Friday, December 24, 2021

W Is For Wishes

 My Wishes for you, my Friends, this Christmas of 2021, are that you find the Warmth of family and friends; the Joy of selfless giving; the Love of kindred hearts; and the Hope of brighter days to come. 

As always, thank you for your bright presence here. You are all a light in my life, and I am grateful for your loyal readership. And to my Commenters, especially, I am grateful for your continued conversation. May we always have something to talk about together.

I Wish for you a Peaceful Christmas and a Healthy Holiday Season. 

Best Wishes,



Friday, December 17, 2021

V Is For Volume

 News Flash--I am old. All the symptoms/warning signs are there, and every single one of them can be put under the heading of one word, Volume.

As in:

1.  The fact that some television shows are SO LOUD and others make me strain to hear dialogue irritates me almost unreasonably. Commercials that feature music seem incredibly cacophanous and annoying. And car/truck commercials are also terrible. We have several streaming services, and the Volume of one set perfectly is way too soft for the other. Sam, my gadgety son, has a sound bar for his television. It is a nightmare.

2.  About a hundred years ago, I used to decorate copiously for Christmas. Every room in the house reflected the Yuletide merrily. My mantel was a showpiece. Now, that Volume of holiday decor is not only worky but smothering to me. We just this week finally put up our tree, and it was a sort of perfunctory exercise. I hung the stockings on the mantel, period. That is the extent of my holiday decorating. I simply cannot stand any more.

3.  Oh, how I do miss my thick, thick hair that used to burst elastics and defy brushes and combs with its Volume. It was downright huge when it was curled, and I never had to use a thing on it or brush it hanging upside down or anything. Now, I have to buy a Volumizing Root Spray to get any fullness at all. (Thank heaven for that stuff!)

4.  Volume itself is the measure of space that an object occupies, and I've started to begrudge the amount of room a lot of things take up in my home. "Why is this still here?" and "Why do we have this?" and "Why am I keeping this?" are constant questions I ask myself as I move around my little home. Now that Indoor Season is here, I'm feeling the need for more and freer space. The sheer Volume of Stuff I/we have collected over the years makes me feel fussy and weighed down. My sons aren't going to want to deal with all this in the future if I don't want to deal with it now.

What do you think? Am I old or just fussy? (Probably both.) How are you doing with these Voluminous Things?

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Friday, December 03, 2021

U Is For Undone


I've been feeling Uninspired lately--another good U word--but to write about that would be boring and terrible. It would likely result in a woeful and pathetic treatise about The Travails Of Dinner At The Dept., something I've written about many times here before. Let me just say this:  Sam now works dangerously close to the pie shop, and it is taking all my Restraint and Resolve not to call him at least once a week and say, "Hey, could you stop on the way home and get Dad a 6" cherry and me a 6" lemon meringue for dinner?"

But I digress.

Here are a few things in my life currently that remain Undone, for one reason or another.

1. The Back Yard:  Nearly everything in my landscape beds died in the past three years, including my ornamental junipers and my hydrangea tree. Even my viburnum. We called Marv, our original landscaper, made a plan, and picked some stuff out (with consideration of the evil black walnut behind us). Then did nothing about it. We never finalized anything, and here we are. Sigh.

2.  The Wall:  The entire wall behind the fireplace at the lakehouse is fake brick and I hate it. We've been talking about tearing it up since we bought the place seven years ago. "We'll do it in the winter when we don't have the nice weather and boating to distract us," we keep saying. The Wall is still there and I still hate it a lot. I also hate the mess of remodeling and drywall and demolition a lot. The entire situation is a Hate Crime.

3.  Someone's Clothes Hoard:  Someone has no less than thirty pairs of jeans hanging in the closet for various Jeans-Wearing Situations, should they arise. This same person has another closet full of work clothes from a company previously worked for, even though that job was held over a year ago. Another drawer is full of that company's shirts. Yet another drawer holds teeshirts, given away at professional basketball games, that no one has ever seen this someone wear. When I put away this person's clean laundry, I have to cram stuff to get it to fit. "I'm going to go through this stuff," Someone tells me. I prepare bags and bags and bags of donations to Vietnam Veterans and Easter Seals many times a year, and not in secret, but Someone has not put anything in them.

4.  The Wrought Iron:  We have wrought iron accent pieces in both the front and back yard, a lot of them. They are faded and a few of them have some rust spots. I bought everything I needed last summer to refurbish them, like wire brushes and black Rustoleum spray paint, and even a cheap tarp to paint them on. Did I do it? No I did not. All that is waiting for me come spring. Or summer. Or fall, if we have one next year.

Are there reasons for all these Undone Things? Yes, and many of them are pretty decent, and some are even good. In the end, however, the result is the same; Stuff Is Undone. All of it is waiting, and in each case, mocking me because I continue to see it and be aggravated by it.

What things Undone are bothering you? Share and commiserate in Comments.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

T Is For Tea

It's almost week ago since Rick and I returned from a relaxing and long overdue visit with friends in Southern Maryland. We talked, ate shrimp, oysters, and crabcakes, watched fun movies, visited a local winery, and drank wine. And, for the first time in a long time, I drank a couple of glasses of Iced Tea. 

It's strange, this estrangement between Tea and me. I grew up on the stuff, both hot and iced. Each was a significant presence in my life at home. 

As a kid I was often sick--earaches, chest colds, sore throats, high fevers--these were my common companions throughout my childhood. I could spend hours and hours coughing, trying to sleep propped up on pillows or rolled blankets. You name the illness and I got it--measles, rubella, scarlet fever, mono, bronchitis, strep throat, and a bout of chicken pox at the age of fifteen that was so rampant and hideous that my brother, seventeen and also stricken, covered the mirrors in the house so we wouldn't have to see ourselves. (Those blisters were everywhere on our bodies. Everywhere.

One weapon in my mother's arsenal against all illnesses was Hot Tea. Hot Tea with lemon was her go-to for soothing just about everything. It was going to help my cough, my congestion, my sore throat, and it would help me sleep. (It is important to note here that her cure for stress and headaches, however, was not Hot Tea. Those were cured by Putting Your Hands In Warm Dishwater. I'm sure you understand her strategy.)

I drank in my youth probably several tanker trucks full of Hot Tea. My father was also a fan of Hot Tea, which he would on very rare occasions lace with wine. Because of all the medicinal Hot Tea I drank, I now associate Hot Tea with illness. I cannot stand to drink it at all. Thankfully, there are herbal Teas that contain little or no Tea whatsoever, and I can drink them when I want a comforting hot drink on a cold afternoon.

In addition to Hot Tea, we also had Iced Tea regularly in our home. My mother was an Iced Tea addict, and a gallon pitcher of it, homemade, was always in the refrigerator. She had an enamel saucepan designated solely for Tea making, and in it she would place (I think) seven or eight Teabags, and cover them with water, and set it to boil on the stove. That would boil frantically, and she'd set it to simmer for a time as she filled the gallon pitcher with ice, a half of a lemon squeezed and tossed in, and a scant cup of sugar. She'd let the water run ice cold, grab her long-handled spoon, and then the pan of hot Tea. After squeezing the Teabags dry against the side of the pan with her spoon, she'd quickly pour the Tea over the ice and start stirring and filling the pitcher to the top with water. We never once had cloudy Iced Tea, thanks to this method, a method I perpetuated in my own home once I was married. (But I skipped the lemon. Too reminiscent of Hot Tea.)

There was never, ever a time that my mother was without a glass of her Iced Tea by her side. As a matter of fact, once, when called home from her job at the bank because of an emergency (I had attempted to shave my legs in secret and cut a huge swath off the front of my shin and was bleeding), she bustled in the side door, dropped her purse, and before she did a single thing, poured herself a huge glass of Iced Tea. Then, and only then, did she call out to me and ask what on earth had I done to myself. 

