Monthly Archives: December 2020

The dastardly baby caper

Emmett Martin Jack joined our family this past couple of weeks, weighing in at 7 lbs., 7 oz. and equipped with a full head of hair. He joins two older brothers, Royce and Arthur, and is received by grandparents, uncles and aunts with a considerable amount of delight.

It was my desire to go out and perhaps spend a few days trying to lend a hand, and in a pandemic that requires some arranging. So, after squatting in my house for the required quarantine, I set out to meet the new family member.

Now, I presented my visit as an opportunity for me to do some cleaning and cooking and just get everything in apple-pie order so Mom and Dad didn’t have to do anything but mind the new baby. Given the fact that they are fully aware of my fabled inability to cook, clean or put everything in “apple-pie” order–whatever that is–I suspect they saw through the flimsy excuse to visit the new baby, and his two brothers as well.

It has been a pleasant visit, so far. The baby has all the inconsistencies and foibles of a newborn, including the inability to sleep at night. That may account for how I was not once, but twice, fooled by what I like to call the “dastardly baby caper,” and it involved, of all things, a fake baby.

When my daughter and her husband first discovered they were expecting they thought it would be a good idea to prepare the older two by getting a so-called, “realistic” newborn baby doll. The boys had the chance to interact and handle it, and thereby get a little idea what to expect. Once the real baby arrived, of course, the fake baby was set aside and forgotten–at least by me.

On my first day there, my daughter came from the bedroom, cradling Emmett in her arms. Suddenly, she whipped the baby at me, flinging him by one arm. Of course, once I had recovered from the inevitable stroke, I discovered she had faked me out with the doll, instead of having randomly flung her newborn son at me.

That was unnerving, but it wasn’t over. The next night, when I thought Emmett was in bed, his father came into the room, cradling a baby. Using the same swift, “whip the baby around by one arm” move, he induced the second heart attack of my visit.

Well, this was just too much. That dastardly fake baby was not going to give me any more cardiac moments! It took me a little while and a few naps by the new parents when the real baby was resting, but I managed to unearth the fake baby. That baby is now in my hands and is carefully and thoughtfully hidden somewhere in the house. I thought about giving them a real scare when they find it by rubbing blood on it’s mouth and having it hold a bloody knife, but that may be taking the joke too far, so I just hid the baby without adding any theatrics.

I plan to head for home in a couple of days, having done all the damage I can around here, but I will make certain that the fake baby causes no more trouble, even if that means it ends up in some random cornfield between here and home.

Welcome to the family, Emmett, and tell imposter Emmett to lay off!

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Shut up, Bing!

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It’s that time of year…when we hear one Christmas song after another, with each version of the old tunes tortured into something jazzier, or slower or just plain unrecognizable as the days go on. I accept that this is the price of a country which gets pretty excited about the holidays. I even enjoy some of the tunes that are played incessantly.

I draw the line, however, at White Christmas. I blame Bing Crosby for this tune, even though I know he didn’t write it. He is, however, the one whose voice rocketed the song to such fame that they made an entire movie about it. While I enjoy Bing Crosby’s talents, I do not share his musical sentiments concerning Christmas.

The white Christmas the song is referring to belongs to the days when the people who were to spend Christmas together were the same people who lived in the house every day. They simply bundled up, lit the stove and the candles and watched the snowdrifts piling up outside.

The song was not written for the modern world, which is incredibly mobile and where families may be living miles from each other and must travel to be together. And that travel may involve roads…icy roads…with all that “white Christmas” blowing around, blocking paths and messing with visibility!

I’ve struggled with the ambiguity of the song most of my life. As a child, I listened to the soothing tones of Bing Crosby crooning about snowflakes falling and sleigh bells in the snow while I was literally in a car skidding down the road in weather so horrid that the only way to see was to put someone out the window of the car on either side to holler if the car got too close to that ditch!

So here’s my thought. I’ll tell Bing Crosby to put a cork in that song about a white Christmas and we’ll all start hoping for a brown holiday. I would love to see a small drought from about Thanksgiving to around Valentine’s Day. At that point we can have a lovely White February and March, with the rains arriving by April Fool’s Day. No ice, no snowdrifts and not a single treetop glistening!

I know this would make it hard on those who love the winter sports, but all the skiers and snowmobilers and hockey enthusiasts will just have to forgive me. I want to be able to drive to wherever I plan to spend my holidays and I am selfish enough to not be dreaming of a white holiday!

If we do things my way, I don’t have to worry about sliding sideways down a highway in a blizzard. Weathermen all throughout the world can stop apologizing to people when they can put no snow into the Christmas forecast and I can listen to Little Drummer Boy and Silver Bells with a much happier attitude!

Have a good Christmas and a safe Christmas and if you are looking for a white Christmas…well spray some of that fake frost on your windows and dream away!

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In the deep freeze

For those of you who think this is about the cold weather, you are wrong! I am actually going to talk about cleaning my freezer. Specifically the refrigerator freezer, which is the recipient of anything I can cram into it because I am too lazy to haul it to the larger basement freezer.

My refrigerator freezer has little, subtle ways of letting me know when it needs to be cleaned. Like, when I open it, and things begin shooting out. I blame plastics for this. Everything is in plastic and slides easily, so if I haven’t crammed it in there just so, it begins to slide and creates an avalanche.

