A quiet drive in the country

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Let me start by admitting that when it comes to driving, I am no Mario Andretti. If I had to make my living by driving a truck, school bus or Uber taxi, I would starve very quickly…always supposing I didn’t crash into a wall first.

Having said that, it may occur to you to ask some hard questions when I tell you that last week, I rented a car in White Bear Lake, Minnesota and drove, through some pretty interesting traffic, all the way through the Twins Cities and suburbs, and down the interstate before ending up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Let me assure you it was not by choice!

I was visiting with my children and getting to know the new baby, and leisurely enjoying my time there. My husband, Roy, was supposed to pick me up, but then I received a call informing me that my husband was not only not going to come and pick me up, he was going to be in a Sioux Falls hospital undergoing an emergency procedure and it was going to be up to me to get there!

Okay, so, telling myself I could do this, I had my son-in-law rent me a car so I could get myself on the road. Driving through Minneapolis traffic in a car unfamiliar to me had all the appeal of having a root canal done with no Novocain! And it was just about as much fun!

Straight down on I-35, I told myself: just get myself on I-35 and I will be fine. That’s easy for me to say, apparently; harder to do. For instance, I discovered that there were several times when I-35 South had exits going off in either direction, and I, driving in heavy traffic, was in the exit lane! So, at least three times, with an interesting blind spot in my tiny rental car, I had to find a way back into the traffic on I-35 before I was forced to exit with all the cars in my lane, who wanted to get off! Each time, I desperately put my blinker on, indicating I didn’t want to do the off-the-interstate dance and each time, sweating and cursing profusely I was able to cram myself back into the traffic headed down the interstate and eventually, out of the flow of inner-city traffic.

Surprised to find myself still standing at the southern end of the cities, I settled in for the long drive to Sioux Falls. While interstate traffic was heavy, it was not terrible and I felt my troubles were over. Then I noticed that my little car was developing a real shimmy. I pushed on, hoping it wouldn’t completely fall apart before I got to my destination. It was after the truck in front of me turned off and the shimmy stopped that I realized my car was small enough that it responded to the backdraft of a truck in front of me. I tested this theory by getting in behind other trucks and sure enough, the shimmy kept returning.

After diagnosing my car’s ills, I got back to the business of driving through heavy New Year’s Eve traffic towards my destination, while avoiding the myriad number of trucks out there. That’s when my car began expressing its concern for my welfare. After two hours of driving, the car was apparently automatically programed to start dinging with the message “Consider taking a break.” Shocked, I clicked it off. However, it returned every fifteen minutes from then until I finally parked it at the return rental in Sioux Falls.

By the time I reached Sioux Falls, I was not only yelling at the traffic on the road, I was arguing with a compact car with a “take a rest” fetish. “Get out of the way and signal the next time you change lanes!” I screamed at the cars in traffic, before testing my tonsils on the car, yelling, “If I want a break, I’ll decide that! You can consider shutting up!” I know, I know, it was an inanimate object, but it made me feel so much better to verbally abuse it.

I made it to the hospital, was relieved to see my husband doing well and then attempted to return the car to the rental service at the airport. I had friends to pick me up and I asked them (since it was dark and I’m not all that familiar with Sioux Falls), “Do I turn right or left to head to the airport?” Now, he said left and I heard right. Because of that, I ended up taking the nickel tour of the perimeter of Sioux Falls, no mean feat, if you are familiar with Sioux Falls, which I now am!

Long story short, I made it through the drive and got the car back to the return at the airport. I kicked the tire as I left, grunting, “Consider that, you annoying pile of metal,” and made my way back to the hospital, and ended up taking my husband home in time to ring in the new year in my own house.

As “Auld Lang Sine” played on the television, I raised my glass of Pepto-Bismal and all I could think of to say was, “Goodbye, 2020 and thanks for one final kick in the pants!” And it may interest you to know that I’ll be curtailing my driving for a while, since that little road trip was enough for the whole year.

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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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Reasons my girls should look into nursing homes

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I have always appreciated the fact that my children will be in the position of deciding when it might be time to send Mom and Dad to the nursing home. I am hoping to put this off as long as possible, but the events of the last few weeks make me wonder if it’s time my daughters start investigating nursing homes for their parents.

Our biggest gap has always been our ability to handle technology and I admit it; we have often relied on them to help us delve into the mystery of how you make one of those computer things work. After this week, however, we may have moved on to bigger problems.

We have relied heavily on online programming to fill the gap left by not being able to go to the movies. The children patiently set up our television to be capable of streaming those shows…and then they went home. It’s been alright, though, we can remember the password–most days, and we know how to set the television to the right settings to make it work.

