Friday, January 22, 2021

Winner's Circle

I know there has been a lot going on, what with Georgia tipping the Senate and there being an insurrection at the Capitol and also a presidential inauguration happening, but I have more important things to talk about. Not that we haven't celebrated (the inauguration, that is, not the insurrection):

Special dinner for Inauguration Eve


Still, there are other things going on around here, too. For example, when last we talked, I mentioned that Anna had just left us to return to her real life overseas, but I didn't point out that she left on what was also Larry's and my 30th anniversary. 

THIRTY - I used to think that people who had been married 30 years were almost dead. Actually, that's probably what my kids think right now. 

Despite our decrepitude, however, Larry and I kept up our anniversary tradition of seeing which one of us would forget our special day. Still traumatized by the fact that Larry didn't even give me a chance a few years ago to prove I had remembered, I laid my plans carefully this time around. Susie helped me pick out a card the day before ("These are awful!" she proclaimed, perusing the CVS anniversary collection), and I waited until Larry fell asleep that evening to run out to the grocery store for a "Happy Anniversary" balloon. Oh, I was clever! He wouldn't even know what hit him.

Only, there's no one available at the grocery store to inflate a specifically chosen balloon at that late hour. Instead, I had to settle for a pre-inflated, generic "Happy Birthday" one. No matter, I thought, I'll fix it at home.


Turns out, I'm not very good at fixing balloons. Still, my plan worked. He discovered his card and balloon and box of chocolate-covered cherries before I was even awake, and then he spent the rest of the day insisting he would have remembered anyway.

I WON.

I also won a raffle held at my local yarn store on Black Friday:


These are being made into a crescent shawl that I knit while I sit and watch White House press briefings, which are my new jam. Facts! Reasonable conversation! The use of the sentence "I don't know, but I'll find out"! I'm a Jen Psaki fangirl, I am.

Unfortunately, I did not win at picking out pickles. I was planning to make potato salad for dinner, and everyone wanted it the way Anna made it, with some chopped dill pickle in it, so I grabbed this...thing...from the Harris Teeter deli and brought it home. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

Poor facsimile of a pickle

Two out of three's not bad, though, right?




Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Happy Not-So-New Year!

 Happy New Year! I guess we can all just rip off these masks and go back to life as normal now, right? RIGHT?

Oh, maybe not. Well, then, at least we have all that election stuff behind us, right? No more worrying about ballots or voter turnout or...

Oh, oh yes - Georgia. The fate of the nation turns on Georgia today. And tomorrow...well, never mind. Some day this will all be over. I would totally like to resume ignoring both my health and my government, thank you, like the good American I am. 

Remember Christmas? 

We had a lovely COVID Christmas, albeit a quiet one. The "kids" (as discussed previously) decided to spend the afternoon building candy houses and, as usual, spared no effort.




New Year's Eve was similarly quiet. Normally, we spend New Year's Eve cleaning up the house in preparation for our neighborhood's New Year's Day party, an event we have hosted since 2008. This year, however, the party was canceled due to COVID, with the upshot being our house risked remaining a mess until next New Year's. 

But Anna did return to Tunisia on Sunday, and Brian decided to move down to the guest bedroom in the basement that she had occupied for the last 9 months, so the result was that everything got a pretty good cleaning out anyway. Brian has definite ideas of what he will and will not live with, so the seashell lamp that Anna used on her desk all year was unceremoniously dumped outside his door.


"You don't want this?" I asked Brian.

"No," he said. "It's ugly. Do you like it?"

"Um, no, I guess not," I said. "But it was here when we moved in."

"Thirteen years ago," he said. 

So yeah, it takes me over a decade to realize I don't like a lamp.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Anna left me, and I am bereft. She's the only other one in the family who will actually plan a dinner. It was like she was another grown-up or something. Also, she was just fun to have around. Grown offspring are cool.

On the plus side? With Brian moving downstairs to her room, I HAVE MY OFFICE/YARN ROOM BACK. I don't know who is more excited, me or my long-suffering spouse who has tolerated for almost a year the numerous Rubbermaid bins full of yarn in our bedroom and the tangle of knitting needles hanging up in our closet. He'd also like our nightstands back, which Sarah and I commandeered back in May to build my makeshift desk.

The day Anna left, we took down the tree, packed up all the decorations, put the furniture back in place - you know, all those things you do that make you feel like you have a fresh start to the year, even if this year it is less of a fresh start and more of a retread. Still, we packed things up and realized that most of the items we actually use (aside from the lights) fit into these 2 small bins:


But -- and this just kills me -- we still had this REALLY LARGE bin more than half-filled with boxes containing I know not what:


"Let's chuck it," I suggested to Larry, who immediately got the panicked look on his face that appears whenever I suggest chucking anything, ever. You know, that "I might need it" look?

