Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: The Lesson Of Dessert

When I was much younger, lots and lots of our extended family get-togethers (like most people's) involved sharing food. The aunts would bring casseroles and Jello salads and pies and cakes and vegetable dishes that made filling a plate a Logistics Nightmare. Very rarely was there a clunker on the table; besides, my grandfather would eat anything, and plenty of it.

One of my aunts, Aunt Eileen, married into the family, played golf, drank booze, and was fiercely loving.  She also made terrific desserts.  She once brought a towering bowl of butterscotch pudding topped with billowy whipped cream to a family gathering. I kept my eye on that bowl for the entire meal, but by the time I got to dessert, it was gone. My heart is still not healed from that, but it taught me a valuable lesson that I put into practice at a subsequent event.

The family was having a big eat-for-all at my grandparent's cabin, so we went down for the day to visit with the relatives, swim in the lake, and eat a lot. We met first at Grandma's, and my Aunt Eileen dropped my cousin Tim off there to go down with us since they weren't coming. Tim arrived with his bathing suit, towel, and one of Aunt Eileen's double chocolate cakes.

I don't remember how we managed to do it, but Tim and I hid that whole cake from Grandma, my mother, and everyone.  We hid it at Grandma's, and we hid it in the car on the way to the cabin, too.  We probably draped his swim towel over it, but more likely no one paid much attention to us. We sneaked that magnificent cake up into the loft in the cabin, hid it under a bed, and later, when no one was going to notice, we grabbed two forks that we had sneaked up there too and ate gorgeous, chocolatey cake at our leisure and by ourselves.

With absolutely zero regret, shame, or guilt.

And it was delicious.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Reader Mail For The Dept. And Me (Or Should That Be I?)

Devoted and Long-Time Reader John from Gettysburg sent me an email today questioning me about this sentence in yesterday's post:

The parade will provide several opportunities for Rick and I to exhibit our complete lack of awareness in the areas of Broadway Musicals, Cartoon Stars, and B/C-List Celebrities...

wondering specifically about the particular phrase for Rick and I.

I wish John did not live so far away in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, because he really needs to be right here in Northeast Ohio to give me a Good Hard Smack. Immediately and with Great Alacrity.

Because, holy crap, what a Rookie Mistake. And if I saw it or heard it anyplace, I'd be all over it like...well, Me On A Grammatical Or Spelling Error Made By Someone Who Knows Better.

I'm so mortified, my face is falling off.

But every Mistake is a Learning Opportunity, so here is the reason why the phrase should have been for Rick and me:

"For" is a preposition; therefore, it requires an object, the objective case pronoun "me." One way to check is to remove the compound ("several opportunities for me"). You wouldn't say "several opportunities for I", would you? No, nor would I, even though I made that silly error.

"Perhaps this will make Nance more forgiving and less of a Language Martinet," some people may be saying. Sadly, they would be wrong.

And yes, of course I corrected yesterday's post.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Meme: Thanksgiving

I had to make a Final Grocery Store Run this morning. Suddenly, I was out of foil. And garlic powder (Rick can no longer abide real garlic) and plastic storage bags and cat litter. And no one had Brussels sprouts or the Good Dinner Rolls, so I'm Over It. SO Over It.

Say hello to the first ever Thanksgiving Grinch.

But it's Okay. "Maybe Thanksgiving doesn't come from a store. Maybe Thanksgiving...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Let's see what it means to Me, at least, in these Thanksgiving Questions:

1. Turkey--white meat or dark?

Dark meat. Tastes better and isn't as dry.

2. Cranberries?

I insist on making cranberry sauce, plain, and I prefer it warm. Rick makes cranberry-orange relish.

3. Single most favourite food of Thanksgiving Dinner?

Turkey gravy. I do make my own, and I think turkey gravy is the best gravy. I wish I didn't have to put it ON food, but could merely eat it like a soup.

4. How do you feel about stores being open on Thanksgiving?

I'm decidedly against it and disappointed by it. I wish the employees could be at home. I wish there were one day besides Christmas that commerce could take a break. But it's disingenuous to be so lofty and idealistic, isn't it? The truth is that some people don't have Thanksgiving: they don't want to or can't be with their families; they welcome the chance to work and earn some holiday pay; or they don't celebrate the holiday, period. And if brick-and-mortar stores close their doors, they'll lose out to online retailers who never close for the holiday, and who are struggling to maintain their status in the marketplace as it is. They're serving a Need, and whether Created or Existing, if it didn't profit them to do so, they wouldn't.

