Sunday, October 29, 2017

Anything-But-Lazy Sunday

Today was Sunday, and instead of having fun hanging out with my knitting friends, I spent the afternoon in the basement with Larry, trying to finish up the Great Clean-Out of 2017 before his sisters visit and before I totally lose my shit about all the crap we have accumulated.

That was only one sentence, but I'm tired. New paragraph!

So, yes, Larry and I stood down there and discussed what to do with boxes of books (GET THEM OUT) and Whiffleball bats and soccer cones and DVD's; I rifled through my oldest's "Collect All The State Quarters" book, removed the coins, and threw the pages out (sorry, Theo!); I dumped old binders and file folders relentlessly in the giveaway bin. We hauled some bookshelves and cabinets over to a neighbor's house (that was emotional for me - we bought those faithful HUSAR cabinets at IKEA 20 years ago and they've served our family well).

Looks almost as good as my cleared-out family room

In the middle of all this, I managed to bake up a batch of the no-knead bread I've raved about in posts past. Seriously, eating slabs of that slathered with butter was the only bright spot in the day. Well, that and standing in the almost-cleared basement around 4 PM and realizing with relief that I could actually bear being down there.

Recalcitrant cowl
My stupid cold is still here, today in the shape of a sore throat that just won't quit. My new knitting project refused to cooperate with me this morning and is lying in a confusing heap on the sofa. We have Halloween bearing down on us in only two days and I FORGOT TO BUY A PUMPKIN. My neighbor has informed me that the stores are all out of them. 

I haven't told Susie yet.

AND I have a high school senior. Yes, that's right, Brian has a college application due in a couple of days. Even for me, the polar opposite of a helicopter parent, this is stressful. The thought of having a disgruntled high school graduate stuck at home next year because we somehow messed up these applications? Well, it gives me nightmares, to tell you the truth. And not just because I've got plans to commandeer his bedroom closet for yarn storage purposes...

Friday, October 27, 2017

Loaves And Dishes

I rallied yesterday from my cold and managed to take Susie skating, drive a client to the SLOWEST EYE DOCTOR OF ALL TIME (I mean, seriously? 1 1/2 hours?), and also go to a challah-baking fest at a local Jewish center (I mean, where else? The Mormon Temple?).

The challah thing was my friend's idea; we even managed to crash the gate, because she thought she had signed us up but we weren't on the list and then they said, "Oh, just grab a seat, it doesn't matter!" The whole thing was particularly awesome because I'm rarely at a public event where easily half the women are the same height as me. Jewish genes, you know...SHORT Jewish genes.

So we made challah. My friend was appalled that I just plowed ahead without following directions, but hey - I'm a bread baker from way back. The results weren't bad, either:

Baked at 10:30 PM, when I got home

And then my cold came back with a vengeance and I woke up miserable this morning and swore I wouldn't do ANYTHING for ANYONE and wouldn't go ANYWHERE all day. But I saw Brian wearing his Best Buy shirt and drove him to work. And the tree guy called and asked me to trek over to a different part of the neighborhood to see if the utility guys had marked where he was planning to grind stumps. And now I'm looking around the house and thinking, "Hmmm, there are a few things to be done here."

As I said, I'm not good at relaxing...

But enough about me, let's talk about my walkout basement - remember? The one Larry (and our amazing handyman) gutted, insulated, refloored, and painted earlier this year? After the Great Insulation Extravaganza down there, we sort of ran out of steam (and money) and never really set up the family room. There were still boxes full of stuff and extra bookcases floating around and then tubs of belongings from our 2 oldest kids who were here over the summer. If you wanted to watch TV, you had to climb over the stuff and perch on the couch, which situation felt like you were streaming Netflix inside a storage unit. Cozy!

It was a mess, really. A godawful MESS. It looked nothing like the picture I took right after the renovation, before we managed to junk it up again. And what made it worse was that, underneath it all? There were shiny new hardwood floors. And freshly insulated, freshly painted walls all around. But we couldn't enjoy it.

Whelp, Larry fixed all that - while I was gone this past weekend, he emptied gazillion boxes (and hello? Why was he saving papers from 2010? Our shredder is DEAD) and got rid of some books and moved some furniture and WOW. Life is good again. I mean, we still have an entire Harry Potter closet devoted to holding grown children's belongings, and camping items do continue to leap out at me when I open the guestroom closet, but I can live with that.

We still can't agree on rugs, though.

