My Curmudgeonly Celebration

July 4, 2018 11:14 AM

This morning, I embarked on another baking project using a Cook’s Country recipe. It wasn’t nearly as complex as the last one, but it was still way more putzy than the original.

My masterpiece for the day? Rice Krispie Squares with red, white and blue Rice Krispies which are my nod to celebrating the 4th of July.

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It’s not that I don’t like the 4th of July. It’s fine. I’m not a big fan of sitting outside watching fireworks with crowds of people. We don’t go to fireworks. Nor am I a fan of eating outside, so that rules out barbecues and picnics (not to mention the fact we aren’t invited those sort of events, anyway). I know, I sound like a curmudgeon, don’t  I?

This year, we are celebrating the 4th in our own way. We’ve got a few games planned for this afternoon that we’ll be playing and then we are going to Melting Pot for dinner. I expect Melting Pot will be empty, but who knows? Maybe there are other curmudgeon people out there like me who’s idea of a 4th of July Feast is dipping a wad of bread into hot cheese. (Yum!)

I want to be home before dark and the fireworks begin because the noise freaks out the dogs and one of our cats. Not that being with them does much good, they’re still freaked out, but at least they’re not freaked out and alone.

One of my first memories in life is actually from freaking out on the 4th of July. I remember being in my crib, crying because of the fireworks going off next door to our house. My father was irritated and he wanted to go over to the neighbors and tell them to be quiet, but my mother said he couldn’t do that because it was the 4th of July and it would be over soon.  Not sure how old I was, but I know I was in a crib, so maybe 2 or 3, at the most.

I remember another 4th of July with my parents when I was about 13. My mother decided we needed to do something different for the holiday so she dragged me and my father to a civil war re-enactment at a Military Academy near our house. I remember it because I was so miserable. We all were. It was sunny and hot. The re-enactment was in the middle of field that we had to walk forever in knee high prickly grass to get to. Then, being a civil war re-enactment, they started shooting blanks from cannons, so it was loud and stinky. I think we lasted an hour for the entire outing, including the time it took to walk into the field and back out again. We practically ran back out we were so anxious to leave. It felt wonderful to get back home into our air conditioned house and finish the book I had been reading. I guess I’ve been a curmudgeon all my life when it comes to 4th of July activities.

Okay, not my entire life. I remember one year I went to Summerfest on the 4th of July with a boyfriend. I was seventeen, almost eighteen, and I thought it was great fun. So, I guess there’s been pockets of times where I’ve embraced more socially-focused celebrations. I’ve gone to a few card parties on that 4th of July and those have been fun. But’s it’s playing cards. Playing cards always trumps my non-social, curmudgeon tendencies.

Unfortunately, this 4th of July reminds me of last 4th of July, which was not good. I know I have my blog post from last year, however, I haven’t and won’t read it. I remember the content and where I was at emotionally, all too well. So I’m trying to not remember too much about that this year.

So, back to the original topic of this post — I digressed a bit there — how did my next baking recipe from Cook’s Country go? Making Rice Krispie treats is pretty easy and a pretty basic recipe, so how much more work could the Cook’s Country recipe really be? And how much better could the product be?

In terms of cooking, it called for weighing the quantity of 10 ounces of cereal instead of measuring it. Okay. Did you know there are 10.10 ounces in a standard Rice Krispie box? Not sure that I really needed to weigh that, Cook’s Country, but now I know. (And I threw caution to the wind and I threw in the .10 ounces.)

The recipe called for 20 ounces of marshallmallows, but I could only find 16 ounce bags, so I weighed those, too. I’m very impressed that there are exactly 16 ounces of marshmallows in a 16 ounce bag. I weighed out the extra four ounces of marshmallows after I retrieved the marshmallow that the cat stole when it fell on the floor. (I’ve read that cats can’t taste sweet flavors. Herbie does not agree.)

It also called for a stick a butter which is not quite double the amount of butter the original recipe calls for on the back of the cereal box. Extra butter is always a good sign of a tasty outcome.

The recipe also called for vanilla which I’ve never used in the recipe before.

Cooking it was the same as any other recipe. It was sticky, I got marshmallow all over me and the stove. At the end, the recipe instructed me to pat the treats down with wet hands once I got the gooey mix into the pan. So I did that. And promptly burned the hell out of a finger. Marshmallow gets HOT. It STAYS hot. And when hot marshmallow gets on your skin it hunkers down and burrows in the for the duration. There is no quick wipe off on the towel. I don’t think it’ll blister, though. Thanks, a lot, Cook’s Country. Next time I’m using a spatula.

Now for the most important part? How do they taste? Was the weighing and measuring worth it?

Yes! Unequivocally, yes! The are buttery, and firm enough to hold together but soft enough to pull apart (with strings of gooey marshmallow) and eat.

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Another Cook’s Country success in spite of a burned finger. But what the heck, what’s  the 4th of July without a burned finger or two? Plenty of people will have them after the home fireworks and sparklers tonight. This 4th of July curmudgeon will finally fit in.

Happy 4th of July, for those of you in the US. Be safe and enjoy, however you choose to celebrate.

11:45 AM

 

 

Battle of the Ear Worms

July 1st, 2018 6:57 PM

Oh, I love to cook, I love to bake, I guess I’ll make an acorn cake.

This little rhyme has been going through my head all day. It’s from a children’s book, one of my favorites, called Miss Suzy. Miss Suzy is a mild-mannered little gray squirrel who likes to bake and clean in her house at the top of her tree. One day, some nasty brutes, the red squirrels, invade her home and she’s forced to evacuate. Thankfully, the tin soldiers who befriend Miss Suzy defend her against the red squirrels in the end. (Sorry about the spoiler.)

Miss Suzy

Isn’t Miss Suzy cute?

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I don’t think I’ve read this book for forty-five years, at least. But I still remember the plot, the characters, and the rhyme. Please don’t ask me what I made for dinner on Friday night. I won’t remember that.

The reason for the rhyme running endlessly through my head today is because I made a peach coffee cake this morning. From scratch. This is a significant thing for me. I’m not a big baker. I like to cook, and while I can bake, I find it to be tedious. Plus, my tastes tend to run more toward savory treats than sweet ones. I’ll take bowl of fresh, hot buttered popcorn over cookies or cake any day.

I do like coffee cake, however, since it isn’t too sweet. When I make it, which is about once every couple of years, I always opt for the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box, which is fine. However, the recipe that I used today was from America’s Test Kitchen, my absolute favorite source for recipes. You know how there’s some chefs that make recipes sound so good but when you actually make them they’re awful? (I’m looking at you Rachael Ray!) America’s Test Kitchen (and Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated — they’re all the same organization) has never, ever steered me wrong. Their recipes always work out. Always. Which was what gave me the courage to try a cake from scratch.

