Friday, December 31, 2021

Because COVID

New Year's Eve can be a sort of introspective time, but all I can think tonight is WTH were those last two years about? Was that even real

Susie's having some friends over for a sleepover, which was my counteroffer to her suggestion that I drive her to the high school homeschoolers' superspreader NYE party that is 45 minutes away. Larry and David are already asleep, as they have to get up at 3:30 to drive David to the airport. He was supposed to have left at 6 this evening, but there was a cancelled flight and all that. Because COVID.

Rockin' that interfaith vibe, as usual

All the kids were here for Christmas (David missed last year, because COVID). It was really nice, especially since everyone is old enough not to be crying all the time. (That's a low bar, I guess, but that's what having a bunch of kids will do to you.) We just sat around and traded presents and ate things and argued over whether the snickerdoodles tasted funny (they did - rancid flour). We're sort of a boring family, I guess.

This year I asked Larry (AGAIN) if he'd be willing to try an artificial tree so I wouldn't worry about the house burning down, and again he looked sad, so I said never mind, a real tree it is. 

But THEN I happened to score a 7.5-foot prelit artificial tree on our local Buy Nothing Group and set it up (all by myself, because it's EASY) and reassured Larry that if he didn't like it, we would go out and buy a real tree and give this one away.

Reader, the tree stayed. It makes me so happy, because I don't lie in bed envisioning its going up like a torch while we sleep. Also, we don't have to turn it this way and that to hide its bad side. And we don't have to string lights on it. It's awesome.

And free! Did I mention free?

The only thing we missed was that magical pine smell, so I ordered something called Scentsicles from Amazon. I was out when they arrived, so Susie followed the directions and hung all 6 on the tree. When - an hour later - I walked into the living room, it smelled as if a balsam bomb had detonated. Poor Larry was lying on the couch, looking somewhat dazed. "Get up!" I yelled, shaking him. "Get some air!" 

He threw open some windows while I focused on removing the skinny green scent bombs from the tree. I couldn't find them at first (skinny, and green) and had to throw on the KN95 mask I happened to have handy (because COVID) to continue searching. I found 3, which we sealed back up in their container and then in a Ziploc bag and threw outside, to be dealt with later (preferably by a professional in a hazmat suit).

It only helped a little, and it took the rest of the week to locate the remaining balsam bombs and dispose of them. Larry ended up buying a little wreath to put near the tree that would impart some (nonlethal) pine scent into the air.

Better than a Scentsicle, and YES the snowman is still there

Everyone but David was here for Chanukah, and Thanksgiving, too. It's all a blur. There were latkes and soofganyot (doughnuts) fried by Theo, and a guest at Thanksgiving (friend of Anna's) who was into Trivial Pursuit, so we were briefly a fun family that actually plays games when we gather. Miracles do happen. 

But the big news was earlier in November, when Larry and I welcomed our new bouncing baby camper van. Oh, yes, we did!

Small enough to fit in a townhouse parking space (and drive around town)

Big enough to camp in

I present to you Midlife Crisis (MC for short). Something about the past 2 years (hmmm, could it be...COVID?) brought home the fact that life is short and unpredictable and maybe we should get something like this now, instead of waiting until we were old and doddering or, uh, dead. It didn't help that while I was working the handicapped section of the vax centers earlier this year, I kept noting that the birth years of many of the people hobbling in with canes or walkers weren't all that far behind mine. I'm closing in on 60, people.

Absolutely no idea how that happened. 

So I won't get a remodeled kitchen (hey, the 1969 cabinets are old enough to qualify as chic vintage now, anyway), and there will be no new car (this will replace the 12-year-old minivan once it gives up the ghost). We thought long and hard before we ordered this thing earlier this year, but I was still shaking when I took delivery of it and drove it to our local garage for its inspection sticker. Should we have spent this much? Had we lost our COVID-addled minds?

The (habitually jaded) mechanics at the garage absolutely flipped out over this van. Every few minutes, another one would come up front and ask, "Is that yours? It's a camper?" The look in their eyes reminded me of the music critic who reviewed Bruce Springsteen back in the 70s by saying, "I have seen the future of rock and roll!" The jaded old guys at the desk went back to see it, too, and returned with the same look. So that was reassuring, I guess.

