Monthly Archives: November 2021

To love, honor and share my chocolate

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My cousin Diane is such a sweet lady. She sent me a small package over the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ll bet she never dreamed when she did so that she would set off a small controversy in my household. But, then again, the controversy is of long standing and she only helped introduce the latest chapter.

She sent me a paperback romance novel, some old clippings and a large bar of chocolate. And she addressed the package to “Roy and Jackie.” Now, this is where she made her mistake. I was delighted to get the clippings and the novel and as I sat down to read it, I casually unwrapped the chocolate bar and had a few squares. It was very good.

Roy wandered in at this point and he was aghast. “You are eating my chocolate bar,” he exclaimed in great chagrin.

“Who says it’s your chocolate?” I was sure of my ground, and besides, I had already eaten some of the chocolate…I couldn’t admit to being wrong now.

“She sent it to me. You got the book and I got the chocolate,” he pointed out with an aggrieved air as he attempted to salvage what he could of the candy.

“Well, you have to learn to share,” I said piously. He just shook his head. This is an old argument. Do husbands and wives have to automatically share their possessions…chocolate, time, money? But Roy has never quite gotten used to the idea that I will be sharing everything he has…including chocolate! He seems to feel I share his things, but not mine. This is ridiculous–anytime he wants to borrow my bras or knitting needles, he is welcome to them. Chocolate…not so much!

This sharing things is a long-standing tradition. The strength of a marriage can be tested on whether or not you can trust each other with your things. Roy walked by the display of his hunting trophies last week and after taking a second look, said in a panic, “Where are my prize deer horns?”

“You mean those horns you removed from a dead deer and hung on the wall,” I am an expert at stalling.

“Yes, those. Where are they? You didn’t throw them away?”

“Of course not. I borrowed them and took them to school to use as a prop for our play,” I thought it was a reasonable explanation.

“You took them without asking?”

“It’s in the marriage vows dear,” I replied. “You promised to endow me with all your worldly goods. That includes deer horns hanging in my house.”

Apparently, as in the case of my chocolate, he doesn’t feel that his deer horns fall under the category of “things you share with your spouse.” It’s a very uneven road we travel on this point in our union. While I have generously offered him anything he wants to use in my craft room (as long as it’s not edible), he has all but forbidden me the use of his tools and anything else found in the garage.

I am not a gardener, but not having the opportunity to use the garden hoses is sometimes difficult. Once, early in our marriage, I took out one of his garden hoses to wash down some rugs and left it in the grass. He then, inadvertently ran over it with the lawn mower, leaving several puncture marks. Since then, I would have to have a presidential mandate to use any of his little darlings for my work. It’s true, I won’t share chocolate, but he is very selfish with his garden tools!

I could give innumerable examples of our struggles with sharing, but you get the picture. It’s a simple case of what’s Roy’s is mine and what’s mine is mine. I have no trouble with this philosophy, but Roy really seems put out about it. Especially when it involves chocolate, which is a trigger for both of us.

So when my cousin sent me the paperback romance novel and chocolate, Roy thought the chocolate was for him. It was not…but he’s welcome to read the romance novel if he is so inclined. I think that’s generous and sharing, don’t you?

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I’m saving that for later

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You know, sometimes children can be so rude! My children have known for many years that I am a borderline hoarder, but it’s no reason for them to point it out. This week, however, my older daughter sent me an article, which in essence, said that a person should live their life in such a way that when their children have to clean out their houses, they spend a lot of time saying, “What in the (foul word) was she saving this for? She added that maybe I would be sitting on a cloud somewhere laughing as they tried to sort through the “collections” in my house.

Now, if you’re reading this while you are at the same time looking at a collection of old rubber bands and ripped up hair bands or maybe your collection of broken silverware, you are a person who understands me. No one knows just when I might need those bank books that are no longer current and no longer on any bank still operating in the state, but maybe I can use them for my memoirs. And if not, then my children will have to say, “What was Mother doing with these?” as they pitch them out in the overflowing trash.

I have magazines that are so old, they may be considered first editions and I have no intention of throwing them away, because they contain crossword puzzles that I will do “someday” or they contain recipes I want to try if I ever collect the bizarre ingredients. There is even one in there for a hair rinse formula that is homemade and will give your hair a lustrous shine, but I have to keep all of the magazines so I don’t throw it away, right?

I come from a long line of “collectors”. My mother always saved those covers that grocery stores put on cakes and other baked goods. When I finally helped her clean her attic, we filled a large trash container with them…along with the families of bugs which had lived in them rent-free for years. My grandmother, on the other hand, diligently saved the little foil wrappers that came covering her snack cakes. I once picked up a bread bag filled with these neat little tin foil squares and asked, “What are you going to do with these?” Without missing a beat, she answered, “They will be your wedding present.”

So you see, I really have no choice except to be a hoarder. I have collections of yarn in various containers throughout the house. I am afraid to collect it all in one place because I am afraid it would fill a large closet and I’d be forced to do something with it. My children will have to sort it out when I’m gone, saying things like, “Would you tell me why Mom was saving three partial skeins of dirt-gray yarn? What are we supposed to do with this?”

