There was that time when I bought the REALLY expensive chicken by accident.
$75+ worth of On-Sale, free-range, raised-with-classical-music-in-the-barn-and-wearing-knitted-chicken-sweaters kind of chicken, instead of the On-Sale chicken for the non-fancy-pants folks.
So, I can’t be trusted in the grocery store.
Now, we have an excess of sour cream: in fact, an entire, unopened container, ready to expire.
Doesn’t that sound perilous? “Ready to expire”.
Refrigerator products are so melodramatic.
Anyhoo, I thought I could be trusted. In fact, I felt rather like Ma in Little House on the Prairie when I had a light bulb moment this evening about the nearly-dead dairy product.
I know, I thought. I’ll make Grandma Helen’s coffee cake.
She used to feed it to us for special breakfasts and it’s all brown-sugary and sour-cream-donut-y and NOT CHOCOLATE, so clearly suitable for breakfast because that’s a rule.
I rushed off on a surge of pride to tell Practical Man as these Ma-in-Little-House-frugal moments are rare from me. Grandma Helen’s coffee cake has lots of sour cream in it and would use up most of the almost-at-the-pearly-gates container.
While Practical Man was doing the garbage/recycling in the garage (and no doubt marveling at my frugal brilliance), I made my usual mess in the kitchen.
In addition to flour on the floor, nuts behind the canisters, and butter up my arm, while whipping up the batter, I managed to lift it out of the bowl to “clean” the beaters and they sprayed batter all over the entire world. There was some in my eyebrow, some on the backsplash, some on Mars, I’m pretty sure. And, it’s a sticky batter, this sour-cream extravaganza.
As in: not easily remedied before certain people come in from the garage.
But, I got that sorted (I think – this will explain the weird blobs you see on our light fixtures a few months from now) and grabbed the one-foot-in-the-grave, but un-opened sour cream container from the fridge.
I opened it and stopped short.
It looked funny.
White, like sour cream.
But, also not.
Kind of chunky.
Maybe it had already gone off?
Or, maybe, maybe, maybe…
I realized with a sudden taste of sour dairy in my mouth,
it was not drama-queen sour cream
highly-tricky-and-well-disguised-all-except-for-the-dastardly-label-oh-please-say-this-happens-to-you-too-won’t-you, COTTAGE CHEESE.
This is precisely, almost exactly like that time I was wondering why the ginger we had frozen in the freezer was so uncooperatively melty when I was trying to grate it.
(It was blobs of frozen garlic puree, hardy-har-har).
I have worked at an institute for higher learning for nearly 25 years. Honest.
Luckily, Practical Man had brought home a new container of sour cream this very evening.
So, instead of using up excess sour cream, I had to use brand-new sour cream so now, we have to buy some more.
And, I have to figure out what to do with on-its-last-breath cottage cheese.
I’m pretty sure I can’t be trusted though.
The cake is really good.
I have developed a new problem, recently.
I’m coveting cupolas.
Worshipping weather vanes.
I went to Vermont, you see.
“Verdant Vermont”, as Practical Man and I called it as we ooh’d and aah’d our way through the Spring countryside rolling hills.
We have been there before but this time, we noticed that it was very green.
We’re pretty sure this isn’t how “verdant” is pronounced but for this trip, we decided we should make it rhyme with “Vermont”.
Verdant Vermont, get it?
They are probably going to want to adopt it as a slogan, of course.
“Visit us in Verdant Vermont.”
We amuse ourselves easily, yes sirree.
That’s how you get to 20 years of wedded bliss, dontcha know.
All the verdant was probably on account of the torrential rain the day and night before. During the storm, we were very cozy in our vintage Boler travel trailer, alone in the campground. I am reading my way through my vintage Nancy Drew collection so I was deeply embroiled in The Mystery of the Bungalow (and wondering how one canoes wearing a dress) while I listened to the lovely sound of rain on the Boler roof.
A 13-foot trailer seems so luxurious after a lifetime of camping in tents and when it’s pouring sheets of rain outside.
