WHY OH WHY? – Marilyn Armstrong

Why oh why …

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?

Slaving 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 …

OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Optional

After getting up a dozen times this morning to try and convince Bonnie to stop barking — which only something crunchy will accomplish, it would seem — I began to wish I was deaf, too.

Normally when I get up in the morning, I take out something to defrost for dinner but I decided today is optional. I’m not doing squat. I am tired. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to cook dinner, put away laundry, or clean anything.

I’m sure by tomorrow, I’ll manage to get past this, but right now, I am feeling as un-housewifely as I ever have. Am I the last woman of my age who cooks dinner — a hot dinner — every night unless I’m hospitalized? Do other people get a day off sometimes?

Is any woman married to a man who actually recognizes that dirt is not something to be ignored because you-know-who will take care of it, but actually cleans it? Just wondering.

So today in Optional Sunday. I will do as little as I can. I might even go TWO days and option Monday, too. I think I’ll call it “Marilyn’s Weekend.”

THE SCISSORS ARE GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Two nights ago, the kitchen scissors disappeared.

I hadn’t used them and Garry is certain he put them where they belonged, which is in the kitchen scissors slot in the wood block where we keep all the knives. He is absolutely positive that he put them there.

I’m never absolutely sure I did or didn’t do anything. As often as not, it’s what I meant to do, but somewhere along the line, I got distracted. I had the item in my hand, but something happened and I went somewhere else — like maybe the bedroom or the bathroom — and I just put the item down. Somewhere. I have no idea where.

But at least I have the sense to never swear I know where I put whatever it was because so many times, it never got there. It went somewhere, but not where it was supposed to go. Garry’s sense of total certainty aggravates me. Because the scissors aren’t there.

They also aren’t anywhere else in the house and we’ve done a pretty thorough search of the premises including bedroom, offices, bathrooms, basement, bedroom — AND the freezer and refrigerator. Don’t laugh. I’ve found all kinds of things in the freezer.

Not just Garry looking, either. This is both of us looking. The thing is, these are kitchen shears and the were expensive. They don’t travel far and in the years we’ve had them (like three years, I think) they’ve never wandered outside the kitchen. I have box cutters that I use for unpacking stuff from Amazon. I actually have three box cutters: two in the kitchen and a third in the basement.

Note the scissors in the front slot. These are now missing.

We will continue looking for the scissors, but wherever they are, they shouldn’t be there. I can’t in all honesty blame this one on the dogs. They don’t have the digits to make the scissors work and anyway, that’s what fangs are for.

The spare scissors from the bedroom now occupy the scissors slot.

It could be those pixies again, but they tend to lift shiny things like jewelry. Earrings. Necklaces. I’m sure they are the ones that put my favorite necklace in the sock drawer of Garry’s dresser because I would never put it there nor would Garry.

I could be sleep-walking again. I have done some very odd things while sound asleep … but even so, what could I possibly have done with them, asleep or not?

At our age, it’s never a good idea to say you are 100% sure you did something because the truth is, maybe we didn’t. I usually blame the pixies or the dogs, depending on whether it’s glittery (pixies) or plastic (dogs) or paper (also dogs).

Assuming sleep-walking wasn’t involved.

The man who absolutely positively put the scissors back in their slot.

I’ll let you know should we ever find the scissors.

On another subject, I’m not feeling well and I’ve got doctors appointments on two different days and I have to get blood tests, too.

I’ll try to fit in writing and picture-taking, but I have a headache so bad my eyeballs hurt. I’ll do the best I can to provide new material, but honestly, I’m feeling not-so-great and it’s hard to be my charming self when my eyeballs hurt.

I was sufficiently sick that Garry opened a cookbook — VOLUNTARILY — and figured out how to cook swordfish with rice (he already knew how to use the rice cooker). It came out perfectly and tasted excellent. I needed a meal. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and I was hungrier than I thought.

I ate it. It was good!

The scissors are still missing. I ordered a much less expensive pair. The other ones might yet reappear in some strange place. Maybe the dogs DID do it.