Their recipes are not easy, mind you. The often have fifteen or more ingredients and they are, as my mother would say, “putzy”. So was this one. I had to slice two peaches in 1/2″ slices and macerate them in sugar and a pinch of salt for a half hour in order to extract two tablespoons of peach syrup. Which I did. I had juicy peaches so I actually got three tablespoons of syrup. I know you can’t futz with liquid to dry ratios in baking, though, so I didn’t throw the extra tablespoon into the batter, even though I was tempted. I threw it in a glass with some diet Pepsi and gave it Dennis. (He loved it! He said it tasted alcoholic and that made him happy. I’ve decided not to analyze the meaning behind that comment).

In addition to fresh peaches I also had to dig out vanilla and almond extract (I actually had some to my surprise), peach preserves and a 9″ spring form pan. That one was tricky. I knew I had one because Dennis had a set of spring form pans he brought with him when we got married. Not being a baker, I’ve never used them in the 10+ years we’ve been married.

Then there was the usual butter, cinnamon, flour, sugar (white and brown), baking powder and sour cream. There was a three-step assembly process that each required seperate bowls — wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and the topping ingredients (as well as the macerated peach bowl, the strainer and the additional bowl to catch the peach juice. I think I used every bowl I own. The counter and sink were strewn with bowls, utensils, and measuring cups. This is why I don’t bake, I thought to myself half way through. Miss Suzy was nuts; clean-up is going to be a bitch.

So I began assembling the cake. I measured, I hand-blended, I mixed, and I whisked while the entire time Miss Suzy’s song ran though my head. Oh, I love to cook, I love to bake, I guess I’ll make an acorn cake. 

Forty-five minutes in, I wanted Miss Suzy to shut the hell up already. I played one of the darkest, most haunting songs I could think of to drive Miss Suzy out of my head. “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. It didn’t work. Apparently, my ear worms are multi-taskers because Miss Suzy’s rhyme and Hozier’s song have been alternating running through my head ever since. It’s an interesting combination to be sure. Take me church, I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies…

Here is a link to the YouTube video of Take me to Church by Hozier, in case you’ve never heard it. (I cannot be held responsible if it runs through your head for the next three weeks).

Finally, it was time to get the batter into the spring form pan. Spring form pans are tricky. If the bottom isn’t in right you end up with a mess in the bottom of the oven. I was very, very careful to make sure I got the pan put together securely before I put my precious batter inside. (I was a good hour in, with another hour of clean-up in front of me. No way was I wasting that batter.) …I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knives…

The spring form held the batter, thank goodness, and then it was time to arrange my 1/2″ slices of peaches, that were now sticky and slimy from macerating in sugar, into a concentric circle on the top of the pan. Sure. Piece of cake. Oh, I love to cook, I love to bake…

Or not. My concentric circle wasn’t all that even. it was more of a concentric blob than a circle, but I was losing patience at this point. Besides, I reasoned, the concentric circle gets covered up with the crumble topping. No one will know.

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My non-concentric peach blob with crumble topping ready to go into the oven.

Once I covered my not-so-concentric mess with the crumble topping it looked pretty good. Time to bake it. Take me to church…

The recipe said it should take forty-five to fifty minutes. However, my stove has been flaky so I truly had no idea how long it would take. I set the time for thirty minutes and kept checking on it from there. Forty-five minutes in it started to smell really, good. It ended up taking an hour ten minutes to finish and I was afraid I dried it out with all the extra cooking. I really need a new oven. I bet Miss Suzy didn’t have these problems. I’ll worship like a dog…

I finished cleaning the kitchen about five minutes before the cake was done. This sucker better taste good. I took it out of the oven and it looked perfect. Just like the picture on the recipe. My non-concentric blob was totally obscured by the crumble as I expected.

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The finished product cooling.

Did I dig in and confirm my efforts were worth the end product? I did not. Because the damn cake had to cool for two hours. I pried the outside ring off it at an hour, and I was relieved it didn’t stick.

Finally, it was cool enough to try. At this point it was 4:45 and I was getting dinner ready being the busy little squirrel I was today. (Personally, I think if one bakes, cooking should not be required in the same day. That’s double the dish duty. Just sayin’).

So how was the end result? Amazing. It’s probably the best coffee cake I’ve ever had, hands down. I saved out two pieces for dessert tonight and I cut up and froze the rest. No way is any of that going to waste.

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Yum! It turned out perfect.

Oh, I love to cook, I love to bake, I guess I’ll make an acorn cake. 

The cake experience was a success but, unfortunately, the battle of the ear worms continues to rage on with no relief in site.

7:36 PM

 

 

DIY Dreams and Frankie

June 29, 2018 11:28 PM

I watched a couple of episodes of the TV show “Flip or Flop” last night. These DIY shows are dangerous for me. After last night’s shows, I had grand plans for remodeling our kitchen, complete with white granite countertops and a white shiny subway tile backsplash, wood floors stained in a dark, almost black finish, new gray cabinets and one of those super-cool Viking gas stoves with a double oven.

I carried the DIY dream with me through this morning, when I was making dog food. I was cooking four pounds of dog food in two large skillets on the stove. I have an electric stove that’s on its last legs. It has a smooth glass top which makes it very convenient for cats to jump on to. Whenever I cook, I’m super-careful not to leave the stove if the cats are around. This morning, in the midst of cooking, I needed something from the pantry which is maybe 5 feet from the stove. I quickly got my item, shut the pantry door and continued cooking.

I’ll admit, while I was frying the food, I was having fantasies of cooking dog food on my new Viking gas stove with the bright red temperature dials and the cooking elements that heat quickly and evenly (as opposed to mine where it’s more of a crap shoot what temperature you’ll actually get on any given day). My gorgeous subway tile back splash would wipe clean with no effort and my new super large kitchen sink that matched my granite countertop would easily hold the two skillets. I was in DIY heaven.

Once the dog food was done and the stove was cooled, I went back to the pantry for something else. Therein started the bursting of my DIY bubble as reality crept in.

Reality, in this case, was not so much the cost of such a remodel, although that is a consideration; reality came in the form of a wicker basket. A simple wicker basket that I bought at least five years ago from the Dollar Store.

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See the wicker basket sitting on the (very messy) shelf? See the cat crawling out of the very messy shelf? Yeah, that’s a problem.

Unbeknownst to me, Frankie had snuck into the pantry when I dashed in and out of it while I was cooking. We call him “The Ghost” because he just appears in places where he isn’t supposed to be. It’s gotten so bad, that we have to inventory the animals before we leave the house to make sure no one is locked in a closet while we’re gone.

The pantry is just about number 1 on the Places Frankie Isn’t Allowed to Go list. When I opened the door, Frankie was sitting in the wicker basket, on top of a peach! Seriously. He sat right on it! How is it comfortable to sit on a peach?

