "4ForRock", a KidzChannel show about four elementary school kids who are in an after-school rock band and yes, each one is a fashion doll, available now!

Previous to that week, Jordan, Amari, Marissa, and Ciara collected Awards.  Each of them likely used their acceptance speech as a platform for his or her work with International Charitable Organizations, a couple of which they personally founded.  I bet a short personal video from Angelina Jolie was shown, including an original song sung by native children they inspired.

I love Names!  I love them all, and I love the character they seem to convey.  Names are fun and interesting.  This sign gives me a little boost every week.  I think I'll add its list of first Names to my sidebar just in case anyone else likes to check in on Names.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Free-For-All Friday: The Slightly Subdued, Post-Migraine Edition Celebrating Simple Joys Of The Week

Last night our Canadian Friends sent us a bigass cold front packing icy cold winds and the first sn*w of the season. (Thank you, but really, you shouldn't have.) I woke up at 3AM with a banger of a migraine and today am pretty worthless. As I cower from everything but Rest, Hydration, and Warmth, I feel compelled to satisfy my Writing Responsibilities. Here's a Quick Rundown of some Small Yet Satisfying Happinesses that lifted my spirits this week:

1. Carly Simon On iTunes. I grew up listening to the music of my older sister Patti, who is seven years my senior. She was my idol, my role model, and my mentor in so many areas of Life. We shared the finished attic bedroom with my younger sister Susan for years and years, so I grew up listening to whatever music Patti did. This week, I downloaded two Carly Simon albums from iTunes, using free money from my many survey credits. They're in heavy rotation now with the two Beatles albums I downloaded last week (also for free!), and I'm really enjoying this musical trip in the wayback machine.

2. Fall Wardrobe. Cuddly sweaters, leggings, boots, long pants again--these are a few of my favourite things. I refreshed my fall/winter wardrobe with a few new pieces from TJ Maxx, but most of my clothes are in good shape and are basics that I can wear a long time without looking dated.

3. Soups And Slow Cooks/Roasts. I'm finally feeling like cooking and being creative in my kitchen again, and it's a pleasure to do it when it's not so hot out and I have more of an appetite. I made a really tasty (and easy) soup last night that Rick thoroughly enjoyed, and I plan on making many more. Sam finished the small leftover bit for his lunch today. I actually had a pretty good Cooking Week, for a change, taking advantage of my crockpot and the oven (since we've had such cool weather), and it's starting to feel like I'm getting back to my old self a little bit.

4. Democrats! Thank you, Virginia and New Jersey. Thank you so much.  Thank you for repudiating the Politics Of Hate And Ignorance.  Thank you to the strong, capable women who decided to run for office and make a difference right at the source.  And a special Thank You to Ashley Bennett, who served up one hell of a dinner in New Jersey.

I await your Comments on my Simple Joys and stand ready to Celebrate (albeit gently) Yours.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: Getting Tough With The Cooking Cabinet And Saying Goodbye To The Baker I Used To Be


Well, this one is embarrassing yet quite liberating. And I'm here to tell you that it took me all of maybe fifteen minutes, truly. These Thursdays are invigorating me! I'm starting to Look Forward To Them.

My Cooking Cabinet is what I call the tall, narrow cabinet where I store all my spices, seasonings, flavourings, and such that I cook and bake with. In there are stored my peppercorns, garam masala, cinnamon, cocoa powder, baking powder, star anise, vanilla (extract and beans), Adobo seasoning, Old Bay, curry, and cayenne, to name a random sampling. Dried herbs I use most often are stored in a rack of jars on my counter, along with my kosher salt and some other cooking accoutrements. Also in the Cabinet are birthday candles, muffin papers, and all sorts of decorating sprinkles and sugars left from when I used to make fancy cakes for birthdays, and the boys and I used to make and decorate sugar cookies at Christmas, both baked goods I haven't made in about a hundred years.  Hence, the decorating stuff is way up on the top shelf, so I started there, and I was honestly alarmed at what had ended up there, out of sight and mind for so long.

