Saturday, April 03, 2021

A Is For Appliances: This Is How Far I Have Fallen

Here is a rather Sad Commentary about what my life has become:  I got excited because Rick bought me a leaf blower. I'll pause now while the Absurdity and Dismay wash over you like a Tsunami Of Pity.


Allow me to forestall your eye-rolling outrage about Leaf Blowers In General, too. Few things annoy me more than the cacophanous legions of Leaf-Blowing Men on Saturdays and Sundays, relentlessly walking up and down their yards and driveways, stalking leaves, herding them into swirling rows, and noisily guiding them all the way down to their curb lawns. For hours. For all the months of Autumn. Starting at 8 AM. And never, never ending.

I don't use my leaf blower like that. My leaf blower means I will no longer have to drag my vacuum cleaner out to the porch, wrangle the cord, lie on my stomach, crane my neck to see under the flap of the GFI outlet, and finally get it plugged in to vacuum the rug so that I am not surrounded by detritus. Or, snake the vacuum and its cord through the front door and let bugs in and perhaps a cat out. My new leaf blower is cordless and quiet. It sounds no louder than a hair dryer. It's wonderful.

I love it as much as I love my new vacuum.

I know; this is equally as pathetic, coming from me. I detest vacuuming. Everything about it irritates me:  the incessant noise; the fact that you never stop having to do it; the boring repetitiveness of it; the dragging around of a machine that only does one thing. Our previous vacuum was a nice little vacuum that did a great job. And! It had an automatic cord return that saved me the insult-to-injury of having to wind up a bigass cord after I was done doing a hated job. But recently, I noticed that the vacuum cleaner...wasn't. I was going over and over and over places, and cat hair and stuff was still there

It had to go. And fast. After a day of research, we got my new vacuum, and at that point I realized how how much of a slacker my old vacuum had been. It had been getting away with doing a half-ass job for years, and I had merely put up with it. This new machine makes my dining room faux Persian rug look like new. It plucks up the nap again on my carpets, making them feel cushy and deep. Its low profile gets way underneath furniture without me having to move it. It has suction settings! And no more sitting on the floor with scissors and pliers, ripping our long hair off of the brush roller; it has a self-cleaning roller that hair doesn't tangle around. It's almost the perfect I Hate To Vacuum Vacuum. 

Alas! It has no self-winding cord. And believe me, I do miss it.

I have a Love/Hate relationship with many of my appliances.  I've written here before about my infuriating can opener, which I still have. And let's not forget the time my icemaker attacked me, and yes, I still have that fridge, too. And, finally, my beloved coffeemaker, which, thanks to Rick, is still brewing after sixteen years. My old vacuum and Rick's heavy leaf blower did not inspire my love. They had to go. (But I still don't know why I have that damn can opener.) 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

All About Me(me): The Spring Fever Edition


NEO is enjoying some very Un-Marchlike weather, and I'm revelling in Early Spring. Each day of my walk brings new Joys:  tufts of bright purple and yellow crocuses; clutches of sturdy golden mini daffodils; a sudden burst of a flowering tree; lawns transform into emerald carpets; brilliant blue skies highlight the red, burgeoning buds of the silver maple trees that line the streets of the neighborhood. I am impatient for my patio and porch furniture, even though I know the odds are stacked against me; we are likely still to get snow in April or even May.

All of this is to say that I am outdoors and not indoors, and not given to much discipline as far as writing here. So, I'm taking advantage of a series of questions (I'll customize them a bit) that appeared over at Ally's place not too long ago. It's Old School Blogging, and it's easy fun. Here we go.

1.  What's something you're looking forward to doing once you get your vaccine or things open up after the pandemic is over?

I'm vaxxed and hit my efficacy date. I'm still leery of going out to dinner, but we're looking forward to going to our favourite restaurant and plan to do it more often. We miss it! I'm really looking forward to not having to mask all the time, mainly because it irritates me when people wear them incorrectly and stresses me out.

2.  What simple thing made you happy recently?

Oh, so many! I am easily made happy, really. My parsley wintered over and is ready for cutting. Likewise, my chives. And so did my celery, which I started from the bottom of a grocery store bunch!

3.  What was your favourite subject and worst subject in school?

Advanced Writing and all math. 

4.  Which of your blogposts is your favourite?

This is impossible because my posts are like my children. But I will give you a few from my Archives that I love:  Personal JesusFlamingos: They Don't Teach You This In Teachers' CollegeWatching And Thinking Of Blueberries. The last one is the first of what became a five-part series. I love how the series developed, and I hope you read all five parts. Just search the title in my blog's little search box.

