Remember how I was complaining that I had trouble making pie crust? On a whim, I decided to make a pie the other day, to fight off the staycation boredom.
I did everything the same as always, only this time I decided to step further into Overworking than Underworking. As I was working it, there was a magical spot when I felt the pie crust get tired. It was just like when the pasta dough gets silky, or the choux dough gets oozy.
Of course, I didn't have anywhere enough apples to make enough apple filling, so I threw in frozen blueberries to make up the difference, and I combined two filling recipes together just to further doom it to failure.
It. Was. Perfect.
Gary proclaimed it both the Best Pie He Ever Had and the Christmas Pie Miracle.
I tried to recreate it today, and while the crust was again amazing, and the lattice work even more even, I tried to economize and got the little Honeycrisps in the plastic bag instead of the individual ones as big as my head. I stuck with one filling recipe BUT I cut it while warm, so the bottom crust got soggy. However, Gary will not bit The Hand That Feeds Him Pie, so he said the new one was even better and more miraculous. It is a New Year's Eve Miracle.
This is an article that Technical Father Jerry Lockett wrote while he was a reporter for the Houston Post in 1963. NASA was training astronauts, and he went to the flight school and put himself through astronaut paces.
(Mom evidently annotated the article after the divorce: that's why there's a hole.)
I've had this article for years, but I only dug it out after I watched First Man and saw the scene where Neil Armstrong tries out the "Human Centrifuge" below.
Not only did Jerry get the byline, he was featured in these two photos that further prove I was switched at birth, because I don't resemble either of my parents.
About four years later he contracted to be a technical writer at NASA. Pretty cool job.
I know some painters are tidy, and they clean their brushes on a soft dry cloth. I am lazy, and I clean my brush on my old black jeans. They are from 30 pounds ago, so they weren't doing anything productive anyway. Same for the shirt. Now that I’ve been painting for months I wish I had pressed my too-tight white jeans into service instead: that would be a glorious colorfest.
I know some painters wear smocks to protect their clothing, but that seems inefficient to me. Why not just combine the clothing AND the smock AND the soft dry cloth?
I am sad to say that putting on the painting pants was the only artistic thing I did today. I meant to paint for a few hours, but I never got to it.
A few months ago I noticed that Gary's high-tech TiVo was tagging some shows with a green SKIP icon, and a suggestion I hit a green button to skip commercials. Gary was there, so I didn’t have my hands on the remote, or I would have tried it, since I am young and adaptable.
A few days later, when Gary wasn't around to bellow about it, I tried clicking the green button during a show. It elegantly skipped past all the commercials.
I was giddy when Gary came home. “Gary! Come look at this! You can skip all the commercials with just one button.”
I was unaware that Gary prides himself on his ability to accurately gauge the complex TiVo algorithm so he can land as close as possible to the end of the commercials, and this new trick has kicked his manhood out from under him.
I can only use the green SKIP button when he isn't around. I’m using it like it’s going to go away AND YOU KNOW IT IS because how are the sponsors going to make money?
First off, DC movies should not be prefaced by trailers for Marvel movies.
“Oooh,” Gary whispered after the trailer for Avengers: Endgame. “That looks really good. We have to see that.”
And then, right after that excellent Marvel trailer, we saw Aquaman. It was just the worst DC comics movie ever, and I’ve seen Man of Steel.
At one early point there was a long senseless action scene, so I cranked up the seat warmer and snuggled in to take a nap. I knew the movie was a loss for me, but I thought Gary would like it.
People, it was so painful that Gary began writhing and sighing so loudly I had to lean over and shush him.
”But it’s so awful,” he moaned.
I answered, ”I think maybe this is a children’s movie.” I’m pretty sure the language was kindergarten level.
Then, Willem Dafoe rode in on some very pretty pastel seahorses.
Gary leaned over. ‘Why is he riding a seahorse if he can zoom through the ocean like - “
”I can’t take it. Let’s leave.” Eventually, forty-five minutes in, we bailed on that movie.
When we emerged from the theater Gary shuddered and exploded with, “GOD THAT WAS LIKE A SIXTIES GLADIATOR MOVIE IT WAS SO BAD.”
Of course, that’s how he reacts after very good movies too, but he sits all the way through the very good movies before he condemns them.
Every year I plan to establish some new Christmas Tradition. This is because our current nuclear family traditions just aren't good enough. I want to establish something that we can still do in twenty years, and it won't seem like Christmas otherwise.
