Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Domestic Goddess Jane Asks, “Where Can I Return the Crown?”

 Despite the special guest appearance by Old Man Winter yesterday who briefly visited and rudely left behind a blanket of snow on the ground, it is spring.

Who made up these equinox rules anyway? Maybe back in ancient times they didn’t have snow, let alone snow in March. Or maybe those wacky calendar inventors drank a little too much grog the day they decided that spring should officially arrive on March 20th. After all, what did they know – they used to think the world was flat.

But I believe everything I read, especially if it’s printed on the Shutterfly calendar my sister prepares for us every year, which has been dubbed “The Chloe Calendar” because it features my most favorite niece Gertrude. Er, I mean, Chloe. My most favorite niece Chloe.

So when I read that spring arrived March 20th, I immediately hauled out the big red bucket, bottle of Spic 'N Span and the mop. I donned those lovely yellow Playtex rubber gloves that flatter no one, although spring chickens might find them rather attractive, I suppose.  And I went to work on scrubbing the winter right out of my home.

Yeah, right. Like I’m that slap-happy about house cleaning. Ever. I tend to revolt, even when Martha Stewart-types wave their Swiffers high in the air, signifying to all domestic goddesses everywhere that Spring Cleaning has begun.

“Start Your Engines,” my foot.

I resist the urge by rolling over and burrowing even deeper under the covers. Hey, I figure if hibernation works for the polar bear, it should work for me, too. Besides, no one could ever mistake me for a “Domestic Goddess.”

Despite my efforts, I apparently came out of hibernation last weekend. I was fooled by the sunshine, even though it was still in the low 30s. So I made a “To Do” list. I started clearing the countertops of all the papers and junk that had accumulated most of the winter. I organized my shoes. I washed, dried and put away multiple loads of laundry. And I hauled out the big red bucket, bottle of Spic 'N Span and the mop and cleaned the floor like nobody’s business.

When I was all done, I heaved a satisfied sigh of relief and put away the mop for another year.

Okay, so I’m fibbing. I hire someone to wash my floors. If I did it, I’d only get halfway through before quitting. And I’d hope that no one could see the clear line of demarcation between pristine and not-so-pristine.

But what I really did was even worse.

I looked down at the tile floor that had been washed only the day before and noticed how dirty the grout was. Big mistake.

And then I found the unused tub of Mr. Clean “Magic Eraser” sponges that I’d bought on a whim the year before to see if they worked on grout.

Really big mistake.  Because they work wonders.

I never knew the grout in my home was supposed to be white. Or at least white-ish.

I could have slapped myself then. Because I realized I couldn’t stop at just a few lines of grout – I would have to clean all the grout. And we have a LOT of it. It’s in our laundry room. And our front hallway that extends in two directions and includes the half bath. And it’s in our rather large kitchen.

We also have three full baths, but I refused to even consider them. Maybe from now on I’ll only extend shower privileges to those guests who can prove that they are legally blind without their corrective lenses. That way I can avoid cleaning the grout in the bathrooms.

Nevertheless, I’d awoken this particular beast and I knew I couldn’t leave those few lines of cleaned grout amid the sea of dirty grout.

It was only then that I realized that (a) we moved into a house with dirty grout because there is no way we could have gotten it that filthy in only a year and nine months, and (b) cleaning grout should have been our first order of business after submitting our change of address card to the post office and renting the U-Haul truck.

I wondered how many people had walked into our home in the past year and nine months and cringed when they saw the dirty grout. Or, perhaps they were like me and were grout oblivious? I could only hope.

So I grumpily knelt down on the hard tile floor and started scrubbing. By the time I finished the laundry room and the entryway, I’d gone through a number of those sponges and realized that one multi-pack was not going to cut it. An imminent trip to Costco was going to be required.

Fortunately, I had reluctant reinforcements the next day and, after our trip to Costco, three of us cleaned the rest of the grout. We managed to get through all those stinking lines of grout with the Magic Erasers, although some areas received a bit less attention than they should have.