Collecting has always seemed frugal to me. For instance, doesn’t everyone have a button jar or something containing all the broken, mis-matched buttons they have collected over the years? You never know when you will find a button that works perfectly for an empty button hole. In the same closet I have held on to every dress pattern that I ever acquired. So what if some of them are for sundresses only the young could wear and most of them are of a size that I maybe never was? They might be useful someday.

It will be up to my daughters to figure out what I was doing with a dish full of china pieces (I planned to glue them together one day) and why there is a medium-sized basket which contains all of the obsolete keys I have ever collected. I have this recurring dream that I will come across a door someday that has the secrets to life behind it and it will be locked and only I have a key–somewhere in that basket! I kind of hope my children have enough of me in them that they will be afraid to throw away those keys for fear of facing that very same locked door.

So yes, when my children are finally forced to sort through my houseful of junk, they are going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff as they go. Something tells me that there will be a lot of, “What the (bad word) was Mother going to do with this?” as they sort through the jar lids that are bent, poked with holes or missing their rubber rings. I will look very mysterious when they find the bag full of mis-mated socks in the hall closet and the collection of plastic lids (with no containers) falling out of the kitchen cupboards. They should thank me, though, because I am convinced that the plastic shopping bags I have crammed into one large cupboard on their own will be worth something as collectors’ items. You never know!

So I say, yes, I will be sitting on a cloud watching my children staggering through the houseful of junk. But I won’t be laughing. Instead I’ll be screaming, “Don’t throw away all of those used twist ties! Do you know how long I had to save those to get so many?”

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The television puzzle

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When I was a child, television was simple: We watched Lawrence Welk and Gunsmoke on CBS and Bonanza on NBC. Those were the only two television stations we received and we got great reception–as long as someone stood beside the set with the wire antennas strategically held aloft in their hands.

We were enthralled. It was the modern world where the Cartwrights and Marshal Dillon came visually into our living rooms and we were grateful for the opportunity to see I Love Lucy solve all the world’s comical problems in a half hour of running around like a chicken with her red-haired head off.

Every time I watch television today, I remember those days with nostalgia. While I used to long for more than two or three choices on the television, I could at least make the television work by myself. I walked up, flipped a switch and there! The television came to snowy life. Then, squinting carefully to see which shows were where, I cranked the channel knob like cracking a safe until I was watching those channels. Easy, right? The television was a large, cumbersome piece of furniture where you placed a bowl of flowers for decoration and directed that mystifying collection of tubes and wires in whichever was the most convenient location for maximum comfort in viewing.

Today, the televisions have shrunk to a very light, very flat computer-style screen with a dizzying number of remote controls for a) the one to turn it on; b) the one to manage cable; and c) the one to flip on Netflix and Youtube, and d) the DVR which opens up even more selections. Gone are the days of two channels. Cable offers you a staggering range of programming; so much so, that it is almost impossible to choose the thing you should most wish to watch.

It has become a challenge: No more Marshall Dillon and Ben Cartwright: Now, you can watch fantasy, humor, movies, “reality”, documentaries, horror, sports, home shopping, cooking shows and religion. You can find any of these at any time and what’s more, if you can’t wait to watch the show you are panting for, you can do something called “livestreaming”–don’t ask.

I could deal with all of this, I really could manage, but I have run up against another problem with using my friendly television–you must be a technological wizard to set it up. Now, I tried to be a grown-up about this, but I can only hit “Set-up” so many times only to have it disappoint me when it fails to “set up,” before I am a weeping, whining, frustrated, furious mass of humanity hurling insults and sometimes objects at the impassive blank screen , which steadfastly refuses to be moved by my hysteria.

Feeling like the foolish old woman I am, I have resorted to calling the cable company and they come to my house (eventually) and expertly manipulate all of those remote controls like so many guns in a holster. “Now, this one is for turning on the television,” some kid younger than my winter coat will tell me. “Oh, great, and do I use this number key pad for channels?” I ask eagerly.

“Oh no! You have to use this one to change the channels,” he says handing me a second one. “Great, I can do that,” I say, doubtfully. “Where do I go on this one for Netflix or Amazon Prime or whatever?” I am so hopeful.

“You use this one,” he pushes another remote into my hands, ” and if you want to LiveStream….” “I don’t,” I say sharply as he reached into his toolbelt for yet another gun…I mean remote.

“Well, I’ll just leave you to get acquainted with your new television system and enjoy,” so saying, he headed for the door. I won’t say he ran to his truck, but he wasted no time getting there.

By labeling my remotes—“power,” “cable,” “DVR” and “I don’t know”…I was able to limp along for about three days. I began to be very proud of myself for how quick I got on the draw. And then it happened: we had a power outage. It didn’t last too long and everything was back on within a half hour—except the television system. It seems when it loses power, it must be “set-up” again. There are two things which should never lose power–hospitals…and my television system. I plan to look into that as soon as the delivery guy re-does everything so I can use it again. But I’m willing to bet that the service guys at the cable office are flipping a coin…and the loser has to come out and set me up again. Marshal Dillon wouldn’t do this to me!

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