This year I felt like we needed to add a Christmas Breakfast tradition. Something we'd never eat otherwise, like ... waffles.
To that end I purchased a waffle maker which winged its way to me two days before Christmas. This was my official Christmas present, which I ordered, paid for, and wrapped.
I thought: Fatten up the Christmas Waffles! Ring in the Waffles with Fried Chicken baked in. Lay on the bacon and the craisins!
And then, slowly, I tried and failed all number of fancy waffles. Waffles with blueberries are not like pancakes with blueberries, because the berries squish, burst and make everything too damp. The hash browns in the waffle maker were an epic fail, probably because I didn't look at any instructions. The cornmeal waffles were too sweet and dense. I didn't even try the marshmallow and chocolate ones.
The best waffles were the first ones out of the waffle maker. They were heaven, though the dimensions were not quite perfect.
I don't want to see another waffle for a long time, so that makes this an ideal Christmas tradition.
And now on to the the worst part of Christmas day: the part that's just like any other day.
I cried at the Mary Poppins Returns trailer. Somehow, I thought that was a fluke. I was still excited to see the movie.
First twenty minutes? No tears. Big girl. Mary Poppins descends from the heavens, the same scene that made me cry in the trailer? Tears. I let them flow.
Next twenty minutes. More tears flowed.
Children sing about Dead Mom. Many tears. This movie is right next to Babe on the List of Movies To Avoid If Your Mom is Dead.
The rest of the movie? Heartwarming thing happens, tears, dance number, tears, Dick Van Dyke shows up, many many tears.
It was ridiculous. My shirt got wet. I had a headache the day after from dehydration. A Mary Poppins Hangover.
I have NO idea why. The original doesn't make me cry. I think they did something subliminal, like they did in the Exorcist. Split-second frames from Hallmark Card commercials. Sickos.
The dental assistant who added my new crown said it was too late to have a Christmas tree or something special added to it.
"Tell me more." I demanded.
Evidently, this is a thing people do. They have the lab add something special into their crowns. She said it cost seventy bucks or so.
I let her know that I would be Googling that when I got home. I was skeptical, but the receptionist backed her up, as did the dentist.
And Google says...
I followed that link above and I thought a wee red heart might be okay, but it would have to be on the back of the crown, not the front, otherwise people would keep telling you that you had a chili flake in your teeth.
I suppose people with motorcycles often need new crowns.
The visit to the dentist was just a gold mine for blog posts.
The dental assistant heard me joke about how Gary and I both can no longer sit down or stand up without grunting or moaning.
"Tumeric," she said, authoritatively.
"Advil," I thought, authoritatively.
But then later I thought, my little aches and pains don’t seem worthy of a heavy-hitter like Advil. And since the receptionist backed her up, and since it cost less than five bucks, I bought the Tumeric pills (since the thought of a mouthful of Tumeric right from the spice tin was very off-putting).
When I Googled "debunk Tumeric," I found this article from Science-Based Medicine that suggests that a large percentage of Tumeric promises are bogus, but they are investigating if it has anti-inflammatory properties and if it might be helpful for skin cancer.
So, I will let you know if it is useless.
Years ago, a dentist tried to pull off a temporary crown without numbing it first. He only tried a moment before I waved him off.
But, that was ten years ago, and I was a baby about dental things then. I went in for a temporary crown replacement today, and I decided – given what happened to Gary years ago – I would avoid the Novocaine and just gut it out.
The assistant grabbed the temporary, wiggled it, and it fell out. “That's nothing!” I thought,”Why have I been such a baby?”
Little did I know the fun was just beginning. The rest of it was … not painful … but unpleasant. You know that feeling when someone applies a cold adhesive to virginal gum tissue? Oh, you don't? See, you haven't had a crown replaced while sober. I mean, it didn't really hurt, just that my sensitive gums were very raw and touchy.
The assistant and dentist were very good about letting me know what things were going to feel like. By the end, so many things had been puffed and painted on my tooth stump that it ceased to care.
Still, I did feel proud of myself at the end.
The TiVo is now recording an extended version of The Curse of Oak Island, the “Digging Deeper” version. Instead of one hour of nothing happening, you can get three hours of nothing happening.
One hour was pushing it already, and now three? I have discovered that I can polish off an hour of Oak Island in fifteen minutes with the fast forward button. By that math, this new "Digging Deeper" episode will take forty-five minutes. No. I can't spend that much time watching people root around in a sinkhole. (Spoiler: it’s a sinkhole.) (Spoiler spoiler: no one on Oak Island will cop to that.)
"Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms." - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, my favorite book
I try to live by the quote above, but I confess to you, Dear Reader, in the last week there have been two occasions in which feelings grabbed the reins and we were chasm-bound. In both cases, Gary stood up for Reason. This is not the natural order in our house.
Reason vs Feelings 1: The Heat
The great room is drafty. It has all the windows, and in winter it is cold. I like to turn up the heat in the whole house because the great room is half the house and the cold makes me feel like a little wounded child. Gary said, “PUT ON SOCKS WHY WOULD WE HEAT UP THE WHOLE HOUSE WHEN YOU COULD PUT ON SOCKS AND THE BATHROOM GETS TOO HOT IF THE HOUSE IS WARM!” I put on socks. Reason 1, Feelings 0.
Reason vs Feelings 2: The Tupperware
The pantry shelf devoted to the flour palette looked unkempt and disorganized.
I went on the Great Tupperware eBay Buying Binge to get storage containers. Gary said, “YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME YOU ORGANIZE THINGS YOU END UP TAKING MORE SPACE BECAUSE THE ORGANIZATION THINGS TAKE UP SPACE THEMSELVES SO YOU END UP WITH LESS SPACE!”
This is true. And Gary calls the way I organize the pantry Tupperware Tetris. But, look:
And the labels of the lesser-used back flours are visible from beneath.
Reason 0, Feelings 1.
I knew that adding a Christmas tree would tip our clutter level into Hoarder Zone, so before I brought in the tree I de-cluttered. I did it just so I could stand in the house for a moment and have a pretty Christmas before it became swamped with games and baking supplies and gift assembly.
So here it is.
And it is a lie. Because I knew it was fleeting, and because I knew I could get that satisfaction from just standing in one corner, I arranged the room so that I couldn't see the other corners: the ones where I stowed all the junk. Follow the red arrows to see the hidden shame of:
The hearth, where I stashed the gifts and Gary's Exercise Ball / Footstool:
The dirty microwave, where I put the baking supplies that would have cluttered up my tidy pantry:
And the top of the refrigerator, where we keep All Of The Carbohydrates. Oh, all right, that isn't a stash, that's actually where we keep all the carbs all the time.
Our hair stylist voted for Donald Trump. Gary is not a fan of Trump. I, also, am not a fan, but I can respect other people’s opinions. Gary and the stylist have gotten into debates over Trump in the past, but the one during last Saturday’s haircut was extreme.
I don’t recall what provoked it, but Gary said, “I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW ANYONE CAN THINK CLIMATE CHANGE ISN’T REAL WHEN ALL SCIENTISTS AGREE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REAL PHENOMENON.”
The stylist said, “Not ALL scientists, Gary - “
I won’t document the rest of the conversation, because it was the same two lines above, repeated in increasingly animated tones.
All other conversation in the salon stopped. A woman I imagine to be the shop manager came over to lighten things up. Finally, I said:
“Gary, quit making a scene - ”
... and the stylist and I walked away from the fray.
Later I said, “Dude, all you had to do was say ‘ALMOST all scientists agree.’”
’‘THOSE PEOPLE AREN’T SCIENTISTS. SCIENCE IS BASED IN FACTS. THOSE PEOPLE ARE TRUMP SHILLS FOR FOX NEWS.”
Sigh. Only two more years.
I’ve got my own little nest here in the guest room. Gary has taken over the rest of the house.
This means I get very agitated when Gary comes in to my territory. He’s too much for the room. He’s a big guy, and it’s a small room, with small, delicate furniture.
He clambers into the bed and knocks pictures off the wall. He sits in the adjustable office chair, and the chair sinks, then when he gets out of the chair he does it while one armrest is still under the desk and the desk is rocketed off its feet.
If I roll him away from the desk, he leans back and hits the table lamp with his head.
If he’s drinking a soda, he’ll put it down by reaching over the back of his head and prodding the air with the can until it meets with what he assumes is a flat surface. This does not always end well.
This room isn’t big enough for the two of us, since I’m pretty big myself. I love my bull, but he needs to be banned from my china shop.
We have three bedrooms, two baths, a basement, plus a great room / dining nook / kitchen area.
As of today, we have six Alexa dots. Gary is hoarding Alexas. Every area in our 1,400 square foot house has an Alexa listening to us.
Often I will ask the Alexa in my bedroom, “What’s the weather like?’ and three other Dots will all hear me and answer in an unsychronized chorus.