But no worries. I can take another pass at it since I still have some Magic Erasers left. And since I’m ignoring those Martha Stewart-types and making up my own Spring Cleaning rules, I’ve decided that Spring Cleaning season is not officially over until the first day of summer. So I’ve got plenty of time.

On the other hand, the next time I get the urge to try on a domestic goddess crown and clean grout, I think I’ll whip up a batch of grog instead. My knees are shot and I’d rather drink than magically erase dirt any day.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter. It’s Baaackkkk!

 According to the little handy-dandy temperature gauge in my car, yesterday’s high was 70 degrees. Fahrenheit. And it was sunny. I turned off the seat warmers and turned on the A/C.  What an absolute treat it was. 

I enjoyed running errands on my lunch break and I didn’t even need my spring coat. I smiled at people and – shockingly – most smiled back.  People were practically skipping as they headed toward the store’s entrance. You can’t skip during the winter when you’re wearing Uggs and trying to avoid piles of dirty, frozen snow. 

So skipping they were. (In my story, anyway.)  

Okayyy, perhaps I shouldn’t just blatantly make things up.  So here’s the truth: if they weren’t technically skipping, they definitely had a spring in their step.

Hey, I just figured out where that saying probably comes from. A Midwesterner must have coined that phrase sometime around March on a random, sunny, warm-ish day after a particularly brutal winter.

And today’s weather?  Well, today is a different story. It’s raining out. And it’s supposed to snow later. I think.  I am trying to ignore the weather forecasters and the news in general as I do not want to get depressed.

I KNEW it was going to rain today even if I hadn’t heard the rumors.  Why?  Because I washed my car yesterday for the first time all winter. I was surprised to discover that it was white.  I was sort of under the impression that “dingy” was a color.

Oh well. It’s not like this weather surprises me.  After all, I live in Ohio. Cars aren’t the only things around here that can go from 0 to 60 in two-point-three seconds. 
 
So we’ll deal with yet another snowstorm and eventually spring will show up. Yeah, sure.  Maybe sometime around mid-May. 

No matter. The longer winter hangs on, the happier people will be when spring finally arrives.

And maybe…just maybe…we’ll see someone actually skip.

We can only hope.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It’s 3 a.m. and I’m Wide Awake. What’s Wrong With This Picture?

At precisely 3 o’clock this morning my eyes popped open and I was instantly alert and wide awake. Don’t ask me why. I mean, no one was ringing the doorbell with some sort of emergency that necessitated my immediate assistance. Neither Twinks nor Jinx had bopped me on the nose to tell me she urgently needed her food bowl refilled. And to the best of my knowledge, I’m not subconsciously wrestling with some sort of problem. 

So what was it?  Dunno. All I know is that I remained wide awake for several more hours until I was finally able to drop back to sleep for about, oh, four minutes and thirty seconds before my alarm sounded.

Figures.

My boss actually laughed at me and told me my sleeplessness is due to the aging process. He chortled and said, “Welcome to the club!”  Before this, I had never actually heard anyone chortle. It’s a good word. It’s an apt word.  But the very act of chortling evidently pisses me off. Who knew?

But I guess there must be some truth to that old adage, “misery loves company.”

I, however, am not willing to concede that my sleeplessness is due to old age.  No, I’m perfectly willing to blame the whole Daylight Savings thing and that lost hour of sleep Saturday night.  It messed up my normal sleep patterns. Yeah, that’s what happened. 

It couldn’t possibly have been the bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans I was chewing on shortly before I went to sleep last night, could it?

No, I kid. I neither drink espresso nor chew on the beans to make it. So…c’mon. I haven’t had a problem with insomnia ‘til now, so please don’t tell me it’s what I have to look forward to. What’s next? Cataracts? Super-strength wrinkle cream?  Liver spots? 

Check. Check. And check.

Ack!  I am in big trouble, mister.

Oh well. Maybe instead of obsessing over all those things that go along with senior citizenship, I should think positively.  After all, senior citizens get discounts. Lots of discounts.