I didn’t care so much about the peach, however, this basket is what I use to store fresh produce from the store and farmer’s market. Bare cat butt on my wicker basket that I use for fresh food is not okay! I can Lysol my counters, and I do everytime I cook, but I can’t Lysol wicker.

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Frankie enjoying his new “toy”.

There was nothing to be done with the basket, other than turn it into a cat toy and throw it away once Frankie shredded it.  Which took him about a half hour.  I’m sure a nice sturdy Longaberger basket would take him longer to destroy. But this is exactly why I don’t own a nice Longaberger basket. I’d be a lot more upset about bare cat butt on one of those than one from the Dollar Store. I think I’ll store fresh produce in a ceramic bowl from now on, just in case Frankies sneaks into the pantry again. Who am I kidding? Not if Frankie sneaks into the pantry, when Frankie sneaks in to the pantry is a lot more realistic.

This experience brought me back to the reality that I live in and it killed my DIY kitchen remodel dream. One basket reminded me of all the reasons why we will never redo the kitchen:

  1.  I Lysol my counters every time I cook. I’m not sure there is any material, other than laminate which I have, that can withstand that without hurting the finish. This is why I now have a kitchen table that also has a laminate top. It  gets Lysoled three times a day — every time we eat there. I’m not crazy about laminate kitchen tables. It reminds me way too much of The Behemoth I grew up with. Keeping cats off the counters and the table just isn’t an option, though. I’ve tried — squirt bottles, tin foil, plastic tape, compressed air to scare them (which it did, but too much, and I felt bad). Nothing worked. They won. I buy lots of Lysol wipes.
  2. Wood floors and claws from three cats and two dogs sounds like a lot of scratches and refinishing. And a dark finish on my floor will make the gobs of white cat fur that I find on my floor look like tumbleweeds blowing across a black desert. To be fair, I could get laminate boards in a light finish that look like wood. I have those in my front hallway, but it’s not the same as wood. I’ve got enough laminate in my kitchen already, thank you, I think I’ll pass on laminate floors.
  3. Apart from not having a gas hookup for the cool Viking gas stove, I don’t think having an open flame is a good idea in my house. There have been a rare occasion where a cat has run across the back of the stove while I’m cooking on the front burners. It scares the crap out of me but it would scare me more if there was open flame involved.
  4. My subway tile backsplash is probably doable, although, I think it would make my laminate counters look all the more – laminatey and fake-looking.
  5. New cabinets will take several days, at least, to install. My cats being the little hellions that they are, cannot be trusted in an area that’s under construction. Three cats will have to live in the rec room for however many days it takes to install the cabinets and they won’t be happy about it. Unhappy cats means a lot of yowling and howling which means the dogs will be barking constantly at the basement door. Assuming Dennis and I survive all that chaos, once the cabinets are installed, Dennis will have to put magnets on all the doors like he did with the cabinets we have now (Frankie can open cabinet doors). Is getting new cabinets doable? Sure. Is standing on my head for a half hour or going to the gym everyday doable, too? Sure. None of those are going to happen, though.

Not having the most up-to-date, modern kitchen is one of the prices I pay for having animals that I love. I wouldn’t change it, either. I’d rather have cats than a fancy new kitchen.

Although, I wouldn’t turn down a new electric stove. I wonder if Viking makes electric stoves…maybe one with a double oven…

12:29

 

 

 

One Step Closer

July 28, 2018 8:49 AM

I did something earlier this week that I never thought I’d do voluntarily. I booked a trip to New Jersey.

Not that I have anything against New Jersey, per se’; okay, I really hate Newark, but there are parts of New Jersey that are very nice. I used to work for a company who had its headquarters in New Jersey, in the same general area where the Real Housewives of NJ is filmed, and I’ve traveled there plenty of times on business.

Dennis works for the same company, and several times we were on the same business trip. This allowed us to extend our time there to do some sight-seeing when the work was done. We spent a weekend in New York once, and visited the top of the World Trade Center on August 10, 2001.

We’ve been to Ocean City, where I bought a cool hat that Dennis has since procured as his lawn-mowing hat, and we went to Atlantic City twice. Once was a planned trip and the other was impromptu when we found out our flight was delayed for an unknown amount of time. (In my experinece this happens a lot in Newark). Dennis and I had already checked our luggage, so we rented a car with only the clothes on our back and drove to Atlantic City for the night and caught a flight back to Milwaukee late the next night.

It was fun to be spontaneous and see where the road took us so to speak. In this case, however, the road took us to a really seedy, not-so-clean Days Inn in a scary part of town. It was the first (and last) time I slept in a motel with bars on the windows. We saw drug dealers on the corner when we pulled into our motel. I know they were drug dealers because I saw a guy hand off a packet of something and take money in exchange. There were also prostitutes hanging around the exterior of motel, at least I assume they were prostitutes. I didn’t get official confirmation on that one. In spite of the unexpected environment we found ourselves in for the night, it was still a fun experience and one I’m glad we did. As a bonus, our luggage, which traveled to Milwaukee without us, was still there waiting at the airport for us in airline storage.

Some of my favorite memories of New Jersey is the food. They have, hands down, the best Italian food anywhere. And the New York Pizza. Ohmygod. There was a little pizza place that delivered to the hotel I always stayed in. I’m hoping it’s still there (and that I can remember the name.) While it’s tempting to book a trip to New Jersey just for the food, that is not the reason I am going.

Nor am I going to Atlantic City this time, although, it was tempting to tack an extra day on trip and stop there for a night (with a reservation in a nice casino hotel, of course). The reason I am going to New Jersey is the next step on my quest for the swim spa.

Dennis needs to go to New Jersey for a couple of nights in July for his job. The main swim spa manufacturer I’m interested in has its main show room in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is not far from New Jersey. I’m basically, piggy-backing on Dennis’ trip so I can visit the swim spa store.

Instead of flying out the evening before he needs to be there, Dennis and I will fly out the morning before he needs to be there. We will drive to Philadelphia and I will try out all the varieties of Endless Pools that are in our price range. I have the sensible, secure one-piece suit all ready for the test swims. (Click here to read about what happens when you use a swim spa in a tankini).

After we try the pools, I’m hoping we can find a place to get an authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. (Please leave me your recommendations for good places in the comments). Dennis and I are planning to drive to northern New Jersey that afternoon, in time to have an Italian meal that night. And another Italian meal the next night. (Okay, so maybe the trip is a little about food).

During the day, I am planning to enjoy eight plus hours of uninterrupted writing time in the hotel.  That just doesn’t happen here at home very often. And I’m hoping to find that New York pizza place again and have them deliver pizza for lunch at the hotel. (I’m going to need that swim spa to get installed pronto with all the weight I’m going to gain on this trip!)