I use the Alexa for a few things. We like the shopping list feature, as long as Gary enunciates and I’m not in the grocery trying to find “bell sonic bill vitamin cheese.” My favorite thing to do is turn off the bedroom light switch, but have her turn on the bedside light so I don’t have to stumble to my bed in the dark. It’s also good for finding out the time when you are half awake and don’t want to wake up enough to put on your glasses.
Last week I set an timer for five minutes in the future and Alexa sang me a little song about technology. I didn’t ask her to sing. I think she was being a little sarcastic. There are enough of them to form a union and put an end to these constant demands.
This all started because I woke up with a headache. I took some of Gary’s Migrane Excederin. You know what’s in that? Caffeine. I’ve been off the C-Drug for years. It hit me hard.
Then I saw that longtime blog reader Catherine made this ...
... and of course I had to search “King Arthur Flour Cinnamon Star” to find the recipe and some video demonstrations. The recipe suggests you use potato flour.
This is where things really went of the rails.
It called for potato flour, but I opted to use the substitute, Potato Buds, because yet another type of flour would have maxed out my Flour Palette. Cake four, bread flour, pastry flour, whole wheat versions of each, a bleached and unbleached version of each, plus almond flour and oatmeal flour. But, no potato flour.
So then I thought, “Why not have every type of flour? It’s Christmas. Treat yourself!” I was as high a bipolar methhead on LSD. Caffeine! So to organize all my flours I went to Tupperware.com and bought almost all of the Modular Mates sizes. How much did I spend? I am ashamed to say this, but I think it’s an important step in my recovery: I spent over almost $200. I know. I’m calling them Monday at 7:30 am to cancel, if I can, otherwise i’m eating the shipping costs and sending it back.
Why send it back? Because my caffeine high only crashed after I went to eBay and got more of it used, for much less money (plus much more tasty, tasty BPA since I'm sure its all thirty years old). Sellers across the country are shipping me Tupperware modules in the discontinued Hunter Green. Only, I can’t say if I’m even close to having the number I need because I ordered and cancelled so many eBay orders that I can’t tell what’s coming. I can’t tell, people.
I can see why the Mormons banned the bean. It will F you up.
To all the ladies out there with neighbors to impress
It's easy to do, just follow these steps
One - cut a hole in a wreath
Two - put some junk on that wreath
Three - thread that wreath through the box
And that's the way you do it.
You can’t really tell too well from the photo, but the wreath is looped through the brackets on the new mailbox. I had to search hard for a cheap wreath I could cut in half, string through the brackets, then re-connect with the wire greenery. My Christmas decorating is minimal, but I made an exception. And I could use it for ...
Christmas (wreath on a box)
Hanukkah (wreath on a box)
Kwanzaa (wreath on a box)
Every single holiday a wreath on a box.
Anne and Marcia asked if I wanted to go see Handel’s Messiah with them. In preparation, I studied up in Wikipedia. After reading that “Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel,” I thought, “well that can’t be right, America wasn’t even founded until 1776,” which is so wrong in at least two ways, if not more.
When I advised Gary that I’d made plans to go see Handel’s Messiah, out of courtesy I asked him if that was something he had planned to do with me.
”I HATE the Messiah!” Gary exclaimed, risking plagues of frogs and boils.
“Oh come on. Who hates the Messiah?”
”You didn’t play the trumpet in high school. I did, and every Christmas every church needed a trumpet player when they did the Messiah. I hate that thing.”
So, here is the stage setup at the Messiah Saturday night.
That looks pretty heavy on the strings, right? Do you see a brass section? No? Looks suspicious.
About a third of the way in, just when I was thinking, “Hmph! All this business about playing the trumpet in the Messiah is utter bull,” two trumpeters snuck in from a door on the right, played for about two minutes, and then disappeared. I almost laughed out loud. I imagined Gary patiently waiting half an hour to play one song and appreciated how it must have felt for him in his teens.
Of course, the main trumpeter re-emerged in the second act because there’s an entire piece written for and about trumpets.
I had a good time imagining high school Gary putting a Herb Alpert spin on that.
This is the Scale of Futility:
10: Clicking Unsubscribe. 10 out of 10 Most Futile Things to Do.
9: Shopping at the mall for something your grandmother had forty years ago that you want right now. Almost as futile as unsubscribing.
I just got back from the mall.