Anyway, our house apparently sensed that we were starting to feel happy and organized and it mobilized in its usual way: mutiny. This is what is showing up under my dishwasher lately:

Photo carefully cropped so you don't have to see too much
of my dirty kitchen floor - you're welcome

Anyone have any idea what's going on here? And, yes, RobinH, I'm looking at you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sick Bay

I've been fighting off a cold since Thursday evening and was pretty proud of myself for getting through the Rhinebeck weekend moderately healthy. Susie texted me on Saturday, saying she was sick, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had gotten away before whatever virus was stalking my house could lay me low. Good planning, right?

Anywhoo, that darn virus lay in wait and finally got me. Despite my sucking on Zicam tablets for 5 days straight and eating healthy and exercising, it got me. My throat hurts, I'm sneezing, I'm pissed off because I hate being sick. Also, I HAVE THINGS TO DO other than lie around and whine.

Sick day activities
All those things will have to wait, alas. In the meantime, I'm trying to be sensible by using this down time to knit and read and generally relax.

I'm not good at relaxing, actually.

So I also vacuumed and put the finishing touches on Brian's high school transcript and made matzo balls for the chicken broth I serendipitously had hanging around. Then I went out to Knit Night because I was tired of being cooped up in the house.

As you can see from the picture, I'm trying to read some intelligent material. I figure I might still have a chance to salvage any brain cells of mine that haven't already been killed off by Facebook and Twitter. In fact I'm more than halfway through my book, and it is chock full of big words and complex concepts. And that magazine actually has paragraphs that run longer than 3 sentences!

But you know what? I still prefer Twitter, because it's funnier. Humor IS the best medicine, you know...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Never Never Land

I disappeared for a while there - Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool happened this past weekend and I didn't want to miss the fun. I managed to spend all day Saturday there, and meet up with friends, and mingle with, I don't know, a few thousand knitters - so yeah, that was what I would call a good day. And I wasn't even succumbing to the temptation to buy yarn until, well, I came across this:

Stonehedge Fiber's Crazy Yarn -
No 2 skeins alike!
Trade with your friends!

I grabbed only 6 skeins, which believe me shows a remarkable level of restraint. I also bought a lucet (yeah, until Saturday, I had never heard of it, either), an excellent fresh-baked pretzel, and - for some reason - a set of leather handles that are supposed to go on a large hand-knit felted bag that I have not created yet. A bag, in fact, that I was not even planning to create until I saw those handles...

I didn't buy this. But I wanted to.

Rhinebeck's weird that way - you end up buying things you suddenly HAVE to use. It's weird in other ways, too:

Now there's something you don't see every day

I drove to NJ next, to visit a friend's church. You see, I grew up with her and now she is an honest-to-God (pun fully intended) Presbyterian minister, which career neither of us - as young girls spending our summer days listening to Peter Frampton and Rod Stewart - would have predicted in a thousand years. Anyway, she's been ministering for a decade, yet I had never managed to see her in the pulpit until this past Sunday.  Life always got in the way.

Her parents drove with me to the church, where we seated ourselves in one of the front pews. Let me say here that I went there fully prepared to act like the 54-year-old adult that I am. But here's the problem: my friend and I haven't spent much time together as adults. So, as soon as we do see each other, some weird sort of age regression happens.

For example, when my mother passed away 7 years ago, my friend showed up at the house and paid a shiva call. She was dressed in her clerical garb and everything, so she looked very official and grown-up. I was dressed as the grieving daughter and also presented a passable imitation of a grown-up.

"So!" she said, after she expressed her condolences. "Did you ever figure out how your mom made her tunafish salad, or did she take that secret to the grave?" And there we were, 2 girls again, giggling our heads off and trying to hide it. I mean, I don't even know why that struck us as funny. You had to be there, as we used to say to each other, way back in the 1970s.

In retrospect, however, I thank God she couldn't make it to the graveside service. I mean, imagine...

So last Sunday there I was, in the front pew, looking forward to the service, when the processional began. And as my friend walked past our pew on her way to the pulpit, it occurred to me (and I think to her, also, simultaneously) that if we should make eye contact AT ALL during that service...well, let's just say that would result in a respectability problem. A solemnity problem. It didn't help that her parents were both there, sitting right next to me - obviously, their presence would only serve to amplify the age-regression syndrome.

I did the only thing I could do - I fastened my eyes on the hymnal and didn't dare look up. If I even thought about inadvertently catching my friend's eye, I felt giggles rising from wherever they start and fighting to reach the surface. Because, apparently, I haven't matured past the age of 12.

Although I do think I'm past the Rod Stewart phase, at least...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Now With A Soundtrack!

So, due to a disconcerting comment on the last post (thanks, Kayla!), I decided it would be wise to change my blog template. I like this new one, but I HATE the sidebar being on the left. I keep trying to get used to it, but I can't. What do you think? Am I the only one who cares? Probably. I mean, most of you are probably reading this on your phones and never even see the sidebar anyway, right?

