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Friday, July 22, 2016

U Is For Underwear

Underwear is one of the biggest scams out there. How on earth did this Necessity become so absurdly expensive? Honestly, if it were at all expedient and convenient to Boycott Underwear, I would Do It. And it's not just Certain Brands of Underwear. Then it would be easy. Then, those of us who view Underwear as Utilitarian and Not Part Of Our Signature Look could simply scoff and say, "Seven dollars for a pair for Underwear? Surely you jest. My derriere and I will do just fine, Overpriced Underwear Purveyor, without your wares. We don't need any fancy schmancy Underwear, thank you very much." And off we would go to Reasonably Priced Underwear Emporium, plunk down our few bucks, and walk out with Basic Underwear, happy and fulfilled.

Oh, if only.

No, that is Not The Way It Works. Because apparently, there is a Vast Underworld Underwear Cartel, and this makes it downright impossible to get a decently priced pair of Underwear anywhere. I mean, come on, IT'S UNDERWEAR. What do we really need from it? We need comfort, number one; we need utility, number two. That's pretty much it. (If you need some Sexy Prancing/Writhing Come-Hither Underwear, then by all means, pay top dollar for That Ensemble, but how many of those getups do you really need? And trust me, you could use a newspaper or a bath towel or a Got Milk sun visor and it would be just as effective, because...Men.)

But I digress.

There is absolutely No Way that my Underwear should cost what it does. Hell, even Rick's Underwear should not cost what it does. I just Don't Get It. Now, disposable diapers--that cost I understand. There is a lot of ongoing Research And Development invested there. Diapers are way, way thinner and better now than the ones I put on Jared and Sam back in the '80s. But basic Underwear has changed (no pun intended), relatively speaking, very little.

Unless you are speaking about the names of Underwear, and there, the changes have been stunning (Victoria's Secret, I am talking to you). Holy crap. I'm ready to pin the whole Underwear Inflation Scandal on that place alone. I feel like the whole Idea of that place is not only responsible for Underwear Price Inflation, but also some pretty major setbacks in Feminism. And Body Acceptance. And Sensible Budgeting.

(Is this a good time for me to go and holler at some kids to get off my lawn? I think so, too.)

Sigh.

My point--and I do have one--is that Underwear is a terribly overpriced Necessary. And once I find a source for a variety that I Like and Accept The Price Of, I buy a bunch of it because I know what will happen. That particular brand or style or source will completely disappear for No Reason Whatsoever, just like every single other product that I loved and lost.  And nothing lasts forever; certainly not Underwear.

(Although I know that more than a few of you have at least one pair of Emergency, Third-String Underwear in the drawer, right?  Just In Case?  Bonus points if it is actually maternity Underwear and the youngest kid isn't even living at home.)

Your turn.  Mention all your Unmentionables in Comments.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

T Is For Lots Of Things (And I Am On A Personal Mission)

Nothing compelling came to mind when I thought about letter T, so let's have a List Post of

Some T Things

1. Tomorrow
2. Tables
3. Towels
4. Tardy
5. T Adjectives

Here is the Chat Part:

1. Tomorrow. I'm more than a little bit annoyed that, when I hear this word, instead of thinking of the moody and fatalistic speech by Macbeth, I instead hear in my head the plucky and annoyingly obvious sentiment of Broadway Annie. Consider the absurd difference:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


-VS.-

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away!


Personal Mission: Memorize again the Macbeth speech and recite it daily. I know the cats will love it.

2. Tables. How I wish I could eliminate coffee tables (aka Repositories Of Junk) from my life and the lives of others. They are also Obstacles To Efficient Vacuuming. Actually, it is astonishing how many Tables I have that I truly don't use. My dining room table is decorative and sentimental only. It belonged to my grandmother, and it holds a collection of antique books, empty bottles of favourite wines, and candlesticks. I have also a decorative book stand Table that looks as if it is made from books; a completely useless breakfront console Table under our fake Vermeer that holds leather-bound books and knickknacks; and two more small occasional Tables in the dining room that hold, yes, more beautiful old books and other Preciouses. We have a lovely custom kitchen table, but it is rarely used since Rick and I eat simple dinners together in the living room. I would also eliminate, out in the wild, Picnic Tables, which are not only ugly, but also ridiculously inefficient and stupid. And uncomfortable. And dangerous. And encourage outdoor eating, and we all know how I feel about that. What the hell kind of person attaches the chair to the Table? On both sides? With no backrest? And makes them out of wood and leaves them outdoors so that they purposefully develop splinters? Honestly, they are the worst. Want to eat on a teeter-totter? Picnic Tables are for you.

Personal Mission: Streamline my Table Situation. Holy crap. I sound like a Table Hoarder.