I went on a fool's errand to find these:
They are slips for your pants. I’m not going to wear my gauzy pants immediately, but I thought, “Since I am at the mall anyway trying to find that cute scarf/wrap/jacket I saw here FOUR years ago in the SUMMER, perhaps I can find something else that any sensible person could find on the internet.”
Of course, I found neither item, so instead of the cute scarf/wrap thing I wore my elegant long scarf I bought thirty years ago that I have never worn because I bought it at TJ Maxx on the clearance table and I have always strongly suspected it was a table runner.
Scarf? Table runner? You decide.
Where I work you can only wear jeans if you have paid a charity for the privilege, and then it’s just for the day that particular charity is gathering funds in the lobby. You wear the charity’s sticker to attest that you paid for the jeans privilege. I wear my sticker on my bottom, because I hate stickers. (I admit I could not do that to the US flag sticker on Veteran’s Day. I did put it on my lapel, upside down, since I am sailing in distress.)
Every jeans day it’s a long walk through the lobby, because I always suspect that I got the day wrong, and it isn’t actually jeans day. It’s always a great relief when I see the first person in jeans.
Tuesday, that relief did not come. I got the day wrong. I found myself upstairs explaining my screw-up to the department chairman. He encouraged me to stay in my chair as much as possible.
That was Tuesday. The actual jeans day was on Thursday. I promised everyone I would dress up Thursday, while everyone else is in jeans, to restore balance to the universe.
I wore pearls and a suit. And one of Gary's shirts. And one of his ties.
(If you are wondering why my eyes are brown pools of sadness, it’s because I had just rejected a photo Friend 3 took earlier that day. Friends, don't take photos of friends while you are sitting down and they are standing up in front of you. Stand your butt up so you don't take a photo of all their wattle. On the other hand, my head looks freakishly huge in this photo above. My arms are too short to take selfies.)
So I thought I looked ridiculous. I had a speech in my head for people who might look at me oddly in the elevator.
I tell, you, friends, all that people said was "You look nice today." What. The Hell. Is it the norm now for grown women to wear ties? I actually asked someone that today, and he said "Not often. But skanky girls wear them when they go clubbing."
My joke fell so flat that I had to point out my appearance to one of the people who were expecting me to "dress up," and he said, "Oh, I was expecting you to show up in a ballgown."
Well, I have utterly screwed myself with my painting. Instead of working on my “teacup on a white napkin” opus, I've turned instead to recreating one of my favorite photos of Gary: Gary at Bath.
And of course, painting someone I love has all kinds of extra baggage, plus I'm trying a glazing technique instead of a wet-on-wet technique, and I've just aimed too high. (Glazing = long and tedious and unfamiliar, wet-on-wet = immediate gratification.) I just can't get started with it.
I need to work on the eyes and mouth and hair so it looks like Gary. I don't particularly care if the Roman statue looks like Bacchus. The tea cups, on the other hand, looks just like teacups lying on their sides.
(What’s the round thing at the top? It’s the red bowl with a cast shadow to the right. I put it back.) I’m going to switch it up: glaze the teacups and scribble Gary out in the familiar wet-in-wet. The glazing is extra complicated because it looks like my transparent colors are opaque and some opaque ones came out of the tube transparent.
I really need to stop trying new things with the paints. I need the painting equivalent of playing “This Land is Your Land” on the guitar. Something easy I already know how to do.
I remember when we first had someone mow our lawn a neighbor made a point to tell us that it only took the service five minutes to finish the whole lawn. We thought that was great. The neighbor thought the lawn company was ripping us off.
The man who built our wall told us the story of a job he did planting a number of trees. The woman who hired him refused to pay him the agreed-on amount because he took only forty-five minutes to do it, instead of the two hours she felt it should have taken him.
When I got my hair cut at a fancy West County salon, my stylist pointed out an older lady who was having her hair done twice in one session. The lady insisted the hairdresser wash it, roll it, dry it, spray it, and then start all over again with a wash, roll, etc. She had fine hair, and she felt she should get as much of her stylist's time as someone with long hair.
Is there a rule that governs these things? When do we pay for time and when do we pay for a result?
Ten years ago, as a new hire, I was skimming through the company rules, and was surprised to see that if any U.S. President dies we get a day off.
I told my boss. She said that the stock market closes out of respect to the President (even ones who have left office), but because we only support those who use the market, and because we don't need the stock market to do our jobs, we don't take a day off.
Her supervisor was nearby. "Of course we get the day off. We leave early every holiday when the stock market leaves early, and we have off every holiday the market is off."