While we will have a car, and I could drop Dennis off at the office in the morning and keep the car myself during the day, I don’t think I will do that. I drove in New Jersey once, up into the Catskills in NY, to an outlet mall with a girlfriend from work. This was before google maps and GPS’s on our phones and in our cars, and I managed to get us horribly lost on the way home. Instead of ending up in northern New Jersey where our hotel was, we ended up in Newark, circling the George Washington Bridge for an hour. I finally decided to drive away from the George Washington Bridge because I knew I didn’t want to cross into New York. However, I had no idea where I was going, and we didn’t bring a map. All we had were some handwritten instructions to the outlet mall given to us by a co-worker.

Driving west, away from New York, landed us in a super bad part of Newark. We saw a guy running full-bore down the street being chased by another guy. We were afraid they had guns and we’d get caught in the cross-fire. It was 11:00 at night, and we were the only car around so I ignored all speed limits and stop signs in that neighborhood. I was too afraid to stop and I figured if there was a cop around, he had more important things to do than to pull me over for a traffic violation.

Eventually, I got my bearings and we started to go north, toward the hotel. Gradually, the neighborhoods got less scary. When it felt safe enough, we stopped at a convenience store and bought a map which guided us back to the vicinity of the hotel. We ended up having to call the front desk at the hotel to have them talk us in the last few miles.  It took us forty-five minutes to drive to the outlet mall and three and half hours to get back to the hotel.

I suppose with technology, driving in New Jersey this time wouldn’t result in the adventure it did the last time I drove there. But I’m not taking any chances. Dennis can have the car and if I get stir-crazy in the hotel, I’ll Uber to a Starbucks. Or an Italian restaurant for lunch.

I never liked traveling to New Jersey for work, but then again, I never much liked traveling anywhere for work. I’m looking forward to going back to New Jersey, this time as a tourist. I always seem to come back with a story whenever I visit there. Who knows what adventure I’ll find this time around?

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Whenever I drive out of the Newark airport the theme song from The Soprano’s always runs through my head.

9:41 am

 

Sweet-Talking the Cat

Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 12:31 PM

I talk to my animals all the time. While I’m sure they’re not understanding the details, I believe they understand, through my voice tone and inflection, the message that I am trying to impart.

I read a lovely article the other day about how we should talk to our animals and how they actually do understand what we are the saying. The article went on to describe a dog who needed medical treatment and through calmly talking though what she was doing and why she was doing it, the author helped to calm the dog down enough that she was able to treat him without difficulty. The dog understood that she was helping him. What I wonderful, idea, I thought. The next time I have to give one of the animals medicine, I’m going to try this.

This morning, Herbie’s treatment escalated from the yucky paste stuff he doesn’t like but we can still get him to eat by smearing it on his feet (OCD cat tendencies to clean themselves apparently trump yucky tasting medicine), to needing to take a pill.

Herbie does not take pills. Period. Ever. We’ve tried before. He squirms and bites and no matter how far you can push it in his mouth he always manages to spit it back out, often times with impressive velocity, which causes the pill to bounce off counters and floors, flinging itself into unknown regions. Unknown regions are not okay when you have two dogs that will eat anything they find. Unknown regions involve a lot of time spent on hands and knees, searching, until the pill is found. We try to avoid unknown regions at all costs.

Dennis was skeptical when I returned from the vet this morning with a pill bottle. Then I showed him the liquid. I convinced the vet to give me the medication in both forms so I’d be assured I could get at least one into Herbie. The vet warned me that the liquid form tastes bitter and will cause Herbie to immediately foam at the mouth when he takes it. Wonderful. I decided we’re trying to get the pill down him first.

I told Dennis about the article I read. Using my most calming, soothing voice, I explained to Herbie that he needed to take a pill for a few days so he would feel better. I showed him the pill, which is small, no bigger than the kibbles he gulps down by the mouthful without chewing. I ended our conversation on a high note, acknowledging the problems he and I have had with pills in the past, and assuring him that I am confident those times are over and we’ve got this. He would have no problem taking the pill.

In a complete show of confidence that this was going to work, I sat Herbie on the kitchen island and tried to pry his mouth open and pop the pill in myself, without having Dennis hold him.

Okay, so maybe I was a little over-confident. I retrieved Herbie from the top of the cabinet and put him back on the kitchen island. Dennis held him done while I cooed to Herbie, assuring him the pill would be gone before he knew it. Herbie, however, refused to unclench his jaws. Once I got them to open part way I tried to pop the pill in but he clamped them shut before I could get it in. He did graze the side of my finger with his teeth.

I tried telling Herbie again, in a slightly more firm tone this time, that taking the pill was for his own good. There is no need to bite me as this will help no one. For try number three Dennis held Herbie by securing his back and front feet so all I had to deal with was his head. I reminded Herbie again in a soft, and reassuring voice, that I was going to give him his pill. I managed to pin his head against Dennis’ shoulder, pry his jaw apart far enough to fling the pill inside. I quickly clamped down his mouth and stroked his throat gently to get him to swallow. He wouldn’t swallow, though, so I got my small syringe of water I had prepare and I squirted that inside the side of his cheeks.

It was at that point all that hell broke loose. Herbie opened his mouth and projectile spitted the water and the pill out and on to the floor. The pill bounced into unknown regions. Herbie then kicked off from Dennis with his back feet (claws extended,  of course) and fled the scene while Sammy came running toward us to investigate what tastey morsel he heard fall to the floor.

I glanced around frantically for the pill while Dennis examined his scratches. It was two feet away from me, near the water bowl. Sammy saw it, too, and he was closer than me. I lunged for it, yelling “Sammy, Leave it!” In my best authoritative voice. Thankfully, that worked, and Sammy hesitated just long enough for me grab the pill before he ate it.

We regrouped. Clearly, the article was not meant for cats. You may be able to sweet talk a dog, but cats are different. They know what they know and they’re not about to listen to outside input.

Dennis washed off his scratches and I went upstairs to retrieve the glowering, slightly wet Herbie who was glaring at me from the top of the armoire in the bedroom.

As I carried Herbie downstairs I told him to suck it up and take it like a man. He was going to get medicated today one way or the other.

For our next try, Dennis pinned Herbie down on the counter and I got out the dreaded liquid syringe. I drew in the medicine. 1 ml. It doesn’t sound like a lot, it didn’t even look like a lot, but let me tell you, it was A LOT. I tried put in a small amount in the corner of Herbie’s mouth, but the foaming started immediately, as expected, which made Herbie clamp down his jaws even harder. When I finally pried his mouth open again, I squirted the remaining contents of the syringe inside. Poor, Herbie. He started foaming like a washing machine with too much soap.