The kids still think we are crazy, though. But we don't care. Because COVID.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Kids These Days

"Oh, look!" I said to Susie, as I reached into the mailbox on our way into the house. "A postcard! What fun!"

"What's a postcard?" my formerly beloved youngest asked as she squinted at the rectangle of cardboard I was holding.

[She's gonna write a book someday: How To Make People Feel 100 Years Old in 5 Seconds Flat]

"It's, um, a picture you send in the mail! And you can write on the back, see?" I said, flipping this apparently archaic piece of correspondence over with my wizened 20th-century hand. "They're on vacation in Hawaii, and they're just saying hi!"

"But they can TEXT you a picture," Susie said, frowning in puzzlement. "Why didn't they just text you something?"

"Well, but this came from Hawaii, isn't that cool? Look at the postmark, it took nine whole days to get here! Gosh, I used to collect these..."

"Nine days? That's dumb - if they texted you a picture, it would get here in a minute. And it wouldn't cost anything," said Susie, shaking her head and proceeding through the door. "That doesn't make any sense."

Yeah, well, it USED to...

Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Calm After The Storm

 Uh, anyone still here? Let me just brush these cobwebs off my chair here...

Gratuitous picture of homemade hummus

When last we chatted, 3 months ago, my area was suffering the 17-year cicada plague, which  IN THEORY should now be just a dim memory that - like all trauma - will hopefully fade with time... 

But it's NOT. You see, although the cicadas went away, their nymphs hatched in July, which thankfully I mostly couldn't see -- well, except for the ones covering my car windows, ugh -- but still, they were all going to burrow underground and THEN it would be over, right?

Wrong. It seems that the abundance of cicada nymphs leads to an abundance of microscopic arachnids called oak mites, who feed on the nymphs and then (here's the fun part) feed on people. And when they bite you, you get a huge red circle around the bite, which itches for a week. Even Larry, who seems largely immune to mosquitoes, is walking around sporting multiple red spots and slathering himself in Benadryl gel and hydrocortisone cream. 

I know, I had most of you at "microscopic arachnids."

These creatures bite through clothing. They bite you on the neck. I am currently sporting a lovely bite on my face and praying it goes away before I actually land a job interview. These oak mites seem to be here until the first frost, which now occurs - thanks to climate change - sometime in November.

So, yay! Hot and humid DC summer, now with oak mites! Come for the monuments, stay for the pestilence!

But the big news here? The really big news?

Everyone moved out this summer. OUT. Except Susie of course, who is still the baby, but even she had the temerity to turn 16 and get a job (at Chik-Fil-A, complete with cow mask). 

Sigh. I'm not allowed to post a picture, but I want to.  Here, have a pic of our new collection, instead:

These seem to be piling up in our house now

Anna, who came home in June to get immunized, managed to land a job in DC, so now she is living the young DC professional life (which means sharing a townhouse with 3 other young and underpaid DC professionals). Rachel moved out in July to a nearby apartment and is working full time. Brian went back to college last week.

So I am actually typing this from AN EMPTY HOUSE. It feels marvelous. But weird. 

The best part about this almost-empty nest? Loading the dishwasher. Folks, I never realized how much of my mental space was occupied by dishwasher calculus. Think about it: I had to figure out what would fit, what I would wash by hand, WHO USED ALL THESE GLASSES, etc., once or twice a day for years. 

That doesn't sound like a big deal, right? And it was just second nature for me. But now? Why, I just toss whatever's in the sink in the dishwasher, pop in the detergent, and start that thing up, no thinking required! 

I feel so carefree. Is this how it is supposed to be? And nobody told me?

My container garden on the back deck has gone absolutely insane. I am deluged with basil. Usually, half the plants die by mid-July because of fungus or rot or some other botanical nemesis, so I bought extra plants this year.  EIGHTEEN, to be precise. I wasn't messing around.

Is this real life? Or is it just fantasy?

I've lost only 2, however, which means I've ended up with a freezer full of pesto. And there is still lots of basil on the deck waiting to be transformed into pesto. My kids (remember, they all moved out?) are sick of my trying to force jars of frozen pesto on them. I also have 3 plants full of hot peppers and cherry tomato plants that just won't quit. I have NEVER been this horticulturally successful. 