Maybe the other campers didn’t have a vintage Nancy Drew book to antagonize and entertain them because they had all left. Even the ones in giant motor homes with big-screen TVs and walk-in closets. It seems that the first sign of inclement weather causes those campers to run home to a different big-screen TV and walk-in closet.
That’s okay because it means more ice cream for me.
The morning after the storm, I ate Ben and Jerry’s at 10:00 am, tra-la-la.
There was a factory and it was cultural experience so I had two scoops: fudge brownie something and chocolate peanut-butter something else.
I’ve never had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream before.
I might need to try it again to make sure I like it.
Then, we went to the chocolate factory nearby.
Perhaps you can see why I love Vermont.
So much tra-la-la!
We followed the windy roads and hunted for the covered bridges that were on the map.
We went up the super fun, seasonal road to Smuggler’s Notch and marvelled at the giant boulders all around that had been chucked down the mountain, probably by some demi-god having a temper tantrum.
And, I fell in love with all the houses.
I think there is a Vermont rule: no ugly houses allowed.
The Pinterest addict in me approves.
I also fell in love with the cupolas.
Ones with vents.
Ones with weather vanes.
I want one.
My kingdom for a cupola!
We have two sets of louvered doors in one of our (cupola-less) outbuildings, so now, I have dreams and plans for an upcycled cupola of our very own.
Practical Man is on the case. So far, he’s going along with putting a cupola on the workshop building.
That’s how you get to 20 years of wedded bliss, dontcha know.
But, I’m not sure I’m allowed to go back to Vermont.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now…
I’m a weirdo.
Weird–for reasons too numerous to count–when we are not on Daylight Savings Time anymore. We’re losing daylight with every turn of the calendar, my friends. Focus on the precious hours of sunlight and stoke up those sunshine cells while you can!
Today, the weirdness refers to the fact that I’m nearing 50 years old and I still have a living grandparent.
She turned 91 yesterday.
Happy 91st birthday, Grandma Verna!
91 going on 61.
She’s always been my Movie Star Grandma, but I didn’t officially think of her that way until my friend, Corvette, pointed it out.
My wedding to Practical Man was the first time Corvette had ever met my Grandma Verna. This is what Grandma looked like on our wedding day:
Doesn’t she look like what Princess Diana might have looked like, had she been able to reach a luxurious age and attend our wedding?
No disrespect to the late Princess, but who needs Diana when you have our Grandma Verna? You can sort of understand why Corvette gave her the Movie Star moniker.
That would make me the Movie Star’s granddaughter, tra-la-la.
I think I skipped the Glamour gene, so I’ll take my glamour by association, yes indeedy.
Grandma’s 91 now, but she seems 61 and she’s full of sass.
She drives all her friends around in her immaculate car.
She passes her driver’s test every two years and to my knowledge, she’s never left the right blinker on for miles and miles on the highway.
She celebrates Happy Hour with some red wine, most days, along with one friend or another and they giggle like a pair of 13 year olds.
She has a great giggle.
It’s hard to catch it in a photo, though. She hates getting her picture taken so you have to sneak up on her all Secret Agent-like.
She lives, alone, in a lovely, lake view apartment (NOT a senior’s residence, retirement villa, or old-age anything).
I covet her apartment and fabulous style.
Isn’t that written somewhere, “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Grandmother’s Apartment and Fabulous Style?”‘
She does all her own banking and noticed recently that there was $3.76 missing from one of her accounts and boy, was there (rightly so) a hulabaloo at the financial institution that day!
“Most seniors wouldn’t even notice that they were being ripped off,” she told me, “I have to stick up for all of us.”
She’s kind of the Ever-Ready Bunny of Grandmothers, our Grandma Verna, that is, if the Ever-ready Bunny was WA-A-A-A-A-Y more stylish and had red patent ankle boots and a matching scarf.
These boots are made for Grandma, make no mistake.
Except, instead of batteries like the Ever-Ready Bunny, Grandma runs on swimming and one hour of her daily “stories” on TV.
Many of my friend have parents in their 80s or 90s, so having a grandmother who buys the same shoes as you do, is a little unusual.
Hence, the weirdness.
Even weirder: I had four grandparents and a great-grandmother and a great-grandfather, until I was in my 20s.
