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!)


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).


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.


 Broo. SKET. Uh.

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


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.



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.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Language Alert!
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.


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).


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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