Friday, January 23, 2015

I'm Running Late. Again?

Last week my hair stylist sent me a text message letting me know she was running late and, instead of getting together at noon as planned, she said she might be 15-30 minutes behind schedule. 

If this were anyone else, I’d believe them.  But since it was Alissa, I was standing at the door waiting for her precisely at noon just as the doorbell rang.

Alissa is one of those perpetually prompt people and you could set your watch by her.  Well, if you want your watch to be fifteen minutes early, that is.

I’m sure the words, “Sorry, I’m running late” have never actually crossed her lips.

I, on the other hand, am thinking of having those words tattooed on my forehead.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m completely irresponsible.  If I were to have an appointment with, say, the IRS, believe you me I’d show up at the appointed time. And I’ve never been late for the doctor, which is kind of funny when you think about it because when have you ever been seen by a doctor exactly on time?

It’s not that I don’t know how to plan my time efficiently. It’s more that I don’t like being early, so I invariably run late.

Whenever I’m told an event starts “around” or “approximately,” those are magic words that mean I’ll be there at least forty-five minutes after that time.

Consequently, I rarely attend surprise parties. Why? Because there’d be a very good chance the birthday girl and I would walk in at the same time. You’re never the most favorite person at the party when you’re responsible for ruining the surprise.

I haven’t quite figured out why I’m so prone to running late. Maybe it’s because back in my earlier, more responsible days, I tended to be the first to arrive.

This wasn’t good either.  It was really awkward when the hostess answered the door wearing a bathrobe and a towel turban.

Maybe also it’s because whenever I was the first to arrive, I was put on crudité prep duty while the hostess, you know, dried her hair. And got dressed. Back then I wasn’t very good with crudité prep. Back then I was more comfortable throwing a few veggies on a tray with some pre-packaged dip and calling it a day.

But with Vince’s help, I’m getting better. If we’re supposed to be somewhere at 8, we are there at 8. Unless Vince has to work. His work schedule is very unpredictable and he rarely leaves right on time.  Which means that I’m usually still running late.

Like right now. I’m supposed to be at a birthday party. And I’m not ready.

Crap.

All I can say is, thank goodness it’s not a surprise party.


Gotta go.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hide N’ Seek

Once a month we have a professional clean our house.  And by “professional” I mean someone who is twenty years younger than I am and who doesn’t mind crouching along the baseboards like a Ninja Swiffering up the latest batch of dust bunnies.

If Swiffering dust bunnies was on my list of chores to do, I suspect I’d suddenly develop a severe case of “Dust Bunny Blindness” until they grew to Godzilla-like proportions. And even then, I’d only remove them if they hindered my progress into the room. 

Anyone entering our home with a dust allergy would need to don protective gear.  And, since we don’t wish to pay for gas masks and Hazmat suits in various sizes and colors for our guests, we pay a cleaning lady.

But I think our cleaning lady plays tricks on me.  At first blush, she seems like a very sweet woman who is eager to help in whatever way necessary to make our home sparkle.  But every single time after she leaves, I have to go on the hunt for our folding cutting board.

And it’s only that particular cutting board. All the other cutting boards are parked with military precision on the counter against the wall next to our Kitchen-Aid and are ranked from largest to smallest in descending order.

But no matter where the folding cutting board is at the time of her arrival, by the time she leaves, it’s nowhere to be found.

At first, I assumed it was because she didn’t know where it was stored. Our practice is to wash some items by hand (the ones I don’t want getting destroyed in our dishwasher), and place them on a drying mat next to the sink to dry. Later, after they’re dry (naturally), I put them away.

But because our cleaning lady, let’s call her Mollie, is thorough, she attempts to put away any items that are drying on the drying mat. Thus, serving bowls will be found where the storage bowls are stored and spatulas that go in the drawer next to the stove might be found in the utensil organizer.  (Hey, it’s a system that works for us. We have too many spatulas and they’d take up all the room in the utensil organizer, which means we can never find the whisk.)

Believe me, it has been a work in progress to get our kitchen organized.

Nevertheless, Mollie hides that folding cutting board in a different cabinet or drawer every time. 

The first time she did it, it took me two days to locate the blasted thing. I nearly called her several times to ask where she’d put it, but refused to admit defeat. Finally, I found it in the back of the cabinet where our pots are stored.  The next time I eventually found it in the towel drawer. 

The other day, I figured I would eliminate the need entirely for Mollie to find homes for all our kitchen items. I washed, dried and put everything away, including the cutting board in question. I decided that there was absolutely no chance I’d lose track of it.

But I would be wrong. (Shocking, I know.)

Later that evening, I decided to make chili for dinner so we could have some while watching the college Championship football game (yay Ohio State!). I started to grab the folding cutting board so I could cut up an onion.

But was it in its spot that I’d so carefully placed it that morning before Mollie arrived?

Noooo.  It was not.

So I had to go on the hunt. And this time I found it on top of the baking pans in the cabinet directly below the counter where the other cutting boards are kept.