3. Towels. Pretty soon, Towels are going to be heirloom items like art and silver settings and fine china. This is not only because Towels are ridiculously expensive, but because they are also so stupidly thick and plush that they will be around for generations. It is as if you are using someone's velvet portieres or Oriental rug with which to dry off. And heaven help you if you wrap one around your hair and head, turban-style, after washing your hair. The massive, crushing weight will either unbalance you or give you a migraine. I don't require much from a Towel: dry me with soft efficiency and, if necessary, stay wrapped around me--briefly--if need be whilst I brush my teeth. I still have one of my bath Towels from college (1979-1981) that I use for my hair.

Personal Mission: Have a Golden Anniversary Party for my Hair Towel. I will invite the matching Hand Towel, which resides with Jared and Sam.

4. Tardy. I have not used this adjective meaning "late" once since retiring from teaching. It is one of those Teacher-Specific Terms that have fallen from my lexicon. I do not miss it. It is retired, too, along with Semester, Grades, Attendance, Extra Credit and a few others.

Personal Mission: Never resurrect these terms.

5. T Adjectives. How much do we love The Interwebs? I came across an entire page of Adjectives Starting With T, and here are some wonderful ones I especially like:

tabby
tacit
talky
tarry
tertiary
tiresome
tawdry
temerarious
tenebrous
terse
thorny
tumescent
turgid
tedious

Personal Mission: Use more varied adjectives. I am getting lazy.

Can't wait to hear your Thoughts on any or all of these T's. Or if I've inspired you to go on your own Personal Missions. Your Turn To Chat now, in Comments.


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Thursday, June 30, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different: The Dept. Might Crash The Convention In Cleveland And Offer Its Own Nostalgic Nominee


Scene opens on a living room setting. Rick is in his big easy chair; Nance is curled up on the end of the couch. Both are watching the national news; its first story is another depressingly shocking one featuring a taped segment of the republican party's Presumptive Nominee.

Nance: Oh my god. You have got to be kidding me. What a--
Rick: I know. Disgusting. And--
Nance: How can anyone...? I mean, what can anyone see in that maniacal idiot that makes him think, 'This is someone I want as my President'?
Rick: (glancing over at Piper, the huge orange cat) Piper would make a better President than he would.
Nance: He really would. He is far more stable, and much more Zen.
Rick: Well, you'd have to be his translator. And nothing could get started until after 7 AM, when he finishes his breakfast.
Nance: And everything would have to stop again at 5 PM for his snack.
Rick: And again at 9 PM for his dessert.
Nance: And don't forget his Big Nap from 10 AM until 2 PM every day.
Rick: That's right. And sometimes he runs over and sleeps even longer than that. And gets another one in from 6PM until his dessert at 9.
Nance: So...basically, a rerun of the Reagan Presidency!

End Scene.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

S Is For Salad

One dinner in particular at my in-laws' stands out. I can't even recall if Rick and I were married yet, but I was sitting down to a meal of ham, wax beans, and probably mashed potatoes. My first glance told me that the ham--pale, sad, and already sliced--would be dry and a struggle. My eyes widened in alarm at the dish of beans: they were a colour that I had never seen wax beans take on before, sort of a sepia-toned, manila hue with a distinctly grey cast. Horrified, I pinned all my hopes on the Salad. How could anyone ruin a Salad?

The Salad, such as it was, was on a separate plate already made up. It was a limp leaf of iceberg lettuce surmounted by a single ring of canned pineapple. Inside its center was a dab of cream cheese upon which had been sprinkled some walnut dust. We each had one.

I was doomed.

I thought longingly of my mother's everyday Salads, served with every single dinner, even takeout pizza. They were huge family-style bowls full of iceberg and leaf lettuces, fresh onion, cucumber, radishes, tomatoes (when they were in season), and every once in a while, a Wild Card Ingredient, depending upon her mood, my father's request, or what was hanging around in the grocery store, farmstand, or crisper. Oh, and green olives. She made her own vinaigrette, too, and insisted on Regina Red Wine Vinegar. And measure? Ha! It is to laugh. Watching her shake and pour the oil and vinegar bottles over the salad and add her seasonings (always Lawry's Seasoned Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper), then toss and toss and toss again and again was to watch a mad scientist at work.

What I wouldn't have given for one bowl of her Salad at that meal.

No one should be victimized by Bad Salad. A Salad should be a celebration of fresh ingredients made bright by its dressing. It should be flavourful and wonderful. It shouldn't feel like a punishment, and it shouldn't feel like a scavenger hunt or a rummage sale, either.