After that Slough Of Personal Despair, the remaining two shelves were easy. It was merely a matter of taking it all out, tossing a couple of items that had been pushed to the rear, and then putting it all back in, this time taking advantage of newfound space and having the luxury of  a better organization method than Cramming Stuff In After I Use It.

Because I am a Keep It Real kind of woman, here is my Shame, in full color and all of its Disgustingness. This is every single thing that I Threw Out:


I can hear your first response:  Who in the hell needs that much chicken bouillon?  Obviously, no one.  That container was two-thirds full.  I don't even remember buying it.  Those ancient bottles of food colouring and flavourings came over with a bunch of kitchen stuff when Rick's dear grandparents went into a nursing home.   That one piping tip hid out up there and survived The Great Cake Decorating Equipment Purge several years ago.  And I never did make that maple cooky recipe again after trying it once--too worky.

It's all gone now.  Out to the garbage it went, and I feel fantastic about it.  Oh, one thing I did not feel too terribly fantastic about:  there was one little Tupperware of mixed sprinkles that I came across, and being the frugal girl that I am, I decided to save the container.  It was a handy little size, and why throw away something that was still useful?

I'm sure you can already guess what happened.  After years of covering a wee tub full of sugar, the lid was tough to wrench off.  It did, though, unexpectedly, and a great deal of the mixed sprinkles and sugars scattered onto my hardwood kitchen floor, settling into its irregular cracks and spaces.  Thankfully, the broom and dustpan were right at hand, and the vacuum was employed soon after for anything it missed.  One little mishap like that was not going to mar my Joy.

How about all of you?  Are you Throwing Out On Thursdays yet?  If not, can you relate to my Shame?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: The Pace Of Childhood

It was inevitable. Sometime in late June, a day would arrive when the burden of our Summertime Freedom was too much. Laura, Lisa, and I had already rollerskated until our knees and elbows were scabby and sore. We had played jump rope until arguing over misses and whose turn it was had frayed our friendships more than the street surface had frayed our skipping rope. Our koolaid stand idea never got off the ground, and we got tired of hearing our mothers say, "You kids get out of the house and go play outside!" That's when my mother would say, "Go get a big blanket, spread it out in the shade, and play dolls."

By dolls she meant, of course, Barbie dolls. My two friends across the street had Barbies, too, and tons of clothes in vinyl zippered cases. Our front yard had a nice shady maple tree, so we always played at our house. My mother provided the blanket or big comforter, and pretty soon we'd each be at a corner, setting up our Barbie's "house" and sorting her clothes. A few hours later, we'd be called inside for lunch or dinner or something, loathe to gather up our things and end our playtime.

We were probably eight or ten years old, not unusual for doll-playing back then. And sometimes it wasn't Barbies when we played dolls. If we all got Crissy dolls (with beautiful hair that grows!), then we played with those; if we had Barbie's cousins (Francie?) or sisters (Skipper?) or whomever, we played with those. We pretended they were going to work, going shopping, going out on a date, heading to the beach, or meeting for lunch. They had conversations and shared clothes and those teeny little shoes that never stayed on. We played for hours.

It is with some sadness and disappointment that I have noted Barbie dolls being given as gifts to children as young as two and three years old. On Mattel's website, some Barbie dolls are recommended for ages 3+, such as Barbie Video Game Hero, Barbie Fashionista Dolls, and Barbie Dreamtopia Bubbletastic Fairy Doll, to name only a few out of dozens. I guess I'm wondering why--and more importantly, just how--babies are playing with Barbies.

So much of Life has become accelerated for kids. I remember chaperoning prom and being astonished that there was a Garter Dance, once only a wedding reception ritual. High school students go to Florida, the Bahamas, and on cruises for Spring Break, the traditional rite for college students. And the elaborate setups involved now for merely asking someone for a date to Homecoming or Prom far exceed most people's proposals for marriage.

Where are these young people speeding off to? What is the ultimate destination, and how will they know when they've arrived?  It's exhausting.

Back to Barbies.

