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."


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