I even had a great-GREAT grandmother, until I was 11.
She was my grandpa’s grandmother! How weird is that?
Also, very lucky, dontcha know. Those of us with grandparents really are the luckiest people.
But, Grandma Verna suddenly had a medical incident this week.
No sparkly dresses in sight, like the one she was wearing last year on her 90th:
It could have been a lot worse and we’re hoping she’ll make a full recovery.
She’s out of the hospital, after only 2 days, and recuperating at my parent’s house.
She’s doing the crossword puzzle in the paper and reading all the birthday cards she’s been getting, for days.
But, she fainted this week so she’s a little unsteady and using a walker to get from room to room, at the moment. She’s sleeping a lot and tires very easily.
Sounds a lot like me, in fact.
She’s a little less Snazz and a little more Snooze.
Definitely, like me.
Not that this will last forever, but suddenly, she seems closer to 91 than 61.
That’s perfectly normal, of course, after an illness.
Just weird, for her.
So, now we’re both weirdos.
Get well, Grandma.
I hope we get to be weird together, for a long time to come.
As he does.
I am mostly sitting in his favourite chair (as I do), holding my belly button with both hands and trying to take deep, cleansing, banana-muffin-scented breaths.
My hands are cupped, as if I’m carefully holding a baby chick, but what I’m really doing is attempting to keep my belly button from making a fast getaway. It’s a task that requires vigilance and dedication, even through my bewilderment. I don’t honestly know why my belly button has forsaken me in this manner. I mean, I’ve been good to the thing, over the years.
- I’ve kept it (mostly) from being sun burned.
- I’ve kept it (mostly) from being mercilessly tickled.
- I’ve never pierced it (my sister holding the waistband of her pants out for two days after she had hers done a hundred years ago, was a good deterrent).
As in most things, I am a belly button goody-two shoes.
Yet, here I sit. In full-on Belly Button Betrayal.
I got terrible books out of the library and Olympic Golf has officially come back. This is what misery looks like, my friends.
Every once in a while, I limp into the bedroom to the full-length mirror and lift my shirt to look.
Is it still there? In one piece?
Now, I’m navel gazing.
Except, not like Gandhi or Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the wildly popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love). Someone with important socio-political/existential/spiritual (Gandhi) or even spaghetti questions (Elizabeth Gilbert) on their minds.
I do have those questions but, tra-la-la, the Olympics are on.
So, I’ve been navel gazing for a week, on account of the laparoscopic surgery I had. Note to self: my belly button does NOT look like the ones on the Canadian beach volleyball team.
Actually, navel gazing and fussing. Lots and lots of fussing.
I don’t remember Gandhi doing much of that, do you? Maybe you lose your belly button when you’re fasting for important, civil rights reasons. Not that I’ll ever know. I came out of surgery after lunch, ready for a 3-course meal, since I hadn’t eaten since MIDNIGHT the night before!
I’m really more like Elizabeth Gilbert than Gandhi.
More foodie than faster.
Uh huh, that’s me.
By the way, do you think making banana muffins is a sophisticated avoidance technique? Practical Man is…well, practical. When there’s a problem, he usually has a very practical solution. And, making banana muffins does afford a brief respite from your fussing/navel gazing wife doesn’t it? Actually, don’t answer that. I’m not sure I care if it’s a sophisticated avoidance technique, so long as I get some banana muffins out of the deal.
Naval gazing and fussing. I feel like that might be on my headstone some day, darn it. Kind of sums me up pretty well at the moment.
And, while I am a talented fusser, as Practical Man can no doubt attest, I would like to stop.
Really, I would.
It’s just that I never thought my belly button could hurt quite this much. On account of, I am a documented ‘fraidy cat and I’ve never had a single baby and everyone knows (or at least, I knew with utter certainty when I was 6) that babies come out of that aperture thingy in the middle of our belly buttons.
YAWN. (That’s how I thought the aperture part opened, when I was 6. The doctor would tickle it a little, and the mama would YAWN and then the baby on the bench nearest the belly button door, would pop out.)
Uh huh. Inadvertent childbirth. That must be it.