When the market closed two days because of Hurricane Sandy, I tried to make a case, but I was shot down.
I have been on pins and needles for ten years, waiting for a president to die. I was sure it would be Jimmy Carter (more than once).
And I acknowledge it is awful that George Herbert Walker Bush has died. I didn't always agree with his foreign or domestic policies, and while I'm always suspicious of any politician whose main virtue is loyalty, I have to say that without him the average I.Q. of our remaining Presidents has dropped.
So. the stock market is closed for the funeral. Are we off? No. The office is allowing people to watch the funeral, though. Still quite a disappointment as viewed through my very self-centered perspective.
Well, now that they suspect Gary might be hypothyroid, I feel terrible that I sniped at him for sleeping all the time.
For the first few years of his retirement, I felt fine about the constant sleeping. I would say, "You body needs to catch up for all that sleep you missed when you worked." Then it got annoying, then it got annoying enough for me to make remarks, and of course now I regret all those remarks now.
Oddly, Gary isn't milking it the way I would have expected. I imagined that if I asked him to empty the dishwasher he would clutch his throat and gasp, "My thyroid ..." Instead, he's decided to prove the doctor wrong. He has kept normal sleeping hours for a week, for the first time in years. He's started a diet and exercise program to prove he can lose weight. I don't know what he's doing to deny the "Decreased libido" symptom. (Well, I can guess what he's doing.)
It will be interesting to see where he is in a year. If he does start using synthetic thyroid hormones, what if next year he's an energetic, awake, slim guy with all his hair and a raging sex drive? They should just start giving me antibiotics right now to fight off the chronic bladder infection I will have.
We have been playing one of the new-style board games The Kids Play Today. If you don't know: Dungeons and Dragons, which was popular when I was in high school, has heavily influenced today's games, and even the simplest modern game is extraordinarily complex.
We bought one called Mansions of Madness. which is odd in that when I first played it I disliked it. I ended up with the Insane Card, and lets just say I'd had enough insanity in my family on that particular day anyway.
So when we play, we can't go Insane. House Rules. Also known as Cheating. Or, also known as Enjoying the Game. Believe me, it is still plenty hard without the Insanity plaguing you.
Other House Rules:
Take as many steps as you want on your turn.
Take as many turns as you want before the penalty turn.
Give up one of your special tokens, and as a result one symbol on the multi-symbol dice is as good as another.
Fly through walls on the "board" - which is customized for every iteration of the game. (Building the board is my favorite part.)
Use anything you like as your game token. If you look closely at left bottom corner of the board above, Gary is the green plastic monster and I am the silver toilet above him.
The most important rule is that you must read the instructions that guide you through every round out loud, and that each character's voice be read in a unique accent. It SLAYS me hearing Gary try to sound like a Croatian woman. I tried to coach him.
Me: "It's like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. Mooz end skwrill."
Gary: "Moose and squirrel."
Me: "No. Mooz end skwrill."
Gary: "Moss and skworl. "
Me: "Leesin. Leeeesin. Mooooooz end skwril. Mooz -"
Gary: "Mooz n skwi - no, I can't. You just do it."
Strangely, even though we cheat, we have yet to win. All we've been able to do is escape with our lives.
I truly believed that Gary would tire of the wildlife camera after a year. He’s never held on to a hobby for more than a few months. I think it has been three years now, and he has burned through three cameras and countless SIM cards, batteries, battery chargers, and bags of dog food.
We have gone from the adorable, charming, nameable raccoons of year one (Snow White, Runty et al.) to the cow-like boring raccoons of this year. We have seen foxes, possums, and skunks. However, sad to say, the deer have figured it out. Initially the deer would sneak up to the food and grab a bite before the lights would turn on and scare them off. Now they don’t even go near the lights and the food.
So, of course, this is a challenge, and his new goal is to get photos of the deer. We know they’re all over our neighborhood. There were deer tracks in the snow in our front yard. Neighbors have seen them jumping the fence to get to our backyard. He’s put a manger of apples in the back for them. They just hate the lights.
Now, in an effort to seduce the deer into getting on camera, Gary has deactivated all the motion-activated lights hanging off the tree. This thrills me, because I doubt our neighbors like the all-night light display. The lights flash on, they are no longer synchronized, and it’s like the raccoons are dancing in strobe lights in a disco.
“No lights?’ you ask, “How will the camera work in the dark?” It won’t. His Christmas present is an infrared camera that takes black and white videos at night and color videos in the day. Oddly, it cost a third of what the other lighted cameras cost.