"We don't use it," I told him. "See?" I pointed to the two small bins. "That's the stuff we use. And that..." (here I pointed to the large bin) "...is the stuff we don't use."

Don't think for even a second that this line of reasoning worked. We're keeping everything, as usual. I just want the kids to know I tried, is all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Time Flies, Holidays Happen

I can't decide if Michaels is off message again for this year, or maybe on message. I guess it depends if HOME means you stay put or if you travel. Stay put, okay?



It looks as though we will have 5 out of 6 kids with us for Christmas (because 4 are already living here and the other is local and lives alone), so I feel lucky compared to a lot of people. But I was still dreading it, because we usually have another family over for dinner, which makes the day feel special, and that can't happen this year. 

The whole thing was making me miss my friends more than usual, and I wondered what we would do all day, once the gifts were opened. I sure didn't want everyone to retreat to their own rooms, like the housemates that we now are. So I half-jokingly suggested to the "kids" that they spend Christmas Day building gingerbread houses, like they used to, out of graham crackers and confectioners-sugar glue and candy. LOTS OF CANDY.

The results (2012 here) could be fairly impressive, I must say...

As you can imagine, when they were small, this was a popular Christmas time activity, one we would invariably invite neighborhood kids to, and there was generally enough sugar flowing that we'd have to administer insulin shots on their way out the door.

I exaggerate, but you get my drift.

The amount of prep required? Also fairly impressive.  

Anyhoo, as everyone aged out, soon it was only Susie who wanted to build a house and so the practice fell by the wayside. And I didn't really think anyone now (ages 15 - 29) would be interested. But they all pretty much jumped at the idea, and so that's what we will be doing on Christmas Day. Building graham cracker houses. 2020 has yielded quite a few surprises, so I'll just add that one to the list.

I'm in the final stretch of Christmas knitting, which never looks pretty:

My hands hurt. A LOT.

And we went all out for Chanukah, making latkes AND sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), both events being spearheaded by Theo, because I hate frying things.


Disappeared so fast, I didn't even get a photo of the full plate

Tree is up, gifts are bought, Thanksgiving feels like eons ago. EONS. And, of course, Christmas cookies are baked:

Pecan bars, YUM

What a stupid year this has been. I mean, really. I feel as though we will all wake up on January 1st and shake our heads and go, "What the heck happened?" 

In the meantime, we soldier on. Stay safe! And keep your hands off those cookies...

Monday, November 16, 2020

Miscellaneous Taken To A New Level

Whelp, here we are, once more at the end of our family's birthday season. If you check out the info on the right there, in the sidebar, you can see that all my kids are getting really old. I don't know how that happened, actually, but with Theo having just turned 29, I can't ignore it anymore. I'm not sure if people without younger kids are even allowed to blog, so I'll have to check the rule book on that and get back to you. In the meantime, let's catch up!

Halloween still life, with Twizzlers

Halloween - our second year with no resident trick-or-treaters, and I'm still sort of annoyed about that. It's no fun stealing candy from myself, TBH. We saw 54 trick-or-treaters for our modified festivities this year (candy left at the end of the sidewalk, with us old people waving and exclaiming over costumes from the front porch). I am currently experiencing the remorse of one who has way overindulged in those fat little strawberry Twizzlers that are sold only for Halloween.

But the most exciting news from October was that the appliance repairman finally returned with all the needed parts and fixed our dishwasher. Honestly, toward the end of our broken-dishwasher ordeal, I had pretty much convinced myself that we were way more efficient at doing dishes when we had to do them by hand. "This is actually much better," I would announce to anyone who would listen, as I washed my 51st fork of the day and balanced it in my overworked Michael Graves dish-drying rack

"Dishwashers are a waste of time and energy resources," I'd say primly, as I tried to scrub the food stains off my white plastic cutting board. "Really," I told a not-listening Larry, "let's just take out the dishwasher and put the condiment fridge in that space."

The other residents of our household wisely chalked up my ravings to the dishwashing version of Stockholm Syndrome. But now we have our dishwasher back, and oh, it is a joyous experience to load up those 3 racks and start it up. JOYOUS, I tell you.

It cleans ALL THE THINGS

8 WEEKS, people. We went without this miracle of modern convenience for 8 weeks. No wonder I was suffering delusions by the end.

Spending less time washing dishes means I finally finished knitting the socks I've been working on since March and which will forever remind me of COVID-19. I am now fixated on knitting fingerless mitts, because it is November and Christmas is coming. Also, bulky cowls. And watch caps for the boys. That's my plan, anyway. Hopefully that dishwasher stays fixed.

The official colors of COVID, I guess

In other not-so-exciting news, I cleaned out some kitchen cabinets and discovered that I possess not even one complete set of measuring cups. Also? I unearthed a sippy cup lid (we haven't used sippy cups here in the past decade) and some taco holders (ditto) which I recall made some of my children very happy a long, long time ago.

