Monthly Archives: June 2021

That’s when the wheels fell off the road trip

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My husband, Roy, is generally considered to be the most patient and the mildest of men. He has to be, or I would have been pushed off a bridge by him years ago. He does have limits, though, and it is never a pretty picture when he is pushed past them.

This week, we played host to our grandsons, hereafter identified as Grandson A, who is ten years old and Grandson B, who is 8. We put these two little boys in the car for an extended road trip on Wednesday, knowing full well that neither of them was excited about a long drive, having endured a six-hour travel time just to get to our house.

Nevertheless, we had business to take care of in Sioux Falls that we didn’t want to put off and then, we planned to drive to the Missouri River near Pierre to enjoy some swimming. Roy had taken the boys before and they had enjoyed it a great deal, so he began this road trip in great anticipation that everyone would fall in line with his plans.

He reckoned without a number of things: First, the business in Sioux Falls involved a medical appointment for me. It was for a treatment which, while it was important, involved having a sore back. It took away a lot of my enthusiasm to do anything afterward besides go home.

Second: The weather. Wednesday was predicted to be a day of over 100 degrees. I am not a fan of hot weather in any case and since I was also not enjoying great health, I began expressing my wish to not stand on the river banks and cook while being eaten alive by little bugs made lively by the heat. When I say I was expressing myself, I mean that for the entire trip from Sioux Falls to Pierre, I gave the weather report every two minutes. “Now it’s 101, good grief, we’ll cook.” “Well, forget it, now it’s 105. We are all going to have heat stroke.” “It’s 103 now. I will not be responsible for the sunburns…I just hope we have enough aloe.”

Third: Grandson A was unimpressed by the road trip and refused to be cajoled over the fun times we would have when we got to the river. In an increasingly loud and plaintive voice, he demanded that we go home, that we not go to the river today, demanding to know whose dumb idea this was, how much longer we had to go, etc. It might not have been quite so bad if we had not forgotten the car chargers for the boys’ tablets. Once they ran out of charge and the only entertainment was to look at a blank screen. Things went downhill from there.

Fourth: Grandson B is now brought into the cacophony of noise in the car when Grandson A, discovering that his protests were not helping, began annoying his younger brother, who reciprocated by hollering and whining for him to “stop that!”

Fifth: The wife employed sarcasm when she remarked (over the noise coming from the backseat), “Oh, now we’re having fun.” This brought increased wails from the back seat where Grandson B cried, “I want to go to the river and have fun!” while Grandson A joined in with a loud lament, “This is NOT fun at all!”

And it is at this point, with a trio of dissenters singing the blues, that the wheels came off of this particular road trip. Fed up to his eyes with the hours-long lack of gratitude for his plan, Roy exploded. He gave that familiar “dad speech” in which he threatened that unless everyone shaped up and had fun immediately, there would be dire consequences. It was the sight of their otherwise patient grandfather and my calm husband, shouting at the top of his lungs and declaring that we were going to have fun if it was the last thing we did, while his face turned scarlet and spittle sprayed everywhere that finally silenced the rest of us.

We traveled the rest of that hideous trip from hell in silence and finally made it to the river with no bloodshed. Once everyone had swimsuits on or like me, sat in the shade with a cool breeze blowing off the water, we all discovered that it was a pretty good plan on such a hot day after all. Thanks to sun screen, water shirts, and late afternoon temperatures, everyone enjoyed the trip to the river a great deal…even if we had been threatened with a good time.

And Grandson A, Grandson B and their grandmother may have learned that there is a point at which Grandpa can lose his famous cool and the wheels can fly off the cart!

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The sad case of Cruella

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It’s true that movies are starting to make a comeback, but they do have a little way to go. The selection has been slim and that is to be expected as the pandemic begins (we hope) to recede. We are avid movie-goers at my house. My husband and I have seriously gone to movies that were so bad that we prayed we wouldn’t meet anyone we knew on the way out. We have also attended movies that we returned to enjoy again. It is always an unknown. But it is our main Friday night entertainment–we accept that for every brilliantly done movie there are another five that could have stayed on the script-writing floor.

We also have accepted over the years that we may go to a movie and think, “That is the worst movie we have ever seen!” And certainly someone will come along and tell us that was the greatest piece of cinema ever created. This process works in reverse as well. The one thing I believe a movie-goer has to accept is that a movie is normally just a movie and everyone will have their own opinion. Most of the time it is not worth getting the proverbial panties in a bunch over.

That brings us to last week when we, for the first time since the pandemic, set foot in a movie theater to watch a movie. We took our masks, we didn’t have food and for me, a movie without popcorn is hard enough. The fact that the best choice on the marquee was Cruella only added to my apprehensions. We went, however, and in spite of the fact that I occasionally moved my hand from my lap to my mouth in a vain attempt to imagine I was eating popcorn, it wasn’t too bad. We hadn’t expected much from a movie with the premise of this one, so anything they could do to make it theatrically presentable was a surprise.

We didn’t quite feel we needed bags on our heads so no one would see us leaving the theater, but we didn’t think it was Academy Award level theater either. What I didn’t expect was that one of the critiques of it (and there were plenty) accused it of desecrating the Disney “classic” 101 Dalmatians by make Cruella a figure of evil designed to drag children down a demonic path.