My Iced Tea days fell by the wayside years and years ago, partially due to my migraine medication.  It's important that I drink water on this medication, and it has also rendered Tea almost flavourless to me. Thus, it seemed a heck of a lot of work to make Tea when I could--and should--just drink water if they tasted pretty much the same anyway. 

Ironically, my mother doesn't make or drink Iced Tea anymore. Occasionally, she'll get it at a restaurant. She drinks Hot Tea now and then, but she prefers coffee. Rick is the Tea Drinker, having given up coffee due to blood pressure and stomach concerns. He especially likes Earl Grey, which smells so much like Hot Tea with lemon to me that it sometimes gives me little flashbacks and twinges of feeling sick. And no, I'm not being dramatic; there's Science behind that reaction. Imagine if I were British! I'd have to renounce my citizenship.

Tell me about your Life With (or Without) Tea in Comments. 


Tuesday, November 09, 2021

S Is For Scissors


Right now in my home, were you to go on a Scavenger Hunt of sorts, you could find at least fifteen pairs of Scissors. It's not that I forget where I put them and so keep on buying them, pair after pair after pair. It's also not a case of being a sort of Scissor Snob or Scissor Specialist, buying highly specific Scissors for certain jobs, designating a certain pair solely for paper, another for fabric, another for my knitting needs, and another for flowers. It's not like that at all.

And I'm not into paper crafting, either, so I don't have those fancy schmancy Scissors that cut various designs onto paper edges for scrapbooking or card making. I don't even have a pair of pinking shears.

What I do have is the gleeful realization that I can have more than one pair of Scissors in my home!

Let me explain.

Growing up, we were a One Scissors Household. The six of us and all of our Scissor needs were met by a single pair of decent Scissors. Can you even imagine it? This condition persisted for as long as I lived at home. It was highly inefficient and, to me, extremely unsatisfactory. Oh, sure, once in a while a pair of our crappy blunt school scissors would surface, but I might as well try to cut with two butter knives taped together for as helpful as those things were. 

(Which reminds me--we also seemed never to have any Scotch tape, ever. Even at Christmastime, I cannot tell you how many times we wrapped presents with electrical tape, carpet tape, or, on one horrific Christmas, no tape at all, holding all wrapping paper together with ribbon and string. None of us will ever get over that one, not ever. But I digress.)

Trying to find the Scissors was also a chore. There was no end to the places they could be:  the drawer in the living room; the drawer in the kitchen; in the sewing kit; hanging up in the kitchen; upstairs or in their bedroom; check on top of the dresser! How it never occurred to anyone to get another pair of Scissors escapes me. My whole life, I merely assumed that you could not have more than one pair.

It wasn't long after I got married and had my own home that I realized you could buy Scissors at the store, as many as you want, and just HAVE THEM. Honestly, I got a thrill. And so I began buying Scissors.

I have two pairs of Kitchen Scissors, and I love them. I don't struggle with opening bags of anything; I grab my Scissors and cut them. I happily spatchcock chickens like a chef and snip away skin and fat that I don't want. 

I buy little Scissors at Back To School sales and put them in my knitting bags. They're perfect for cutting yarn when I finish a project or start a new colour or whatever. I have lots of those, and they have fun colours on the handles.

There are Scissors in my desk drawer, my bathroom drawer, my nightstand drawer, and Rick has barber Scissors in the bathroom cabinet. I have Scissors (and Scotch tape galore) in my Christmas giftwrap tubs in the attic. I have Scissors at my back door to cut herbs in the garden, and I have a pair of Scissors in the basement so I can cut open new cat litter bags. I have a sturdy pair of Scissors in my toolbox, and another pair in my tub of craft supplies. 

As far as I know, my brother and my sisters are not as Scissor-Happy as I am. Perhaps they have hoards of Scotch tape or something else they felt the lack of keenly. I don't know. But I wonder if I have the most Scissors. Do I?

Tell me all about your Scissors or something you stock up on now because you hated being without it before. I look forward to reading about it all in Comments.


Monday, October 25, 2021

R Is For Red

When I think of Red, my favourite colour, I often think of my Aunt Berthie, my grandma's little sister. My grandma was named Ethel, and her two living sisters were named Grace and Bertha. They had a baby sister named Ruth, but she died tragically at a very young age. Berthie became the baby of the family.

I rarely saw Aunt Berthie, and I saw even less of her husband Babe. (I'm awfully sure Babe was a pet name, but I have zero interest in knowing his real name. Berthie and Babe is such a terrific name for an elderly couple, don't you think?) Babe was always spoken about with a downcast look and a woeful head shake. "Babe's just not doing so good," someone always said. Or, "Babe's going downhill." For my entire childhood, Babe was doing poorly or dying, it seemed, but he always hung on. To this day, I have no idea what Babe's problem was, or if he simply preferred to keep to himself and claiming poor health was the only way to do it.

Anyway, back to Aunt Berthie and the colour Red.

Aunt Berthie was petite and slim and quick in her movements. She had snowy hair, cut short, and she spoke very fast. She liked to wear more sporty clothes and bright colours. My grandmother was methodical, deliberate, and wore hearing aids. Grandma worried that some prints were Too Loud, or even worse, Kiddish (too youthful). She had terrible arthritis in her feet and had to wear orthopedic shoes that were specially fitted. 

I once accompanied Grandma and Aunt Berthie on a shopping trip, probably for fabric, and we went to pick Aunt Berthie up at her house. We went in, and Uncle Babe was not available for a visit, of course, due to his declining health. Aunt Berthie put on a pair of bright Red Keds to match her outfit, and I saw my grandmother wince. "Oh, Berthie. Why oh why are you going to wear those red canvas shoes? They're so kiddish!"

Aunt Berthie turned to look at Grandma and cocked her head quizzically. She said, "Why, Ethel--" and I honestly could not tell you what else she said, she spoke so fast. She spread her hands across her Red skirt and looked at my grandma.

Grandma said, "Those Red culottes are so loud, and with those shoes!" She put her hand on the side of her face like she was in pain. Then she reached for her purse and the discussion was over. Aunt Berthie said a few more things in a rapid stream on our way out to the car, and we were off.

I was hugely entertained by the entire scene because my grandmother was the closest thing to a perfect human being I ever knew. Her few impatient outbursts were always funny because they were so rare. And the contrast between her and her sister was enormous.

This summer I found myself thinking of my Aunt Berthie as I was driving to the grocery store. I passed by this house as its awnings were being painted, closely supervised by a snowy-haired, tiny lady.

I want you to know that there is a lightpost painted bright Red, an address plate also painted bright Red, and her car in the garage is a fire engine Red compact SUV. All of the awnings on the side of the house are Red, and I'm sure if there are any on the back, they are Red as well.

If she were alive, this would be my Aunt Berthie's dream house, and my grandma would have cringed and sighed every time her Oldsmobile rolled up its driveway. 

I bet the lady who lives here loves her Loud Red, Red house.

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Q Is For Quicky Questions

Right now I have a great many Questions:  Where is Fall? Why am I sweltering in 80 degree heat and high humidity? How much longer am I going to have to run my air conditioner, and will I merely switch it over to the furnace and not be able to have any fresh air in my house, ever? Will the godawful black walnut tree behind us never be done dropping its fruit, fronds, and general detritus into my landscaping and pond? Why are the cats such shits about being brushed? And whose underwear is this, left in the middle of the sidewalk next door, discovered by Yours Truly on my walk today?

But those are all Imponderables, and best left for another day when I'm not feeling so snarky. And fussy. And Over It.