We have become addicted to the Jack Ryan series out there, so we have been streaming quite a bit on the television…until the night that Roy tried and tried and failed to make that station come on. He checked the connections, he made sure they were properly plugged into the wall. Still, no luck. I turned on the wall switch so that I could use a lamp to look closer and suddenly, the station worked. It was plugged into an outlet that has always been connected to the light switch that I had turned on.

Now, Roy thinks that I figured that out and that’s why I turned on the light switch, so, yeah, we’re going to go with that. And I wish that was the end of the incident. Unfortunately, I had made the discovery shortly before the live streaming debacle that the DVD player had died. It simply would not respond to the remote nor when I pressed the buttons directly on the machine (radical, I know).

I dragged Roy to a store long enough to select and purchase a new DVD player and when we came home, I unpacked it, read all the directions and got ready to install it. Of course, before I did that, I needed to dissect the old player because it had one of my Star Trek Voyager discs in its belly and it was going to give it up. I had the DVD player and a knife in my hand, when it suddenly occurred to me that the DVD player had recently been plugged into the same set of outlets as the television’s streaming system. On a whim, I plugged it back in and flipped on the switch. The old “dead” DVD player immediately switched on and spit out my Voyager disc.

These are only a sample of what goes on around here which might be related to our succumbing to the aging process. Roy threw his back out getting out of his easy chair. In the same week, I fell up the steps and hit my nose and cheek. While he was rushing around getting towels to stem the bleeding, he said, “Oh no, people are going to think I hit you.” I was astounded: that was his first concern? I’m able to take care of myself, but during the next week, while my face healed, I got a lot of concerned questions about whether I was safe at home from people who were younger than me! Apparently, I don’t look as capable of handling myself as I used to!

Cooking has presented some real aging issues. I now have to make a grocery list so that I don’t forget the things I really need at the store and of course, I forget the list at home! I leave things out of recipes that don’t improve the taste. I am constantly putting something on to cook and then forgetting I did. I’m told the lady who invented Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies did so accidentally by adding chocolate bits to a regular cookie. The last thing I discovered accidentally while cooking was that if you put something on to cook and then forget it for the next hour, it chars in the bottom of the pan and sets off the smoke alarm. As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered that accidentally any number of times.

So you can see, it might be time for our children to start investigating the best nursing home options. I hope that doesn’t come around too soon, but those days when I put down my glasses and then can’t find them or I get out of the car without unbuckling the seatbelt, I know that it’s out there on the horizon. On an unrelated note, does anyone want to buy a brand new DVD player? I can’t figure out how to repack it in the box to return it! And I don’t remember where I put the receipt….

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

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Now it stands to reason that a cooking nonconformist such as myself would not be enthused about a holiday which is grounded in what goes on the table for one, all-encompassing meal. But my inability to baste a turkey is only the beginning of my objections to the holiday.

Now, this holiday is supposed to originate from the gathering of Indians and Pilgrims at a harvest feast to give thanks. I like that premise, but the longer history haters dig into it, the more we find that the gathering didn’t happen exactly as it was presented, but the foundation was good: we should be thankful for what we have.

My objection comes from the fact that we should always be thankful, rather than reserving one day a year for it. In addition, I think a better premise for it might be to do as John Steinbeck instructs us to in The Grapes of Wrath: help each other regardless of what we have. I wonder if sometimes God holds his head on Thanksgiving and says, “Okay, okay, so you’re thankful for your BMW and your vacation home on Maui. Now go out and feed a homeless person or house a refugee!” (Disclaimer: God has not actually told me this is what He thinks; it is merely my opinion.)

Of course, my biggest problem with Thanksgiving is the food. I could handle the hundreds of side dishes (spare me the green bean casserole, please), but the turkey has become a lethal weapon. It wasn’t bad enough that we had to rise before the sun was up or the chickens crowed to put the bird in the oven to rest quietly while we couldn’t. Now, we risk our lives by trying to deep fry the thing whole. If the fryer doesn’t blow up or catch fire, we are still risking cardiac arrest devouring all that deep-fried poultry! What has the world come to?

Thanksgiving’s location also causes me angst. I think every student in America would tell you a better location might be the end of May, celebrating school being out. And before you tell me that’s too close to Memorial Day, consider its location now. You are still drying out the bread for the Thanksgiving stuffing, when they start playing that Hershey’s Kisses commercial where they form a Christmas bell and chime out We Wish You a Merry Christmas. At least on Memorial Day, they could use a good meal after honoring our glorious dead. With Christmas so hard on the heels of Thanksgiving, we are in a two-month orgy of non-stop foods that will undo the hard work we do to care for our bodies the other ten months! No wonder January is such a big month for health clubs and exercise equipment!