I actively played Barbies until junior high school, I think, and so did my friends.  And I had a built-in playmate with my sister Susan, five years my junior, when we weren't fighting.  Or when she wasn't bending my Barbies' legs backward and ruining them, leaving gaping holes in the rubber and exposing the plastic joints, rendering them stiff-legged and very unladylike forever.  (Probably Susan still owes me about four Barbies, but I've never collected.  She's likely compensated me in tomatoes and home-canned goods.)

I often say that I'm glad I raised my sons before the ubiquity of smartphones, social media, and the Internet.  And I am.  It was hard enough there at the end of their adolescence with AoL Instant Messenger and a shared Sega Genesis.   I could always remove the power cords for the computer and the game system when necessary. There was no way I would have survived anything else.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Language Alert!

www.tias.com
Welcome to Teacher Tuesday, where I come out of Retirement once a week to talk about something in my Field Of Expertise (English) or something Incredibly Thinky that I read or heard and want to hear your opinions about.

Today's topic is a Threat-Level-Yellow, or Mildly Irritating, Language Alert. Because I have had to be Out In Society lately, due to St. Patsy's Health Maintenance Appointments and my own errands, I have been exposed more than usual to Other People talking.

I know.

Here are the Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Language that I was forced to Suffer:

1. All of the sudden. "Wow! That wind came up, and all of the sudden, the temperature dropped like ten degrees." This phrase is never, ever correct. There is no particular, singular instance of suddens. It is an adverb. Would you say this sudden, that sudden, those suddens? The correct phrase is and always has been ALL OF A SUDDEN.  If you don't like it or remain confused, just say the economical and always correct "suddenly."

2. I seen. "I seen you only had one item, so no use in you being behind me." This was said by such a kind and gracious gentleman ahead of me at the store, and I thanked him profusely. The persistence and proliferation of "seen" as the plain past tense of the verb "see", however, is killing me a little more each day. Why is this happening? What is wrong with the perfectly good--and correct--word "saw"? "Seen" is only used with helping verbs: I had seen; I have seen. When you add a form of "be", use the -ing: I have been seeing.

3. Have went. "I've went to that place three times now, and each time there's been no handicapped spots." I am continually mystified by this particular linguistic quirk. How did it come to pass? Why can't the speaker hear how clunky and wrong it sounds? Why hasn't he or she ever heard of the word "gone"? "Went" is simple past tense of the verb "go". I went; she went; we went. If you add the helping verbs, then use "gone": I have gone; she has gone; we have gone. Again, when you add "be", use -ing: They have been going.

4. Expresso. "That baby acts like it has shots of expresso in its bottle, I swear!" Sigh. It's ESPRESSO. There is NO "X". One of my sons came home from classes one day and said he could no longer truly respect anything his English instructor said because she persisted in pronouncing this word incorrectly. It was a tough time for him, and I completely understood how he felt.

5. Hone In On. "This particular screen can really hone in on that rotation pattern." No, it can't. Perhaps it can HOME in on it, which is what radar is designed to do. Honing is what you do with blades; it refers to the act of sharpening on a whetstone (or the stone itself). The phrase is HOME IN ON, which means to aim toward a specific target.

Have you heard these out and about?  Do they set your teeth on edge, too? 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Monday Meme: 10 Q About Me For You


After a Day Of Rest on Sunday, Mondays can often be a tough re-entry day. I'll do a light workout on Mondays with memes. Today's is one I've cobbled together from various places on the Interwebs.


1. Do you prefer coffee or tea? Iced or hot?

I prefer coffee, and I don't drink it iced. To me, iced coffee will always taste like leftover coffee that needs to be reheated. It's just wrong. I was raised on iced tea, however. My mother always had a gallon pitcher of it in the refrigerator, made fresh daily, with ten teabags and a fresh lemon. It was never cloudy and it was always lightly sweetened. I will always associate hot tea with sickness because I was always ill and it was the frontline remedy, along with St. Patsy's other medicine of choice, Vicks VapO Rub.

