Thursday, July 26, 2018

Humble Pie For Breakfast - Yum!

I'm still here!, this summer is flying by. And we spent a couple of days this week getting ready for Theo's girlfriend to arrive. We hadn't met her yet, you see, and didn't want to make a bad impression by letting her see our usual slovenly ways. So we cleaned, and I bought fresh sheets for the guest bedroom, and we got rid of a few more things from our always-overflowing laundry room.

Remember the Great Basement Remodel of Winter 2017? You know, when Larry did his thing and tore out all the walls AND the floor and insulated all the walls (AND the floor) and we redid the bathroom so we no longer had to look at wallpaper from 1983 and avocado-green linoleum flooring from 1969?

Yeah, THAT remodel. Anyway, we must have inhaled too much drywall dust which went straight to our brains, because during that remodel we decided we didn't need to have a door to the utility/laundry room. You know, the room that holds not only our washer/dryer and second refrigerator and spare pantry items, but also everything that one would normally stick into a suburban garage (of which we have none) or workshop (ditto)?

That's a lot of stuff. But, no, we said; we wouldn't need a door because now everything was so beautifully organized and all the camping stuff would be in our under-the-stairs cubbyhole that our handyman carved out and we would never, ever let the laundry room situation get out of control again.

You know, you've got to admire how Larry and I, both at least half-a-century old, have retained our childlike naivete and optimism. It's cute, isn't it? Misguided, judging from the looks of our laundry room today, but still...cute.

DO NOT ask why there is a Christmas
ribbon wreath hanging on the bicycle.
So, yeah, that was an extremely bad decision. But that isn't even why I've gathered you all here today. Rather, the reason we are here is to discuss my lovely, long-longed-for French-door refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom. Remember? I got it in November of 2016. In fact, I ordered it a few days before the presidential election and it arrived a few days after, and why I find that fact important, I am not sure.

Maybe because that refrigerator never quite worked right. I expected a fine-tuned, smoothly operating appliance and what I got was, well, a little different. Still, I ignored the problems. I thought, maybe all fridges are like this. Maybe everyone nowadays avoids putting items with high water content (like ALL PRODUCE and any eggs) anywhere near the back third of their refrigerator. Hey, I could live with that. I still had my lovely French doors and my beautiful pull-out freezer. AND an automatic ice maker! Life was good.

But things got colder. Even when I set the fridge temp as high as it could go, I couldn't use the back third of my fridge for anything but confectioner's sugar or other baking items. And produce on the top shelf (even in the front) started freezing, too. It had gotten to the point where I was lecturing family members on the exact placement of foodstuffs in the fridge, which really is not conducive to pleasant relationships, I must say.

So I was complaining about this sorry state of affairs to a neighbor who said, "Why don't you call and get it fixed? You have a protection plan." People, this struck me as novel an idea as that one about getting your car professionally cleaned every year. Seriously, I do not know what is wrong with my brain, that I don't think of these things myself. So I searched through my emails and managed to find my order confirmation number and the phone number to call...

And let's just pause and acknowledge that this was a minor miracle in and of itself, okay?

And I called and they set up an appointment! "Ma'am, your repairman will be there between 8 and 12," they said. And I thought, Good - Theo and his girlfriend will be out doing tourist things by 9 or so - this won't disrupt anything.

Remember that childlike optimism we were talking about? I've got it in spades, apparently.

The repairman called at 7:30 this morning to announce his arrival. He came in while Theo and his girlfriend were still drinking their coffee and ordered me to empty the entire refrigerator in front of them. Then he pulled out all the glass shelves -- which I hadn't cleaned in, oh, quite a while -- and plopped them on the floor.

Shelves and food and humiliation, oh my!

But, wait - there's more!

Now, any long-time readers of this blog are aware of my refrigerator cleaning issues. They know about my salsa problem, they have read about the condiment overload troubles, they appreciate that I will never cook that zucchini in the bottom drawer before it rots. And, dare I say? You all have been downright supportive about it. At least, you've followed the dictum of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." No nasty comments, no boasting about your own spotless appliances...seriously, I've been uplifted and encouraged by everyone's empathy/considerate silence over the years.