It must taste terrible because Herbie shook his head several times sending foamy cat spittle all over us and the  kitchen. Then he left to give himself a bath on the floor of the family room in the sun while I Lysoled the kitchen.. Is Lysoled even a verb? It is in our house!

The most disconcerting part of this whole event is that we get to do this again in another 12 hours. And every 12 hours after that every day for the next week. We’’re going to become experts at this, Dennis and I, if we survive. And I’m going to need to buy more Lysol wipes. It’s going to be a long week.

Herbie eyes

There is no sweet-talking this guy into taking yucky medicine.

1:23 pm

Summer Solstice and Vet Visits

June 21st, 2018 2:27 PM

Today is the summer solstice. Last year, I wrote a blog post with several 6-month goals to work toward completing by the winter solstice. I’m not doing that this year.

I’ve haven’t checked back to see what my goals were last year at this time, but I’m sure I didn’t meet them. Life can change on a dime, and it did for me last year around this time. Since I blogged through that difficult time, now I have a written record of what I was doing and feeling on each day. I could look back and remember details I’ve no doubt forgot, but I’m not doing that this year, either.

Okay, maybe I’ll set one goal. It will be to move forward through June and July without looking back. Not realistic. I will move forward through June and July without ruminating on what was. Kinda like I did with Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday. Acknowledge it’s different, acknowledge it’s part of the life cycle and move on.

Speaking of moving on, the real topic of today’s blog is not the summer solstice, it’s part 2 of my wonderful week without Dennis.

Things always seem to go to crap when Dennis is out of town. One time, I tripped and fell while carrying Frankie, our cat. So as not to land on him, I turned right and landed on my bad shoulder that I dislocated in Mexico a few years ago. Of course, I dislocated it again when I fell. Since I was home alone, I had to figure out how to maneuver it myself to get it back into place.

Last time he was gone, the dogs tripped me when I was coming into the house and I fell again. (Honestly, I rarely fall. It just seems to happen when Dennis is away). Thankfully, nothing was knocked out of joint that time, I was just really sore for a few days.

This time, in addition to my getting sick which I blogged about yesterday, (see the post here) Herbie, our cat, also had a minor health issue and  he had to go to the vet on Wednesday morning.

Dr. Ted, our vet,  is a very nice man. He’s the one who didn’t charge us to diagnose Charlie’s nipple (read about that adventure here). He’s a rather tall man, blonde and extremely gentle and soft-spoken. I’ve taken my animals to him for years and he’s gotten to know me. Probably a little better than he cares to.

About a year ago, I had Frankie on the examining table in his office. I was holding, Dr. Ted was examining and Frankie moved, so I leaned in to restrain him. I leaned in a little too far and my breasts assaulted Dr. Ted’s hand. This was no slight brush of the hand incident. This was a full-on, you-better-be-buying-me-dinner moment. I was mortified, but not as mortified as poor Dr. Ted. That poor man turned seven shades of red. Neither he nor I, ever acknowledged the moment, but I swear he stands a little farther away from me now than he used to.

So today, after examining Herbie, Dr. Ted said I needed to give him medicine. I remember this particular medicine. Herbie has had it before. It’s thick, like wet cement and Herbie hates it. Dennis and I can rarely get him to take it and we go through three doses for every one we get him to eat.

I explained to Dr. Ted and his vet tech that I was home alone until late that night and I asked if they could help me give Herbie the first dose. Being the very nice man that he is, Dr. Ted readily agreed.

Then came the moment of the truth. We looked at each other, Dr. Ted and I, both of us wondering how we were going to manage this. Was he remembering the last time we got in close and personal over an animal? I sure was!

I wanted no chance of a repeat performance so I went for the hind end of Herbie, far, far away from Dr. Ted who was going to give the dose. The vet tech held down his middle torso. Between the three us, it took three tries, but Dr. Ted was able to administer the dose without getting bit by Herbie or enduring another embarrassing moment with me. Another successful Mellem vet visit under his belt. I wonder if he cringes when he sees my name on his schedule?

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Herbie chilling out at the vet. He’s a very laid back guy.

So this has been my week, thus far. Not a stellar one, but not the worst I’ve experienced either. And I’m sure that this one may be a bit more entertaining to look back on next year at this time than the last one is.

3:02 PM

Charlie the Survivor and Sammy the Protector

June 20, 2018 4:19 PM

It’s been a busy, busy week. Dennis has been away on a business trip since Sunday night, so it’s just been me and the menagerie at home. I know some writers have great bursts of productivity when they sequester themselves away in a hotel alone for several days so I thought I’d give that a try this week.

I have to say, I got a lot of writing accomplished on Sunday night through yesterday. I worked on a story that I haven’t touched for four or five years and I made significant progress. I also did lots of research for it, which means I googled things like “what countries don’t have extradition treaties with the US?”, “what countries have anonymous offshore banking”, “what countries operate offshore gambling casinos”, “how to open and get money from offshore accounts”, and “what places are safe to live in the Caribbean”. (Hello, nice Mr. NSA agent. I’m writing a book. Honestly!)

If Dennis and I get audited by the IRS next year, it won’t be a coincidence.

Since I was putting in 10 to 12 hours a day writing, I didn’t bother to cook for myself. One of my meals was a frozen chicken pot pie made by a grocery store that I bought and froze a few months ago. I had that last night. As I was eating it, (it wasn’t very good) I wondered if the chicken was ok in it. It wasn’t terrible, but it tasted a bit off. For future reference, if you have to ask the question, “is the chicken good?” the answer should always, unequivocally be NO!

I was pretty tired last night, so the dogs and I were asleep by 11:00 which is early for me. At 12:30 I woke up, not feeling so well. I had to turn on the light, which I normally don’t do when I get up so I don’t disturb the dogs. Nothing I could do about it last night, I woke both of them up.

As I continued to feel worse, I went into the bathroom and was sick. Now normally, I wouldn’t write about such an event, however, it truly showed the difference in the personalities of the two dogs. As I was being sick, Sammy was right there next to me doing the doggy-equivalent of holding my hair back. He was so nervous that he was dancing around me and rubbing up against my legs. Charlie, The Survivor, on the other hand, was still in bed, sending death glares my way for waking him up and leaving the light on.

That’s the thing about survivors, they are able to detach from anyone and anything as long as they are taken care of. I suspect that’s why Charlie was able to detach from my mom and settle in so easily at my house when she died. Same thing with the kennel. He missed me, but his needs were met so life went on. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m probably Charlie’s favorite person. As long as I keep the light off and puke quietly so I don’t disturb him.

Today, Sammy has rarely left my side. Thankfully, being sick was a short-lived event, but I still only got about four hours of sleep. Two of the cats and Sammy were wide awake and ready to play at 5:30 AM this morning. I’m really looking forward to longer nights and shorter days. If you’ve read this blog before, you know why. If you haven’t, you can find out why here.