Instead, let's have some fun, Quicky Questions for a fluffy post. Here we go.

1. Favourite Colour?

2.  Reading?
The new biography of Oscar Wilde, Oscar Wilde:  A Life by Matthew Sturgis is being delivered tomorrow!

3.  Streaming/Watching?

4.  Wine?
(Yes, please.) We've found a label we really like, Z. Alexander Brown, out of California. I'm back onto cabernet sauvignon for my all-purpose red and (Barton & Guestier) vouvray for my AP white.

5.  Latest Food Obsession?
Haagen Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Making my own spice blend coffee

6.  What will you miss about summer?

7.  Which childhood dream of yours did you fulfill?
Among others, I became a teacher.

8.  What historical figure do you wish you could go back in time and meet?
President Abraham Lincoln

9.  What three words can describe you well?
Intelligent, kind, impatient

10.  Did you play a sport in school?
Oh, heck no.

11.  What's the last thing you bought for yourself?
The aforementioned book and two cozy cardigan sweaters.

12.  Are there places you do or don't shop/patronize because of your political beliefs?
Absolutely. I believe in voting with my wallet.

13.  Do you like your name? If not, what do you wish your name was?
Hate, hate, hate my given name. I wanted to be named Samantha, which was my grandmother's name for me.

14.  What popular phrase or saying really gets on your nerves?
It is what it is. 

15.  You find a hundred dollar bill in your mailbox. What will you do with it?
I put it in my wallet and wait for the time to come when I want or need something unexpectedly. 

Your turn.  I can't wait to see your responses to any or all of these Quicky Questions in Comments.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

P Is For Pizza

 Before I begin with the scheduled post, allow me to update you on Rick's condition and what's been happening with regard to his accident a whole month ago (which seems incredible). Briefly:  after a follow-up with his doctor, a bone scan and chest xray with contrast were ordered; those tests revealed that more injuries were sustained in the accident, including a stress fracture of his foot, three compression fractures in his spine, a broken sternum, a skull fracture, and a mild collapse of the lower lobe of his lung. He's feeling the most pain from his broken sternum, but overall, he's working and doing okay. We hired an attorney, which has made both of us feel much better. The stress was affecting the health of us both terribly. It's a huge relief to have a professional take over. We can breathe and live again.

On to regularly scheduled programming.


When I was growing up, my mother cooked dinner every single night. We had her tossed salad with homemade vinaigrette, meat, a veg, and potatoes or some other starch. Once in a while there was spaghetti, chili, or sloppy joes, all of which tasted vaguely the same to me. There was no carryout, no KFC, no fast food, and certainly no Pizza. I never even thought about it; that's just The Way Things Were.

Suddenly, my father's job changed and he was put on shifts. After working steady days for decades, he had to start working nights and our personal favourite, three to eleven. We'd get home from school and know that all of us could kind of loosen up, especially Mom. And dinner was more casual. That's when Pizza started coming into our lives more regularly. And what Pizza it was!

Giovanni's Pizza was South Lorain's go-to Pizza place. It was situated mere blocks from US Steel and was in a dilapidated one-story, flat-roofed storefront. When you walked in to grab your Pizza, you could see the women in the back behind the counter working on the pies, all business with ladles of sauce, handfuls of cheese and sausage, their motions purposeful and quick. It was steamy and smelled fantastic. Giovanni's was always busy because their Pizza was the best.

When Dad worked three to eleven, we'd bug Mom to get Pizza for dinner. My mother was never too hard to convince; she was a pushover about most things. She always insisted upon still making a salad, though, and sometimes even a separate vegetable to accompany it, much to our dismay. Pizza, salad, and corn was often a Three To Eleven Meal in our house.

Giovanni's Pizza was hearty with a ton of cheese and a thick sauce, as you can see in the photo above. The crust was sturdy but not tough, and the toppings often went almost to its edges. To this day, my brother and sister still get Giovanni's Pizza, but I haven't had any in ages. Giovanni's has renovated their place and now offers salads and, oddly, chili dogs. 

I'm not a huge fan of Pizza now. When Rick and I do order Pizza, we order from a local bistro. We get thin crust, and I don't eat a whole lot of it. Honestly, I get a little bored. It's ironic, but I often wish I had a salad or something along with it. 

I prefer to make Pizza at home, and we use flatbreads from a Cleveland baking company as the crust. Rick puts them on the grill. My favourite one is using my homemade pesto, tomatoes marinated in some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. We also make pepperoni flatbreads, and use this Pizza sauce, and if I have mushrooms or peppers, I'll saute those and add  kalamata olives. We've used naan as crust, too, and it's delicious. (Also delicious are Dessert Pizzas. I've spread Marshmallow Fluff and topped it with squares from a Hershey bar and grilled that. We've also had thinly sliced apple drizzled with caramel topping. And who is going to say no to Nutella with thinly sliced bananas?) 

Oh, and I'm a big yes to Hawaiian Pizza as long as there's no bacon on it. Just pineapple and a little bit of ham, please. I don't have Pizza Rules, per se. I feel like Pizza should be casual and fun. If you want a Taco Pizza, then have it. Do you want Keto Pizza with cauliflower crust or Vegan Pizza with tofu cheese? I don't care. Do you eat the 99-cent frozen Pizzas from the grocery store after you dress them up? Go ahead. Personally, I buy the Chef Boyardee Pizza kit during the dead of winter and make their crusts, then add all my own stuff to make Pizzas. (Although, since I found such great sauce, I'm going to have to investigate a better crust mix idea. I am not messing with yeast.) 

Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is that Pizza is Not A Big Deal. It's all about what You like. So, tell me--what are your Pizza Memories and what Pizza do you like?

actual Giovanni's pizza!

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

O Is For Olio

 Those of you who are Crossword Puzzle People recognize Olio immediately as a word that means a hodgepodge of things; a collection of miscellany; a mixture. It's often an answer in crossword puzzles, right up there with Etui (a needle case).

It's an O word that is saving me for this post because I'm sort of Overwhelmed and Out Of Ideas at present. It has been a vicious couple of weeks, and I'm Over It.

Obviously, the Overarching Situation in the world is worrisome. I've gone from being a News Junkie to a cartoonish News Ostrich, almost burying my head in the Sands of Oblivion. I'm Outraged at the republican taliban's takeover of women's bodies in Texas; I'm on constant simmer waiting for justice for January 6; I'm sick of the bashing about of President Biden, who ended an unwinnable war, airlifted more than 100,000 people out, and took full responsibility. Where were these Erstwhile Patriots when 45* made his deal with taliban leaders and agreed to release 5000 prisoners, one of whom is now the Supreme Leader of the new Afghanistan? 

Never mind. I can't anymore.

Two weeks ago, I got a horrific phone call from Rick at about 7:20 AM telling me, in between gasps and moans of pain, that he had just been hit in a head-on collision on his way to work. His airbag had deployed. Talk about feeling scared and helpless! He was still in the car, unable and afraid to move. I asked if he could move his legs and arms; he could. All I could think of--and I know it was the same for him--was his two spinal fusion surgeries and the rods and pins in his back. Once the police arrived, I told him I would wait for a call to meet him at the hospital.

Fast forward to the Good Stuff--he's Okay! The ER doctor made sure to take scans that allowed him to check for fracturing of the spine and the proper placement of his hardware. Miraculously, no fractures and no displacement. He has a nasty bruise still healing from the shoulder seatbelt and is still very, very sore. 

And very, very frustrated. The driver who hit him--and was cited--totalled our car and did not report the accident to her insurance. Rick did, however, and they tried several times to contact her. They also told us that "until she accepted liability" they couldn't do anything, even with a police report. Then they tried to tell us they were having trouble getting the police report--until we emailed them one. (We could have sent them any number of copies:  lawyers from all over northeast Ohio were sending them to us, offering to consult with us and possibly take our case. You may have had a similar experience.) 