That’s really the only reason I can think of that my belly button would feel like it’s had a grapefruit pulled through it.
Maybe not. As far as I know, there is no tropical fruit lurking in my belly.
I’m more of a vegetable–okay, carbs–girl, to be honest. With an ice cream chaser.
Good thing, too since I now know how much it hurts to get (what feels like) a grapefruit pulled through your belly button. All you women who gave actual birth to an actual human and not a grapefruit. Pfffffff. Sure, that’s cool. But, I mean, really.
Have YOU ever had a grapefruit pulled through your navel?
It’s almost time to head to the mirror again.
Watch for my life-changing memoir:
I just accomplished the Nearly Impossible.
We recently had to buy a new computer–at the kind of great expense that I hate spending on stuff like that–because why would you spend big money on a computer when you could, for roughly the same price, score yourself a vintage Vespa scooter (tra-la-la)?
Anyway, Practical Man doesn’t seem to mind the whole big money spending on boring stuff like computers because
- for some reason, he seems to think they’re just as fun as a vintage Vespa. Um, no.
- he wouldn’t be caught dead on a vintage Vespa (it’s bad enough he has to drive a Fiat 500 occasionally) and
- he love, love, loves the whole research-and-read-consumer-reports thing that he gets to do before he buys a big money item. Those pesky “compare and contrast” essays I used to have to do in A-level English? I bet he would have loved those. Practical Man is a born comparer and contraster.
So, after he read all the consumer reports and debated the merits of the new operating system versus the older, new operating system that everybody hates; and the really expensive manufacturer that everyone loves (and some mock) but would mean we’d have to convert everything we own; and this graphic card versus that graphic card; and this many giga-bytes versus that many tera-bytes; and he had oogled and jiggled computers all over town, we bought one.
A new computer, that is. Not a vintage Vespa.
Imagine my disappointment.
Today, I opened my writing folder for the first time on the new system (which is not even called a “laptop” anymore because apparently that name potentially leads to burned thighs and not from the sunburn you got while riding on the Amalfi coast for hours and hours on your vintage Vespa) and realized that many of my projects were written using a software that you pay for and then download from online.
Uh, oh, I thought.
That sinking feeling in my stomach was because for middle of ages people like me, “online!” meant that there were no disks to help me re-load the software on our shiny new computer.
Okay, I know they’re called CDs now.
It’s not a vintage Vespa so I can’t be bothered to pay attention.
Anyway, since I had no thinga-ma-bobs to re-load the software on the new system, I had to get Practical Man’s flash drive (or as he calls it, the “key fob”), open it and wander into the recesses of his brain. Because, that’s what it’s like going into his flash drive. It has folders and stuff that mean absolutely nothing to me, whatsoever.
It looks as if he used English to name the folders and yet…I am completely…can’t…what…?
It’s sort of like that time I tried to fold kirigami trees, only more difficult.
I was looking for his passwords file, in hopes that he would have recorded the magic numbers I needed to re-download Scrivener. Because, being Practical Man, he does things like that. He keeps the receipts for the thinga-ma-bob we bought in 1999 just in case we might need it so I was fairly confident that he would have recorded the registration number on his “key fob” that I needed to re-download the program that wasn’t on a disk (because it’s no longer 1987).
But, being all Secret Agent-y as he is, the passwords file is in a sub directory and he doesn’t label the sub directories anything that mean anything to me (although I was intrigued by the folder marked “Minion”) and of course, even if you can manage to get down in the recesses of his brain, the passwords file is not in a file called “passwords”. Because otherwise, when the evil, super villan breaks into our house, goes through our closet and finds the key fob/flash drive in the pocket of Practical Man’s jeans, he could, MWAH-HA-HA get easy access to all our passwords!
I know. It does make sense. I just like to mock Practical Man sometimes.
It’s an old married couple thing. Kind of like flossing our teeth in front of each other.
(Our dental hygienist is very proud).
Anyway, today, I successfully THOUGHT LIKE A PRACTICAL MAN (no easy feat, lemme tell ya) and four or five hours later, figured out which file the passwords were hidden in.
