The 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro ended yesterday. I’ve watched a lot of events over the past couple of weeks. I’ve learned the meaning of athletic maneuvers I didn’t know existed. Or maybe I knew but forgot four years ago. And, now I understand how important 1/100th  of a second can be.


Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if everyday activities were scrutinized and graded the way dives and gymnastics are. There would be names for the different techniques for folding sheets – and folding the fitted sheet would rate a higher level of difficulty.

Dish-washing would be my favorite event. There is so much technique involved and so many options for equipment and strategy. You can use a dishrag or a sponge (don’t get me started on the varieties in sponge technology). You can use one of those things on a stick, but some of those have a built-in soap dispenser, which I think should be banned as cheating. The choice of dish soap is a whole other category. Maybe if you use the Consumer Reports favorites, your difficulty level should be reduced.


Now for the actual washing of the dishes. Do you pre-rinse? Do you use hot water or just warm? The different wrist movements should have fancy names as well as the circular arm movements (clockwise or counter-clockwise?) How do you try to scrub or scrape off baked on or age hardened food? That is the test of a real champion. Do you resort to additional equipment or rely solely on elbow grease? And then there’s the decision as to whether you rinse with the spray setting, which is faster but which causes splashing – a serious deduction.

72-drying-dishes-081616_008.jpg August 16, 2016

Sticking the landing would be quickly and accurately securing the dish in one of those annoying plastic dish drying racks. This would be my personal Waterloo.

I think that putting dishes in the dishwasher is more of an art form than a sporting event. You have to be creative and have a really good sense of spatial relations as well as patience and perseverance. But you could make this a timed event; the most plates, bowls and cups you can fit in the dishwasher in the least amount of time wins. You can challenge your spouse or roommate and make it a family affair.


And then there’s parking a car. This is another fun event in the Olympics of life. Maybe if I give myself running commentary the next time I’m parking in a parking lot or trying to back my car into the garage, it’ll make it a less frustrating and more enjoyable experience. One can always hope.



Mundane, yet somehow, artistic. This is my sink. And the stainless steel faucets and spigot. With reflections.


You said mundane, right? And here’s a macro – black and white – of the husk of the Indian corn that hangs over the sink.


And finally, here’s the entire bunch of corn. For comparison’s sake.


And so goes another week … time is just flying by.


Mundane Monday Challenge #58

I have been trying to keep up with all the challenges and totally failing. Miserably failing.


It hasn’t been a prolific period for me, photographically speaking. I have not felt inspired and I haven’t felt good for much or this so-called spring. But you know? This is one challenge I can do because I can do it right here. No problem.


So thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate without having to find someplace with a beautiful view.


My kitchen. The heart of the house … if you don’t count the living room with the dogs and the television and the computer. And the comfy furniture.


I have a home-made family cookbook that spans three generations and two continents. It is as much a family album as it is a cookbook. It contains recipes from my teens through today. It contains recipes from many people, including my grandmother, mother, and others who played a big part in my life.

72--cook books_07

The cookbook started when I was getting ready to leave home for the first time to go to law school. While I was growing up, my mother had many cooks, none of whom had the patience to teach an eager little girl. So at the age of 22, I could barely boil water.

But I loved food. I was dying to finally learn how to cook. My mother, though she rarely chopped or seared anything herself, was obsessed with food. She went to bed reading cookbooks and magazine recipes and when she died I found boxes of clipped out recipes that had never made it into her personal cookbooks. The recipes that had made it had been lovingly pasted into large three-ring binders, divided into categories like a regular cookbook.


I realized that getting my apartment gave me the opportunity to learn how to cook while I was also learning how to be a lawyer. Before I left home, Mom and I went through all of her cookbooks and we picked out the recipes that were the best, simplest and hopefully the most fool-proof for me to take with me. I photocopied or typed these recipes at a time when the new, revolutionary feature on my electric typewriter was white-out! The advantage of the photocopied recipes (other than not having to type them) was that they have my mother’s handwritten notes all over them. “More garlic” and “more seasoning” were common comments. Suggestions to “try” this or that were also scattered throughout.

These days, when I look through MY giant cookbook, I see her handwriting and hear her words and share the recipes with her again and again.

I learned to be a decent cook during my 1970’s law school years, though many of my best desserts involved jello products. Since then I have collected recipes from various sources, including from loved ones.

kitchen in hadley

My kids’ other grandmother and their Aunt are well represented in my book, as are friends and restaurants whose dishes we loved so much we had to make them at home.

“Christine’s Beef with Horseradish Sauce” brings back memories of a family picnic with four young children in the idyllic English countryside. “Meryl’s Passover Cookies” evoke memories of shared holidays over the years.

Now I have a separate dessert cookbook, with no jello in it at all. Most of my newer recipes are printed out from the internet. Looking through my cookbook is not only a way to decide what to have for dinner. It’s also a way for me to reconnect with my past and with the people who made me the person — and cook — I am today.


The secret password is coffee, from which the day begins. After noon, the password changes to “tea.” And cookies.

There are not many non-negotiable foods in our kitchen. Coffee, half-and-half, Splenda (sweetener), tea … and cookies. Bite-sized apple strudel. Almost anything else, we can live without — temporarily, at least — or substitute using a different ingredient.

And of course — biscuits for the furry ones. Can’t ever forget those!

Welcome to the kitchen. Bring your own cup, if you like or we will gladly let you use one of ours.


Eleven months ago, I bought a Waring Pro Digital Convection Oven. Basically, it’s a high-end toaster oven with an added convection baking function. I picked it because it has the features I wanted, it got good reviews … and it would fit in the space I had available.

These days, I cook pretty much entirely for Garry and I. We rarely have company, much less dinner guests. I figured I could bring our electric consumption down considerably by not using the huge oven in my electric, glass-top range.

waring mini oven

Since I bought it last June, I’ve used my full-size oven only once. I love this little oven … except that the design of the rack can make it very difficult to get the baking sheet out.

art waring oven multi lens

It gets stuck under the claws of the oven, which I believe it is designed to do. It has been the source of significant frustration for me, especially since I use it nearly every day for everything from baking chicken to frozen pizza.

Our electric bill dropped by 50% between last year and now, so I figured it was worth the hassle.

Today, I solved the puzzle. I figured out how to prevent the baking tray from getting stuck on the rack. What was the solution? I changed its orientation from east-west to north-south. In other words, I rotated it 90 degrees on the rack and the problem vanished.

waring mini oven trayFor eleven months, I struggled with the oven pan, trying to get it out of the oven without burning my hand. I have hundreds of little burns on my hands because the pan got caught every time I used it. Which, I remind you, has been almost every day.

In all these months, it never occurred to me I could turn it.

What point is there in having a high IQ if it takes 11 months of getting burned on an oven rack before you consider turning the pan in the other direction?

Garry said he was glad it was me, not him.

I guess I will never be too old to be really stupid.