2. You have the remote; what channel is on?

Oh no. Here, you take it. Neither Rick nor I ever want control of the remote. He always says he can't hear the TV; I always tell him to turn it down or to mute certain commercials that I simply cannot tolerate anymore. He wants to watch a bunch of African savanna carnage, and I want to watch someone spatchcock a chicken. I press the actual digits to get to the channel; he pushes the UP or DOWN arrows endlessly, sometimes lingering on the most inexplicable things (like car auctions or Alaskan state trooper interrogations) along the way. Ninety percent of the time, if I have the remote, the TV is OFF.

3. What is one of your favourite quotes?

"There are no ordinary lives."--Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker.

4. Are you a good influence?

Holy crap, I sure hope so. I've been trying to be A Good Influence my entire life. In some cases, I've been fortunate enough to hear that I have been, from parents and former students. In the case of my own children, I can see some positive outcome from my influence. I would like to see a helluva lot more of my Good Influence on Congress. I'll keep trying.

5. What do you need to be happy?

Sigh. According to a friend of mine from college, I'll never be happy. And honestly, I don't know that answer. I'm reasonably content every day, but I always have a Little Lurking Worry in the shadows of my mind. Something can always happen. It has in the past, and it can again. Stuff is out there, waiting to smack me down. I try not to get ahead of myself--kind of keep on an even keel so that I can handle it.

6. What's your favourite season?

I think it's Spring. It feels like such a Reward for making it through the winter, and I can air out the house and smell fresh, green sprouts and damp earth. It's the season of flowering trees and surprise blooms like crocuses and tulips. I start hearing birdsongs again, and the day I unzip the heavy lining out of my raincoat---Victory!

7. Are you generally organized or messy?

Organized. I have a low threshhold for disorder and messiness. It makes me genuinely angry. And a little bit edgy, as in I Have To Do Something About It, even if it's just to identify it aloud (e.g., "Do you need all those bill envelopes on the coffee table?  And is this mail you have gone through already?"). This is difficult because Rick is...not this way. I'm trying to work it all out.

8. Are you a Cat Person or a Dog Person?

I am a Cat Owner who has a Granddog. I am a great appreciator of Dogs and like them very much, but I know absolutely that I would not want to Have A Dog. Dogs are the closest thing there is to Having A Perpetual Child, and I am not okay with that. They are Worky In The Extreme, as are children. They must be taken Outdoors. They require training and consistency. They must be played with and be socialized. If you leave for a few days, they must be looked after by suitable people. Some of them produce copious amounts of slobber. All of that is...stuff I am finally rid of now that Jared and Sam are grownups and on their own. Cats--for whom I can advocate knowledgeably--never need to be taken outdoors, can be left at home for up to a week with a self-feeder and waterer, and do not slobber. They train themselves and socialize, usually, with only their owners anyway. Sifting their shitbox once every day or two is a Nothing, thanks to advances in litter chemistry. Also, they are far quieter. The biggest drawback is, of course, Cat Hair, a menace which is both boundless and demonic.

9. How do you feel about turkey burger? Pineapple on pizza? Ketchup on hot dogs?

I have gone off of lots of foods in the past several years, including ham, bacon, beef, and most recently, turkey burger. I still buy turkey burger because Rick likes it and it's better than hamburger dietarily speaking, but I'm not crazy about it. I like pineapple on pizza, but not with ham and bacon because I don't like ham and bacon. The problem then is, what else do you put with the pineapple, pepperoni? I don't know. I don't care if I ever see another hot dog, ever. I don't hate them or anything, but I feel like they waste my time. If you want ketchup on yours, go ahead, but I'll use Cleveland's Ballpark Mustard and onions.

10. Do you play a musical instrument? Speak a foreign language? Have artistic talent?

I used to play the flute in school, but gave it up in high school because I didn't want to be in band, which only took place every day after school. I didn't love it, or even like it that much, so it was an easy decision to make. I took French starting in elementary school (fifth grade) through a special program and continued through tenth or eleventh grade. Most of it is gone as far as spoken French, but I can read and translate it pretty well. I have average artistic talent overall but nothing focused or noteworthy.

That's enough about MeMeMe this week.  Let's hear about YouYouYou or YourYourYour thoughts in Comments.