Remembrance of things past

I do hope no one came here expecting anything other than the mundane. If there is one thing you can count on in this crazy, mixed-up world, it's that I will continue talking about broken appliances, my inept housekeeping practices, and knitting, all while waxing maudlin about the inexorable passage of time.

Oh, I almost forgot - I voted.

All the cool kids were doing it

I spent the 2 days before the election canvassing for Get Out the Vote, and I spent 4 hours volunteering at the polls on Election Day (hey, someone had to erase those ballots and fill them in the right way, you know - HA HA JOKE JUST KIDDING NO FRAUD HERE), so I spent Wednesday lying on our couch and wondering, along with the rest of America, just what was going to happen. I was exhausted. Spent. Wiped out.

But hey, at least I didn't have to do any dishes...

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

On The Road

 It's been an exciting 2 weeks, because NY and NJ finally decided to permit the citizens of my apparently COVID-ridden state to visit, so we took full advantage of the opportunity. Susie and I jumped in the car and drove to the Jersey shore, to our favorite beach town, where we stayed cheaply in an almost empty hotel (its being midweek in October). 

Requisite not-so-healthy car snacks

The town was sparsely populated, so no worries about COVID, and it was warm enough (high 60s) to lie out on the beach for a few hours and pretend it was summer. Somehow Susie and I managed to log upwards of 25,000 steps both days we were there, just walking around watching sunrises and sunsets and looking at seagulls and really, these 2 days were just about the perfect antidote for the previous 7 months of pandemic craziness. Highly recommend.

Oh, just one of the coolest sunrise photos I've ever taken, is all

On the way home, we packed the car full of NJ hoagies (yes, they ARE the best) and NJ bagels (ditto), stopped at a farm market to pick up half a bushel of apples and a package of cider doughnuts, and then drove back to reality, all the while feeling as though we had plundered my birth state. But in a good way...

While we were at the shore, we met up with friends from home who were remodeling their beach house. This couple nefariously lured us onto their new rooftop deck to admire the view from all sides, which was indeed magnificent. While we were up there, however,  I - acrophobe that I am - realized that we were trapped. You see, the spiral staircase leading up to the deck was not quite finished - the platform between it and the deck had no railings on either side. Going from the spindly staircase to the solid deck had been only moderately scary. But going down would mean traversing what seemed to be a postage-stamp-sized piece of metal in an attempt to land safely on the narrow top step of the staircase. The mere thought of this maneuver made my legs feel like jelly.

So the whole time we were up on the deck, admiring the view and discussing the furniture to be delivered the next day, my internal monologue was running along the lines of "Pretend there are railings? Scooch on my butt? Live up here until the railings are installed?" Over and over and over.

Susie, it turns out, was doing the same. We're a fun pair.

Not bad for an amateur, eh?

The next week Larry and I took off on Wednesday night - without any offspring - to go hiking in the mountains of southern NY. Again, hotels were really cheap midweek and we packed food for the first day's lunch, and aren't we frugal? 

Not really. Its being Larry's birthday weekend, he got to choose where to eat for dinner the next night, so - lover of beer that he is - he opted for the local brewery/restaurant, which had ample outdoor seating (my requirement). That means we ordered what I considered to be overpriced food that took approximately 11 hours to reach our table, plus we overtipped the waitress, because pandemic. In short, we spent what seemed to me to be a buttload of money and time for no real return - the food was mediocre, at best, and I found myself pining for those NJ hoagies of the previous week. 

No matter, I thought, Larry's enjoying himself drinking locally brewed beers. It's his birthday, so it's worth it. The second day, as we were meandering through the town after checking out of the hotel, I said, "Hey, didn't you want to buy some of the local beer to take home?" And he said, "Nah, it sort of sucked."

We're not very good at this vacation splurge thing. I guess you can take the girl out of fast casual, but you can't take fast casual out of the girl.

The hiking was wonderful. I love the Catskills, it was autumn weather, and it wasn't crowded on the trails. 

See? AUTUMN

This was billed as a "scramble over some rocks." Yeah, no. Terrifying.

It was so pretty up there, we got carried away and ended up hiking/walking over 12 miles that first day, although some of those steps happened because we decided to take the scenic route back to the hotel after our sad excuse for a fancy dinner and we got lost. Like, really lost. Like, walking by a graveyard in the dark and not knowing where we were, LOST. 

I blame Larry. I wasn't interested in the scenic route after sundown, myself.

Let me point out that this was the first time Larry and I have gone on a trip by ourselves in, oh, 29 YEARS. When we mentioned this to our offspring, I could sense each of them thinking, Yeah, I'm never having kids. All in all, it was very novel to go on a trip and not be worrying about keeping even one child or adolescent happy. Relaxing, even. I could definitely get used to it. 

But I'm choosing the food next time, for sure.