Ooh, yeah. I’m all about the discount.  Probably I could even get used to eating dinner at 4 p.m. Can you say, "Early Bird Special"?!

So, okay, it’s all settled. I’ve decided to be all right with this whole aging thing.  After all, what are my options?

But if I drop right off to sleep tonight and don’t wake up again until my alarm sounds tomorrow morning, we’ll just forget all this stuff and blame my one night of insomnia on the time change.

Because, honestly? I still believe 4 p.m. is still too early to eat dinner, discount or no discount.

Meanwhile, does anyone have any espresso beans? I may be willing to give ‘em a shot.  My bloodshot eyes are drooping and my head is bobbing and threatening to smack down on the keyboard any sec…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's Almost Spring. Maybe.

Hey, I just read that spring is only 10 days away. Could we possibly be heading toward warmer weather where we don’t need parkas, mufflers and snow boots to survive sub-zero temperatures? Could we possibly have time to wash the car so it stays clean for a nanosecond before the next storm arrives and we find ourselves scraping off the windshield for the millionth time this year?


Maybe.


I saw the “Spring Countdown” on the Facebook page of one of the local meteorologists. And in his next post he wrote that we may be getting more snow tomorrow.


This is a meteorologist’s version of a practical joke, isn’t it?


I’m not crazy about practical jokes. Dangling “Spring” in front of us while threatening more snow flurries absolutely does not tickle my funny bone.


We had to turn our clocks forward an hour this past weekend, so I was barely able to wake up this morning what with that lost hour messing with my head. I mean, where did it go? Why do we have to wait six more months before getting it back? And why must I continually find clocks around the house that haven’t been changed to the right time until it’s nearly time to “Fall Back”?


Despite my questioning the whole Daylight Savings Time thing, I did find myself starting Monday with a rare feeling of optimism. Maybe – at least for today – spring IS in the air. I even started making a Spring Cleaning To Do List.


I was barreling along just fine – until I got to the “Clean Windows and Screens” and “Weed Garden” portions of the List.


Thoughts of having to do either of those things caused my pen to immediately stop in mid-air.


Ugh. Do you know how high some of the windows in our house are? No, you probably don’t. But believe me, some of them are pretty far off the ground. I'm not Spider Man, people. Just thinking about climbing ladders is enough to cause me to develop a late-in-life fear of heights.  

So...no.  I will not be climbing any ladders and Windexing my way through a Saturday afternoon. Sure, it might be worth it if we had sparkling clean windows afterward (and I made it through the entire day without falling). But I am not a good window cleaner. The streaks I’ll leave behind will be enough to drive me bonkers every time I gaze up at those windows.


It’s the same thing with the weeding. I’m not good at it, as evidenced by my feeble attempts last year in our garden. We ended up throwing mulch over the whole mess and vowing to start over next year.


Well, this IS “next year.” Crap.


Maybe I should start slow and build my way up to the window cleaning and garden weeding? Like instead I could, say, regrout the bathroom tile and install new flooring in the room that Vince calls our “sewing” room (because he THINKS I’ll suddenly take up sewing again after four decades) and I call our “craft” room (because I possess a glue gun and I'm not afraid to use it).


With nothing but a cement floor in there, however, it’s neither a sewing nor a craft room. It’s a junk storage room.


Hmmm. Perhaps I should start out with even fewer lofty goals. Like maybe I should stick with simply planning to weed through the junk in that junk storage room. Hey, look at that, will you? Weeding is weeding – am I right?


What? I'm wrong? Well, fiddlesticks.


Perhaps I’ll start in on my To Do List tomorrow. Right now, I think I need a nap. You know – to make up for that lost hour.



Well, g’night, then. After all, as Scarlett says, "tomorrah is another day." 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Squeaking Jinx = Pet Me. Now.

For the past month or so, our mostly black fraidy-cat, Jinx, has developed a new little morning ritual. As soon as I turn off the water and step out of the shower stall, she enters the bathroom and squeaks at me. Vehemently. 