It's as though I've turned into an old lady overnight, with my cute little deck garden, cooking cute little dinners for just me and Larry (Susie makes her own, unless I make something vegetarian). I've even got a floppy sunhat (mostly to fend off oak mites, but still...). 

Quiche - I'm cooking quiche now. Weird, right?

Is this how it ends, all the craziness and all those years of kids and vomit and mice? With quiche and sunhats and me sitting on the couch in the afternoon, basking in the peace and quiet? It feels like the end of a wild carnival ride, where you suddenly slow to a stop and can stop gripping your partner in sheer terror. Oh, it's over? Wow, that was fast. But I'll take it.

I guess I need to change my tagline, though...

Sunday, May 30, 2021

No Escape

 A long time ago (17 YEARS AGO, in fact), our family lived for a year in Rhode Island, where Larry was pursuing a master's degree. It was a hard year, in general - I mean, picture it: we had 5 kids, ages 1-12, in tow and no support network, nothing. Just us in a 150-year-old house with no neighbors to speak of and a yard that my kids didn't seem to understand how to use, as there were no "other kids" in it. The toddler (that would have been Rachel) was at the age where the sight of books neatly lined up on shelves produced a compunction to REMOVE THEM ALL, so trips to the library or the bookstore were hardly relaxing. 

Oh, we made the best of it - we dragged them to every historical museum/display/site within a 2-hour radius (shout out to the New Bedford Visiting Center - best bathrooms ever!), took them to Mystic Seaport where the two oldest took (incredibly cheap) sailing lessons, and in general tried to make the most out of the opportunity of temporarily living in a different place. I made connections among the Navy spouses and homeschoolers in the town, so there were even a few social opportunities for the kids. And, of course, I managed to get all 5 kids to the beach a few days a week while the weather stayed nice.

Its being New England, though, the weather turned cold fairly early on. All the tourist places shut down. It was an abnormally frigid winter, with the thermometer repeatedly reading ZERO DEGREES when we checked it each morning. It started feeling like Groundhog's Day - the same thing, over and over and over. The kids were super, playing day after day with duct tape and craft sticks and tin foil and homemade playdoh, but it wasn't easy. I was terribly homesick for our friends, our neighborhood full of kids, my own house.

But then May 2004 rolled around. Spring arrived where we were, and at home? CICADAS. Masses of bug-eyed (naturally) creatures emerging from the ground and covering the trees, creating a sound so loud that my best friend couldn't hear me if she was on the phone outside. And for the first time during that long year in exile, I was grateful. Grateful I wasn't stuck in our house with several crying children who didn't like bugs. Grateful for the beautiful New England spring we were finally experiencing. And in no hurry whatsoever to return until all the bugs were gone, which they were by the time we got home, after mid-June.

I made a vow all those years ago. May 2021 would find me on a fun cross-country trip, visiting friends as I toured across anywhere in this great land of ours that wasn't covered in cicadas. Most of my kids would be fully grown by then and living elsewhere, so maybe I could even stay with some of them. As 2021 drew closer, I made a list of places to visit, friends to see. I was all set.

That is, until COVID shut the world down and turned me from an almost empty nester to having a full house again. Here I was in April 2021, in a world where out-of-town guests were not necessarily welcome, sitting in my most emphatically not-empty house, essentially trapped before the coming onslaught. TRAPPED.

In desperation, I booked a week at an Airbnb in Burlington, VT, for mid-May. It wasn't enough, but it was something. I looked up when the cicadas emerged last time and planned around that. Maybe, I thought, I'd miss the worst of it.

Burlington was beautiful and (mostly) bug free

Wouldn't you know it? The cicadas were late this year. They pretty much greeted Larry and Susie and I as we got out of our car - you know, when we came back from spending all that money to avoid them. And here I am, living with these damn bugs. Look, I know many people suffered worse losses as a result of COVID-19 - jobs, family members, friends - but dammit, COVID destroyed this 17-year-old plan of mine to escape the cicadas and I can't quite get over it.