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: Squashing The Stupid

photo property of Dept. of Nance

What can I say? 

This was one of a parade of signs in front of a greenhouse/garden center, an established business of many years.  I was zipping by at about forty miles per hour when I saw it and had to turn around in order to pull into the driveway and photograph it.

I was the only person in the parking lot; it was shortly before 1 PM, and the place was open for business.  This sign has obviously driven all prospective customers away. 

As it should.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Free-For-All Friday: Let Us Bitch

I must be feeling better because I'm getting feisty and I'm getting restless. Whatever Patience I've managed to manufacture is wearing thin, and I'm starting to feel that staticky energy under my skin. A whole bunch of things large and small are irritating the hell out of me, and lest I blow my stack and create some serious Collateral Damage, I'm going to let loose a little steam here. I hope you'll join me in Comments and then have a relatively serene weekend.

The Dishwasher: Hey, listen: no one is happier than I am that I can load up my yucky dishes in a machine and then settle in and watch Dateline or whatever gritty Chicago-themed drama is on television and have clean dishes to show for my effort. My problem is that with all the advances in technology, why does it still take two goddam hours for the dishwasher to do its thing? I don't get it. I mean, we give it rinsed-off dishes, for goodness' sake. It's not like it has to scrape plates and pry off stuck-on meatloaf detritus, or polish silver or anything. I feel like dishwashers should have advanced to the point where they take half an hour, tops, to get the job done. Come on.

republicans: Nope. Still not capitalizing it. At this point, it's painfully obvious that they are...actually, I don't have a clue what in the hell they are. Not one. How pitiful is it that this bunch of lying, spineless, soulless animals are making Bush 43 and his administration look good? The retirements of incumbent republicans are coming thick and fast, and it's not because they are finding their conscience. It's because they are afraid of being primaried out by lowlifes and white nationalists handpicked by the far-right element that hijacked the party way back when they were charmingly called the tea party. John McCain can speechify his outrage all he wants, but he opened the door and legitimized them all when he chose their pinup girl as his running mate and never admitted his mistake. They all--every single one of them--owe President Lincoln an apology.

Christmas Creep: It's almost not worth mentioning anymore, but if I don't bitch about it, then the terrorists win. The onslaught of Christmas commercials began immediately on November 1st. IMMEDIATELY. Lexus is already running its "December to remember" ads. Christmas trees are all over the airwaves and I just know that the cruelly annoying Old Navy commercials are imminent. IS IT OKAY WITH RETAILERS EVERYWHERE IF I HAVE THANKSGIVING FIRST? Yesterday morning I took a walk and noted with relieved approval that the massively overdone Halloween display around the corner was already down. But then I noticed that it was being replaced with Christmas decorations. My hanging geraniums are still blooming on my front porch. I just had a waterlily on my pond. I snipped fresh oregano and parsley the other day. Many of the trees still have green leaves. WHAT IN THE HELL IS EVERYONE'S BIGASS HURRY?  I am unlikely to feel Jolly if I am Bludgeoned and Assaulted by Christmas a full seven weeks before it arrives.  Thank heaven I have a fully-stocked wine cellar (even though our wine refrigerator called it quits; I know--First World Problems).

Sigh.

Your turn.  What do you have to Bitch About?  Feel free to crab about these and/or add your own in Comments. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: Reclaiming Some Refrigerator Space Edition

As the weather cools off here in NEO and I try to reignite the small, fading embers of my Cooking Desire, I've been putting forth a lot more effort in the Dinner Department. As a result, little plastic containers of leftovers need some Refrigerator Real Estate, albeit temporarily since Sam comes here for lunch most days and is happy to finish them off. Add in the Usual Suspects like fresh produce, Rick's Beer Du Jour, the Standard Array Of Three Hundred Condiments, premade goodies for Rick's lunches, and the recently-picked bushel(s?) of apples, and shelf space is suddenly at a premium. It was time to make a sortie into the vast interior regions of the back of my refrigerator shelving and see what I could do.