Finally, ten days after the accident, the cited driver accepted liability, and her insurance company asked if we needed a rental car. 


Obtuse much? That would have been a useful suggestion a week ago. We already went and bought a replacement vehicle. Both of us need a vehicle. Even though I'm retired, I don't want to be without a car when I have a 91-year old mother who may need assistance. (And buying a vehicle now is No Fun. Thanks, pandemic.)

So this is Where We Are. Waiting. Trying to decide if we need one of those lawyers or not. 

And Oops--last month, the Dept. of Nance turned Sixteen. Good Heavens. I was in my forties when I started this blog. My sons were sliding out of their teens. I still had two cats, but they were TravisCat and EmilyCat. The Office made its television debut. We lost the giant of American playwrights Arthur Miller and two history-making Black women, Shirley Chisholm and Rosa Parks. We watched in horror as GW Bush ineptly responded to Hurricane Katrina. And, thank goodness for all of us who love to watch funny stuff, DIY stuff, or entertain our cats or dogs when we're away, YouTube went online the same year, too.

I'm Overjoyed that so many of you read me and care what I have to say. Thank you for these past Sixteen Years. I'm up for at least a few more.

Get me through it in Comments.


Friday, August 20, 2021

N Is For Needles


A little while ago, my grocery store with the fun and astonishing Closeouts section suddenly burst forth a Crafts Aisle. I wasn't the least bit surprised; remember, this is the store that routinely offers all sorts of eyecatching items in its Closeouts department. I've previously seen the following:  air conditioners, recliners, sofas, cabinet doors, folding tables, dorm refrigerators, lamps, winter coats, bathroom vanities, Subway hats and aprons, a Benjamin Franklin bobblehead, and a bank shaped like a rhinoceros, among other things. I recently purchased a pair of (originally Target) animal print high-top tennis shoes for eight bucks. I mean, why not?

But I digress.

Anyway, this Craft Aisle was full of--among other things--Knitting Needles. If you know anything about knitters, you know that we cannot pass up yarn or needles. It's impossible to have too many/much of either one. I scored a nice set of 10" bamboo Needles, sizes 6-10, for only 99 cents. This pricing is very typical of my store, and some single Needles were two and three pairs for 99 cents. Many, however, were plastic, and that's not my preference. I did what damage I could and felt pretty good about it. Among the knitting Needles were also a bevy of crochet hooks, singles and sets, similarly priced. Just for a moment, I understood how hoarders must feel:  I hated to leave a single thing hanging there when the prices were so ridiculous and I knew someone someplace could enjoy them. But that is for someone else's inspiration.

And speaking of Needles, I had to make a small repair on one of Rick's shirts not long ago, which meant a bit of hand sewing. I waited until I had everything else done for the afternoon, gathered my materials, sat in a comfortable position, and talked myself into a Patient And Relaxed Frame Of Mind. Because I knew it was going to be at least ten minutes before I got the damned needle threaded. I wish I were kidding. I don't care how sharp my scissors are or how neatly that thread is cut. I can be as steady-handed as a marksman. It does not matter. I will be poking that thread all over the goddam place trying to get it into the eye of the needle. How in the hell do those of you who do needlepoint do it? What can I do to end my torture and pain? Help me, please.

One last Needle.  My grandson, seventeen in about a week or so, and I are both big Elton John fans. He was almost impressed that I was an actual card-carrying member of The Elton John Fan Club back in the early 70s. On a boat ride one summer afternoon, he shared with me some video he took of an Elton John concert, and we sang along with the songs. The last time he came over, I dragged out my Elton John albums on vinyl and let him look at them, see the cover art, the lyrics, and the photos of the band on the inside of some of them. "Do you play these sometimes, Nana?" he asked. I hated telling him no. Rick and I both have lots and lots of vinyl, and I miss hearing our albums. We really need to get a new Needle for our turntable. It can't be a difficult thing to do. I know so much music is available to me now on streaming services, but I want to listen to my old LPs. And for that to happen, we need to get a Needle. One little Needle, and all that music--Tina Turner, Queen, Earth Wind & Fire, ELO, and of course, Elton John--comes back to life. 

Talk to me about the Needles, both in my life and in yours.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

M Is For Movies

One of the first Movies I can remember going to see was The Sound of Music. That movie came out in 1965; I was six at the time. One of my parents dropped us kids off at a theater downtown with ticket money and enough for a concession snack. I chose a box of candies called Chocolate Babies, which were little child-shaped Tootsie Roll-type things. It never occurred to me that they were not only unfortunately named, but that eating them was also sort of cannibalistic.

I spent a large part of the movie feeling confused, having no idea as to the politics or the history of it all. My father served in World War II, but he rarely spoke of it, and being six years old, it was not something I had encountered in kindergarten or first grade. Still, I had a good time and loved the huge screen and sitting in the dark, getting lost in the atmosphere of it all.

We didn't go to the Movies as a family, ever, so the rarity of Movies made them wonderful to me. Even as a teenager going with friends, I always got a thrill when the lights would go all the way down and the previews would start. I loved the feeling of anticipation when the title of the feature I was there to see would go up on the big screen. I was immediately ready to be swept into the story.

My first date with Rick was a movie. We were going to go see Star Wars, but neither of us was entirely sure how to get to the theater where it was playing (oh, the days before Google Maps and GPS!). We ended up seeing Oh, God! with George Burns and John Denver instead. To this day neither of us has ever seen Star Wars on the big screen.

I went to the Movies quite often, years ago, with teacher friends. We'd go to early shows and, during the summers, matinees. One memorable Last Day Of School, a teacher buddy and I even went to a movie just a little bit drunk on some terrible frozen margaritas we made at my apartment. When our friend arrived to pick us up to go, our attempt to appear sober failed entirely. That movie was Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, the only movie playing that afternoon at a convenient time for us. I have no idea what it was about, (none of us had seen Star Trek I; was there one?) but I had fun. We were the only people in the theater.

Back then, I saw so many Movies! I wanted to see as many Oscar Contenders as I could. A colleague and I would print out the Oscar nominations and make our picks and vie for bragging rights. A friend and I went to the Movies at least a couple times a month. In my retirement, I said wistfully, I'll be able to go to the Movies all the time. I imagined myself sitting afternoons in almost empty theaters, watching Movies on Tuesdays or Thursdays and emerging into the sunshine two hours later, blinking and smiling, then heading home and back to my Real Life.

That didn't happen. I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis in the titular role, in 2012. Going to the Movies slowly became less and less of a Pleasure for me. First, the theaters became smaller and smaller, and the walls became thinner. I could hear some of the heavier, deeper bass notes of the films going on in the adjoining cinemas. Then, audience member behaviour got worse:  it's hard to lose yourself in the Movies when people near you are talking (not whispering); when the lights from their cell phones are distracting you; when their cell phones ring AND they take the call right there in the theater; and when parents bring children to Movies that are really not for kids and then refuse to regulate their behaviour. I simply gave up, completely and totally. 

"Wow. It's just a movie, not a religious service," some of you are probably saying. And, of course, you're right.

Although the last religious service I attended was equally as annoying as what I described above, with the addition of it being a religious service. But I digress.

My point is--and I do have one--that Going To The Movies has been spoiled, like so many things, by a Lack Of Common Human Courtesy. Whether its demise was hurried by technology (cell phones, digital projectors) or greed (multi-plexes, short staffing), Common Human Courtesy at the Movies has definitely dwindled to the point where for me, there is not enough of it to get me to the theater. Like many others, I'll wait until the film comes to a streaming service. And then, I find, I don't care enough to seek it out.