Thanksgiving placed where it is also signals the official beginning of the shopping season. Black Friday hits like a punch between the eyes and every year (okay, maybe not so much this one), people will stand in cold lines waiting for stores to open early so that can get a deal on appliances they don’t need and Christmas trivia that will disappear before another year rolls around. We are still picking the turkey out of our teeth when we are bombarded with the heartfelt tearjerker commercials for everything from refrigerators to cars to coffee. And don’t even start me on the Christmas movies which start long before Thanksgiving and run non-stop on the same script…different names!

With all due respect to the turkey and the thanks and the family gatherings, I really can’t seem to raise much enthusiasm for the November notion of Thanksgiving. Let’s just remember to give thanks all year round and I think the original harvest gatherers will understand and a turkey will definitely thank you for it!

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Messing with my steak

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I realize that I have been on a bit of a roll when it comes to the subject of cows, but this is a subject on which I feel as though I’m a bit of an expert…some of my earliest neighbors were cows.

I am slowly coming to the realization that cows, lately touted as the new hugging posts, are becoming endangered as a food source. Now, this is a situation I simply cannot endure! While I prefer a piece of beef to be a little less rare than the one in the picture, I believe I may too old and too engrained in the cow culture to ever accept a substitute. I mean, we have fake Christmas trees, fake materials and even fake boobs; who decided to mess with a carnivore and her meat????

Well, I can tell them right now, it’s not going to work. A “plant-based hamburger” is nothing more than the dreaded brussel sprouts in disguise. I don’t care if you put it between two pieces of bread, smother it in ketchup and onions and pay me a thousand bucks to eat it, the fake meat will still be fake. I will not sell my bovine integrity; I don’t care how authentic this stuff tastes.

And what’s to become of cows if we do this? Their sense of identity and life’s purpose would be gone. I know, I know, they end up in the slaughterhouse, but ask yourself, where would they go instead? Should we send them to college and let them be lawyers? On second thought, let’s make them politicians; they couldn’t do worse than what we have now!

Seriously, though, if we all start eating fake meat and we only need a few cows for the whole hugging thing, what do the rest of them do? Are they going to be hotel maids or road construction workers or worst of all, short order cooks, grilling up the very thing that took away their reason to exist? We will have to set up hotlines to handle all the emotional problems this would bring on.

History is full of sad tales of displaced persons due to some new invention or idea. Will all the cows start living in cardboard boxes on the street, begging for hay from passers- by who are stuffing themselves with fake burgers? Perhaps there will be a huge migration–or cattle drive, if you like–of cows, headed to Canada and Mexico, praying they haven’t of this “faux-meat” craze.

And what kind of scary trend would this start? Could pork chops and chicken legs be the next to go? I can’t imagine frying up the fake bacon (and I know it’s out there) to go with my authentic eggs in the morning. Wait a minute, they have fake eggs, too, don’t they??? It’s an epidemic!

All right, it is nearly Thanksgiving at which I can only hope that people will be eating authentic turkeys, but we must protect ourselves. I say we don’t buy any turkey that we don’t have a complete dossier on! Let them prove they have a right to lay, crisply roasted on our holiday tables!

So cows, arise, take back your right to clog the human arteries with a finely ground hamburger or a steak dripping with grease. For all of you bovines out there who aren’t taking this seriously, think about it: that’s probably what happened to all of those buggies out there, who didn’t see the danger when cars showed up. Somebody do something quickly and all of you out there–eat a hamburger; a cow somewhere will thank you–I think!

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Showing off for neighbors

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Sometimes I really enjoy the little jokes that life tends to play on us, recognizing the irony of some things and appreciating the humor in others. That is how I spend most weeks of my life….but not this week. This week, life’s little ironies got to be a bit much and it culminated in me flashing the neighbors.

It began with small things. I drove to the bank to make a withdrawal. Although I was at the drive-through, I had left my mask on without thinking. The clerk looked at me in a rather considering manner and it suddenly occurred to me that a person in a mask approaching a teller at the bank in the past had usually resulted in that bank teller pressing the secret panic button to alert the police about a bank robbery. I quickly stripped off the mask, but I wondered: what do people going into the bank do? It would be a bank robber’s dream!