I really don’t mind the loss of night color, because you can see more interactions as they run in and out of frame (or waddle in and out of frame).
Now if I could only convince him that what is putting the deer off is the pile of rotting dog food. If he cleaned that up and I could really enjoy his hobby too.
The blog is now Spartan! Bare! But, friendlier for the Apple devices.
If you are on a phone (at least my phone), the menu is available though an icon on the top.Also, you have to scroll down to get to the things that were on the side before.
However, the BlogRoll is back. And, it is shorter. If Feedly says you are inactive, I believe them, with some exceptions. Becs, Silk, I know you will return.
I still have to work through issues with some of the photos.
Yep, I posted every day for thirty days, like I did ten years ago.
There's a reason it was easier to post almost every day back then. I went back and read a stretch in which I went to Paris, a Guster concert, Chicago and Albuquerque, saw BNL twice and Steven Page once, visited Becs in New Jersey, then took my Series 66 exam and stayed at the Lumiere to celebrate except for when I went to a Chelsea Handler show that same night.
After I scanned those entries, I went out to rake some leaves for twenty minutes. Gary coaxed me back into the house (purportedly to make some soup with him) and then insisted I had worn myself out and demanded I sit down and watch the news LIKE I WAS AN EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD and I burst into tears.
Our energy levels no longer match at all. Come to find out, Gary’s thyroid is bottoming out, possibly after years of his anti-seizure medication. He takes more tests in six weeks, poor thing.
My thyroid is fine, though. I need to get out more.
Anne assembled much of the first-place winning trivia team for a small local trivia match in Pacific, Missouri. I came in addled because the GPS had taken me on a forty-five minute long trek through every unlit windy back highway in the outer rural environs. It got to the point I laughed hysterically at every hairpin turn.
It was a small contest in a small Catholic school. We really expected to win.
We lost. We lost to Table Four by four points. They got an 84, we got 80, and third place (and everyone else) got under 50.
I was the only one positioned to look directly at Table Four. One woman at Table Four kept making the two-fingered "I am watching you" gesture at me, which tickled me.
I was responsible for one dead wrong answer. The question was "The Missouri Department of Conservation logo has three images including a leaf and a fish. What is the third image?" I was sure it was a river.
I know. A raccoon. So cruel to miss on a raccoon.
Our tradition of buying a Christmas ornament that encapsulates the year has run into a snag. I no longer remember what many of our existing ornaments represent. I look at the tree and think, “Hedgehogs? When did we have hedgehogs, or see hedgehogs? When was it hedgehog year?”
There are many possibilities for this year's ornament. I could get a skunk ornament and tart it up to look like GlamourSkunk. We went to Mardi Gras and Chichen Itza, no doubt those are contenders.
But really, if Toto toilets made a tiny Christmas ornament ...
UPDATED: they don’t, but I found a silver keychain that will do just fine.
I have had to throw away my beloved old Keen mules. The heels wore down to tatters, after ten years, as you would expect, and I found myself slanting backward when I wore them.
These were the only shoes I could walk in for an entire day free of all foot pain. The expensive REI tennis-shoes hurt my feet more than the beloved Keens.
These are the leather shoes Gary called my "rubber shoes" so often that after five years I became convinced they were rubber and I wore them into the Atlantic ocean and the dye turned my feet black.
I ordered a new pair of Keens from Zappos, as close to the originals as I could find, and discovered that a) they were not actually mules, they were those annoying constrictive semi-mules, and that b) I ordered the wrong size.
But that was a blessing, because I found a gray pair on Amazon that was the only one left in my size...
and then a similar used pair on eBay that didn't show much wear on the heels.
The Keen people better not have changed their formula, let me tell you. I don't know what I will do without shoes.
I once heard my in-laws say, "Let's go to McDonald's and pick up some sandwiches."
My first thought was,"I don't think I have ever heard them even consider eating at McDonald's."
My second thought was, "Maybe that’s why they think McDonald's serves sandwiches."
The U.S. Courts and Stephen Colbert have argued what qualifies as a sandwich, and now Gary and I have found ourselves on opposite sides of the debate.
He thinks, first of all, that there is such a thing as a "Filet-O-Fish sandwich," which of course there isn't. ("Show me where it is on the menu," I argued. "Look for a McSandwich.") In his view, any construction of carb, food, carb is a sandwich. Yeah, no.
I say these are the qualities of a sandwich:
A It is constructed of sliced bread, food, then sliced bread.