How about you? Do you still go to Movies (or did you, before the pandemic)? Am I expecting Too Much? Chat me up in Comments


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

L Is For Lists


Oh, hello. Hasn't the weather been just shitful? Here in NEO, we're feeling like steamed dumplings. Not like we want to eat them, but as if we are them. 

I've been less than motivated to do anything, whether it be indoor or outdoor, but I don't want to neglect this space or you. So I press on, and with the Letter L.

A long time ago I used to have a blog with my eldest son Jared called Stuff On Our List. We'd pick a topic and make a list of stuff under that topic and then chat about it. Some of the topics included Top 5 Sandwiches, 5 Worst Songs Of All Time, Top 5 Childhood Toys, and Pets I Grew Up With. It was a fun blog and a fun project to do with Jared.

I still like Lists (especially those that aren't To Do Lists), so here are a few random Lists for fun.

Songs I Recently Downloaded

1. Starboy by The Weeknd

2. Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode

3. Royals by Lorde

4. Year of the Cat (album) by Al Stewart

5. Delicate by Taylor Swift

6. Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo

7. Larger Than Life by Backstreet Boys

8.  Quit Playing Games With My Heart by Backstreet Boys

9.  I Hope by Gabby Barrett

10. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd

Obviously, I get nostalgic for something and then I need to hear it, which is the case with the older songs on here. It's irritating to me that I have so many CDs that are rendered useless by my car, which does not have a CD player. The backstory to the Backstreet Boys music gives me very fond memories:  I used to blast their music when I picked up my son and his buddies from summer school gym (they took it to free up room in their high school schedules). We had so much fun.

Shows We've Streamed And Loved (In No Particular Order)

1. Kim's Convenience

2. Schitt's Creek

3. The Queen's Gambit

4. ER

5. The Kominsky Method

6.  Broadchurch

7.  Big Little Lies*

8.  Grace And Frankie*

9.  Hoarders

10.  Baskets

*The asterisk means that this is a show only I watched. Rick and I are currently watching ER, the 1994-2009 TV series, and we are thoroughly enjoying it all over again. I highly recommend it. We've watched so many shows across so many streaming services (Sam and Jared are very generous) that at times we forget where to find things. The options are mind-numbing.

Summertime Dinners On Repeat

1. Flatbread Pizzas on the grill

2. Cold Tuna Pasta with Peas

3. Raw Veg and Dip

4. Snack Board/Charcuterie Board

5. Spinach Dip with Crackers and Raw Veg

6. Huge Salad with Pork Tenderloin

7. Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Veg

Rick and I are both so bored with food, and I am so sick of planning dinner. I feel like when the boys were young, I made the Meat, Veg, Starch dinners like a champ for twenty years. I AM OVER IT. Now, almost anything counts as dinner. Sometimes, even ice cream. I am a grownup and I can do that.

Small Joys In My Everyday Life

1. The Redheaded Woodpecker Frequenting My Feeder

2. My Lemony Body Spray And Lotion

3. The Dogs Next Door

4. Sam Coming For Lunch

5. The Quiet Of My Home

6. Snuggling Under My Comforter On The Couch In The Evening

7. Time

I wish every single one of my friends could be retired. It is truly the gift I hoped it would be. I have so much more Time at home and so much more Peace. It makes me able to observe and enjoy all the other Happinesses in my life. Those of you who know me--even by reading here--know that I am no Pollyanna or Gratitude Proselytizer. Once in a while, however, I think it's helpful to take a look at some of the Good Stuff in your life. 

Summer Stuff I Don't Get Excited About

1. Baseball

2. The Beach 

3.  Eating Outdoors

4. Swimming

5. Pick Your Own Fruit/Veg

Lots of people are big baseball fans, and I am not one of them. I used to go to my brother's baseball games and my students' baseball games all the time. That was fun because I was personally invested. Now, as one of my son's friends said, with pro sports being the way they are, you're basically rooting for laundry; players come and go with regularity, and the names on jerseys don't stick around. I'm not a beach person because there's no good shade and so much sand (and that stuff comes home with you forever), and I do not know how to swim. I become panicky in water near my chin. I am not a farmhand, so I prefer to buy my produce, and because we have Evolved and Become Highly Civilized, I do not have to fight with the elements or insects for my food. I can eat inside a shelter with four walls and a roof and climate control. This is the twenty-first century, so I will act like it. Thank you.

Do not even think of asking my opinion of Camping. Ridiculous.

I'd like to see an entry or two of yours for these Lists. Please share--or just chat away about my Lists--in Comments.



Saturday, July 03, 2021

K Is For Knee

Right around 1996 or so, I had to get knee surgery. My right kneecap had begun to slip out of place and wander back and forth, causing not only some pretty awful pain and noise in my knee, but some damage as well as it tried to form a new pathway each time it moved.

The orthopedic surgeon had to do a TTT surgery, a tibial tubercle transfer, which basically was to cut a piece of my tibia to which the kneecap tendon was attached, and relocate it, using a titanium screw and collar. As a result, I have a bump below the skin of that knee, and you can easily feel the screw and collar, which are about a quarter inch total width, and they stick up noticeably about the same height, kind of like a prominent spider bite.

The orthopedic surgeon once offered to "slice that open and back the screw out with a drill, no problem, under a local," but I declined. He assured me that the bone, now healed, would quickly grow to fill the cavity left by the missing screw and present no immediate danger. I think I recall saying, "Do I look crazy to you?" and that was the end of it.

Every so often, the presence of a titanium screw in my leg would arise during my time in the classroom. When one teaches English, one teaches Life. There is no end to the topics of discussion that would arise during the teaching of novels, plays, poetry, and even grammar. As one of my students once said, "Mrs. D., you have to know everything to teach English, don't you?"

Anyway, at one point, I was asked how I got the titanium screw in my leg. I merely replied that it was an old hockey injury and moved on. The students all exchanged surprised (and some incredulous, some impressed) glances, but did move on. For a minute or two. Soon, a brave soul asked, "Mrs. D, when did you play hockey? What position did you play?"

"I thought we were moving on," I said. "I played a long time ago. I don't anymore. And I played goalie. And now, we are moving on."

It only takes one class period for word to travel in the halls of a high school before cell phones were in common usage. The very next period, I could see students looking at my legs. To their credit, no one asked me about my hockey injury, but to be fair, they were honors kids and not the type. But by the time my junior regulars arrived, they came in the door with the story and all their questions:

"Ms. D! Lemme see that hockey injury!"

"Ms. D., how much time you spend in the penalty box?"

"Ms. D., ain't no way you played no goalie."

"If you got titanium in there, you could probably hock it, right?"

The best thing about the whole Hockey Goalie Story was that it persisted and took on a life of its own. By the time my own sons attended high school there in 1999-2006, they were confronted with it as well, and asked by total strangers over and over again if their mother did indeed get hurt playing hockey and was her position truly goalie. My kids of course played along.

Here's the most confounding thing about the whole hockey injury story:  as a goalie, I would have worn a ton of protection, especially around my legs. Even back in high school--the late 1970s--there would have been decent protection, and the leagues wouldn't have been coed. It's not like they could have thought I was in a professional or college league, could they? Did they think I got hit with a high-speed puck? Did they think I was in a brawl? With teenage brains, who knows what they thought. It's hilarious.

And here's another thing:  whenever a student had a visible injury or a cast or something, I always said, "Oh, no! I hope that doesn't hurt right now. Do you mind telling me what happened?" Sometimes the story would be that they shut the car door on their hand, or that they had to wear a sling during a bursitis flare-up, or that they sprained their wrist at tennis practice. After hearing those explanations, I'd say, "No. That's a terrible story. No one wants to hear that. Tell people that you fell during your first wing-walking class. Or tell them that you were climbing a tree to save a cat. Or say that you were going for the Guinness World's Record in paddle ball. Always make up a good story."

