Archive for April, 2014

I’ve got mail!

I have reached a certain age where I’ve seen a lot of changes in the way we get mail. No Pony Express jokes, please. I grew up in town where it was a daily event to walk the two blocks to the post office, turn the dial on Box 42, and walk home with a big handful of mail, unless there were other errands to run, of course. These days, I walk to the end of the driveway and get our mail right out of the box. Usually, though, HE gets the mail and puts it on the table, but might as well toss most of it right in the trash before it even reaches the table. For many years, I would warm up my big PC a couple of times a day and check my email, which would catch me up on what was going on in the world as well as news from friends and relatives. We would share a few jokes, the best of which I would print and pass along at work. These days, my laptop and tablet don’t need any warm up time, and I communicate with my friends and relatives via Facebook. Some days, I even forget to check my email. I signed in this morning to clean out my mailbox and delete most of the 2,864 messages that were there. Sadly, about 2000 of the messages were junk mail…or were they? Maybe I do have a long-lost dead relative in Somalia, and maybe I really will inherit the gazillion dollar estate if I wire $564.32 to the bank account of James Smythe, Esquire. Or maybe not. I’m really not looking for Russian love, thank you very much. I’ll stick with HIM, who doesn’t complain that he has to carry 50 pound bags of chicken feed through the mud when he doesn’t even like chickens. If you ask him and he does complain, I don’t want to know about it. I’m not really interested in the latest sweepstakes, E-Cigarette, or age-defying vitamin discovery, either. I kept my finger on the delete button although I wanted to take a peek at the company that was touting “Cougar singles! Rich women seeking love! Look beyond the Medicare data!” I don’t want to take a cruise, a cheap airline flight, or any other exotic vacation, even if it were to Somalia for genealogical research on rich dead relatives. I must admit that I was slightly tempted at the email from a company that guaranteed (for the low price of $99) that I would never lose my keys again. Yes, I opened that email, which as we all know, means that I will now receive 1000 more emails for similar products. I really did want to know, if for nothing else but curiosity’s sake, how they could promise something like that. I was really disappointed to find that I would have to program my phone to find my lost keys. I lose my phone way more often than I lose my keys, so the amazing key finder would be doomed to fail for sure. As soon as I deleted most of the emails, I got one that told me I really needed phytoceramides and if I ordered them right away, I could get free shipping. I wondered what the heck phytoceramides were, and with a quick internet search, I learned they were substances that kept one’s skin moist and plump. Plump? I already have some of that. DELETE!

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My cupboards are full of a mixture of many things. When I was younger, I wanted everything to match, whether it be clothing, furniture, dishes, or flowers. The coordination of colors and objects gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, and all was right with the world. You may call it shades of OCD, but I just wanted everything to be perfect. Fast forward to the darker side of middle age: During my spring cleaning this year, I got rid of a cupboard full of heavy, matching dinnerware that I’ve had for years and replaced them with lightweight plates and bowls. Why have half a cupboard filled with matching cups when everyone always reaches for their favorite old coffee mug? Why keep a coordinating teapot that has been used only twice? I made room for the new dishes and some of my mother’s things with a little room left over. I acquired my brother-in-law’s grandmother’s plates through a series of sisterly “if I take this, you must have that” trades as we cleared out our mother’s apartment. I don’t know if other sisters do things like that, but we do it often. Squeezing the contents of three households into two was not easy for either of us, and some things just had to go to make room for both old and new. I cleaned out a few drawers and went on to the closets, too. Getting rid of stuff feels as good as losing ten pounds. Well, almost. Our Easter table this year was a mishmash of different things from different people. Mom’s quilt was the tablecloth for the new/old pastel-colored plates and platters. The wine was poured into garage sale crystal glasses and the salad was served on my favorite little china dishes which once probably belonged to someone else’s mother. Nothing matched. The ham was baked in my grandmother’s old beat-up roasting pan. The pickles, a gift from my cousin, were made using Auntie Olive’s recipe and served in a relish dish that was a wedding gift to my parents nearly 57 years ago. Dinner conversation between family and friends was punctuated by the squeals of our toddler grandson as he threw my mother’s silver spoons on the floor one by one, over and over again. If there was ever any worry about missing loved ones, it was gone in a minute. You see, they are always with us in one way or another. Perhaps it is through a quilt or a pile of old dishes. Perhaps it is through a recipe or a memory or the laughter of a baby on a beautiful spring afternoon. Easter is the season of miracles, comfort, and rebirth. The combination of the old and the new was a gentle reminder to me that life indeed goes on. That, my friends, gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling like no other.