Of course, it was encrypted with a password.
The password file had a password.
Again. Very sensible.
After all that, the super secret Scrivener registration code wasn’t even there.
Turns out, I had saved it somewhere else.
I should have bought a vintage Vespa.
I have heard it told that in every relationship, someone is the gardener and someone is the flower.
Apparently, in our house, I am the…can you guess?
But wait! I think you’re wrong.
So, try again please…I beg you to re-consider.
Which do you think I am?
The gardener? or…
…REALLY? That’s your guess?
If you guessed the flower, you are not alone.
I don’t like being the flower, even though a woman being the flower does harken back to something rather vintage. All that “the fairer sex” stuff. My Grandma Verna actually told me recently that when my Grandpa Howard had an accident at work in the ’50s, one of the doctors wrote in his report, “the patient’s wife is a seemingly intelligent woman.”
Seemingly intelligent. Because you know, intelligence is often suspect when it comes to the fairer sex.
Anyway, being the flower is new for me. I’ve never been the flower before. In past relationships, I was always the gardener; the very determined gardener, trying to get a (large and I was sure, misunderstood) weed to magically transform into the beautiful sunflower I just knew it was inside. I am a people-pleasing, care-taking, co-dependant, gardener sort of gal.
Still, I conducted a little survey among our friends. An innocuous little survey about gardeners and flowers. Traitors that they are, they all agreed that when it comes to Practical Man and me, I am definitely the flower.
Positively, definitely, no doubt about it, they said.
Harumph. Who needs friends anyway?
Well, fine then, if I must be the flower, I like to think I’m a daisy. They’re my favourites. They look so cheerful and they’re very natural (that is, not high maintenance at all) and of course, vintage, if you look at any wedding bouquet photo from 1972.
However, even I can admit that sometimes, just occasionally, I am less like a daisy and more like the 40+ kinds of roses Practical Man used to grow in our yard when we lived in suburbia. Or, the rose in one of my favourite books, “Le Petit Prince“. That is, just a teensy-tiny bit high maintenance.
Just, the odd time. For example:
1) I am afraid of cows, like in a shrieky sort of way (not an especially handy quality to have when you live in the country).
2) I can’t drink alcohol or I’ll faint.
3) I can’t get too hot or I’ll faint.
4) I can’t stay up past 9:00 pm two days in a row or I’ll faint.
5) I can’t shriek or I’ll faint (see cow problem above).
6) I can’t go on an airplane or I’ll faint (and cause an international incident where I’m almost banned from flying even though I’m thousands of miles and an ocean away from home in a German airport all by myself with somehow, unfairly, NO Ritter Sport chocolate bars on my person, but that’s another story).
You may be sensing a theme. There’s more but the long and the short of it: I’m like one of those fainting goats. Well, not so much recently because I take medication that actually works, thank goodness. But, that medication came about because of astute observations made by Practical Man which in turn, helped doctors finally figure out, after 17 years of swooning, what was wrong with me. Once again, proving that I am (darn it!) the flower.
7) You already know how I am with The Nature.
8) But you probably don’t know that I have a thing about chewing. Can’t stand to hear it. Even three rooms over. If I’m ever captured and tortured for state secrets, all they have to do is chew raw carrots in my vicinity and I’ll spill the beans (and possibly some of their blood) immediately.
9) Also, I must eat my potato chips in a certain order (broken ones first, then ones that are misshapen, then ones with bubbles until I finish with one perfect chip). I don’t know why. But, I realized a few years ago that my mother does the same thing so I’m pretty sure there’s a potato-chip-ordering gene that scientists haven’t quite discovered yet. There should be a study and then me and my mom will be vindicated (I can hear you mocking us even now) because the potato-chip-ordering gene could help solve important world problems, I’m sure of it.
10) I can’t tilt my head more than 20 degrees in any direction without getting spinny. I know, I know. You already heard that I was fainty. But, see, this is spinny, not fainty. Spinny and fainty are totally different sensations but I’m pretty sure that they both add up to the same thing.
That is: that I am the flower.
Luckily, like my Grandma Verna, I’m also seemingly intelligent.