I hate those Salads that are basically a bowl of whitish-yellow lettuce, a pale crunchy tomato wedge, and a hunk of cucumber. Period. I wouldn't give a homeless bunny that crap. Add one of those sugary, viscous bottled dressings, and I think I'd rather have the pineapple ring with cream cheese.

But by the same token, what is going on with some of these Salads that have a ton of junk in them? Lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach, chow mein noodles, cashews, golden raisins, cheese, tortilla strips, blueberries, shredded carrot, chicken, pita chips, and sprouts? Do you know that some restaurant Salads clock in at over twelve hundred calories? Holy crap.

As soon as the weather gets warm, Rick and I opt for Big Salads for dinner a lot of the time. I follow the same kind of recipe handed down from St. Patsy with a few variations. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar for my dressing, and because I am more picky and exacting, I measure. Every time. I do use Lawry's for that familiar taste, but I use only freshly ground black pepper always. For our Big Dinner Salads, I add a chunked-up chicken breast or piece of steak or whatever protein we fancy. And rather than iceberg lettuce, I use romaine. The rest of the ingredients can vary like St. Patsy's now and then, depending upon what is in season and what I have left over. Once in a while, I make an Asian-inspired dressing, and we vary the Salad ingredients to accommodate that. Summer means lots and lots of options since the farmstands are full of produce: roasted yellow and zucchini squash, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes--the list is truly endless.  But always, I strive for taste and balance.

The only time I buy bottled dressing is to make this terrific Salad, introduced to me by my friend and fellow blogger Shirley. I make one addition to it, and that is to add chunks of crisp apples. It's a terrific Salad, especially in the fall.

Oh, Salad! What a bad rap you've gotten! From turgid Jell-O molds holding shreds of vegetables in suspended animation to ascetic scoops of cottage cheese cradled in cantaloupe halves, you've been dismissed as Diet Fare, labelled as Lady Lunch, and eyed askance as a source of Salmonella In A Sack.

But I still love you. I love you even though you are worky to put together, despite my Salad Spinner and the help of Rick, my Salad Sous Chef, a man always happy to help with anything that doesn't end up looking like stuff his mother made.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

r Is For republicans


Even in the title, I cannot bring myself to capitalize the R and give this political party any respect whatsoever, especially now.

My longtime readers have journeyed with me through both terms of the Angel Of Death (Bush 43), including my Despair of the Election Of The Dark Times. We watched my Countdown Clock until a Democrat finally sat in The Big Chair in the White House, and together we mocked the teapartiers with great mirth, critiquing their sad, poorly-executed signage. I declared my own suitability for Vice President, my love for past Democratic Presidents and Presidential Candidates, and offered to serve as a nonpartisan government Department of my own.

All of this Good Fun aside, for me The Politics is Serious Business, especially Presidential Politics. To put it into perspective, let me share a brief story with you:

In April, Rick and I were visiting a winery in Ontario, Canada, whose owner/winemaker was born in Poland. As we tasted and chatted, he wanted to talk Politics. He conveyed a deep dismay with the United States' embrace of its current republican standard bearer. "I don't understand," he said. "This guy is a clown, a television personality. He has no political experience, no diplomatic intelligence."

I assured him that I, for one, was not only disgusted by this candidate, but alarmed by him. "The American press and media have created a monster," I told him. "Because he makes good TV and good copy, they have legitimized and inflated his candidacy. And the republican party fringe element has found its Poster Boy. I could not be more disappointed and embarrassed."

"But Americans," my host continued rather passionately and knowingly, "they have to remember. They are not just electing a president of their country. They are, in fact, really electing a President of the Whole World. Don't they realize or think of that?"

Sigh.

I have to say, I seriously doubt that any of the republicans who have endorsed the current Presumptive Nominee of their party (however tepidly or reluctantly) have thought of that. At all. These pompous, cowardly, self-righteous self-preservationists have blindly put Party before Country and Position before Constituency. They would rather Fill The Chair than Help The Country. Or the Whole World.

It is repulsive.

Even as some republicans meekly condemn this yahoo nominee as racist or bigoted or wrongheaded or whatever, they always conclude their remarks with a statement of support. Even so-called Christian groups are conflicted, some conditionally withholding support, depending upon whether the presumptive republican nominee woos them effectively. Ugh.

How dare this party call itself The Party Of Lincoln? It bears no resemblance whatsoever to that assemblage, the one which railed against slavery and passed the Thirteenth Amendment. It was President Lincoln who said of one political party:

"I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

It is a short bit of editing to make his remarks ring true for Today:

I am not a republican. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of women, be in favor of degrading classes of any people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except Muslims.” When the republicans get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except Muslims, and women, and Mexicans.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

No, this republican party is not The Party Of Lincoln. It's more like the Know-Nothing Party; the name--with this nominee especially--is a much better fit by far.