They never caught on; I practically told them I was lying all the time.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

J Is For Jeremy


Jeremy was my student back in about 1987. He was part of an English 10B class, or sophomore basic English. In that level of English, students were not college-bound; they could have mild to serious reading deficiencies; they were often discipline problems; their attendance could range from perfect to chronic absenteeism, and coaches loved it for athletes. Teachers were urged to make each day a complete lesson so that any kid coming in on any day wouldn't feel like he had missed anything. He could pick right up and get to work, completing it in class and turning it in for a grade.

I found quickly that a routine worked well. Mondays were vocabulary days; Tuesdays were reading and answering question days; Wednesdays were grammar days, etc. The students loved knowing ahead of time what to expect, and they thrived. The class that Jeremy was in was a nice group of kids who got along well and liked each other and me. We had a mutual respect.

Jeremy asked me on the first day of class if he could sit in the front row. He explained that his father and he felt it kept him attentive, and I obliged. He was tall, with long legs and a basketball player's body. I often had to navigate those outstretched legs as I wrote on the board at the front of the class and talked. "If those legs get any longer, I'm going to put you by the door and watch you trip people in the hallway," I used to say. He'd grin and blush a little under his freckles.

He was a good-looking kid, mixed race, his skin the colour of coffee with too much milk, brown eyes, an impeccable fade, and the kind of lanky, loose body that was born to be athletic. His smile was wide, winning, yet shy-looking somehow. He was a hard worker who could have a short fuse if he got frustrated.

One day a new student was added to the class. He arrived late, and I could see by his swagger and demeanour that he was going to upset our community, or at least try. Nonetheless, I greeted him warmly, accepted his pass, and assigned him a seat. Immediately, the rest of the class began to react to him, and not very positively, by rolling their eyes and mumbling under their breath.

"Here's what we're doing," I said, handing him a book and a copy of the worksheet. "If you need anything, just let me know."

"Shit, I don't need nothin'. I just got out of Indian River. This is my class now. You--" 

Quick as anything, Jeremy was up and out of his seat. "This is Ms. D's class. You're gonna treat her with respect. I don't care about where you were or why you were in prison. If you're in here, it's Ms. D's class, period. You don't like it, you can leave. And there's lots of us can help you."

I'd like to say that I immediately took charge of the situation, but I stood there, open-mouthed and stunned for a moment. The whole class had turned toward the offender, staring him down. Jeremy was still standing. After a moment I grabbed an incident report and started writing and said to the new student, "I think you'd better head down to the office. That's enough for today." 

He stood up, remarked that he was just about to leave anyway, and walked out the door. Another student took the incident report to the office, and I never saw that kid again.

In the aftermath Jeremy apologized for standing up and speaking out of turn. "But no way was I gonna let him disrespect you!" Others spoke up indignantly as well. The best thing was that they all wanted to keep our class dynamic as it was. 

Jeremy tried out for basketball and made the JV team and went on to play Varsity as well. His dad was a fixture in our school. He was an involved parent, making sure Jeremy was doing well and keeping the grades up, staying out of trouble. 

For many kids like Jeremy at our high school, it's tough to get into college. Passing the ACT and/or the SAT is a huge barrier. Then, affording college is another hurdle. Athletic scholarships help, but even then, they're often to small, faraway colleges that take them a long way from their families. That's often an insurmountable obstacle, especially when the colleges aren't very diverse.

I lost track of Jeremy after his senior year. I had my second baby, and life got so busy. The next thing I knew, I was reading his name in the newspaper (June 27,1991), but not for basketball. He was arrested for the death of a man at a gas station. The man had been beaten so brutally that he had died from his injuries; the newspaper said that it was a drug deal gone wrong. He was twenty years old.

Jeremy, I later found out from someone who had been in that English class, had gotten involved with drug dealers. It was the easiest and fastest way to make money. He was twenty years old. He's fifty now, and he's in prison for the rest of his life. 

My heart broke when I read that story in the newspaper. How could he? I wondered. What happened to him? What went so terribly wrong?

Sometimes I think that what I did for thirty years of my life didn't make a damn bit of difference. But I realize that I'm a tiny part of a huge environment. Jeremy deserves punishment, of course, but I mourn for him nonetheless.

Monday, June 14, 2021

I Is For Ice Cream

About a hundred years ago when I was in elementary school, our class went on a field trip to The Home Dairy, where we observed milk processing and bottling. After that, we all got to order an ice cream cone and sit outside on a little curb in front of the building. Imagine a long row of little first- or second-graders, all sitting down with single dips of chocolate or vanilla ice cream at their faces. Brown, white, brown, white, all the way down the line. Suddenly, a vivid orange flecked with yellow disrupts the sedate pattern. That, dear friends, was me, the only little classmate to order her (and her father's) favourite flavour, orange pineapple.

My dad used to take us to Home Dairy once in a while, and they had terrific ice cream, homemade and scooped generously. They had lots of flavours, and a neat art deco building. There was no indoor seating because they were primarily a processing plant, but their ice cream business did well. I can also remember a couple of times when my scoop fell right off immediately upon my first lick. After that, he used to take the first lick of my scoop himself and press his tongue down hard on top of the scoop to make sure it was set well into the cone. I watched and learned, soon doing that myself whenever I got a cone of hard scooped ice cream.

My taste in ice cream has changed many times over the years, and I doubt that I'd like orange pineapple very much now. I used to like mint chocolate chip ice cream, too, but now even the thought of it makes me shudder. Same with caramel in or on ice cream. For some reason, I am anti-caramel. Maybe it's a case of being ill shortly after having it and having a bad association. I don't know.

For a long time I was a huge fan of Ben & Jerry's ice creams and their sinful chunkiness. Those are ice creams you actually chew. There's a lot of extras in there! Now, I just see it as Too Much. I want ice cream, not a bunch of other stuff mucking about in there. 

Perhaps I am an Ice Cream Purist. I'd rather pay more for good, smooth ice cream in small containers and feel the richness of all that butterfat. I don't eat ice cream all that often, so I don't feel too guilty when I do. I like Haagen Dazs very much, but they don't have my all-time favourite flavour, chocolate marshmallow. For that, I have to slum a little and buy Turkey Hill, a very good brand despite not being a premium ice cream. Haagen Dazs does have an addictive chocolate peanut butter flavour that makes me forget myself and chocolate marshmallow, however; I've been known to eat the whole pint once or twice. Not recommended. Especially before bed.

The little ice cream and pizza place on the way to the lakehouse has very good soft-serve ice cream. (And chocolate is back! as of Memorial Weekend.) Unlike Dairy Queen's "ice cream," it does not make me double over with terrible gas cramps. The best soft-serve is still frozen custard, however, and if you've never had it, you're missing something wonderful. 

When I was little, I was also enamored of sherbet, which is not, of course, ice cream. I think I loved it mostly because of its lovely colours, then because it tasted so fruity. I still love fruity sorbets, especially mango and lemon. So refreshing! (And yes, it drives me nuts when people pronounce it SHER-BERT, tossing an extra R in there for no apparent reason.)

Do you have a specific childhood memory of Ice cream? What is your favourite flavour?


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

H Is For Hair


An article I read not too long ago proposed that most women cycle among three hairstyles. They don't stray from these three, and if they do, they try to make the errant haircut look like one of the three styles they are more comfortable with. 

I absolutely get that. 