I respect that everyone has the right to their point of view, but I had trouble understanding this one. For one thing, the movie is literally titled, Cruella. The word “cruel” is right there. We kind of get the hint it isn’t going to be good. Then, I have to wonder why anyone would go to this movie believing it was a good message for the kiddies. Keep in mind that the Disney classic it is based on is the story of this woman–Cruella–trying to kidnap 101 cute puppies to skin them out to make a coat for herself. I never thought that message was particularly light and kid-like.

While I think the show is a bit dark and “un-kid-like”, I have trouble with viewing it as much more than someone’s rather unusual view of what makes for a good movie premise. I do agree with those who said the acting was good, but I think the message was more thoughtless than devil-wrought. The beauty of this, of course, is that I have every right to my opinion, just like everyone else has the right to theirs.

It seems to me, however, that if we are going to worry about things that may need addressing, I’d go with politicians who lie and cheat and worry more about their own lives than about the lives of the people they are supposed to serve. Let’s worry about people starving in the world while others can’t figure out enough ways to foolishly squander their millions. And while we are at it, let’s give one or two thoughts to the elderly, the disabled and those who are otherwise in need of our assistance. Let Cruella take care of herself and those who choose to watch it be aware of their own lives.

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Reasons why I’m the Queen of Bland

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It has been a long, insidious winter. It lasted two years because you can’t count a summer in a pandemic as a summer. I know, some people used this time to work out and diet and get themselves in shape. I was sure I was at least holding my own, but recently, my clothes held an intervention with me in which they threatened to rip, shred or just plain explode if I didn’t ease up on the table exercises.

And that is where the real trouble begins. I like potatoes and bread. Just potatoes and bread, with perhaps a little meat very well done to go with it. According to all the women’s magazines I have read, this is the absolute worst diet for the person attempting to lose weight. So, if I want the ideal body, I must give up mashed potatoes and freshly baked bread…along with my morning roll and my midnight snack of potato chips.

None of this would be as difficult if I liked spices and spicy foods. It seems the national craze these days is titled “the hotter the better.” This is very hard for a woman who considers salt the only spice out there. On restaurant menus there is a kids section, a dietary section and a senior section, in addition to the regular selections. From my experience there should also be a section for those of us who don’t wish to burn our mouths to the point it boils up to our eyeballs and then singes the brain!

I freely embrace the title of Queen of Bland. I consider food sprinkled with pepper to be spicy food. I like chicken without any cumin or jalapenos and if you are eating anything with cayenne pepper or garlic, I don’t want to so much as kiss you, let alone share your meal! I can’t believe the number of people who want hot pickles or onion varieties that water the eyes and burn the tongue. Leave my potato salad alone, because those potatoes and eggs will do just fine without your paprika nonsense!

But I digress from my dieting issues. I subscribe to a couple of magazines which are loosely termed “women’s magazines,” but which would be just as useful to men. However, each week, they seem to feature another person who went on a fabulous, delicious diet and lost a hundred pounds without “denying themselves” at all! And every week, I’m suckered into reading their story which always includes a recommended menu, complete with pictures. This week featured the “Pounds Off Yogurt Bowl”. This looked like a bowl of curdled soup topped with berries and nuts–oh that makes it all better, of course. If you eat the berries and nuts, you won’t notice the yogurt slop that comes up with the spoon! It was followed by fat-burn vinaigrette (I don’t even want to try) and “Kicked-up barbecue”–you know what “Kicked-up” means: five minutes after you consume it, your mouth will want to kick you and your eyeballs are flaming up!

Of course, portion control is very important in these recipes. You should make it, and then, watch it slowly mold as you can only eat a small bite a day. Oh please, if I made “Good for you Brownie Bites,” the last bite of them would be consumed within the hour of baking! As the commercial suggests, I can’t open a bag of potato chips and “only have one.” The only food that is likely to be controllable for me is sushi, because if you put a plate of sushi down in front of me, I will not eat any of it. This may be the only food that works that way…except for the ones with cayenne pepper and jalapenos.

I’m also not too big on the so-called “meatless burgers.” Maybe it’s because I was raised in cattle country, but I like to have a solid ground beef patty between my bread–oops, got to get rid of the bread. Now, I know, I know, cows are a huge danger to the environment, unlike factories and vehicles which literally belch smog. However, I would to keep a few of them around so I don’t have to eat the Baja Black Bean burgers for which I saw a recipe. Black beans are not a favorite of mine in any form, but on the plus side, they added a chunky green stuff (doubtless spicy) to the top of it, thus ensuring that I won’t eat any of it.

With all of these things that I won’t eat, you’d think the Queen of Bland would lose weight by the sheer volume of spice out there waiting to ruin her appetite. Not so, if you put a real burger on that bun, and you don’t add Greek yogurt and Tzatziki sauce (what the heck is Tzatziki sauce anyway), I’ll eat five to ten of the burgers and wash them down with a quart of soda and a few bags of chips. And of course, this is where I started and how I got into this mess in the first place.

Perhaps, after all, the best dietary plan for me is to top all my food (including the brownies) with a serious dose of cayenne pepper, jalapeno juice and maybe some Tzatziki sauce for good measure. That way, we could ensure that the “Queen of Bland” could stop carrying the second title of the “Queen of Major Expand.” Happy eating everyone and if anyone is interested, I can give you a recipe for turkey burgers–I’m sure not using it!

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