The Saturday after we got back, Larry swept (I'm sorry, did I say swept? I meant SHOVELED) all the cicadas off our back patio. I looked out the back door on Sunday and saw this:

They just keep coming up out of the ground, ew

There are so very, very many of them. They seem to love the color blue:

Larry's in charge of recycling/trash for the foreseeable future

I've been fine with the sound, which surprises me. But as the shells and the dead cicadas decompose on the sidewalks and parking lot, they release the most sickening smell. I tried sweeping out our spots, so at least I wouldn't have to walk on them as I got into the car, but after 10 minutes I felt so sick I had to go inside.

I'm not having fun, is what I'm saying. The cicadas are now at the point where we can watch them swooping in and out among the tree canopy, for all the world like drunken spring break revelers, with some of them - seemingly inebriated by the excitement of it all - falling out of the trees onto the ground (if we're lucky) or sometimes onto our heads (OMG, EWWW).

There's such a thing as cicada pee. I wish I didn't know that.

So, yeah, I was going to tell you all about Mother's Day and the Burlington trip and Susie's birthday (she's 16, my baby's 16, I can't stand it), but I had to get all this off my chest first. I'm mostly spending my time rewatching Schitt's Creek and pretending the outdoors doesn't exist. And trying not to think about the destruction of a cherished 17-year-old dream...

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Mothers WEEKEND, Thank You Very Much

 Why stop at just one day, is what I'm saying...

(Accidental) Mother's Day tulips
Note the dish of strawberry candies on the table in the picture there. They automatically appear in your house once you're past a certain age. DESTINY, DESTINY, NO ESCAPING DESTINY...

I bought those tulips myself, I'll have you know. Whole Foods was having a good sale, so I grabbed these flowers, forgetting Mother's Day was coming and that Larry would be wanting to buy them for me. So I told the kids to just slap a "Happy Mother's Day" sign on the vase on Sunday and I'd be good.

Low maintenance, I am...


When Larry and I returned from a postprandial perambulation on Wednesday evening, I spotted this sign on the kitchen light switch:

Confusing, right? What's a "wasp lid," I wondered? And why is this sign on the light switch? And who in my house has that handwriting that I don't even recognize?

So many questions, which were only partly answered when I swung my gaze from the switch to the ceiling (you know, where the lights are) and saw this:

Here, have a closer look, I sure did:

Ooookay, so a wasp apparently flew into the inset light in the ceiling and Brian decided to trap it there. That boy can think on his feet, that's for sure. "Don't worry," he said. "I Googled it, and it takes them 2 days to die, so we can remove that on Saturday morning."

"Oh, but don't turn the light on," Brian added. "It might melt the Pyrex lid." The WASP LID. Suddenly, everything made sense. Sort of.

We endured a dark-ish kitchen for a few days until the great unveiling this morning, executed by Larry and Brian. "Well?" I asked when I went downstairs for breakfast and saw the light was back to normal. "Was it dead?"

"Uh, we don't know," said Larry. "It wasn't there."

So, yeah, no idea what happened to the wasp. It probably crawled into the ceiling and is plotting its revenge. Nice.


I referred to Brian as a "boy" up there, but he turned 21 last month and would probably not approve of that designation. Also, because he is against generating unneeded consumer waste, we were a little stymied as to how to celebrate his birthday (our usual style being a lot of wrapping paper and gift bags and silly cheap gifts). Susie turned to Pinterest and - working REALLY hard - generated decorations, wrapping, AND gifts out of mostly newspaper, paper bags, and glue.

The results? They were impressive:

Paper towel tube idea was mine, though

They're coasters, duh


Of course, we've left all those rosettes hanging there, because hey, they were A LOT of work and Mother's Day is coming and then Susie's birthday and now that we're all so ecofriendly, why not recycle/reuse them, right? Recently, though, Brian was looking more closely at one of the rosettes and said, "Susie, did you use the OBITUARIES?"

Reader, she did. Turns out, we've been sitting around our house with pictures of dead people dangling from the ceiling of our living room and hey, if any of you need an experienced decorator for shivas or wakes, just let us know, okay?