And now here I was, in my own kitchen, facing an obvious sadist intent on exposing my shame to the very first serious girlfriend that Theo has brought home to meet the family. I vacuumed the interior and scrubbed glass shelves and threw out bags of liquified asparagus (I wish I were joking, but no) under not only the watchful eye of the heartless repairman but also the (probably horrified) eye of a potential future member of our family.

So I am here to tell you that yes, you CAN survive abject humiliation. It just isn't much fun, is all. But if you're really lucky? You end up with a very clean refrigerator as a consolation prize.

Any bets on how long it stays this way?

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Isn't Summer Supposed To Be Lazy?

I've been busy cooking. There are a lot of people here, and they all want to eat. Dinner last night:

We've been going through a watermelon a day here, almost. A couple of heads of lettuce. Potato salad by the bucket. It's crazy. But in 3 weeks we go to the beach and I can get a break. Until then? I'll keep cranking out the food.

I've also been doing things. Larry and I met with friends Thursday evening to see a live taping of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. We do this every year, only - whoops - not last year or the year before, so actually it was THREE YEARS AGO that we saw them and it doesn't seem like it. Seems like, oh, I don't know, a few months? Time is weird. And it gets weirder as you get older.

Actually, I guess that's all I've done. Aside from cooking - did I mention that?

Susie has turned into Miss Entrepreneur this summer. Last I checked, she was cat sitting for one neighbor, hauling trash/recycling cans for another neighbor, and watering flowers for yet another neighbor on vacation. That's in addition to two other lengthy watering jobs she had this summer. She's rolling in cash. She's also very friendly, so other people with kids tend to take her places - historical sites, water parks, you name it.

So, yeah, not a lot of parenting being done by moi this summer - aside from that cooking thing, I mean. I did mention that, right?

I have been knitting, of course. Goes without saying...

Oh! And, for the first time ever, I had the inside of my car professionally cleaned. You see, I'd been wondering why Theo's 2008 CRV always had a new-car smell to it, so I asked him and he said, "Oh, I have it cleaned once a year."

Cleaned once a year...

People, it's as though the proverbial light bulb switched on over my head. Cleaned once a year - who woulda thunk it?

It's not as if I hadn't considered getting my car cleaned before. But it seemed like a big-deal, once-in-a-blue-moon sort of thing that would be difficult to do. Here was Theo, though, acting as though it was really simple, like filling up the gas tank or something.

Really, I can find no explanation as to why this surprised me. In my defense, we used to have absolutely no extra money to spend on things like that. And often our car was so filled with car seats and other junk that cleaning it out (prior to taking it to be cleaned) was sort of overwhelming.

But those days are long gone, thank goodness, and Lord knows my car desperately needed something done to it. It didn't help that Larry, on his way out the other day, opened up my back hatch and all the windows to air it out and didn't tell me.

Yes, it rained. Of course it did.

That was pretty much the last straw. I mean, it was either pay to clean the darn thing or else drive it over a cliff. Since I don't like heights, I brought my car in for the $40 car wash/interior clean special at the place down the road. $40! Who could beat that?

No one. No one could beat that, or even meet it, if the truth be known. I ended up spending $250. (Hey, spread out over 9 years, that's just, uh, let's see here...$27.80 a year - I can live with that.) They shampooed all the carpets and the mats, shampooed the seats and the interiors of the doors, blew the little bits of gunk from all the crevices, fixed my headlights so they weren't clouded over, shined everything up...

Dumb warning on a bag of flour. You're welcome.

Here's the part where I show you a picture of the finished product, right? Only, I forgot to take one. And it's raining right now, so I'll just have to leave it to your imagination. Trust me, it was worth every penny. I sit a little taller when I drive right now, secure in the knowledge that my chariot/minivan simply gleams. And, yes, the no-food rule HAS been reinstated. We'll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Okay, I tried a spiffy-looking recipe from the Internet that claimed it was easy and tasted great, and guess what? IT WORKED.

This turned into something amazing.

I'm shocked. I mean, considering all my failures over the years (the Crockpot Orange Chicken Fiasco leaps to mind), I really didn't expect this to work out. But now that it has, I feel as though a whole new life's begun for me. Fancy food! One pot! Everyone happy!