Jinx evidently missed Kitten 101 where kittens were taught how to meow.  So Jinx squeaks.

But I know what she’s saying to me.  It is Jinx-speak for, “Pet me. Pet me NOW.”

And then she jumps onto the edge of the tub and flops over. If I don’t immediately go to her and start petting her furry little head, she squeaks at me even louder.

I comply, of course. Partly because she so rarely seeks our attention and partly because I’m afraid her squeaking will wake up Vince who is still wringing out those last few minutes of shut-eye before his busy day begins.

I call Jinx our ghost-cat – not because she’s white like Casper the Friendly Ghost – but because she can vanish in an instant.  Jinx doesn’t like strangers and I am convinced she enters the Witness Protection Program every time the doorbell rings. 

Sometimes she gets skittish for no apparent reason and considers even me a stranger.

Those are the times she’ll magically disappear like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.  Well, except that Jinx doesn’t leave behind a big ghostly grin. No amount of cajoling on my part will get her out from her hiding place, although shaking the Treats tin may persuade her if she hasn’t had a treat in a while, like, say, five minutes or so.

Nevertheless, you get my point that Jinx is not an overly friendly cat.  Twinklebelle, on the other hand, is our Greeter. If someone new arrives, she meets them at the door and sniffs their shoes to find out if they are cat or dog people. Then she
Not our actual cat as we can't capture her in this cute pose on film.
promptly flops on her back to let them know she’ll forgive them for being dog people as long as they give her a gentle belly rub.

If Jinx ever did this, I would be forced to conclude that her body had been taken over by alien felines who had come to dominate Planet Earth. Probably they’d be completely indifferent to humans, force us to feed and water them on demand, clean their litter boxes, and thank them whenever they yakked up a hairball on the white carpet. 

Oh…wait… Wait just a doggone minute here! They already have us doing this.  Was our planet taken over by alien cats and that little detail escaped our attention?  Egad!

Regardless, I am powerless against a squeaky Jinx. I pet her and she purrs loudly and I think she might actually love me for half a second. 

As a matter of fact, I risked life and limb – or at least toe – the other week when she squeaked at me and I hurried over to pet her. This is when I bashed my toe on the bathroom scale and ended up squeaking myself. In significant pain. Only my squeaks were accompanied by real tears and absolutely no purrs.

But I guess I was happy that Jinx had forgiven us for going on vacation and was thrilled that she remembered her morning ritual.  I didn’t think cats had much capacity for long term memory, but maybe I’m wrong.

All I know is that if this becomes a permanent habit, I will need to get up ten minutes earlier and add “Jinx-petting” to my morning schedule. I think I’d have a hard time explaining my tardiness to my boss every morning, “Well. You see…it’s like this. I have this ghost cat…”

But getting up earlier would be worth it.  I love hearing Jinx purr. 

Even if she IS an alien cat.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Karma Strikes Back

A black cloud seems to be following me lately and I blame karma.  Oh, not that I’m being paid back because I tripped anyone at Kroger’s in an attempt to get to the front of the line. Nor do I recall recently screaming at any slowpokey drivers ahead of me on the freeway who evidently aren’t familiar with the little black and white rectangular signs with the number “65” on them.

No, I suspect it’s because I took a cruise recently and enjoyed tropical weather while my fellow Midwestern brethren suffered through yet another snow storm with negative wind chill factors.

Perhaps someone saw a photo Vince posted on Facebook of us sipping piña coladas on the Lido deck and invoked a special voodoo-type curse on us – all unbeknownst to me.

Bad luck, black clouds, voodoo or karma - call it what you like. All I know is that since we’ve been back, I’ve caught a cold, stubbed my toe to such a degree that the purple it turned rivaled the hot pink of my toenail polish, and bowled so badly that my teammates (who WERE in first place) probably want to ceremoniously rip the logo off my bowling shirt and kick me off the team.

Oh, and the pièce de résistance?  I dropped my nearly brand new cell phone in a sink full of soapy water.