Friday, April 09, 2021

Of Cabbages And MURDER

 Well, hello! Long time, no see...or write...or whatever, so it's hard to know where to start. Let's begin with a picture of Cara Cara oranges, because why not?

For some reason, when you cut oranges this way, you CAN'T STOP EATING THEM. I'll put out a whole bowl of these on the counter and leave the kitchen and I'll come back later to find Brian with a plate of orange rinds, just polishing off the last piece. 

See all the exciting news you've been missing?

I signed up to volunteer at vax centers in our county, because I'm a wonderful person. Actually, no, I heard that sometimes they give vaccinations to the volunteers and I decided it was worth the gamble. Also, I'm receiving unemployment checks, so it makes sense to do something to earn them.

So the gamble paid off, with my being fully vaxed (Team Pfizer, whoot!), so that worked out. And - aside from the fact that at first I was signed up for 12-hour shifts, OMG - it has been fun to get out of the house and talk to people, even if it is just to say, "First or second dose? ID, please! Right this way..." over and over and over.

Also, I got a T-shirt, so there's that.

I had no reaction to either dose, which is good, I think? I had set aside an entire day to recuperate after my second dose, and I was sort of disappointed as it gradually dawned on me that morning that I could just go about with my regular Monday routine of vacuuming and cleaning out the fridge. Larry slept all day after his, so I guess we know now who's in superior health around here.

Let's see, oranges, vaccinations, what else has been happening? Oh, yes, it's spring, and if it's spring, there must be delicious marinated cabbage salad (which sounds anything BUT delicious, I admit, but trust me here):

I will put on my recipe blogger hat for a moment and share this recipe for Clairmont Salad, because it is just that good. The name comes from the name of a restaurant near to where I grew up, so I guess it was their specialty? I don't know. All I know is that when I mentioned to Larry the other day that I didn't know why the restaurant was called the Clairmont, he said, "Oh, could it be because the restaurant was near MONTCLAIR?" and I was all OMG, I never realized that. So, yeah, the restaurant was sort of named after its location, and the salad was named after the restaurant. An epiphany for me, if you will...

Clairmont Salad

3/4 C hot water

3/4 C vinegar

1/2 C oil

1/2 C sugar

1 T salt

1/2 t pepper

1 t garlic powder


Small head of cabbage, sliced thin-ish (don't overthink this, just slice it up)

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber (mini or regular), thinly sliced

Mix together first 7 ingredients. Pour over the sliced vegetables. Let sit several hours, stirring occasionally so all the veggies get to soak in the dressing. If you don't have one of the vegetables on hand, don't sweat it - this recipe is very flexible (I mean, except for the cabbage - you need the cabbage). For example, the version in the photo above lacks cucumbers, but it works!

Of course, we had Easter and Passover since I last wrote, which means an Easter/Passover charcuterie board, designed by Rachel:

This was a little short on Passover items this year, as we had already eaten all the macaroons by the time we thought to do the board, and matzoh doesn't really lend itself to this sort of presentation. Also, I know Thin Mints are not necessarily representative of spring or Easter and definitely not Passover, and neither are mini stroopwaffels, but we'll just chalk that up to artistic license.

The weather turned beautiful this past week, so Susie and I went for a hike at a national park about an hour away. Now, I had done this hike with a friend about 5 years ago, and I had a very clear memory of it as being a moderate, uphill hike that branched out toward an impressive overlook, with a view of the town and the rivers.

I got the impressive overlook part right. Someone must have come in and changed the rest, though, because what Susie and I encountered was a long uphill hike, followed by a lengthy downhill part that led to a rocky scramble that ended in the overlook. 

I won't lie - it was ridiculously hot for April, and I didn't want to hike uphill just to hike DOWN to get to the view, and so I was mostly whining, "It's not supposed to BE this way!" toward the end. Susie, intrepid hiker that she is, ran ahead and secured us an excellent picnic rock at the overlook that almost - ALMOST - made up for the trauma we had just endured (especially since we had remembered to pack both potato chips AND Cheez-Its for lunch).

Nice view, if you can reach it (excellent picnic rock in the foreground)

We were sitting and enjoying the view until a very large, very ugly bug came crawling by our feet, whereupon we leaped up, with Susie grabbing our backpack so the bug wouldn't crawl on it, at which point I saw another bug -- a large-ish ant thing -- come crawling out from where the backpack had been, headed straight toward the very large and ugly bug.