So I’m figuring it has to be on purpose. Kind of like an adult version of Hide N’ Seek. And instead of humans, we play with kitchen paraphernalia.

Oh well. If that’s the only issue we have with Mollie, I’m okay with it.  And if she gets her jollies by hiding the cutting board, that’s okay, too.  Our kitchen is only so big.

If she starts hiding it in the wasteland that is our furnace room, however, we’re going to have a problem.


And, probably, I’d be way more comfortable if she chose to hide the Swiffer dust cloths. That way, I’ll have a reasonable excuse not to go on the hunt for those gargantuan dust bunnies.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Procrastination Queen Gets Overthrown


So I shamed myself into cleaning the dining room and the lower level kitchenette.  Yep, right after posting my last blog, I stood up from the computer, rolled my eyes a little, heaved a huge sigh…and got to work. 
 
And now, all trace of Christmas is packed away in bins and boxes and stowed in storage closets to await the next grand unveiling.

I was all sweaty and a little disgruntled afterwards, but the Procrastination Queen is No More!

Well, at least until she finds the next thing she doesn’t want to do and finds an excuse to avoid doing it.

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just throw a wreath on the front door, and buy one of those pop-up Christmas trees that are pre-lit and pre-decorated. I could be done with the whole holiday decorating thing in less than five minutes. (I’m assuming I’d have to wrestle the pop-up tree out of the box, so I’m allowing a little extra time for that.)
 
But every year as soon as the last slice of pumpkin pie is served at Thanksgiving dinner, I find myself romanticizing over how our living room would look all lit up in its Christmas finery with candles glowing on the mantle and a cheery fire crackling in the fireplace.  And I instantly become a sucker for those confounded twinkly lights.

Besides, I’d be kidding myself if I tried not decorating for Christmas. One year I had a broken foot and hobbled around with crutches wearing a cast up to my knee and I told myself it was a good enough reason not to decorate that year.

And I managed to live without the twinkly lights…at least until the week before Christmas when I couldn’t stand it anymore and dragged the Christmas tree up from the basement and put it up.  And I wasn’t even hosting Christmas that year!

I think about what life would be like if we didn‘t fuss over things like Christmas decorations or fancying up our holiday table. Sure, things would be much simpler. But – to me – there’s just something a little more special about candle-lit centerpieces and charger plates and fancy napkins folded into pretty napkin rings.  

Probably I’m just trying to get my guests to notice their surroundings and not pay so much attention to the actual food I’m serving.  A gourmet cook, I’m not!

Besides, if we didn’t show off our decorating accomplishments, we’d have no need for cable TV stations like HGTV. We wouldn’t need Pinterest either.  And we'd all be saying, "Martha, who?"

So I guess I should simply accept my addiction to twinkly lights.

And I should also recognize that the Procrastination Queen isn’t dead. She’s only in hibernation. 

Sigh.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Queen of Procrastination Strikes Again

My last blog was perhaps a tiny bit maudlin…so I decided to lighten things up a little.

Today I thought we would talk about procrastination.  And about how I’m the Queen of it. And, no, I’m not proud of this fact.

While I successfully took down our Christmas tree last weekend, I have yet to vacuum up all those little green pieces of artificial tree “stuff” that inevitably separate from the tree and land on the carpet.

And while I was energetic enough to remove most of the Christmas decorations that filled every available square inch of space in our home, I suddenly lost all that energy when it came time to actually putting anything away.

So there it sits. Everything that screams “Christmas!” is now taking up residence in our dining room until I organize it all and store it again until next December. And here we are, an astonishing SIX days after the tree was taken down from its place of honor in the living and shoved back inside the attic closet, and my home scarily resembles one of those houses on an episode of “Hoarders.” 


Well, not quite. I mean, there is clearly more than a narrow path to get from room to room. And no one has to climb over debris to get to the bathroom.

Yet.

Sadly, the upstairs isn’t the only place that I haven’t de-Christmastized, either.  (Yes, I just made up that word.)  Our lower level was bedecked in all manner of Christmas finery, too.  But now all the sparkly and glittery decorations are currently filling up the counters in our lower level kitchenette.

Twinks is like, "Clean up this mess already, willya?!"
Good thing I don’t cook down there.

Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t do much cooking in the upstairs kitchen, either!

But at least I was able to restrain myself from stashing handfuls of garland and twinkly lights in the oven while I contemplated which box to store them in. Knowing me, I would’ve forgotten. Until the next time I preheated the oven to bake some biscuits, anyway. I would’ve preferred seeing the house burn down than calling 9-1-1 and having the local firefighters see my messy dining room.

So I suppose I should take the hint and get started, shouldn’t I? 

After all, with temps in the single digits right now, I really don’t think we want to be homeless.

…or perhaps I should just refuse to bake any biscuits until, say, April. By then I may have gotten re-energized enough to put away the garland and twinkly lights.

See what I mean? That's me, the Queen of Procrastination. 