5. Dog show, football, or parade?

All, in bits and pieces, but sadly, the primary focus of the TV will be football. I would prefer it be the dog show, which I find far more interesting, exciting, and fast-paced, but I will be outvoted. The parade will provide several opportunities for Rick and me to exhibit our complete lack of awareness in the areas of Broadway Musicals, Cartoon Stars, and B/C-List Celebrities as we continually turn to one another and say, "Who the hell is that?" and "What did they say he/she was in?" and "I never heard of any of them" and "What is that a balloon of, something from a movie or a video game?"

6. Pies?

I make two pumpkin, but I don't eat any. I dislike pumpkin pie, which to me is boring in the extreme. Instead, I eat a bowl of whipped cream with chocolate syrup and chopped nuts. Perhaps this year I will eat some of my Hagen Dazs coffee ice cream.

7. Are pets invited?

Zydrunas (the granddog) will be here for the holiday, which means Piper and Marlowe (resident cats) will be safely tucked away in the upper stories of the Dept. While Z is a guest here, he is not a Full Participant in the actual meal, except to be with us in the dining room until he has tired considerably of (usually) Jared's comments, at which point he leaves with a huff and retires to his chair in the living room. And yes, I do have a recent photo:

8. Do you have a dress code?

Oh, my. That would be the day.

I await your 8 and more in Comments.

Original Grinch Image

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: Meet My Nemesis

This sign.  I drive by it every week, and each time I feel as if it's mocking me.  Other signs on this scrolling marquee advertise plural things, too, but only this noun has the errant apostrophe, not Fridays, not Games, not Events, not Nights.

I wish they'd change Tuesday to Chili Night.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Free For All Friday: Wish List Edition

Today is One Of Those Days. We were supposed to have some sun and reach fifty degrees. Instead, it is (again) grey, gloomy, 43, and we are under a wind advisory, so with the Wind Chill Factor, the real-feel temperature is more like 36. I feel cheated and fussy. On top of all of that, I am on Day Two of Not Sleeping Well, so I am achy and crabby. I desperately need some sleep, or I am in for a Major Headache Event. Why not just grab a nap? I hear my Dear Readers asking. And Today's Post Is Born.

Here are

3 Basic Things I Wish I Could Do, But I Cannot

1. Nap. I have never been able to sleep during the day. It is impossible for me to do. I can't even simply Lie Down unless I am ill. All that happens is that I see or think of things that Need To Be Done, perseverate over them, and then get up and do them. I can't even imagine being able to actually fall asleep during the day.

2. Drink Soda. Because I am on Topamax (medicine to help prevent migraine), I cannot drink anything carbonated. Do you know how many nice cocktails this eliminates for me? Do you know how I crave a Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Root Beer every once in a while? The reaction of the Topamax and the carbonation not only tastes horrible, but the foaming in my mouth is bizarre.

3. Back A Car Out With Confidence. Oh my god, this is the worst. First of all, turning around to do it hurts my neck like crazy. Second of all, I worry about the front of the car hitting whatever is next to it. Finally, I have zero depth perception/distance judgment. We have lived at our residence for thirty-two years, and I still dread backing out of our driveway which, in my defense, has a goofy jog in it and is bordered by a fence on one side and our house on the other. Nightmare.

See how lucky you all are? (And talented!)


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: The Kitchen Pantry

Today's project was easy and took me all of about six or seven minutes, and that includes taking the photo and getting on and off the chair to reach the uppermost shelves.

My Throw It Out Thursday took place in the kitchen pantry cabinets. I call them my Working Pantry because I store any extra cans and boxes of items on shelves in the basement so things don't get too cluttered. That way, if there's a great sale on something, I can take advantage of it and not have to always heave around a bunch of the same items in the cupboard if all I want is a can of olives or a box of brown sugar.

This guise of efficiency does not mean, however, that I don't have a few Antiques or Forgotten Foodstuffs lurking in there. Since I have to use a chair for the top shelves, and since Stuff Happens, I ended up with some things that Had To Go. Here then, is what went out the door today:

I absolutely abhor waste, especially food waste, so this was No Fun for  me.  But at least some of the items are mostly empty or empty or, well, just awful.  The two fancy olive oil bottles are actually empty; I was saving them to return to the Pricey Olive Oil Store for credit on refills.  I finally realized that I'm not going to do that.  The rice box is empty, too, for a similar reason.  It is too worky to fill it from the gargantuan bag of rice that I buy, so I keep on hefting the bigass bag of rice, forgetting to toss the box.   