5.  Coffee or Tea? Beer or Wine? Hard stuff?

Decaf coffee (half and half and real sugar), but some mornings I drink tea. The tea is herbal only, and cannot be lemon. Hot tea with lemon was the drink I was given when I was sick, which was all the time when I was little, so I associate that with illness. I cannot drink beer, nor abide its smell. I drink both red and white wine--also rosé. I don't drink spirits much anymore, but sometimes a martini is a necessity--up, slightly dirty, bleu cheese olives. 

6.  What movie, if you happen upon it while channel surfing, will you always stop and watch?

The Birdcage, Napoleon Dynamite, Caddyshack.

7.  When shoe shopping, what's your biggest problem?

My left foot is almost an entire half-size smaller than my right.

8.  Ice cream cone or cupcake?

This is a no-brainer for me. I hate cupcakes. They are almost always dry and they are almost always a disappointment. The flavour might say "peach daquiri," but it will taste nothing at all like that. I will take the ice cream cone every time. Unless it is mint chocolate chip, then forget it. I'll go find a place to buy peanut M&Ms.

9.  What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic?

That I'm calmer and less prone to panic than I thought I was. That I can adapt and roll with things better than I imagined. And that I'm daily grateful that I am retired and not trying to teach during this time. Bless the teachers; I think of them every single day.

10.  Does your family think you're the eccentric one?

Oh, I'm sure they do about some things. I know they think I'm the curmudgeon because I don't participate fully in every single family function. That stuff wears me out. I just made up my mind a long time ago that, in some cases, like kid parties, I'm simply Not Doing That Stuff. I also do not eat meals outdoors, or go camping, or care to know all the extended relationships in the family intimately, which also makes me sort of the Oddity. I'm generally okay with that.

That wraps it up. I look forward to your Comments, as usual. And I hope Spring has found your neighborhood, too. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Clutter Of Memory

Decluttering has ultimately led me to the Final Frontier of Desperation in my house. My nightstand's bottom drawer, until it became jammed with stuff, was where I put things that I honestly had no idea what else to do with. A few days ago, I decided to finally tackle it and Be Ruthless. 

I won't bore you with the inventory except to say that I still have more decisions to make. Do I keep everything my kids ever made or gave to me? Can I lovingly say goodbye to the many senior pictures of former students? Do I still need my high school diploma?

One thing I found was probably returned to me by my mother at some point. I don't remember. But it brought back a flood of memories. I hope you'll indulge me here because once I share this, I may let the photos and this narrative be my record and toss the actual items.

Growing up in the sixties, we used to play with paper dolls quite often. Some women's magazines even included them for girls, and we could even buy little booklets of them with perforated, punch-out dolls and clothes. Those were flimsy, however, and we didn't get to any store often to buy them. I decided early on to make my own, and I used to make them all the time. I especially liked making the clothes.

Here are two paper dolls I made long, long ago (more than 50 years ago!), in the style of Raggedy Ann dolls. I found them in a plastic bag along with some of their clothes, lying in that horrid drawer.

The one on the left is named Ginger and the one on the right Ann, according to what is scrawled on their backs. They're coloured with crayon, and they appear to be made on box cardboard. I only vaguely remember them, but I recall lots and lots of other paper dolls I made.

They had all kinds of clothes, from coats to jammies to pantsuits. They each even had a flower girl's dress. Here are some of the outfits I made for them:

The Halloween witch's costume is intact, but the clown costume is missing, except for its hat. I love the little 60s Mondrian colorblock dresses! So stylish.

And rompers (back then, I probably called them sunsuits), and pantsuits, and even a skirt and blouse. Check out the psychedelic patterns on those pantsuits. Cool. Some of the paper tabs have either Ann or Ginger written on them. And you can see that there are Almost Twin versions of most things.

These are the last odds and ends of what remains. I'm sure that there was another striped dress in a different colour, and an outfit to match that beret. There also had to be a top to match that blue and red pleated skirt. 

Here are Ann and Ginger dressed up for you, just so you can see that I knew what I was doing.

There's that cute hat! It just matches that sunsuit, doesn't it? I had so much fun making my own paper dolls and their clothes when I was a kid. 

As I was looking at the clothes, another memory struck me, and that was that we always had paper--lots and lots of paper. My dad worked at US Steel, at one point also known as National Tube. He was a safety clerk there while we were kids, and he used to bring home old documents/copies. We used reams of that recycled paper for all of our artwork. When I turned over my doll clothes, there was my dad's writing. 

So many memories! Later, when they did away with that job, he became a security guard at the gatehouses where workers clocked in and out and trucks did, too. He used to bring home stacks and stacks of old timecards, and those became our family's mode of correspondence for notes, lists, reminders, and brief memos and signs. I'm smiling right now, thinking of it. 

For now, Ann and Ginger are back in the drawer with just a few other things, awaiting a final decision. I will be Thinking Hard. Thanks for letting me share them with you.

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