Every so often, I used to get a restless fussiness about my hair, usually in the late spring, and I'd decide to Try Something New And Short(er). This almost always resulted in either A) Disaster or B) Immediate Regret the next morning when I'd try to style it myself and my hair would refuse to cooperate. I'd call my stylist and book a recut, or more often, I'd sit in front of the bathroom mirror with Rick at my side and point to wayward hunks of recalcitrant hair while he used his barber scissors and tried to Do Something. These unhappy incidents are all duly recorded here in my archives someplace, of course.

I've been at war with my hair for more than fifty years. Ever since my mother first decided that I would have long, long hair that she would braid every morning, my hair has been almost a separate entity. I wanted to wear it long and loose; that was not an option. And like most people with straight, straight hair, I longed for naturally curly hair. I remember watching The Wizard of Oz with particular longing:  Judy Garland had dark hair like mine, and she wore it in the most beautiful curls. That (and those red ruby slippers) nearly killed me with envy.

Remember the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? In it, the sister Jo has her hair cut off short and boyishly in order to sell it for twenty-five dollars. She wants to raise money so that her mother can bring their father from the war and nurse him at home.  When Jo reveals her shorn head, one of them cries out, "Oh, Jo! How could you? Your one beauty." I read that book when I was about eight years old, and that quote stuck with me. Your hair is part of your beauty and your femininity. And it's not like history and the media didn't agree.

"Nance," Rick will say, after I've gone on a tirade about my dissatisfaction with my hair, "I think your hair looks nice." And because I have been working on Accepting Compliments Graciously Without Negating Them, I try to simply thank him. Without sighing and rolling my eyes and saying something like, "Oh, Rick. What the hell do you know? Don't you see how flat it looks? Do you know how much time I spent with the round brush, and it looks like all I did was roll out of bed after sleeping for fifteen hours on this one side of my head?" 

It's not easy.

Why can't our culture be one in which women shave their heads and write clever slogans or cute drawings on them in Sharpie markers? Or have haircuts like men, who mostly walk into some place and don't really care all that much because It Will Grow Out In Two Weeks And Look The Same Anyway? 

My eldest granddaughter is 19. She dyes her hair all different colours, sometimes several at once. My son Sam's girlfriend walked into her stylist and said, "I'm sick of messing with my hair all the time and trying to make it something it's not. Give me something short and trendy that suits my hair." And he did and it's awesome. My son Jared's girlfriend has wonderful wild curly hair that descends in spirals and makes me want a crazy perm. 

But I know better. I'm currently on #2 of my 3 Usual Hairstyles. And I'm actually having a Good Hair Day. 

That's today, however; tomorrow could (and probably will be) an entirely different story.  Talk to me of all things Hair in Comments.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

G Is For Good, Not Great

I have to tell you, it's been kind of a Lost Week here at the Dept. A chronic and relentless migraine hit me--hard--in the middle of the night last Friday (or was it Saturday?), and nothing was kicking it. By Monday, I had to alert my hero neurologist, Dr. B, who called in a cycle breaker course of steroids for me. Today is the first day I've felt even remotely normal, but I'm still feeling fragile and tired. 

Undoubtedly, it was stress-induced. In the days leading up to that, the bathroom floor was finally installed. That meant the entire bathroom was housed in my office and the dining room. We had to use the little half bath upstairs. The new floor is porcelain tile, so the installation, while relatively brief (a day and a half), was noisy and dusty. Rick is always my general contractor, so he tears out and puts things back together around his full-time job schedule. Needless to say, it's almost done. In an old home like ours, a new floor means new baseboards, new moldings and trim, and refitting cabinets because now the level and fit of the floor has changed. So much work, and all custom.

At the same time, my washer broke down. How dare it, after only thirty years of service? (I love my Maytag!) As of today, I am still awaiting the repair, finally scheduled for Monday. Yes, the part was out there, in Kentucky, available, but shipping is a nightmare right now and yada yada yada. I have to manually advance the cycles for each load I do. I refuse to dip into the second-string undies, so I stand there in front of the washing machine, waiting to crank it to Rinse, then Spin. Ugh.

The whole week I was down with migraine, I couldn't do much. It's a very impotent feeling, knowing if I tried to push and do too many things, I'd only make recovery take longer. It hurt even more to know that the burdens on Rick were huge. In addition to the bathroom, he is replacing the floor and rebuilding parts of the boat, anxious to get it done and get it in the water. Projects at the lake await him constantly, and many of those are compromised by backorders and shipping problems, too. Weather is yet another challenge, and he can only do so much on the weekends.

Still, I have to say, things are Good. I got a badly needed new bathroom floor, which I love. It is exactly what I wanted. The drawn-out nature of the project isn't Great, but overall, a Good Thing.

Repairing my original Maytag--Good. The newer ones are now made by Whirlpool, and they aren't as good, nor built to last like original Maytags. The repair will cost less than a third of what a new, basic washer will cost. Being without a reliable washer for all this time has been Not Great, but no tragedy, either.

Everything else? Good. Being without a boat right now for quiet lake time is Not Great, but there will be many, many more times for that. And the refurbished boat will be terrific. Better than Good. Taking time to be gentle with my recovery from this headache was Good. I'll be back to myself by the end of the weekend, hopefully, and having a steroid blast has been such a relief from my arthritis (a little bonus). Those aches will come back as I taper off the drugs, so that's Not Great, but the respite has been nice.

Sometimes, I need to focus on Just Good, Not Great. Life can't always get five stars, you know? There's a lot to be said for the gentle grace of a Good Day. "Okay," you say, "that wasn't all bad. I felt pretty Good about this or that. I put in a Good Day."

How do you feel about the concept of Good vs. Great?


Saturday, May 15, 2021

F Is For Fingernails

 I've kept my fingernails quite short for awhile now, so short that there's plenty of finger above the nail at the tips. It makes for easy typing, easy prep and cooking, easy everything, really. And my Fingernails are so thin and bendy when they grow out now that having them long is a hazard. They tend to bend backward if I'm digging at something, tear awkwardly, or break off because they're dry and papery. (Don't suggest biotin. I was on that and it caused some unpleasant intestinal effects.)

Back when I was teaching, I used to let my Fingernails grow out long as part of My Look. I filed, base-coated, polished, top-coated and took pride in them. I favoured Revlon nail polish, and I had the bottles all lined up in my night table drawer. Do you remember the Chanel nail colour that everyone was knocking off there for awhile, that deep, deep black cherry? You'd swear it was black, but upon closer inspection, you could see it was actually a sort of midnight red. I loved that and wore it often. I also loved a colour that looked just like dried blood. Those Fingernails made my hands look terrific. 

How on earth did I find the time (and patience) to do all that? I had two kids, a demanding teaching job, and a home and pets. Ah, Vanity, thy name is Nance.

If one of my Fingernails would break, I'd cut them all down to match the broken one. I was ruthless and brave. (I've always been a Symmetry Junky.) I'd use a more muted colour--Sand Beige, or Pearl--until they were long and beautiful again, and then I'd celebrate with a bright red. 

Acrylic Fingernails were a big thing among a few of my friends, and at one point, I was tempted. It had been a long time since I'd had my long Fingernails (I'd given up the drudgery due to one thing or another), and I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking of going to a nail salon and getting a set put on. "You'll hate it," she said. "It involves maintenance. Do you know you need to go back every few weeks for a fill? When your nails grow out, they'll need to fill in that gap at the base of the acrylic where your real nail shows the growth. And--"

That was enough for me. It sounded worky, like getting hair colour and dealing with roots, another thing I've never done because of the maintenance. What a lot of bother and expense. And Bossiness, and if there's one thing I detest, it's being Bossed Around by obligations. The last thing I need in my life is my Fingernails or my hair telling me what to do or making me drive to an appointment. Sounds terrible. 