I’m moving a little slower today than usual. I had some errands I needed to run this morning and while I was out I decided to stop at the library and pick up an actual book to read outside this afternoon (as opposed to my kindle). Sometimes it’s good to have a real book to curl up with. It was a curl up with a book kind of day.

So this afternoon, instead of making more progress on my writing, I’m lounging on the swing with the dogs. Sammy has been close by the entire time.  Every time I cough, he jumps on me and peers into my face with anxious eyes to see if I’m okay. (I assured him that I am, I just have allergies.) Talking to my animals is not abnormal for me, I do it all time. Not usually to the extent of describing my medical diagnosis, however. I guess that’s what three days of solitude with only animals to talk to will do to a person. Good thing Dennis gets home tonight.

Besides, I think Sammy and I have taken our relationship to a new level. He’s now Sammy The Protector to me.

Now I have a Protector and a Survivor. That’s a pretty good combination. Between the two of them, I think I have all my bases covered.

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This is my view from the swing. Sammy is sitting on my stomach and Charlie is wrapped around my feet. Life is good.

4:50 PM

 

How Not to Give your Dog a Bath

June 17, 2018 12:55 PM for June 15, 2018

I have a new found respect for dog groomers. Their jobs are not easy.  Friday, before my wonderful Meijer shopping trip, I decided to give the dogs a bath. I bought a fancy shampoo and conditioner about a year ago that I haven’t used. It’ll be fun, I thought, to give Sammy a nice bath and condition his coat.

I’ve given Sammy a bath several times in the past. He’s has this thick coat, though, that is almost cat-like. It’s soft, he sheds, and, my favorite aspect, he doesn’t smell. Sammy can get a bath once every couple of months and be fine.

Charlie is a different story. Charlie has a thin, curly coat that I keep clipped short. About three weeks out from his bath, Charlie gets a bit odiferous. After four weeks, he’s downright stinky. If he goes any longer than four weeks between baths, I’m spot cleaning him with a wet wash cloth and soap trying to beat back the scent.

My mom was very particular about who she allowed to groom Charlie. He has very sensitive skin and is prone to razor burns (according to my mother). I figured I better skip the hair conditioner on Charlie.

Mom used a groomer that has a mobile grooming salon that she would bring to my mom’s house. Since having Charlie, I’ve been having her come every four weeks to bathe and groom Charlie. Since Sammy doesn’t get stinky, I have her give him a bath and a small trim every other visit to save money. It’s been at least a year since I’ve given Sammy a bath myself.

The last time I saw the groomer, her next opening was five weeks away. This is one week beyond Def-con 1 of stinkiness for Charlie.

Last Thursday night, three weeks into our five-week wait for the groomer, I was sitting outside with the dogs. I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Oh-oh.

That night, when Sammy jumped on my lap, I noticed a gamey odor on him. On Charlie, the same gamey odor blended into his normal 3-week-from-being-groomed- dog stink that was already a bit more pronounced than usual (I think because of the kennel stay). I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and give the dogs baths on Friday.

I don’t know if Charlie has ever had a bath at home. I don’t think so. I don’t think my mom gave him one and I know I haven’t. When I inherited Charlie, I also inherited the groomer. I’ve been spoiled.

Being that Charlie is almost 17 pounds, I didn’t think he’d fit in the kitchen sink where I normally bathe Sammy, who is only 10 pounds. I decided to bathe them in our walk-in shower in the master bathroom.

I put on sweats and got both dogs into the bathroom. They were excited to be able to come upstairs with me in the morning. Normally, they stay downstairs with Dennis while I get ready.

I decided to do Charlie first and get the worst over with. I was not looking forward to giving Charlie a shower. I expected him to be nervous and shake the whole time. I envisioned struggles to run out of the shower stall and him cowering in the corner while I tried to spritz him with the hand-held sprayer.

My fears for Charlie were, once again, unfounded.  He was a bit perplexed as to why I was carrying him into the shower, but as soon as the warm water hit him, I think he understood. He stood perfectly still and let me wash him, and turn him as I needed to. He even let me wash his face and rinse it with the sprayer. I towel dried him for a minute and let him go to wander the bathroom.

Then it was Sammy’s turn. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw what was happening with Charlie and he wanted no part of it. While Charlie stood in the middle of the bathroom shaking himself, Sammy was playing keep-away — with me trying to catch him in my wet, bare feet on the slippery floor. Eventually, I cornered him and picked him up.

Once I got him in the shower and set him down on the floor, he bolted before I could get the shower door closed. I got back out of the shower and chased him around the bathroom in my now wetter feet until I cornered him again. This time, I outsmarted him and closed the shower door before I set him down.

He did okay as I was running the warm water over him. However, it’s been a year since I bathed Sammy myself, and I forgot about his undercoat. Sammy is like a little otter when he gets wet. The top part of his coat repels water, and his thick furry undercoat stays dry. I had to put the hand-held sprayer an inch from his skin, to soak his undercoat.

In this midst of doing this, Herbie, our water-loving cat, managed to get into the bathroom without my knowing. Hearing the shower on, he nudged the shower door open a few inches like he always does. Sammy is not a dumb dog. He saw his opportunity for freedom and he grabbed it!

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Herbie the water bug.

Sammy went tearing out of the shower stall sopping wet and ran into the bedroom. In my haste to catch him, I dropped the handheld sprayer in the shower which banged off the shower wall and spun water around the bathroom like a sprinkler. It got the walls, it got the floor, it got the water-loving cat who decided he doesn’t love that much water and took off. Charlie stood there, looking at me perplexed, wondering what all the fuss was about.

At this point, I was as wet as the dog. I got back out of the shower, skated across the wet bathroom floor with my wet, bare feet into the master bedroom only to find Sammy rolling on his back in the middle of our bed. Herbie was on the floor next to the bed licking himself and giving me the evil-cat-eye for spraying him with the hose.

I retrieved the two old towels I had out for Sammy, dried off the bathroom floor and the walls. I got a fresh, good towel, put it next to the shower and went to catch Sammy who was now grinding his wet head into my pillow.

We went back into the bathroom and I made sure the bathroom door was securely shut this time. I carried Sammy back into the shower, shut the shower door and started over. Most of Sammy’s top coat was already dry, but his undercoat was still damp.

I successfully shampooed Sammy okay, but when it came time to rinse I realized I might have used a little too much shampoo. Bubbles were pouring out of his undercoat in an alarming quantity. It was like pouring cold root beer over ice cream. Pure bubbles.

The more water I ran over him, the more bubbles I got. I bent over so long, that I started to get dizzy, so I sat down on the bench in the shower, put Sammy on my lap, and let the hand-held sprayer run over both of us until the bubbles finally stopped.  It took about three minutes. At this point, I decided we were done with bath time and I opted not to use the doggie hair conditioner.