It built as the week went on. I got the notion to do some baking to send to my children. Now, I am not much of a cook, but I can swing a passable banana bread and chocolate chip cookies are in my repertoire, so I baked them. Never mind that my children are capable of making them better than I; never mind that the cost of mailing them out to them would be far more than the value of the food, I plowed forward. I had the bread in the oven baking and so I started on the procedure to mix up the cookies.

Just as I dumped in the chips and began the arduous task of stirring, my innate gracefulness caused me to tip the whole works over on the floor. It was at this point that I realized I should have put my energy into cleaning the floor, because the number of chocolate chips in the cookies didn’t outweigh the number of dust bunnies, random food bits and other things I’d rather not identify that folded right in. Cookie dough went into the garbage and bread was mailed out, before I could ruin that, too.

If you’re wondering about the photo I chose, it refers to my walk through the countryside this morning. This, too, was one of life’s little jokes as the wind was blowing hurricane level — this picture was what came up when I requested a photo of someone walking in a high wind. The walking with the wind wasn’t too bad and I walked my usual amount, not thinking about the walk back. The photo does not in any way capture the agony of walking the distance back, however, into a high wind complete with field scraps, dirt and gravel blowing into your teeth. I know the walk was twice as far coming back!

Now I suppose you’re wondering how this could possibly have led to my flashing the neighbors, but I’m getting to that. It starts with my love of shirts that have elastic necklines and cute little ties with fancy knots tied into the ends of them. My problem comes in when I leave the ties hanging instead of tying them into a pretty bow.

I was hauling groceries into the house on Saturday and it was an arduous task. When I got to the end of it, you all know that moment when you’re sure that you can get all of it in with a final load. I leaned in, grabbed all of the remaining bags in the trunk, came out of the garage and dragged up the steps. It was after I got inside the house that I realized that my hanging blouse ties had been caught in the heavy bags. I had walked out of the garage into the house with my elasticized blouse pulled down around my waist.

The police never showed up, so I can assume that no one called the authorities to report a pervert exposing herself. Either they didn’t see it, or they couldn’t believe their eyes when they did and would rather not admit that they looked at something so offensive! In either case, I’m grateful!

This caps my week of little jokes and ironies and an attempt at commiting a felony (or is that a misdemeanor?). I am hoping that next week is a little more straightforward, but I make no promises…perhaps the neighbors should keep their shades drawn?

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Howling Halloween

Okay, so I am not a Halloween girl. I don’t understand why, because everyone around me seems to be Halloween crazy, dressing in matching costumes, trussing up the housepets in decor and hitting the decoration and trick-or-treating traditions with enthusiasm.

For me, Halloween means two things: carving a pumpkin and finding something clever for a costume. These are things at which I do not excel. I put a picture on this blog to show you my pumpkin carving this year, which did turn out well, but it is the result of years of poor cutting, candles doused in wet pumpkins and slices in my hands, while the people around me are carving portraits worthy of hanging in the Louvre. By the time I have carved the pumpkin, I am having vicious thoughts about baking it in the oven the next day and scooping out its insides!

Costumes are so much worse. It doesn’t help that my own children can come up with beautiful and dramatic costumes that make them look even better than their normal beautiful and dramatic appearances. They find wonderful couple costumes and as for my grandsons, they are outstanding!

Then there is me. I have pasted papers on myself and gone as my doctorate dissertation. I own a Renaissance dress, but I spend most of my time in that elegant thing bowing down, because I stepped on the draping skirts. I’m convinced that those dresses are how Renaissance men kept Renaissance women from getting too far!

As a teacher, I thought it would be clever one year to go as a witch. I dressed in the black robe, pointed black hat and carried a broom. As the students walked in, they looked me up and down and remarked, “Oh, too bad, Mrs. Fauth; couldn’t find a costume, huh?” It was my last year to dress up for Halloween at school.

This year, however, I was heavy on the costumes. I had two separate costumes and both related to movies. Due to my own cleverness and grace, my nose and the front step duked it out the other morning. I have a slightly swollen nose and a cut right on the bridge of it, along with a black eye. When I went to school and the kids set up their usual complaint that I wasn’t in costume, I pointed to my face and said, “Wrong! I came today as Rocky Balboa after he won the heavyweight championship!”

By the next day, my nose, deeply offended by having stopped my fall on the stairs, began to drip constantly, forcing me to permanently have a handkerchief held up to my bruised face. Who am I? Of course, I am Michael Corleone after the police captain punched him in the face! Don’t tell me I don’t know how to costume!

The good thing about Halloween is that it’s over now and I have the jack-o-lantern ground up and canned already, so I can make pies for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving…now there’s a holiday I can get behind; as long as I’m doing more eating than cooking….

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