Catching the cold was understandable. I mean, I spent hours flying the friendly skies to return to Columbus with all manner of humans. In February.  Human in February tend to be riddled with germs.  And try as I might, I always seem to forget Rule #1, which is: “Do Not Touch Face With Hands that Have Touched ANYTHING on Airplane.”  It’s an important rule, but I’m so busy listening to the flight attendant give her Safety Speech, I forget Rule #1.

Okay, not really. What I’m really doing is busily shoving my bag under the seat in front of me and trying to remove my jacket without elbowing the hapless person next to me and settling my iPad into the (germ-laden) seat pocket in front of me and folding my knees into an origami-like shape so I can endure the next several hours of flight in steerage, er, coach. When I finally finish all this, I’m completely disheveled. So I run my hands over my face to remove the sheen of sweat that has gathered and swipe my fingers under my eyes to dislodge the mascara and eyeliner that has inevitably run. What with, y’know, the raccoon look in makeup application being out and all. But this is precisely the moment I introduce germs to my sinus cavities. “Germs,” I say. “Meet Sinuses. Go ahead - have a party!”

And they do. Believe me, they do. Weeks later, I’m still sniffling.


The purple toe was pure accident. Well, not like anyone would willingly choose to stub their toe. No, I was merely attempting to give our scaredy cat, Jinx, some love and attention to let her know we were sorry we left her for a week.  I was so intent on getting over to her perch on the edge of the tub to pet her furry little head that I completely miscalculated the location of the scale on the bathroom floor.  My third toe took the brunt of the hit and within minutes turned a bright pink/purplish color. Since I’d had a pedicure not two days prior, it looked like I was intentionally trying to match my toe to my toenail polish.

Not so much.

My bowling average is, er, was 124, which is not a horrible average. For me, anyway.    But bowling less than 24 hours after returning from vacation was probably not the best idea. Sea legs may be good when you’re on a ship in the ocean, but aren’t so good when you need a steady approach to throw a ball down an alley. So I wasn’t surprised to find my average drop a couple points.

Okay, I could deal with that.  But I bowled again this past weekend and, trust me, I should’ve called in sick. I didn’t even manage to break 100 on two of my three games.  And my third game was still far short of my average.

Egad. My Spidey sense is tingling. Someone is out to get me. And I think its name is Karma.  

But, I swear, the recent loss of my cell phone has about done me in. 

I didn’t wake up Saturday morning thinking I was going to dunk my nearly newly purchased iPhone 5C with its colorful green case in the bathroom sink. If I had thought that might happen, I would never have considered hand washing my unmentionables. I would’ve tossed ‘em in the washing machine with my husband’s dirty socks.  Lace and silk be damned. They’d be far less expensive to replace than my cell phone.


I didn’t even realize the phone was in the soapy water until we heard horrible crackling sounds arising from the suds, which caused me to leap over to the sink to fish it out. Expletives may even have been uttered.

Now my hands constantly pat my pockets in a subconscious search for my cell phone. I blindly reach for it upon awakening, only to find it missing from my bedside table. Instead, it sits in a big bag of rice, which is supposedly sopping up all that water.

But I don’t think it’s working and I’m not holding out much hope since it has been in the rice for four days now. Yet I keep dropping it back in the bag in the blind hope that it might miraculously sputter back to life.

I wonder if Siri misses me?  I know I miss Siri.  Especially since I changed her American-sounding female voice to a male voice with a sexy British accent. Even when Siri wasn’t helpful, I still liked listening to her. I mean, him.

It?

And please don’t ask me if I have insurance on it. I don't. And I haven’t yet been able to face the majorly expensive undertaking of replacing my sleek green phone.

So I blame karma. But probably I should apologize to the cosmos. Just in case I did trip someone in line at Kroger. Or yell at the slow poke in the passing lane. 

But I don't think I should have to apologize for enjoying tropical weather in February. Unless it will bring my cell phone back to life. 

And then maybe I'll think about it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Our Sleep Number is NOT Zero

As briefly mentioned in my last blog, Vince and I have a Sleep Number Bed.  