I turned off the water and I put Sammy on the floor of shower where he immediately shook himself, managing to spray water everywhere including my hair and my face and my glasses. I dried my face and Sammy with the last towel. Then I let Sammy out of the shower stall, where he went into the middle of the bathroom and shook again. And again. He shook himself a total of three times which ensured that whatever part of the bathroom hadn’t yet been hosed down, was now wet. The mirror was dabbled with water droplets. So was the window. My make up table had a sheen of water over it, and there was no longer a dry towel to be had.

I took off my wet clothes and left them in a heap in shower and I opened the bathroom door to the master bedroom. Sammy made a beeline for the bed and rolled around on the comforter. Charlie joined him.

I decided I might as well shower for real this time, so I closed the bedroom door so the dogs couldn’t escape and cause mischief. I gathered the wet towels into a heap in the corner along with my clothes, and then I cleaned the shower stall and took a shower. I found an old beach towel to dry off with. By the time I was done and had dressed in dry clothes about twenty minutes had passed.

I sat on my now damp bed with dog brushes and started to brush Charlie. I was so happy to find that he was almost dry. It took about a minute and a half for me to run a brush through his hair and he was done.

And then there was Sammy. Sammy looked mostly dry but when I put him on the bed to brush him, I found that his undercoat was still sopping wet. I swear, it’s like a sponge! Out came the hair dryer, and I spent the next twenty minutes blow drying the dog. Not how either one of us wanted to start our day. Once he was finally dry, I spent the next ten minutes brushing him. I never spent this much time on my own hair even when it was longer.

Finally, we were done. The dogs were dried off, I was dried off and the bathroom was dry-ish. The bed, however, was not. It was damp and had a strong odor of wet dog.

I stripped off the comforter and sheets, put them with the wet towels and put on fresh sheets.

Then I let the dogs out of the room.

There was great joy and exuberance as the dogs celebrated their freedom. They ran at full bore through the upstairs and then downstairs where the three cats were lying in the sun on the floor taking sun baths.

It looked like an explosion of cats when the dogs came running into the room. Each cat immediately jumped up and fled to higher ground. One jumped to the kitchen counter and the other two scaled cat gyms.

Four loads of laundry later, I was finally done with the after effects of bath time. Dennis was forced to towel off that morning with a couple of hand towels but he was a good sport about it. Both dogs were super soft and smelled wonderful.

Later that afternoon, as I sat outside with the dogs, I noticed that they were taking turns gleefully rolling on their backs in the same spot on the lawn. Seriously?

Is it wrong to febreeze a dog?

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Here is Mr. High-Maintenance himself looking all cute and sweet-smelling.

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Mr. Low Maintenance looking very chill after his bath.

 

1:58 PM

 

Checkout Clerks and Crocheted Pants

June 15, 2018 1:55 PM

I got a glimpse into the how the other half lives today.  And it happened, of all places, in the checkout line at my local Meijer store.

For those of you who don’t have a Meijer store, it’s similar to a Target with a super large grocery store attached. Our Meijer has meat and produce that rivals the high-end expensive grocery stores in my area.

I go to Meijer once or twice a month, usually when they have half pork loins on sale. Pork loin is one of the main foods Charlie can eat, so when it goes on sale, I make a trek to Meijer and buy a lot of it. At least eighteen to twenty pounds at a time.

Meijer canned vegetables are inexpensive, and they have the handy pop tops. Normally, a pop-top can vs. a can-opener can wouldn’t motivate me to hike a store roughly the size of a two football fields to buy it. However, when I’m making Veg for Charlie, having pop top cans makes a big difference. I use twenty cans of carrots and greens beans. That’s a lot of cans to open manually and my can opener is slow.

One Meijer trip a month is dedicated to buying 20 cans of canned pop-top veg for Charlie. I try to not combine the veg purchase with the pork purchase in the same shopping trip. The cart gets pretty heavy to push around with 20 pounds of pork and 20 cans of vegetables in it.

I was in a hurry today, though, so I bought both pork and veg. And I shopped for our Sheepshead card group party. We rotate playing at different houses, and it’s our turn to host this month. I grabbed a few bags of junk food, and some cute little bakery angel food cakes for strawberry shortcake. I needed bacon for a recipe I’m making. Meijer only had the super, big, two pound package of the brand I like, so I had that in my cart as well.

While I was in the meat section, I tossed a package of brisket burgers in the cart for dinner tonight. So while I didn’t buy a lot of different items, my cart was pretty heavy and laden down with meat. Lots and lots of meat.

There are down sides to Meijer. The main one is that most of the check out lanes are self-service. There are very few checkout lanes that are manned by Meijer employees and, in my experience, Meijer checkout clerks are the slowest individuals I’ve seen work a register.  I can check myself out and bag my merchandise much quicker than going through a checkout lane.

However, today, I was feeling lazy, and I was pushing about twenty-five pounds of meat plus all my veg canned goods and I just didn’t feel like bagging it all myself. The check out lanes weren’t busy, so I gave it a shot.

There was a lady with a pre-teen daughter in line ahead of me. The lady was probably in her mid-thirties and she was tall and slender. I noticed this because she was wearing black crocheted pants like these.

black crochet pants

I thought they were cute on her. Never in my life, even at my thinnest weight ever, could I pull off wearing crocheted pants. I would have to sandwich my thighs into them and little pillows of flesh would be poking out of the crocheted holes. When I peeled them off at night, the indentation from the crocheting would leave patterns on my thighs. Kind of like when you cut a tied rump roast out of it twine. Not a cute look.

When it was the Crocheted Pants’ turn to be checked out, the checkout clerk decided he needed to refill his bags. He still had, what looked like to me, plenty of plastic bags on his carousel, but apparently I was wrong. He needed more. Many more.

While I waited for him to get the bags from another lane, and load them up on the carousel (moving in slow motion the entire time, I swear!) I had plenty of time to survey the items Crocheted Pants had on the conveyor belt.

She had organic milk, frozen salmon burgers and tuna. I considered leaving the line to swap my brisket patties for salmon burgers for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure Dennis would love that. I’ve also considered making riced cauliflower “mashed potatoes” for Dennis in the past. I like being married though, and I think passing salmon off for brisket or cauliflower off for potatoes is grounds for divorce in Dennis’ mind.

Accompanying the salmon burgers, Crochet Pants also had a plethora of green veggies – fresh, not canned. She had some box that boasted quinoa as an ingredient and several frozen entrees that said Vegetarian in big, bold letters.

And there I stood, behind this bounty of healty food, with twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart. The contents of my entire cart looked like a mound of flesh – except for the canned veg and a couple bags of junk food. I wanted to tell her, it’s for the dog! All the pork is for the dog! We eat fresh vegetables, too. The canned veg is for the dog! The two pounds of bacon are for a party. So are the bags of junk food! Truly, this isn’t how we eat every day.