Do I miss my long, stylish, sexy red Fingernails? No. I really do not. That part of My Look was easy to give up. So were earrings. Let's not talk about my high heels, though. 


Talk to me about your Fingernails, past and present. I want to know.


Friday, May 07, 2021

E Is For Eggs


I find that I want--no, Need--to talk about Eggs. I have a problem with them, and now you're going to hear about it.

For some reason, I grabbed two dozen of them with no purpose in mind a while back and had to use them up. We don't eat breakfasts, and I rarely bake anymore, and I find that overall, I'm not fond of Eggs in general. I settled on a big batch of Egg salad for Rick and Sam's lunches, and that's where all my irritation and resentment sprung to life anew.

Because peeling hardboiled Eggs is, in short, a colossal pain. Everyone in the universe knows it, and that's why there are innumerable tips--excuse me--hacks all over the internet telling you a million ways to prepare your Eggs or your water to make this crappy job much easier and the finished product much nicer so that your peeled hardboiled eggs don't look like they fought their way through a thorn bush. 

Here are the tips/hacks I've learned in my years of valuable Egg Research:

Add a pinch of baking soda to the water. Add vinegar to the water. Add salt to the water. Use fresh Eggs. Don't use fresh Eggs. Start the Eggs in cold water. Add the Eggs to already vigorously boiling water. Don't cover the pan. Cover the pan. Poke a small hole in the large end of the Egg. 

And all of those are even before you cook the Eggs. Once you've gotten your Eggs hardboiled to the stage you like them (dry yolks? fudgy yolks?), the advice continues for those of us who still struggle to peel:

Shock the Eggs in ice water. Don't use ice water. Cover the pan and vigorously shake the Eggs in a small amount of water. Once the Eggs have cooled, place each in a small sealed container with water and shake. Strike the Egg on the top and the bottom and submerge in cool water. Peel a small chip out of the top and bottom, then blow hard on one end and the Egg pops out. Roll the Egg on the counter firmly.

I've tried almost all of these, and let me say this:  They are all a crapshoot and all of them are bullshit. You should have seen me the other day with my fake pearl corsage pin, painstakingly poking a hole in the big end of over a dozen Eggs whilst my water was coming to a boil. I probably looked like an idiot. And the result was the same as usual--about 60% of the Eggs were a complete pain, and all of them still retained the little flat end, the flaw that was specifically mentioned would disappear with the Pin Method because Science. 

They all went into the food processor, though, for Egg salad, with some tarragon and seasoning. I like tarragon in my Egg salad; it's a vastly under-utilized herb. I finished up the salad in time for Sam's lunch, but not before thinking about another Egg Irritation, and this it is:

I hate the saying "Walking on Eggshells." It seems like a stupid metaphor to me. What's the big deal if you break Eggshells? Wouldn't it make more sense if you said "Walking on Eggs"? That seems more descriptive to me. You really have to be careful if you're walking on Eggs; one bad move and you break the Egg, ruin it, and your foot is covered in slimy goo. And we all know what it's like to try and clean up raw Egg. 

Another reason to feel cranky about Eggs.


Saturday, May 01, 2021

D Is For Diving Lesson

 Long ago I often took off in the summertime for solo vacations, visiting friends all over the place. I'd take advantage of cheap airfare back in those days and spend time in Chicago, Denver, Orlando, and southern Maryland. Years later, when air travel felt like Prison Intake (take off your shoes; place your metal and valuables in these bins; stand here while we look at you in Naked or XRay Vision; no liquids, etc.), I hopped in my Prius, set my GPS, and drove.

My most regular destination has been southern Maryland, to visit my friend Leanne, she of Banana Price fame. She has a spacious home on top of a hill, backed by woods, and a luxurious in-ground pool. She and her husband are also gracious and generous hosts, and they have a charming and boisterous Boston terrier with whom I have a pleasant friendship. In the mornings when I awaken, I pad over to her mother's adjoining apartment for coffee and conversation. It's a wonderful place.

On one particular summer visit, her daughter, then a teenager, was out in the pool with me. She had been trying to conquer an absurdly large floating shark, but gave up and turned to practicing dives. I was doing what I always do in pools--bobbing close to the edge in the deep water, buoyed up by some small floaty, enjoying getting cool down to my very core. I watched her dive several times, then offered a few observations.

"You need to keep your legs together. They're drifting apart as you head into the water. Try to focus on that, and pointing your toes."

Lauren executed a couple more dives and looked at me expectantly. "How was that?"

"That was way better," I said. "Now, keep that up, but this time, focus on aligning your head with your arms. Your head is dropping down farther than your arms. It's like your head is entering the water before your hands. You should be one smooth arc. One line. Your head shouldn't break the plane of your body."

Lauren nodded and walked onto the diving board again. By this time, Leanne, who had been wandering around the gardens with her sunhat on, stopped to watch. Lauren shook her shoulders and arms loose and prepared to enter the water. I could see she was thinking about what I had told her. In a few moments she tried her dive.

She broke the surface of the pool and spun around to face me, shaking the water from her ear. "I could tell my hands came apart a little on that one, but what about my head?"

"So much better," I said. "But you're still dropping it. Your legs were perfect, and your toes were pointed, too. But keep in mind that your neck and torso are almost functioning as one unit. You want to make a clean entry into the water."

"Nance," she said. "Do you think you could show me? I probably would do much better if I could see it. If I could watch you do the dive, I'm sure I could understand better." 

I looked up at Leanne who was staring at me from her chaise, suddenly alert. It was as if she had been waiting for this.

I smiled at Lauren and told her. "Oh, honey. I've never done a dive in my life. I don't even know how to swim."



Thursday, April 22, 2021

C Is For Candy Dish

Don't let my Banana story lead you to believe that I am a Joyless Crabass when I go grocery shopping. I am not, truly. I love my funny grocery store where I not only buy groceries, but occasionally, thanks to the Closeouts section, come home with things like socks, shoes, cute shirts for the little granddaughter, mattress pads, lawn furniture, and--if I wanted to--a rabbit hutch or a pet staircase or a futon. 

Someday, I'll show up and there will be cars for sale there, and I won't be one bit surprised.

But I digress.

A few months ago they set up a display of candies for three bucks a bag. Thankfully, none of it is candy that I like, but there are several varieties that Rick really likes. He has a weakness for any gumdrop sort of candy, due in large part to his late grandparents. They kept a ready supply in a charming little crock marked For Grandchildren Only, or something like that. It was usually full of spice drops, those wee little multicoloured gumdrops in flavours like clove, cinnamon, spearmint, and whatever the white ones are supposed to taste of.

I love surprising Rick with little treats that he loves. I bought a couple of bags of candy for him and fished out a suitable Candy Dish, after much careful deliberation.

Put the candy in a flat dish, and the sugar will be all over the place as he scoops them out. One with a lid? That lid will never be put back on the dish. A deep bowl? He'll eat them all in one sitting, no problem.

Here's what I came up with:

This was full to the brim the day before

It's like one of those puzzle toys for dogs or cats who eat their food too fast. He can't fit his whole big hand into it all at once. He can't grab a huge handful and still get his fingers out of the dish. You can see there is some sugar on the end table, but not very much. 

However, Success is limited. Rick will eat from the Candy Dish instead of having an actual lunch. He'll eat half the candy in the dish after dinner and then berate himself about eating all that candy. We've had several Adult Discussions about it:

Nance:  I was under the impression that you were a grownup and could control yourself with a Candy Dish next to your chair.

Rick:  And I was under the impression that I was a grownup and could eat what I want.


He's really ruining the Fun, Loving Thoughtfulness behind the whole thing for me.  

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