Wasting time on very trivial matters since at least 2007 - that's me!

Larry came home Saturday, which meant I had to hurry up and finish my project of cleaning out our bedroom of all the junk that has piled up there. Turns out you can be married to someone for a very long time (26 years, say) before you realize they are completely incapable of throwing out old papers and checkbooks. I'm not saying there was too much stuff to take care of, but I did manage to overheat our shredder. Several times.

Oozing cranberries give it a
sort of crime scene vibe,
don't you think?
I made spaghetti and (Costco) meatballs for dinner the evening Larry came home, along with our traditional cranberry upside-down cake for his belated birthday celebration (and no, I'm still not entirely sure he even likes it). As we were all sitting at the table, enjoying our food and conversation, I noticed something.

"Hey," I asked my recently returned beloved, "have you ALWAYS cut up your spaghetti like that?"

Larry looked startled. "Um," he said. "I hadn't really thought about it. I guess so?"

26 years, people - and I had no idea. I'm sure we will find a way to hold our marriage together despite our pasta-eating differences, but this discovery was a shock, I'll tell you that. Strangers, that's what we are - utter strangers.

Anywhoo, he SAYS he likes the new slipcovers. I'll never really know, because we've already paid for them and used them, so Larry would never let on if he didn't like them. Sort of like the cake, you know? I'm seeing a pattern here.

And, yes, opposites DO attract. I, for one, never hesitate to give my opinion on something.

In case you were wondering just what
5 lbs of potato chips looks like
In other news, I bought over 5 lbs of potato chips today, because I have absolutely no self-control whatsoever. In my defense, however, be it known that the potato chip factory was selling 3 lbs of the BBQ variety for the price of only 24 oz. Who in their right mind would pass up a deal like that, I ask you?

Not me, apparently.

I had been meaning to visit this potato chip factory for a while. Larry and I last dropped by with the kids several years ago, and at that point they mentioned they were moving further south to a new, larger plant. We agreed that that would be something to see and put it on our mental list of Things To Do Some Day Soon. So today I said to the girl behind the counter, "The last time I visited, it was at the old place, right before you moved. When was that? 5, 6 years ago?"

"When we moved?" she asked. "Oh, that was 2008."

9 years, people. NINE YEARS.

Moral of the story: Someday never comes...or, at best, it takes almost a decade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Like HGTV, Only Not

Okay, so this week Susie and I dared to go where no man has gone before: 2 different IKEAs, 2 days in a row. It's like Extreme Sports, but with made-up Swedish words.

The BEFORE picture
We had to. You see, for years our family has been living with old Ektorp slipcovers that, frankly, have seen better days. Oh, a couple of years ago I did try to replace them, but that attempt was doomed to failure. So we soldiered on with the orange-red corduroy slipcovers from 2007 on our couch and 2 armchairs AND ottoman, trying to pretend that we liked things that way.

Something pushed me over the edge, though - maybe it was trying to resuscitate those things to look decent when I hosted Bunko last week. Or maybe it was last Sunday, when the friend I hadn't seen in years was coming over and would have to sit herself down on these bedraggled remnants of our once-proud sofa covers. I don't know.

However it came about, Susie and I betook ourselves in search of replacements. We settled - after prolonged discussion - on the Nordvalla dark gray, even though I worried it wouldn't be dark enough to contrast with my beloved Lenox Tan walls. We came home, however, with only one armchair cover and a couch cover, because some things were out of stock, or we couldn't find them, or whatever.

Because IKEA.

Brian put the new armchair cover on and pronounced it satisfactory. This was after he had valiantly taped the backrest pillow back together, as it sort of fell apart when he took it out of the old cover. These chairs, they are ANCIENT. He was about to do the couch, also, when he noticed the picture on the box. It was the cover for the loveseat, instead of the 3-seater. Because, of course Susie and I had grabbed the wrong box, despite having spent 20 minutes looking for the right aisle and the right bin and the right color.

Because IKEA.

So Susie and I went to ANOTHER IKEA the next day, after checking to make sure what we wanted was in stock. We swept in there like Special Forces troops on a mission, made a beeline for Aisle 25, and hit the jackpot: a sofa cover, another armchair cover, AND an ottoman cover. Then Susie made me search in the Marketplace for Fjadrar cushions and their accompanying spiffy designer cases, so our living room "would look nice, like other people's."


We also went through the whole stupid showroom again, checking out bookcases and sofas and what not, because IKEA.

Long story short (too late, I know), MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Look! Just like other people!