Oh, and icing on the cake - I left right after dinner to take Rachel to Civil Air Patrol. I drove all the way there and all the way back, and then I marched myself into the kitchen, thinking: Okay, just do the dishes right away and then you can play with your yarn this evening.

Reader, are you sitting down? THE SINK WAS EMPTY.

I know! It's as though I walked into the wrong house. Turns out Theo (of the mad grill skillz) was the perpetrator of this good deed. Oldest children, you know - so darn responsible. Now if only it would rub off on the younger ones...

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In Which I Get The Short End Of The Stick

Can you take it? Can you take one more post where I kvell over having my grown kids home for a bit? I sound like a broken record, I know.

I don't think any of my kids would understand the phrase "broken record," actually.

Oh, nothing, just the Middle Eastern dinner Theo cooked for us last week...

More peach cobbler happened this week (hey, peaches were 69 cents a pound at Harris Teeter, you know) and there was a neighborhood BBQ today which I was somehow in charge of. Usually this isn't too bad a job, because Larry mans the grill and buys the beer and sets up the tables and generally does all the heavy lifting.

EXCEPT Larry had to take Brian to his college orientation day today.

So, yeah, that was bad timing. Luckily, Larry was here long enough to buy beer and ice and dig the folding tables out of our mess of a laundry room. Then he and Brian hit the open road and left me holding the bag, as it were.

No, no, I'm not bitter - why do you ask?

Happily, Theo stepped in for grill duty and lugging coolers full of ice and such things. He also chatted with neighbors about his adventures overseas like an honest-to-God grownup, because that is what he is now and have I mentioned how proud I am of him? Oh, yes, yes I am.

In the meantime, Susie and Rachel sliced watermelon, taped tablecloths to the outside tables, AND helped me clean up our house because the whole time it looked as if it were going to rain and hey, guess whose house was the back-up indoor location, eh?

In related news, I can't even sleep in my own bed tonight, because we put so many things on there in our effort to make the main floor presentable. It's the townhouse method for getting the house ready for company, you know - just throw everything upstairs somewhere.

Well, it's the townhouse method for slobs, anyway. Hey, I'll admit it. I'm not proud.

It rained lightly, but not enough to make people take refuge inside. So, for the price of a few hours in the humid, bug-laden outdoors, I have a somewhat clean house (aside from my bedroom), a ton of leftover grilled chicken (thanks, Theo!), some great coleslaw that people apparently didn't appreciate, and enough soda to drink my way to diabetes.

I guess I'll call that a win. But I still didn't appreciate Larry texting, "We're here!" and sending a photo of him and Brian in their spiffy on-campus hotel room this evening. It looked very air-conditioned and clean and as though it didn't stink at all of bug spray and lighter fluid.

Must be nice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Don't Bother Reading This, It's Pretty Boring

I'm still here, just a tad overwhelmed with returning (grown) children and cooking and unrelenting heat, is all.  Theo and Brian both returned from the Mideast yesterday, bearing gifts and tales of foreign travel. It's been utterly delightful to have most of the kids under one roof. Anna does have to return to her internship in Israel this Friday, but Theo is hanging around a bit more before he jets off again.

Having a hard time keeping track? Me, too.

Theo cooked this Tunisian dish for us tonight, which met with accolades all around (unlike when I prepare a new recipe, but I'll try to get past that); and he offered to prep and grill these ground-beef kebabs tomorrow or Thursday. Essentially, we're hosting a self-taught Mediterranean chef and I don't mind one bit.

He also drove Rachel's friend home this afternoon, while I took a short nap. People, after 26 years of child rearing, I've earned this. In fact, I'm reveling in it. Anna's been helping with some of the driving, also, and I just don't know what I'll do when they both leave again. Maintaining the house and cooking (because, yes, I've been cooking, too, you know) is so much easier when I'm not constantly running out to pick someone up or drop someone off.

Do you see the happy face? Things must be just peachy!

There's been a lot of peach activity around here lately, as evidenced by the above photo, taken by Susie. I'll leave you with a picture of the peach cobbler (made by myself and Anna and Rachel - team effort), because I happen to have that handy and I'm too lazy to get up and take a picture of the peach jam I made on Saturday. Or Sunday. I don't know - it's all a peach-y blur, at this point.

Good-night, all!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Sloth And Industry - All In One Post!