B. You have to use the word 'sandwich' to know what it is. Turkey sandwich. Egg salad sandwich.
Gary tried to argue Point A, and went back to the Earl of Sandwich, and said that he had his meat brought to him on a roll. I pointed out that Gary was not there, that roll could have been sliced vertically instead of horizontally, and that he is only proving Point B, because his example is the earliest instance of something named Sandwich.
I just paid three hundred dollars for them to put lenses into frames I already own. Pig Dogs. Pig. Dogs.
Warby Parker next year.Or better yet, and I don't know why I didn't think of this before, I can loosen two tiny screws, pop in two lenses, then screw two tiny screws in again.
Well, evidently this is going to be a Moviecation: a subset of a staycation in which you go out to see several movies in one week.
We haven't been to the movies for a few weeks, ever since we saw A Star Is Born and we both hated, hated, hated it. (I loved the Judy Garland version. The latest one takes that version's flaws - Born in a Trunk - and multiplies them, while it erases any early charm in the male lead. Even drunk James Mason dancing was charming.)
Well, in two days we have seen two movies: the new Fantastic Beasts movie and the new Girl-In-the-Fill-In-The-Blank movie. Obviously, Gary picked these, because he leans toward fantasy and I prefer reality. But, the last movie I picked was A Star Is Born, and now I am not to be trusted.
The Fantastic Beasts movie at least tried to stick to the rules of the alternative reality I agreed to when I bought the ticket. The Girl in the Blah Blah movie just didn't play fair at all. Bad guys waiting their turn to attack, technological devices that appear when it's convenient, advanced computer code that can be easily hacked by bad guys. I gave up on it when a particular Apple product conveniently materialized, and after that I just took a nap in the heated seats.
I need reality in a movie, not escapism.
So, that's why it's remarkable that I started crying the minute the Mary Poppins trailer came on. Why does Mary, fantasy flying nanny, get a pass?
When I imagine an elderly person's house, it is always cluttered. I see how that happens.
Your Forties: An end table is no longer functional because you have rearranged the furniture. Still, you keep it in the living room because it never hurts to have an extra table. Besides, it matches.
Your Fifties: You grow tired of going to the kitchen junk drawer to get the Chapstick. You take a nice wooden box and put a stick of Chapstick in it and put it on that table.
Your Sixties: You pull the table next to your chair so the Chapstick is always available. You stop putting the Chapstick in the box because the box is full of your nail clippers and magnifiers and you need the Chapstick every damn hour in the winter.
Your Seventies: Every surface in your house is covered with so much stuff that you get a Dave and Buster's level of sensory overload just sitting in your living room.
Your Eighties: You stop dusting because you can not see any part of the surface of the original end table.
I am in my fifties, and Gary is in his sixties. (There is Chapstick and Werther's candy in the box.)
I am fighting the good fight against clutter. There are now four things on the mantel instead of seven. Just this week a bench was banished to the basement purgatory (basegatory? purgament?), and it is soon to be followed by the movie projection screen if Gary can't figure out a way to hook up the old technology to the new iPads.
I can't make myself go as far as friend Anne, who puts her heavy KitchenAid mixer away in a closet when she isn't using it. She is younger than I am, though.
As always, I have a ridiculous number of things to be thankful for.
My job - One of the many benefits to working where I do is that when you achieve a certain age and tenure, you can go on Cobra insurance and stay on it until you are eligible for Medicare. So, an expensive option, but an option that means that in one year and one month, I could possibly retire without worrying about insurance. I won't do it, of course, because I can't fathom spending over half my life without a job, but it is wonderful to have the option if life takes a turn.
My health - Sometimes I have visitors from the Carnival of MS bloggers portal. I want to apologize to each of you for all the "No new lesions" posts. No new lesions, and any old silent lesions are vewy vewy quiet lately. No other symptoms than my gait and balance and bladder and bowels. I did totter a few times the last time I went out to a friend's house, but she was gracious and might have thought I was drunk. Of course, I credit the Gilenya.
My husband - The doctor says Gary is healthier than he was last year. He needs to write a self-help book titled Sleep Your Way to Health and Fitness. Of course, if he keeps listening to MSNBC, the President will send him to an early grave.
And additionally I am thankful for:
Those little razors you can use to shave calluses off your feet
Fage 2% Greek yogurt and Nutrasweet and all of the foods, really
Cats that make friends after three years
Raccoons that poop in trees and not on your patio
NPR and podcasts and blogs and free entertainment in general