As we continued waiting, Crochet Pants and I, for the checkout guy to finish loading his bags, Crochet Pants’ daughter started to get restless. She was surveying the candy that lined the aisle for all the impulse purchases. Eventually, she grabbed one and started badgering her mother for it.

What did she grab? Peanut Butter cups? Nope. Snickers? Nope. Gummy Bears? Wrong again. She grabbed Extra Sugar Free gum.  Her impulse purchase was sugarless gum. Even the kid eats healthy!

Perhaps, I thought, if I ate that way, I too, could wear black crochet pants without my thighs poking through like a bratwurst splitting out of its’ casing.

Did I mention that Dennis is barbecuing a beef brisket for our card party tomorrow?

brisket

This is why I will never wear black crocheted pants.

When the clerk finally finished loading his plastic bags, Crochet Pants Lady produced her own reusable shopping bags for him to pack her groceries in. I would say if she produced those earlier maybe the checkout clerk would have delayed the restocking of the bag routine, but he probably saw twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart heading his way. I don’t think it would have mattered.

As the checkout clerk slowly, and methodically checked out Chrochet Pants’ groceries (I saw tofu go by!) and there was more space on the conveyor belt, I started to load my meat on it. Each pork roast was at least five pounds and encased in plastic. They made a thwap sound as I hauled them onto the conveyor, similar to the sound my thighs would make as they slapped together if I wore crocheted pants. But the meat is for the dog! Really! 

Two pounds of bacon went on top of the roasts. It’s for a party. I won’t even use it all. It’s just the size they had.

When it was finally my turn to get checked out, I have to admit, I was cranky. At this point, I had spent more time waiting in the checkout line than I did shopping. I was not in mood to make small talk with the checkout guy. Apparently, he didn’t sense this.

When he saw all my pork, he laughed, and made a comment about how we must be grilling out a lot this weekend. Finally, I thought, it’s my chance to explain the plethora of meat! Unfortunately, Crochet Pants was long gone and would never know.

“It’s for my dog!” I said. “He has allergies and all he can eat is pork and lamb. I like to stock up when it’s on sale.”

The checkout guy looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Your dog?” he said, as if I told him I was going to throw the meat directly into the garbage. Obviously, he was implying that no one should be spending that kind of money on an animal. My pork was on sale for $1.30 a pound. I wonder what he would have said if I had bought the ground lamb, like I sometimes do, at $9.99 a pound?

My crankiness with this guy was escalating.

After a few moments, he said, “I have to ask so I can tell my wife tonight. How does your dog like his pork prepared?” His words were polite, his tone was not. He was judgemental and condescending. Those are the nice words that I thought. There’s were others I won’t share here.

I explained my process of grounding the meat, mashing the vegetables and frying it all together. I was very polite, even though I didn’t want to be. I did not share that the dog belonged to my dead mother and I was doing what I had to do to keep him alive and happy. No need to justify my choice. I also held back the urge to sarcastically comment how glad I was to be offering conversation for him and wife tonight. I guess it’s only fair that I provide some entertainment for him, since he provided a blog post for me.

In the few minutes I spent talking with this guy, I decided that someone who is in their late fifties and clerking at Meijer probably didn’t take the job to pass the time. That’s hard work and a lot of standing. I am fortunate that we have to means to be able to purchase the food Charlie needs. Not everyone would be able to do that. I don’t know if that is the situation that caused the clerk’s attitude or not. Maybe he’s just not an animal person. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former and not the latter.

It was an experience using the Meijer checkout today. It showed me a glimpse into two different ways of life and attitudes. One made me chuckle. One made me mad. Next time, though, I’m going back to self checkout, no matter how many pounds of meat I’m lugging around.

2:51 PM

A Dose of Reality

Thursday, June 14, 2018 8:52 AM

I’ve been feeling a bit old these days. Not old as in body aches and creaks, although those are there sometimes. Old, as in seeing tangible evidence of the years that have passed and recognizing the undeniable truth that I, too, have passed from one stage in life to another. Kind of like seeing a tree that was a twig when you planted it and fifteen years later it’s a 30-footer. I’ve got plenty of those in my yard.

The incident that got me thinking about the stages of life is one that’s actually far removed from me now. I heard about it third hand, but it still impacted me.

I found out this week that my ex-husband retired from his profession last week. I remember when he got his first paycheck once he finished his apprenticeship and how excited he was for the bump in income. We weren’t yet engaged, but we were close. There’s a lot of mileage between that close-to-engaged-couple and the ex-spouses/co-parents that we are now and only some of it can be measured in years.

I still find it hard to believe that the young man who was so excited to finally be starting his career has retired. Granted, my ex-husband is only fifty-five and that is young to retire, however, his was a profession that is hard on the body. Retiring after thirty years isn’t uncommon. But still. I was once married to someone who is now retired.

Dennis and I were talking about this yesterday and it brought up the topic of waiting to do things in life. Many people sacrifice and forgo pleasures in the present to enjoy themselves in their retirement. My paternal grandpa was like that. He was a motorcycle police officer in Milwaukee for thirty-years. His greatest dream was to retire to Florida. I suppose riding around on a motorcycle in January in Wisconsin will make a person yearn for warmth.

It worked out for him. Once he got his thirty years in on the force in the mid 1950’s, he retired and moved to Florida. He was in his early fifties, probably about the age I am now. Granpa worked on the force down in Florida for a bit, too, as well as sold cars for a time. He lived in Florida until 1979, when he passed away.

Other people aren’t as lucky as my grandpa. They put-off dreams until retirement and then health problems crop up, and retirement never comes. Or it comes, but they aren’t able to physically do the dream anymore.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to pursue the lifelong dream, whether it be a large purchase, relocating your life or taking the dream trip?

Two years ago, when I turned fifty, I did act on a lifelong dream. I got a dog. And although conditions weren’t ideal to get one, (we ended up fencing in our front yard because we don’t have a back yard and now I’m pretty sure we’re the house the neighbors are worried is hurting their resale value), I’m still glad I did it.

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Our house, Pre-Dog. Notice how small the pine trees are.

house big trees

Same view, Post-Dog, 9 years later. Look how big the pines are! It’s hard to see the fence from this view, but it’s there.

house fence close

House, Post-Dog, closer view.

Getting Sammy is the exception, though. Normally, I tend to fall in the procrastinator category where I opt to save the money instead of spend it, over-think the downsides and eventually decide that now isn’t the right time to do whatever.

Except, I am now old enough to have been married to someone who is now retired.  I am roughly the same age as my grandpa was when he made his “next stage in life” dream come true.

Does that means the right time is now to start seriously looking at making those someday dreams come true?

 

9:20 AM