I spent the first part of this week doing my best Florence Nightingale imitation for poor ailing Larry. But now he's on the mend (even went to work today!), so I can go back to my life of indolence and blogging.

Good thing, too - I never was too skilled with the nursing care.

We did literally nothing for the Fourth. We didn't even try. Larry was still napping, and Rachel spent the day with her Civil Air Patrol unit helping to park cars at some all-day event, and I'm not a big fan of fireworks anyway. I mean, I don't mind fireworks; but the humidity yesterday evening was somewhere around 2000%, so the idea of sitting outside in the buggy grass for 2 hours, swatting at mosquitoes and trying to breathe, was somewhat less than appealing.

Okay, maybe I do mind fireworks. Whatever.

So I met up with knitting friends in the morning, and then I came home and sat around and ate lemon bars that Anna had baked for a BBQ she was going to.

Anna's home, remember? And we're thrilled to see her, as she's been overseas since September. But she overheard me saying to Larry yesterday, "Maybe I'll make the chicken shwarma on Tuesday, when the boys come home" and she said, "Oh, are those the children you cook for?"

Touché. What with Larry being sick and it being 95,000 degrees out and hey, there's watermelon in the house...What with all that, not much cooking is happening around here. Like, none. Aside from Anna's lemon bars, of course.

Have I mentioned the humidity? Yes? Okay, then.

Anyway, today was no longer a holiday, so I washed sheets and vacuumed the floors and cleaned up the kitchen. I mean, REALLY cleaned up the kitchen, because it was gross. I Magic Eraser-ed the heck out of that place. And then, because I was on a roll, I scrubbed the toaster. Once every 9 years, whether it needs it or not...

This is the same toaster that spoiled my children, by the way.

Don't worry, I still had plenty of time to goof off and knit. For some reason, I decided lace weight yarn is a great thing to work with in hot weather and I started in on this shawl. But I was ignoring what I already knew, deep in my sensible knitter's heart: lace weight yarn is NEVER a great thing to work with. Not unless you want to go blind trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

I am knitting with THREAD

Yet, I persevere. At least until next week, when Theo and Brian return from the Middle East and I really do have to start cooking. (Sorry, Anna.)

Sunday, July 01, 2018


What did I tell you? I knew what I was doing when I made sure not to kiss Larry hello when he returned from his trip on Thursday. I KNEW. Not 12 hours later that man was lying sick in bed. He spent all day lying down Saturday, too, drinking fluids and pretending he was going to be fine. This morning, noticing that he couldn't take a full breath in, I took him to Urgent Care.

In 27 years, I've never had to do that. Mostly because Larry's a guy, and what guy needs a doctor when there's duct tape and Motrin available? So, yeah, you can imagine how alarmed I felt when he willingly went along with my Urgent Care plan.

The doctor said Larry had a lower respiratory infection, but that his lungs sounded fine. (Right, that made no sense to me, either.) She gave him antibiotics in case it was bacterial and sent us on our merry way. He once again spent the day propped up in a living room chair, dozing and drinking fluids. Needless to say, I've been sleeping in Brian's room since Friday. Good thing that kid is still gallivanting around the Middle East, right?

Anna flew home from Israel on Friday, however, for a two-week visit. Luckily, she's ensconced in the basement guest room, far away from whatever foreign germs Larry is generously spreading throughout our house.

Bought three of these today...

To add to the excitement, Rachel returned from her week of Civil Air Patrol Encampment today. She left her voice somewhere 3 hours south of here, apparently. According to her, she had a great time making other Civil Air Patrol cadets march around in 90-degree heat every day. If you're as puzzled by this as we are, it pays to remember that she's always been a little odd. Loveable, of course, but, uh, different....

Oh, and Uncle Matt and his girlfriend drove down to visit us today. They were smart enough not to enter the house and took me and the 3 girls out for dinner instead. While Larry slept. It's his new hobby.

It's been sort of hectic, is what I'm trying to say here. All this activity is rather a shock after the halcyon days of last week. Those days already seem like a long ago dream. But I still managed to duck out for an hour of social knitting today (I do have my priorities, you know); I just had to promise to bring my ailing spouse a milkshake upon my return.

I drank a little of it first, though. Carrying charges...