Not completely empty. There’s always some kind of stuff in there. Freezer pouches for our next picnic, should we ever take one. Some frozen French fries. A pouch of frozen clams and a packet of minced beef. Miscellaneous English muffins and a loaf of bread.
The refrigerator is a lot more full. Mostly with drinks. Fruit juice, Powerade, Ginger Ale. Potatoes, onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, eggs. Lunch meat.
Leftovers for the dogs or what we call “the important food.” So even if we weren’t having company tomorrow, we’d have had to shop today because we had none of the makings of what I humorously call “dinner.” I’ve considered switching to the British style for the evening meal and calling it “Tea,” then serving tea with toast. I don’t think that would go over really big.
I used to like grocery shopping or at least like it a lot more than I do now. Probably I liked it more because I liked cooking more. I can hardly remember liking cooking less than I currently do.
Ironically I am a better cook than I was. I’m faster, neater, very sure-handed and I do not make a mess. But when the time comes to extract myself from whatever I’m doing, regardless of how paltry and meaningless the activity is, I don’t want to.
I’m cooked out. Whatever you can make easily for two people from any food you can readily buy at normal prices in Uxbridge, we’ve eaten it too many times. We are suffering from a serious case of diner’s ennui.
A few months back, I subscribed to Martha Stewart’s Cooking newsletter because I thought maybe it might give me a bright and shiny idea for something to make in the kitchen.
I won’t read the newsletter. I see the word “cook” and instantly delete it. Apparently, I do not want to be stimulated to greater creativity in the kitchen. What I really want is to be excused from cooking. Completely. Permanently.
I’ve been making meals for me and a husband, kids, friends, and family for more than 50 years. From now until forever, I could live on sandwiches and air-fried onion rings and be content.
I almost palpitated with excitement. Symptoms? I have so many of them. Oh joy!
Then I realized I don’t actually want to talk about them. I want everyone to know about them, after which please pretend they don’t exist. Don’t ask me to do things you know I can’t do and let’s just move on. If you have the same problem, you are welcome to ask me about doctors, which medications work, what costs too much or doesn’t anything … but unless you have a genuine reason to know the icky details of a particular ailment you are asking about, don’t ask.
I promise not to tell you.
However, if you pepper me with questions and refuse to accept a bland “I’m okay” or “So far so good” as an answer, be ready to get every tedious detail. I used to be a technical writer and tedious details are my specialty.
I will tell you the truth. All of it. I might even include a PowerPoint Presentation and a manual. So unless you really care, don’t ask and I swear not to tell you anything.
I will leave you with the one annoying current symptom which has caused a great deal of fuss and a lot of doctor visits. Which has ended being exactly what I thought it was at the beginning. Remember, you regular readers, how I said I can’t see properly because I have these bright web works of color where vision ought to be?
I thought it was probably complicated migraine.
It is complicated migraine. In theory, there’s stuff they can (maybe) give me for it, but all the medication has side effects more serious than the disease it supposedly cures.
I’ll live with the problem. It’s easier than any of the solutions which might or might not work AND are expensive. And in a lot of cases, are potentially dangerous.
That’s modern medicine for you.
We probably don’t have a cure, but if we do, it might kill you AND you can’t afford it.
Marilyn and I follow lots of those TV procedural crime shows. We anticipate all the cliché lines.
“Stay in the car”
“He was turning his life around.”
“Everyone loved him.”
“No one was supposed to get hurt!”
We usually figure out who the “vics” and “perps” are before the coppers and lawyers find the answer. Often before the credits finish rolling. Now, fiction has turned to cold, hard reality in our home. We are the victims. Not the mob, not the cabal, not even some local mokes looking for an easy score.
It’s an inside job and the perps are our DOGS!
They’ll smile, offer constant affection and cheer us up when we aren’t feeling good. But it’s part of their sting.
Food is the motive. Their “jackets” are full of priors. Most are misdemeanors but now they’ve moved up the chain to a felony. Bonnie, our beloved Scottie, is the boss. She leads the furry gang in snatches, intimidation, assault (head butting), larceny and perjury.
We’ve tried to turn their lives around with extra Christmas goodies, more fun battles on the love seat and long chats to emphasize our affection.
Alas, but Bonnie and her accomplices are food-driven. Hunger stalks them, often immediately after a full meal. With leftovers thrown in.
Nothing we do can stop this furry reign of terror. We don’t want to profile Bonnie because she is black, and we are afraid of possible lawsuits. Perhaps the IA people can check out her background.
Bonnie, driven to revenge, is hell-bent on retribution because … we’ve put her on a diet. Bonnie is relentless in stealing Marilyn’s food. She stalks Marilyn and refuses to back down when confronted. The other dogs make sure Bonnie’s six is protected.
We’ve tried so hard to show them the path to a good life but their crimes are senseless.
How come I never notice my glass is empty until after I’ve gone and gotten my medications and settled down in front of the television?
Why don’t I realize I have to go to the bathroom until after I settle into the sofa with the dogs? For that matter, how come you don’t notice you have to go until you’ve just passed the last rest stop for the next 40 miles?
Why doesn’t the GPS work in the middle of town or in mall parking lots where you really need it most?
Why don’t I realize I forgot something I want to take on vacation until we are just far enough away from home to make it really inconvenient to go back and get it?
Why don’t I remember why I’m standing in the kitchen?
How come the dogs need to sing the hallelujah chorus on the only morning all week I am sleeping well in the morning?
Why can I only think of a good witticism the day after the party?