Honestly, I'm usually pretty good about keeping my fridge in order and weeding out the yucky stuff or expiring doodads, but this past year has been The Exception For Everything. A great deal of Little Things I Usually Do had to be streamlined or just plain Cut Loose, and Fridge Stock Maintenance was one of them. Obviously, now was the time.

I was happy to see that things were not completely Out Of Control. Nothing growled at me, nothing was furry, and nothing walked out of its own accord. Everything was well within its expiration date; apparently I had performed at least one Fridge Patrol. I just don't recall it (thank you, B12 deficiency).

Here is what I Threw Out:


I know; it's like I decided ahead of time to Have A Theme--Pickles. We eat No Pickles. I'm not sure why we have so many. It's no wonder they kept being shoved all the way to the back of the refrigerator. Probably the mini sweet pickles were bought to put out for a party. The other ones I have no real excuse for. The pickled peppers...who knows. But they're all gone now and I don't miss them a bit.

Sam came for lunch today and finished off the leftover spaghetti. One more container gone!

Next week, Throw It Out Thursday moves to another location where I throw more crap out. What are you Throwing Out, or what lives in your fridge that has to go?


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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: How I Came To Love Shoes


I'm not entirely sure as to when--or even where--I first saw The Wizard of Oz in color, but it had a profound effect on me. Oh, sure, I was a little afraid of that scary closeup of Margaret Hamilton's wicked witch face, and I wanted to wear my own long, dark hair like Dorothy's, but what I really wanted was those Shoes.

Once I saw those beautiful red sparkling shoes, I could not watch anything else. Oh, what I would have given for a pair of red shoes, and if they sparkled, what heaven! And those ruby slippers did not have shoelaces, either. They were simply perfect. And so Unlike any shoes I ever owned (or would ever own, I knew).

A child of the Midwest, attending public elementary school in the early 60s, did not wear sparkling ruby slippers, especially the child of a steelworker and stay-at-home mom and one who had three siblings. No, my footwear consisted of an endless parade of black and white saddle shoes and tennis shoes from the 2 for 5$ rack at the Pic-Way Shoe Mart. And before the ruby slippers made their commanding appearance, I coveted a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. A few girls at school had them, and I used to look at them with equal parts envy and despair. One day, the elderly neighbors across the street had their granddaughter over for a visit. Pam was my age, and we often played together for part of the day when she came. This time, she wanted to demonstrate what she'd been learning in her tap-dancing lessons, so she brought out her tap shoes. They were black patent Mary Janes shined to a mirrored lustre. After her brief dance, she asked me if I would like to try them on and perhaps tap a little. As I slid them on and fastened their buckles, I almost cried. They fit me perfectly! Pam showed me a few basic tap steps, but I barely performed them. All I wanted to do was to wear those shiny black Mary Jane shoes.

I steadily hated my shoes for most of my early school career, but I was not the kind of child to complain. I always assumed that whatever my parents gave me or did was what was correct and allowed and that was simply the way it was. If there were other options, I would have been presented with them. Since I wasn't, I accepted things the way they were and vowed that one day, I would buy beautiful shoes for myself.

Even during church, as I knelt in the pew after Communion, head bowed, I watched the aisleway as people returned to their seats. Instead of praying, I was looking at their shoes, picking out the best ones, choosing a favourite, and always looking for red ones and, of course, patent leather Mary Janes. Because I was In Church and because I was Catholic, I felt very guilty about Not Praying and Being Envious about other people's shoes, but I did it every single week.

Once I became a Career Woman, I finally indulged my desire for Beautiful Shoes. I bought high-heeled shoes for every outfit and shoes that I loved and knew I'd wear with something someday. I prowled sale racks and found terrific bargains. I have plaid shoes, polka dot shoes, sparkly shoes, silver shoes, gold shoes, purple shoes, orange shoes, cheetah print shoes, and yes, red shoes. And I do have a pair or two of Mary Janes.  I do not have a single pair of saddle shoes. Upstairs in a closet are all of my shoes, the only part of my work wardrobe that I did not donate. Sometimes I look at them like relics in a museum of my life. They make me happy and a little sad at the same time. They are all high-heels, and I don't have anyplace to wear them now. Once in a while there is a Special Occasion, though not too often.