And then? The ant thing MURDERED the ugly bug as we quite literally gawked in horror.

Seriously, the ugly bug (again, literally) flipped over dead, and the ant bug (who was obviously some sort of entomological hit man) started dragging its victim's carcass away. Whereupon Susie yelled, "Ewww, I HATE nature!", thereby garnering some rather pointed stares from the other hikers on the overlook.

The hike down was easier and gave us time to try and process the grisly scene we had just witnessed. And by "process," I mean saying repeatedly that bugs are gross and what the hell was that assassin thing, anyway? Also, EWWWW.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Pandemic Pick-Me-Ups

I'm still here, just hit the pandemic wall sometime in late January and have been clawing my way back to a sense of purpose (and a sense of humor) ever since. My now ample collection of handmade socks helped, though. Each morning I'd put on that day's pair (I have a special rotation system set up) and admire them and think, "Yup, we can do this!" Mood lifters, they are...

Woolen version of serotonin

I decided to volunteer to help at vaccination clinics and therefore had to slog through a couple of deadly boring FEMA courses to qualify, so that kept me busy for a day or two, but I am still waiting to hear if/when they need my help. I'll be really annoyed if I endured those FEMA courses for nothing. I also started doing courses toward that Google Tech IT Professional Certificate, just to see if I could manage it, and OMG do you realize how bored I have been to even attempt such a thing? 

Susie probably has a better remedy for pandemic ennui, though, in that she's decided to bake something new every day. As you can imagine, this idea has been welcomed enthusiastically by other members of our household. Today was something called "Pumpkin Poppers":

Fluffy pumpkin donut holes, dusted with cinnamon - YUM

The previous project was a magnificent coffee cake we all ate ourselves sick on, it was so good. And sometime before that we had these orange-cranberry crisps to die for:

Crunchy, orange-zesty deliciousness

There were also banana muffins, twice, because Larry brought home too-ripe bananas. I baked those, because I'm no slouch and also because I really don't have much else to do. And Susie baked coconut-something cookies. And other stuff. Surprisingly, I am still able to button my jeans.

We've also suffered somewhat of a snack chip explosion, which I only realized when I had to empty out the snack bag shelf to reach my crockpot (I have vintage kitchen cabinets, so things are complicated like that).

This is just stupid. I can't explain it.

That bag of BoomChickAPop - or whatever the heck it is called - hails all the way from Christmas, because that is how I bribed Susie to agree to a family viewing of It's A Wonderful Life as a holiday togetherness thing. I tested all the pretzels (because what are a few more calories at this point?) and threw out the stale ones, so I guess that takes care of special housekeeping tasks this month. But this picture doesn't even include the box (BOX) of potato chips (assorted varieties) that we ordered from a semi-local business, because we're loyal customers like that:

*chef's kiss* to the barbeque flavor

So, yeah, our major pandemic activity seems to be eating. I've given up, I have. We're still cranking out the nutritious meals, too, although it's less fun without Anna here. I know, she's been gone almost 2 months, so I need to adjust. It's just taking a while.

Setup for Thai curry - broccoli! peppers! onions! Healthy!

Valentine's Day happened, with a big ice storm the day before. Luckily, I had already bought a card and a silly gift, but I could feel Larry panicking all day Saturday, as the ice came down and everything outside solidified into one slippery mass. 

I'll admit to feeling quite smug, especially after he went to bed and I set out my offerings in front of his coffee pot, where he would be sure to see them first thing in the morning. I won this, I thought, as I gazed with satisfaction out our front window at the ice-glazed sidewalks and parking lot.

The smugness lasted until the next morning, when I was woken up early (along with the rest of the neighbors, I'm sure) by the sound of Larry hacking away at our ice-encrusted car, because he was trying to sneak off to the grocery store for flowers and chocolates. Hoist by my own petard, I was...

That's all the news around here for now. Hang in there, people, spring is coming, and in the meantime, bake that coffee cake - it sure does take the sting out of social distancing!

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 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) " 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.