Every year, I think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have ice cream cones at home?"  No.  I eat my ice cream straight out of the pint container like every other grownup who is glad to have gotten her kids out of the house so that she can do all the things she told her kids not to do.   So that box, unopened, went straight into the trash.  So did the jar of Amish elderberry jelly, unopened.  I dislike elderberries, and we do not eat jelly.  Unfortunately, it is also true that Amish jelly is intensely sugary, containing not very much fruit at all, so it had to go.  There's probably a teaspoon of Wondra (a product I no longer use) left in that canister; it had fallen over on the top shelf and I didn't know it was there. 

Goodbye, Elderly Bottle Of Karo whose origins I know not.  So long, enormous bag of Marjoram, herb I rarely cook with.  Off with you, partial bags of Flavoured Decaf, each supposed to taste like something different, but both tasting oddly the same.  And fare thee well, numerous packets of Red Robin seasoned salt, chucked into the bag of takeout then saved for...who knows what?  You can join the rest of the Refuse Rejects in the trash bin, jockeying for space with the forgotten peanut butter chips, empty spice jar with the broken lid, and the Canadian marmalade and raspberry jam, squirreled away in our wine-tasting bag, then unpacked and put away by mistake.  You are all off to the Big Dumpster Of Eternity.

How about you?  Are you Throwing anything Out this Thursday?  Got any kitchen pantry items that need tossing?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: Even As A Child, My Hair Drove Me Crazy

My mother had very specific ideas regarding her three daughters' hair when we were young. My older sister, Patti, had a long, single, blue-black ponytail, high up at the back of her head. My younger sister, Susan, startlingly blond amongst all of us dark-hairs, wore a blunt Dutch Boy cut. For some reason, my long, dark brown hair was always woven into two tight braids, one on either side of my head. I hated those braids and the agonizing procedure it took to get them.

St. Patsy was a no-nonsense mother when it came to things like Routine Maintenance. When it was time to braid my hair, I had to stand there with my back to her, motionless, and hold my own Implements Of Torture. As she combed or brushed my hair free of the dreaded Snarls (using either Implement, depending on which I could find), a minimum of fussing on my part would be endured, and no movement. "Stand still! Stop fussing!" she'd say, exasperated. "Hold the brush. Now hand me that rubber band. Now the other one." No amount of pleading and placating would convince her to allow me to wear my hair loose and free, either. Nope. It was braids, braids, braids. "You look so nice in braids, and everyone thinks so. Look how nice they are! You're lucky to have such nice, thick hair for braids," my mother would say every time I asked, and it never once occurred to me to take out my braids as I walked on my way to school.

Washing my hair, which back then was done weekly, was a complicated affair. I was raised in a house that never had a shower the entire time I lived there, twenty-two years. We always took baths and found it easier to wash our hair in the kitchen sink. In order to wash my extremely long hair as a child, my mother would have me lie out on the kitchen counter with my head over the sink; she would then shampoo my scalp and the length of my hair, which was a terrible trial for me. And her.

Not only do I hate water on my face, but I have always had a very sensitive scalp and forehead. Once Mom would start wetting my hair, I would start getting ticklish and jumpy. And then start laughing. And pretty soon, the laughing would become crying and things would get really ridiculous. My mother would try to settle me down, and invariably my father's voice would come floating over it all from another room, mildly concerned (but not enough to put down his reading and come in), and we would both yell, "It's okay!" and something about me getting my hair washed. By the time it was all over and my mane was in a towel turban, I could barely sit up and hop off the counter.

How the hell was it worth it? You'll have to ask St. Patsy; she was the Insister Of The Braids.

I do remember one day in first or second grade, a day when I was allowed to have my hair down at school. I was wearing a beautiful dress--one of my favourites, with a big fluffy skirt and a little Peter Pan collar. At some point during the day, I started feeling a pain in the back of my head. As the day went on, it hurt more and more, and I had to go up to tell my teacher. She asked me to point to where it hurt. She turned me around so that she could look, and when she brushed my hair aside so that she could see more clearly, I heard her gasp. She asked me to go to the nurse's office where she would meet me shortly.

At the nurse's office, she and the nurse gently pushed most of my hair away to reveal the problem. Apparently, as the day had gone on, many strands of my hair underneath had wound themselves around and around the top two buttons on the back of my dress. They had to cut some of my hair to free me.

It was, I guess, a partial vindication of St. Patsy's Ban On Loose Locks.

By the time I got to third grade, I was released from Braids once and for all. And my long, long hair was cut slightly above my shoulders, too. Better days for us both.

How about you? Any hair-raising tales? Please tell me I'm not the only one (and not the only one who wore braids).

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