WHO DECIDED THAT? – Rich Paschall

The House Rules, by Rich Paschall

A place for everything and everything in its place.  Perhaps you have heard this old proverb or words of advice.  It was often handed out as instructions for life, usually by parents, methinks.  In the 18th century, it may have been a popular topic of preachers and local leaders.  That was an era when you were also told that cleanliness was “next to godliness.”  

The idea of cleanliness may have come out of a 1778 sermon by John Wesley.  If cleanliness will get me next to God, I am all for it.  If I have to be orderly too, this will take a good deal of work.  I wish to be neat, clean and orderly, but I am still looking for a large chunk of time to work on that.  I have been looking for that for years, in fact.

I thought of “house rules” recently while eating at the kitchen table with my young South American roommate.  Yes, he is back for more Culture Shock, but that is another story for another time.  We were feasting on one of his favorite items, chicken wings, and he was putting the bones on a small saucer.

In my head, I could hear my mother scold him, “That’s not for chicken wings, that’s for coffee cups.”  At that, she would have grabbed the saucer and replaced it with a small plate of about the same size.  “What’s the difference?” I wonder now.  Either way, we are going to wash the small plate when we are done.  If you come for coffee at my house, you will never know if that saucer once held spilled coffee (or covfefe) or chicken wing bones, as long as it is clean.

Neat dishes

That particular saucer was from a set of china my mother had for special occasions.  By the way, it was from England, not China.  Anyway, as God is my witness, I do not recall EVER eating off that set until she was gone and I was left with it and a lot of knickknacks I don’t need.  When we were younger, she had another nice set for dinner.  We also had plastic plates or TV dinners in aluminum trays.

As for the knickknacks, two might belong on top of the large stereo, another two in the dining room and one on the dresser.  Random shelves were usually populated with random knickknacks.  If one was out-of-place, there could be hell to pay, as the saying goes.  My mother and my grandmother knew exactly where these items must stand. 

There could be no variations.  It was as if the locations were handed down by God and no other place would do.  Worse yet, if something broke, we would hear about it for at least a year, maybe longer, depending on its worth and sentimental value.

Utensils

I hated to touch these things, particularly in my grandmother’s apartment.  She was a stern old woman who rarely smiled, and she could let you know her displeasure at something being out-of-place with a mean look and a few terse words.  My mother could hand out the same look, but we were lucky if we only got a few words as well.  Silence was not her style.

“Why are those bells in that order?  That is not the correct order! Fix it.”

My humble reply might be, “But I thought that was the order.  I put them right back in place.”  No pleading innocent would change the fact that something was amiss.

Roomie has asked me a number of times if he could put things in a closet.  Apparently, my clutter of coffee table books and table games looks out-of-place to him (not to me) and I should not have this stuff lying around.  I usually give in to these requests because I made the rule where it belongs and it is not important enough to me that it stays there.  My books on baseball, theater, and The Doors (look them up, millennials) have been banished to darker places.

I do not do the dishes often as roomie thinks he is better at it. When they are dry, I might ask why he did not put everything away.  His usual answer is that he does not know where everything belongs.  I tell him to put it somewhere, I will find it or ask if I need it.  Would that work at your house?

You probably have several drawers in the kitchen. Is each designated for certain items? We have one for silverware, one for other kitchen gadgets and larger items (rolling-pin to chase roomie around the house like a cartoon), and one “junk drawer.” Everyone has one of these.  It is for the items not designated for somewhere else. This could be batteries, a tape measure, random tools, a flashlight, scissors, tape, matches, etc. Junk drawer items should be in the junk drawer!

It would be possible to go on about the house rules, particularly the strict ones from my mother or grandmother, but you get the point by now, or you are a hopeless case like I am.  I could not understand why my grandmother would have a certain doily to go under a lamp, and another to go under a Hummel.  (OK, go look up doily and Hummel. We’ll wait).  These doilies were not interchangeable.