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The one that got away

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they  are after.      Henry David Thoreau

As much as I yearn for the summer sun to warm my back as I work in the garden, I yearn for the glorious feeling of a boat rocking beneath my feet while I’m reeling in a fish. In the summer, of course, because I am a fair-weather fisherwoman. If I can’t be in the boat, the end of the dock will do. Each worm placed on the hook and each cast of the line gives one a wonderful sense of anticipation, and there’s nothing else quite like it. Each little tug on the line offers the same sense of anticipation, although more often than not, it is a tiny little sunfish nibbling rather than the monster bass I had pictured. Fishing is one of the few things that HE and I have in common. A few years ago, we were spending a lovely summer Sunday on the lake. It was early enough in the day that I wasn’t yet having that feeling of sadness that the weekend was over. The sun was warm enough, yet not too warm. The breeze was breezy enough to keep those pesky flies from nibbling at my ankles, and Barney the Chihuahua was curled up in my lap, taking an afternoon nap. He likes to go fishing as much as we do. I tossed my line into the perfect spot at the edge of the lily pads when the fish hit. It wasn’t a taste or even a nibble. It took my worm, the line went taut, and the pole bent over nearly double. I’ve been fishing that lake my whole life, and have never, ever had a fish that big on the end of my line. Whoa. “I’ve got a big one,” I said. HE, who rarely pays attention to what is on the end of my line sat up a little straighter. It was a fighter. Barney the Chihuahua woke up from his nap and stayed on my lap, but sat up to see what was going on. The reel of my fishing pole, made for catching small sunfish and crappie, was making noises that I had never heard before as I cranked it in. It fought, I cranked, they watched. I reached my right hand over to adjust the pole. The line snapped. HIM: “You touched the line.” Me (knowing full well that I touched the line): “No, I didn’t.” HIM: “Yes, you did.” Me: “No…I did…..yes, I did.” Shoot. I lost it. I lost the biggest fish I might have ever caught. Perhaps the biggest fish ever caught on that lake. I think he was big enough to have given me bragging rights and a lot of stories, but I touched the line and he became the fish that got away. The biggest fish I almost caught didn’t know this, but we would have taken his picture and let him go, because that’s what we do with great big fish on summer Sunday afternoons. If we catch them. If they get away, it just gives us something to look forward to the next time.

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The Gourmets

Grandma’s chicken pie. Grilled beef tips with sweet potatoes. Sunday roaster with organic garden vegetables. Wild-caught salmon with brown rice. I know your mouth is watering right about now. Mine would be, too, if I didn’t know these were flavors of dog food and not on the menu of a fine restaurant or dinner at Mom’s. Barney the Chihuahua is as spoiled as can be and enjoys a variety of treats. His favorite is a chewy beef with oatmeal, apples and sweet potatoes or a plain smoked pig ear as big as his head. He likes wild and natural things as much as the next dog and although he has been known to eat a few disgusting…er…organic things found in the back yard, he prefers to roll in them. I have never been able to understand that if an owl drops one dead mouse somewhere over our 7 1/2 acres, Barney manages to find that one small mouse and roll in it during the ten seconds he is off his leash. Luckily, small Chihuahuas, even stinky ones, are fairly easy to bathe. Barney’s shampoo is scented with lavender, which might seem silly but smells much better than dead mouse, and since he sleeps with us, he might as well smell good. I purchase as much organic people food as possible, but don’t quite understand the organic pet food movement for animals that turn over the trash cans while you are away, eating last night’s dinner and Lord knows what else. The dog food companies are out doing themselves by making more exotic flavors such as Spring lamb with barley and grilled wild duck. My daughter, the City Girl, has two huge drooling overly friendly yellow labs who would probably love the wild duck flavor. When she and her husband first moved to Minnesota, they lived at a duck camp out in the middle of nowhere that was absolutely the perfect place for honeymooners, large dogs, and porcupines. One day, with company coming for dinner, she was busy cleaning the house when one of the “boys” did just what retrieving dogs do….he carried a long-dead duck in through the doggy door and plopped it in the middle of her couch. Bad boy. I don’t think she ever quite recovered from that one, and shortly after what the family refers to as “the duck incident”, they moved to town and have been living happily ever after. Whatever you feed them, whatever you bathe them in, remember this: Dogs are people, too. The dog food companies are counting on it.

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