The other subtle method it uses is that it refuses to close. Oh, it shuts when I slam it and lean on it for a minute or two, but then, when I’ve gone, it sneaks open again. So, I may wake up in the morning to a freezer door slightly ajar and something suspicious dripping out of it.

This week, I have been keeping a pan lid near the refrigerator to hold up as I open the freezer so that the things sliding out don’t hit me directly. It’s a serious health issue, as I have been stabbed in the face with some of the spoiled bananas I wedge in there to “make into banana bread someday.” In addition, this morning I came into the kitchen to see that the freezer door was ajar and apparently they had voted a tin-foil wrapped chicken breast off the island, because it was hanging out, clinging desperately to the door.

Okay, so I’ll clean the freezer! Stop nagging! I stood with the door open, gazing at the maze of plastic wrapped packages, tin-foil bundles and mysterious items which had been there so long they were unrecognizable with frost. I nearly closed it again to hope for better days!

It was necessary to set up some ground rules. First, anything that I could not identify by sight or labeling went into the garbage. Second, anything stuck to the freezer floor was also given a free pass out of the house. What was it stuck down with, you might ask? The answer is I don’t know, but it was gooey and clingy and anything stuck to it was not something I wanted to eat.

I counted no less than eight ice packs, frozen solid and taking up a great deal of space. I immediately consigned them to the sink for a spring thaw. Since the last time I needed an ice pack, I used a package of frozen broccoli because the ice packs were buried so far under things I couldn’t find them, I figured I could do without them!

Cleaning the freezer always creates some interesting mysteries, even beyond, “what is in this package and why don’t I recognize the color and shape???” For instance, several months ago I put five packages of cream cheese into the freezer. Today, when I was counting out everything on the counter, there were only three packages of cream cheese. I honestly have no idea where the other two packages are. Did a thief perhaps sneak into the house and make off with two frozen packages of cream cheese?

There are also interesting collectibles in there which, because of the disorganization, have built up without my knowledge. I have always collected bananas going brown and frozen them against the possibility that I will experience a baking banana bread craze. Right now, I am the proud possessor of enough frozen bananas to make banana bread for the entire population of a small, third-world country. In addition, I have enough cheese frozen in bags to make the local pizza joint jealous. While they were scattered throughout the freezer, they didn’t seem so excessive. Collecting them into one place gives new meaning to the word, “hoarder.”

I have finished my freezer cleaning and there several items that I decided should probably be taken down and put in the large freezer in the basement. It is not so full, but it is equally messy, so when I shoved those things into the basement freezer, I looked away and slammed the lid quickly. It closed without an issue, which is a good thing…I think.

You’ll have to excuse me now, because it’s time for me to make some lunch. We’re having chicken today, because the freezer so kindly thawed some out for me. I bet your freezer doesn’t do that for you!

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Walking in a winter wonderland

I enjoy walking…my way. I like it to be in sunshine, on smooth roads, when it’s warm outside. Now, it’s hard to maintain a good walking routine when the weather gets cold and you have to get it in before you go to work. For me, walking in a winter wonderland means being bundled up in so many clothes, I look like a Goodwill donation and hoping there is no ice under my feet, because my glasses are so fogged over, I can’t see where I’m going!

The solution, of course, is to not walk outside in the “winter wonderland.” That means figuring out how to get those steps in within the confines of the house and of course, the solution to this is a treadmill. Now, this is not our first experience with treadmills. Several years ago, before I got into a walking routine, we bought a cheap treadmill. It was heavy, hard to operate, frequently malfunctioning, but on the upside, it made a great clothes hanger! When we finally lugged it out to the dump, I thought I’d never have another.

And that brings us to this week and the second treadmill of my life. This one was to be the solution to all my problems. I can use it in the early mornings in the warmth of the house. This will be good news to the neighborhood dog who is truly upset by my early morning appearance and probably upsets everyone else by his barking. But we were determined on two things: it would not be a large treadmill and it would not sit in the laundry room, thereby tempting me to turn it into a drying rack! We decided we would buy a small, easy to maneuver machine and fit it neatly in the family room between the couch and easy chair, where we could watch television.

We ordered the treadmill over the Internet and our first clue as to our miscalculation in size should have been the fact that it took two stout young men to load it onto our pickup when we did our “curbside pickup.” The second clue should have been the way the pickup sank under the load. But, we were optimistic: they always pack these things in impossibly large packages!

We knew we were in trouble when we unloaded it at home. It took both of us to drag it to the edge of the pickup box and we were unnerved by things written on the box, like “this is the heavy end.” That was written on the other end of the box from the end we were both struggling to lift! We finally got it to the steps leading down (thank heavens) to the basement and slid it down..or rather, let it slide down.

We cut it out of the box to avoid lifting it and it was then that we realized we had severely miscalculated the size. This machine, far from slipping unobtrusively between couch and chair, requires the couch to be shoved as far away as possible and even at that, I have to step on the chair to get to the treadmill. It stands almost as high as I do and makes an impressive block to the television, which I can’t see over it.

Nonetheless, I still feel good that on those icy, freezing dark mornings when I’m not sure the cars driving by can see me walking on the road, I will now be able to walk indoors on a treadmill so tall I feel like the Statue of Liberty. All of that is probably worth the pulled back muscles and footprints in my family room easy chair. The best news is that we had to move it closer to the laundry room to make it fit and when I’m walking outside this summer…it’s going to make an outstanding clothes rack!

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