Unlike the previous generations, I can not stress out about silly house rules that I made up in the first place.  With the return of roomie, even if for a brief period, there is no reason not to alter my life so we both feel comfortable.  Everything may have a place in our home, but that place can be changed tomorrow and that is OK with me.

See also: “CULTURE SHOCK, Travelling to America”

VIEWS FROM THE KITCHEN

A KITCHEN WINDOW


I like shooting through windows and I have a lot of pictures to prove it. It’s the only place from which I can see birds in the yard in the winter, or the frozen trees in the woods during a storm.

It’s also the place from which I can take pictures without having to put my boots on. Not a small thing when the temps are well below zero (Fahrenheit) and the snow is up to my hips.

I like the light from the east side of the house. Kitchen, dining room, our bedroom and the deck all face east.

Another focus
Utensils by the window

The picture window in the living room faces west.

Only two small windows face north and south, but the way we are situated, all the action is east and west.

When I finished taking these pictures, the sun had made its way around to the other side of the house.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

SMALL VICTORIES

Last night, dinner was perfect. I cook dinner every night except for the few when we are away from home, order in, or actually go out to dinner. Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time pondering what to cook.

When we lived in Boston, we ate out. A lot. There were so many good places to eat, too. A lot of our choices took us down to the wharf where they had some great places for fish and lobster and clams. A lot of them were shorts and sandals kinds of places and some of these rather rough little restaurants had the best seafood you could imagine.

Dinner, anyone?

Then came The Big Dig. Between the construction which seemed to have closed every street in Boston and turned the usually difficult traffic into a calamity, those restaurants disappeared. Some of them reopened in other places in the city. They kept the same name, but they weren’t the same restaurants. They got fancy. All the effort that had previously gone into creating great food now went into dining room decor.

We left Boston. Of the many things we never imagined we’d miss was food.

The Blackstone Valley has its wonders. A beautiful place … with such pathetic restaurants. It must be something about we the people. Food is drab. No spices. Anything stronger than salt is regarded with deep suspicion, so bland is the name of the game. When anyone asks what we’ve got in the way of dining, I say “white bread and brown gravy.” But that’s not fair. A few places also make really good hamburgers.

We stopped going out to dinner except for very special occasions. I’m pretty sure there were better restaurants some years back, but they closed down. So we eat at home and periodically, we develop an intense boredom with food. It isn’t lack of appetite, though we don’t eat as much as we used to. It’s more that I can’t think of one more way to make chicken that doesn’t seem drab.

My goal in home food preparation is to keep feeding us without boring us into starvation.

Last night, I made “breakfast for dinner.” We don’t eat breakfast. We have coffee. I have an English muffin too. Garry just drinks a lot of coffee. Sandwiches suffice for lunch. This week, we’ve had chili, one of my standards. Sweet-and-sour chicken. Baked salmon. Shrimp with onions and peppers over rice. And frozen pizza.

I had cheese, bacon, and eggs in the fridge. Time to do something with them.

I make bacon in the microwave. Do not judge me. I do not like cleaning grease off half the kitchen after frying bacon, so I have developed a way of cooking it in the microwave that skips most of the grease and still turns out a pretty good platter. Timing has been the major issue, but last night I got it perfect. For 8 slices of bacon, two layers of paper towels on a platter (make sure it is small enough to rotate). Another double layer of towels on top of the raw bacon. Cook at full power for five minutes. Let it sit for a minute or two. Turn it back on for another 2-1/2 minutes at full power. Perfect and not all wrinkly. Chewy, but not raw. Everything was still hot when it got to the plate —  a small miracle in its own right.

Even the cheese omelets were perfect. I was still congratulating myself on dinner as we were going to bed.

It has been a long month and it’s not over. This was a little victory, but a victory. One dinner where each piece was as close to perfect as it could make it. Easy to clean up after, too. If I have to spend an hour cleaning up the mess, I feel a lot less victorious.

It’s the small things, you know? Big things can be overwhelming. These days, in a time when there is far too much “big stuff” blowing in the wind, my world is complete if dinner is perfect. Small victories help keep the wheels of life rolling smoothly.