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Q Is For Quirks

Now that I have reached the Advanced Age Of Fifty-Seven, chances are slim that I will change very many of my habits now. Oh, sure, if my esteemed neurologist told me that, say, sleeping on my memory foam pillow was triggering my migraines, I'd switch to whatever he said. But some of my Quirks are so ingrained as to be Second Nature, and I can't Just Stop Them.

I know some of you have them too, these Quirks that are part habit, part genetic code, part survival instinct, part plain old preference. I'll share some of mine, and then I want you to share some of yours, too.

FOOD: Ketchup on eggs; ketchup on roast lamb (I know--sacrilege!) and the only ketchup is Heinz; all beef is rare rare rare; Miracle Whip, not mayo, unless I'm making tuna anything. And in this house, white sandwich bread is a Sin. And so is any pepper that is not fresh ground. Oh, and I keep all cake in the fridge. I like cold cake. But no cake and ice cream. I hate that combination. Actually, I dislike pie and ice cream as well.  I am secretly in love with french fries.

DRINK: No "sweet tea." No milk. No instant coffee. Dry wine only. No ice in martinis. No hot tea.

COMFORT: I cannot sleep without a cover of some kind, and the room must be completely dark. I rarely sit without my feet up under me unless at a restaurant or if I am "company." I do not eat a meal outdoors unless forced. After I eat ice cream, I usually need a blanket. I hate wind, but also dislike having to run the air conditioner.  I do not like an overhead fan blowing directly on me, but a heater directly on me is heaven.  If the water would stay hot, I could take a bath for several hours.

MISCELLANEOUS: I do my hair and makeup every day, even if I'm not going anywhere. I put my seatbelt on just to move cars in the driveway (I also use my turn signals). At home I verbally correct everyone's grammar and usage on television, online, and in the newspaper. (To the cats, if Rick is not around. To no one, if it is on my car radio.) And each time it is on, I gamely watch about half of "Dateline", then promptly fall asleep before any resolution. (That show is The Best Sleep Aid, and it's free!) I run a fever when I get overtired, when I have a migraine, and sometimes when my arthritis is Just Plain Horrid. I still hate feet unless they're baby feet or animal feet, and we all know how I feel about republicans (I still won't capitalize that word).

Okay! Your turn. What Quirks make you You?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

P Is For Painting

"We can't put it off any longer," Rick said about a month or so ago. "This is the year we have to paint the front porch. It should have been done years ago, and it looks terrible. No furniture out until it's painted."

What happened next was Profound and Fateful, and quite possibly some of the Stupidest Things I Have Ever Said In My Life. "Okay," I agreed. "Not a big deal. I can help. I'm home all day. I can paint the railings, no problem. That way, all you'll have to do is paint the floor, and we'll be done!"

What a Gargantuan Idiot I am.

Painting is an awful, tedious, horrible job. Painting spindles is the Epitome Of Awful, Horrible Tedium. Painting eleventy thousand spindles white is actually prohibited by the Geneva Convention. Painting eleventy thousand spindles white, upon railings which are at the level of a five-foot, four and a half inch woman's mid-thigh is one of Dante's Circles Of Hell.

Do you know that it is entirely possible to lose one's place whilst painting with White Semi-Gloss paint when it is very breezy and everything looks the same and it is BORING AND TERRIBLE AND THE PAINT DRIES IMMEDIATELY AND YOU START HATING EVERYTHING AND YOUR BACK AND NECK AND SHOULDERS AND KNEES HURT? And that you realize that you have been holding the paint brush as if it were going to start slithering around and trying to bite you?

Holy crap.

At one point, my cousin Ann sent me a text message. I told her I was Painting and Miserable, and I immediately offered her a Billion Dollars if she would do it for me. Before she answered, I had time to feel Ashamed, Humiliated, and Embarrassed because Ann does practically Everything, not only Painting, but sewing, quilting, rebuilding and refinishing furniture, wallpapering, canning, ceramic tiling, and cloning pets and prehistoric animals. Okay, not that last one, but she probably could do it if there were instructions on the internet and she felt like it.

Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is This: Ann said, "I would come paint your porch for a billion dollars."

And I paused for More Than A Moment to actually think about whether or not I could come up with the cash.

Honestly, how do any of you do it, this Painting? It's horrid and awful. I've done it Twice now, and I've already told Rick that my Painting days are Over. "You did a great job!" he said, encouragingly. "You are slow, but neat." Which is a nice way of saying that it took me ten hours to do what he did in two hours when he got home from work, and that includes swiping away a few smears with some Goof-Off.

Heavy Sigh.

Painting. What was I thinking?

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