I get a little choked up, just looking at it. Also, the more eagle-eyed (or just plain bored) among you may have noticed that tiny camel sitting on the speaker to the right of the couch. Yes, my house is STILL camel-infested. In case you were wondering...

Monday, October 09, 2017

Autumn Can Wait

It's been a warm-ish fall here. Naturally, all last week the kids were subject to my repeated chant, "We will NOT turn on the AC in October." I mean, this is just ridiculous - fallen leaves are covering the sidewalks, yards are dotted with scarecrows and pumpkins, store shelves are laden with bags full of candy. This is not the time for AC - it's the time for digging out last year's sweaters and checking to see if we still own socks and wondering where the heavy down comforters are.

Someone forgot to notify Mother Nature, though, and it's been hot and yes, even a little humid. Nothing we couldn't handle, though. Certainly not enough to break down and turn on that AC. Because we do not use the AC in October.

And then, Sunday happened. It kept trying to rain, but didn't really. Temps weren't even that high - mid-70's, maybe? I ran around the house like a maniac in the morning, because a friend from out of town was planning to drop by around 9:30. Considering that most Sunday mornings I lie around for 2 hours and try to decide if I'm going to yoga class, I was pretty darn impressed with all I had accomplished: showering, neatening the house, vacuuming, laying out some nice food to nosh on:

Martha Stewart wishes she were me

But by 9:00, I was dripping sweat. I stepped outside for a few minutes to look for something in the backyard and noted it was, well, a little steamy. I stepped back inside and noted same.

Wait, did I say a little steamy? People, it was humid. Not garden-variety humid, but STANDING AT THE GATES OF HELL humid. And, unlike the dearly departed Tom Petty, when I am standing at the gates of Hell?

I back down.

"Close the windows!" I yelled to whichever children were in earshot. "It's time for AC!" I swear, it was like preparing for a submarine dive. All over the house I could hear my suffering crew springing into action, slamming down one window sash and running to the next one. AOOGHA! AOOGHA!

Those hatches were battened down in about 2 minutes flat, folks. My kids are well trained. Also? They were hot. Pleased with their teamwork, I flipped the blessed switch which would bring us life and we all collapsed on the couches and took deep gulps of dehumidified air. Gosh, I love modernity.

And yeah, Larry's been out of town. Otherwise, that AC would have been running a full 24 hours earlier. Because, unlike moi, he's not mired in ideological beliefs about what autumn should be like. That man's a realist, he is...

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


I thought I had updated this since Tuesday, but I guess not. I'M STILL ALIVE. I can eat now, too. So my old-person, proton-pump inhibitor drugs seem to be doing their job. Unfortunately, the drugs don't treat hypochondria, and I read that unexplained stomach pain/ulcers can sometimes be a sign of ovarian cancer, and I'm an Ashkenazi Jew, so...

I'm sure my doctor loves getting my semi-hysterical emails.

In other news, October is not starting well in general. That is not fair. October is for walking through crisp, dry leaves and drinking cider and eating all the Halloween candy too early. Instead, so far, we have mass murder, and the death of a beloved rock star, and the still-looming threat of nuclear war. It just doesn't seem right.

Also, apples - October is for cooking with apples.


A couple of weeks ago, I tried to convince Susie to take group guitar lessons with other kids her age. She insisted that she HATED guitar. To my knowledge, she has never even touched one. But she was adamant. "I'd like to play ukulele, though," she said.


"Lots of my friends have one," she added, when she saw the confusion on my face. Okay, then, I guess it's a thing. The guy at the music store confirmed my suspicions. "Oh, yeah, it's gotten really popular. Come Christmas, this whole wall will be covered with them," he said.

I hate it when I'm the last to know about a trend. Did any of you know that ukuleles are the musical instrument du jour?

So now Susie has a ukulele. She took a free lesson, but she didn't like it. "Too confusing," she said. So instead Susie is learning to play this thing from some old guy in Seattle via YouTube. That arrangement is saving me a heck of a lot of money, so I try not to worry that he's some wacko luring young ukulele players to their doom.

They just...appeared.
Wacko or not, he's apparently good at teaching. Susie can already play Rainbow Connection, Cecilia, and some other songs. But what's freaking me out is that, a few mornings ago, 2 plastic leis mysteriously appeared on the kitchen table. "Did you put those there?" I asked Larry.

"No," he said. "Where did they come from?"

So I asked each of the kids. NO ONE knows how they got there. I can only assume that the ukulele playing attracted them. As time goes on, grass skirts will appear in my closet. Pineapples will show up in the fridge.

It's weird how many Hawaiian stereotypes I have stuck in my brain, actually. I blame the ukulele.