It was not purchased brand new at the Sleep Number Bed Store as we would have immediately developed insomnia upon learning the price of a brand new Sleep Number Bed. 

And that would have completely defeated the purpose.

Instead, we bought it second-hand from someone’s hair stylist who seemed suspiciously happy to get rid of it for a few bucks. I could only wonder why.

Nevertheless, we agreed to purchase it and she and her husband brought it over and set it up. This was a good thing because they kept returning to their SUV to fetch more pieces/parts and I wasn’t sure if they were constructing a bed or perhaps building a rocket ship in our bedroom. I fretted about moving ever again as we’d have no clue how to set up the thing.

Up until this point, I was under the impression that beds consisted of two major parts – a mattress and a box spring.  Okay, three if you include a frame. And let’s not complicate matters by discussing headboards and footboards and such.  We’re talking basics here.

My heretofore habit was to go to Mattress Mart, test a few different mattresses to find the most comfortable one at a price I could afford and then purchase the set. A day or two later, a couple burly men would knock on my door carrying the new mattress and box spring, which they would set in the bed frame.  And they would remove my old mattress and box spring and take them to the Old Mattress and Box Spring graveyard. All the while wearing those little paper booties so as not to sully my pristine carpet.  No muss, no fuss.

So initially I was skeptical of this Sleep Number Bed.

But once we discovered what our actual Sleep Numbers were (mine is 45 and Vince’s is 40), we pretty much never wanted to get out of our comfy bed.  Soon we began to scoff at plain old mattresses and box springs.  There was no adjustment ability there. No real comfort.

Heck, it was getting to the point where I could barely convince Vince to go on vacation since no other bed was as comfortable as his own.

This honeymoon phase with our Sleep Number Bed lasted approximately three years. Until recently, anyway, when it decided to spring a leak.

I knew we had a problem when I woke up early in the morning and blearily glanced over at Vince. Only I had to look down because he was lying in a pit about six inches lower than I was. He could barely climb up out of the abyss to get out of bed. And he was not happy. 

This was when I discovered that Sleep Number Beds are basically fancy air mattresses surrounded by and covered with heavy pieces of foam. There are hoses that attach to the mattress bladder that can be filled to capacity or the air can be released until the mattress is at the proper softness level.  Vince was sleeping (and I use the term loosely as very little sleeping was actually occurring) on a completely flat air mattress.

So we (and by “we” I mean Vince) pulled the bed apart and tried reconnecting things to fix the problem.  I heard a lot of grumbling. And the terms “bladders” and “connectors” and “O-rings” kept cropping up.  I think he even briefly considered using duct tape.

Those pesky bladders and connectors and O-rings. Always causing problems.

Eventually, the bed was reassembled and pushed back against the wall.  We crossed our fingers and went to bed.

Sometime during the middle of the night I woke up to use the bathroom and when I came out, Vince was sleeping on my side of the bed. How he managed to roll up out of the abyss and move to my side without making any noise and alerting me in the next room, I’ll never know. But he did. Sleep deprivation is not a pretty thing. 

For either of us.

The next morning, we downed multiple cups of black coffee and furtively counted the bags under the other's eyes. We wondered if there is such a thing as an O-ring repair specialist. Otherwise, we knew we'd have to ditch the fancy Sleep Number Bed and go back to Mattress Mart and pick out a plain old mattress and box spring. 

Because the big sinkhole in our mattress is not working.  After all, neither of has a Sleep Number of Zero. We may as well camp out on the floor. 

But Vince is nothing if not persistent and he's going to give the do-it-yourself repair thing another try. Only this time he is planning to employ a little duct tape. I guess we'll test the theory that duct tape fixes everything.

And we'll be keeping our fingers crossed. Again.  

But if that doesn't work and we have to make a trip to Mattress Mart, I hope the burly men in the paper booties will take our Sleep Number Bed and all those pieces/parts to the Old Mattress and Box Spring graveyard. They'll need the big truck.