But trust me: I still buy Beautiful Shoes and Boots for my Retired Life. Life is too short to drink mediocre wine, eat bad food, and wear ugly shoes.


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

In Which I Worry That I'm A Deadhead--And Not The Fun Tie-Dye, Jerry Garcia Kind--But List Myself Out Of It (With A Bonus Amish Story Included!)

It's been so very long since I wrote anything that I'm just going to open up my head and see what falls out. I'm worried, actually, that there's Nothing In There, just my bleached skull and a powdery residue from what used to be my brain. Oh, October--you and I both have had a hard time Getting With It. We ran hot, then cold; we were sunny, then gloomy, and just when we thought we had it all together, everything would change again. Who said "The only constant is change"? Someone far wiser than I.

Let's see if we can't catch up a bit with some Lists.

Happy Stuff I Did

1. Went on a jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake
2. Got a really good haircut
3. Bought some new fall/winter clothes

Rick and I went back for our usual Fall getaway to NotL, restocked our wine cellar, and this time met up with friends from Detroit who we hadn't seen for a couple of years. We went to our favourite winery (where I always propose to the winemaker) and had an extensive tasting of wines not even on the list. The winemaker/owner's daughter pulled bottles out of the library cellar and we tasted those, and she was kind enough to send a couple home with us. Our weekend ended with us well supplied for the winter and, if necessary, spring.

Productive Stuff I Did

1. Finished the Endless Knitting Project
2. Made a final batch of pesto
3. Got my grandmother's cushion repaired

I had been working on a bigass shawl for months. It wasn't intricate or difficult, but I just wasn't feeling the Knitting Urge, and when I was, the muscle aches and bone aches made it difficult once my Vitamin D levels crashed again. Finally, I got so sick of looking at it--The Object Of My Ongoing Failure--that I swore I'd power through it if it killed me. I did and it didn't.

The repair of my grandmother's cushion is another Amish story, if you can handle yet another one. My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress and made coats, purses, all her clothes, my grandfather's ties; you name it, she made it. She also made leather patchwork cushions, and she made each of her eleventy thousand grand- and great-grandkids one. I got mine when I went away to college. At some point, a thread or two pulled loose, and it started to break apart at the seams a few years ago. Since it is a precious heirloom with significant sentimental value, I was at a loss as to what to do and how to get it fixed. And it is thick, onerous leather, making it a difficult repair for the casual seamstress. Luckily, a scion of the Amish family near the lakehouse recently opened up a canvas-making and upholstery shop. I took the cushion there to see if he could help. Rick and I walked in and a young, bearded man in the traditional blue shirt with no buttons came out to meet us. Nearby on a bench was his straw hat. I couldn't see a single machine in the shop, but it was a bit gloomy, and of course, there were no electric lights. I showed the cushion to him, explaining its story briefly as he turned it over carefully in his hands. "It's very old," I said. "I know it's worn in places, but it's only coming apart at the patchwork seams. It's special to me, so I hope you can fix it." He turned it over again, looked at it, squinted, smiled and said, "It's old-fashioned, that's for sure." And at that very moment, surrounded by huge neon lights, the word IRONY appeared on a gossamer banner held by the staff of The New Yorker magazine. 

Finally,

Stuff In General

1. I want to post more often; it's hard to get an idea I want to write about.
2. I am very active in The Resistance; I make phone calls and write emails to Congresspeople every single day. You can too!  Email me if you want any info.
3. I'm watching The Good Doctor on ABC and slowly loving it.
4. Hooray for boots and leggings weather.
5. The post header illustration is a sculpture by Taiji Taomote. Learn more about it and this talented artist here.

**

I guess there was something in there after all among the bones and dust and detritus.  Like my grandmother's pillow, for much of October I felt old, worn, and like I was coming apart at the seams.  How has October been for you?  Any Stuff of your own to add?  And, as always, we can chat up my Stuff, too, in Comments.




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