Why don’t I check to make sure I have enough eggs before I mix the rest of the cake batter? Why didn’t my granddaughter mention she’d used all the eggs? And most of the milk? And the sugar?
Why doesn’t anyone but me ever wash the measuring spoons?
Why do you find that thing you were looking for after you’ve replaced it? Why does everyone’s back go out at the same time? Why are all the bills due on the first of the month when money comes in — variously?
Life is full of questions without answers. So many questions, so little time …
Don’t we all wish to be loved and accepted for who we are in our entirety? Yet we hide the good, even from ourselves, behind a socially acceptable modesty while brandishing our flaws and frailties as if they alone define who we are. They do not. We define who we are. As much by how we choose to see ourselves as by anything else. If we see ourselves whole, perhaps others may too. They cannot until we do, as we project outward only a fragment of who we are. The saying ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ comes to mind. Maybe if we love our whole selves we can love others wholly too.
We are told that the very physical fabric of everything we know, including our own bodies, is made of the matter from which the stars were formed. Our physical forms exist because somewhere, aeons ago, a star died. If that is so, why should we not simply shine?
I realize the answer is really simple. We don’t shine because we need to work. We have to have a resume. We need to be “people-people.” No one wants to hire someone who shines. They want to hire people who fit in, people who won’t jolt the company “culture.”
I never figured out what company culture was, actually. Most of the places who exalted their company culture have long since gone bankrupt. Usually what company culture really meant is “we don’t want to work any harder than we absolutely have to.” These are places where mentioning deadlines were enough to get you out the door.
They hired many more people than they needed to do the work because the people they hired couldn’t really do the work. More to the point, they didn’t do the work. They intentionally worked so slowly I found it hard to believe anyone could write that slowly. They thought THREE PAGES A DAY of technical material was plenty. I used to write between 20 and 50 and on a really good day, I could write half the book. Sure I’d have to go back and edit, add graphics, double check information, and test the document against the product.
But I got the work done. I got the basic draft put together quickly which left me time for serious rewrites and corrections once I’d Beta-tested the product.
I worked at Intel for a year. It was a good job. Good pay. Also, not far from home and I didn’t have to drive into Boston. I had to work a 10 hour day every day, but I only had about 45 minutes of work to do. I was so bored I thought it would kill me. Ten hours of sitting in front of a computer — with NOTHING to do.
Shine? I could barely keep my eyes open.
And then, I got sick, stopped working, and got old. I don’t have a resume anymore. I’m not working for anyone who pays me, so I don’t have to lie to anyone, fake anything, pretend anything I don’t feel. With all the physical problems I have, I can’t begin to tell you how deeply I enjoy being me all the time. I’m not sure how the rest of the world feels about it, but I’m happy.
Shining is best done by the rich and the retired. Shining is not an option for most of us who have to show up to work and smile.
Our two-and-a-half-year-old rescue dog, Remy, is a Daddy’s girl.
She shows her love for Tom in a variety of ways, some endearing and some annoying. For example, when we go upstairs to bed, Remy immediately lies down smack in the middle of Tom’s ‘spot’ on the bed and won’t budge. She follows Tom with her eyes and wags her tail, but no amount of Tom’s cajoling or commanding will get her to move. When Tom gets into bed, he has to physically push her out of the way to make room for himself.
Remy has problems with her anal glands (if you don’t know about dogs’ anal glands, you’re lucky) and she has to go to the vet every three weeks to have them cleaned out. That’s a lot of vet visits!
Originally I took her myself, but she would sit bolt upright in the car and cry, howl, whine and scream for the entire half hour ride. It was unnerving and probably not pleasant for her either.
Then I got the idea to have Tom come with us on our torturous rides to see if it calmed Remy down. It was miraculous.
With Tom in the car, Remy was quiet and even lay down peacefully and closed her eyes, so now Tom is stuck going to the vet with her every three weeks.
Another weird expression of affection comes every morning right after breakfast when Remy starts to jump around, wag her tail expectantly and bark at Tom as if she wants him to do something. But when he goes into the backyard with her, she just sits on the steps and looks at him.
Occasionally she’ll run around with him for maybe a minute and then run back inside. We can’t figure out what she wants Tom to do, but whatever it is, she doesn’t want the same thing from me.
In the same vein, when I’m getting the dogs’ dinner ready, Remy will go up to Tom and bark and whine and jump on him and paw him. I always feed the dogs, never Tom, so why she is pestering him while I’m actually preparing her food, is another mystery. But it’s always all about Tom.
One other unique token of love happens when Tom gets out of the shower. Remy obsessively licks his legs while he brushes his teeth. I think it’s funny – she may be attempting to groom him.
Tom finds it disconcerting though and tries to get her to stop. While she may give me a few perfunctory licks when I get out of the shower, it’s nothing like her devotion to Tom’s legs. I adore Remy but I have to admit that she has something special with Tom. I actually feel good about that because the dog we lost before we got Remy, Lucky, was also more Tom’s dog. Tom missed that bond.
Our other dog, Lexi, is my shadow, who thinks her job in life is to protect me from errant squirrels, cars on the road and especially the cleaning lady with the vacuum cleaner. She loves Tom but is clearly ‘my’ dog.
Remy does have an independent streak. Lexi is always on the sofa with us but Remy sometimes disappears while we’re watching TV. Lexi is always on the bed with us, but Remy sometimes goes off on her own. It’s nice that she feels secure enough to do her own thing, but it’s also nice that she shows us how loved we are – especially Tom.
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