Meanwhile, Vince is looking at the house in alarm and thinking, April??" We have to wait until APRIL before things get back to normal around here?

But he's a smart man and knows what will motivate me to getting the dining room and lower level kitchenette sparkling clean. 

He'll just invite people over for dinner. 

Biscuits, anyone?!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reflections

For my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary a few years ago, I gave them a digital picture frame. On it, I loaded many of their old slides and a slew of family photos past and present. 

When I picked up my parents to bring them to our home for Christmas a few weeks ago, I pulled the memory card from the frame so I could add more recent photos to it.

Unfortunately, I forgot I had the card in the pocket of my jeans, and it went through the laundry. But, fortunately, when I put the card in our digital photo frame to test it, all the photos were intact. Believe me, that was a big “whew!”

So for the past couple days, I’ve been watching all the images of my parents’ lives stream across the screen. And it makes me both happy and a little sad at the same time.

I look at the images of my mom as a young bride and newly-minted mother. I see her hair change from auburn to gray (or “silver” as she used to insist we call it). Interestingly, it got more silver after I was brought into the family. Coincidence?  Dunno. I think I’ll choose to believe it was just heredity at work and it was simply time for those strands to turn silver!

I see photos of my dad as a young father with a full head of hair...er...wait a minute. On second thought, the top of dad's head was a little sparse even back then. While mom's hair turned silver at a fairly young age, dad lost most of his pretty early on. Nevertheless, he always had a big smile on his face as he balanced one or more kids on his lap. 

I marvel at the baby pictures of me and my siblings and photos of us when we excitedly opened our presents from Santa or played on the beach.  I can’t believe we were ever that little.

But I also see pictures of family members who are no longer with us and friends of my parents from the time before I was born whom I’ve never met.

So I see a whole lifetime in those images.

And I realize how short it really is.


At 21, who can picture themselves at 81? I don’t think many of us have that ability. If we did, we’d have probably rethought that whole baby oil suntanning thing we did in the 70s.

But I really don’t think we realize how quickly time passes – at least until we get past the halfway mark and wonder where the years have gone.

None of us, of course, knows when our time has come to depart from this earth. We know it could be any day, but we somehow don’t really believe it. We always think we have another tomorrow on the books.

When you reach my dad and mom’s ages of 88 and 89, respectively, you know there can’t be many tomorrows left. I can only hope that in their senior years, they look back on their lives and know they’ve had a good one. I know they traveled the world while they were able and lived life to the fullest. I hope they look at their children’s lives and recognize they did a good job raising them and that they are all settled and happy. And I hope those thoughts give them peace.

I have friends who have recently lost parents. And I know many people who were missing their loved ones this recent holiday season. So I know I am fortunate that I was able to spend another Christmas with both my mom and dad by my side.

So when I load more recent photos on their digital memory card before returning it to them, I will take a moment to reflect on my life and think about all that I still want to accomplish. 

And I will get to work. After all, as the old saying goes, “This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”

Thanks, Mom and Dad. For the reminder. And for a lifetime of happy memories.

Now it’s time to go make some more.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The “Mane” Thing About Getting Older

Earlier this month I turned fifty-five. Yes, I know, it’s amazingly hard to believe, considering I’ve been lying about my age for years. According to the Jane’s Domain calendar, this year I should have turned, oh, let's say, "forty-two."

But sadly, we can no longer fib about our age and get away with it. Former classmates with whom we went to grade school and who are now Facebook friends will out us in a second.

But I’m not really serious when I say I lie about my age. If someone has a “need to know” I will come clean with the correct decade of my birth.  But if someone guesses that I’m younger than I really am all bets are off. My standard response is, “Why, yes, that's exactly my age. How ever did you guess?!”

And then I change the subject.

But I’m seriously trying to come to grips with the fact that I’m no longer young. I understand that I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me. And it no longer startles me when a store clerk or server calls me, “ma’am.”

Things that looked okay on me in my 20s would look just plain silly on me now. I may have (barely) gotten away with the hot pink pants I wore back then, but now? Please.

And as for that dramatic cat eyeliner that made my baby blues pop when I was young? Nowadays – even if I could see in the mirror well enough to apply it correctly – it’d start melting into the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes before I left the house. This is partly due to the wrinkles themselves, but has more to do with the dreaded hot flashes that have started plaguing me lately.
 
When I neared my 40th birthday, I remember my mother telling me the “rule” that required that women over 40 had to wear their hair short. I believe she was quoting the “Official Old Lady Handbook” but she has never given me a copy, so I can’t be certain.  And for fifteen years I’ve been happily ignoring that rule. But lately I’ve been wondering if I don’t look a little silly with my long blonde hair.

So for the past month or so, I had been mulling over the idea of cutting my hair. Nothing as drastic as a pixie cut or anything, but just something a little lighter that requires less time to manage. And it would be, as my mother would say, more “age appropriate.”

So I looked up some hairstyles online that I thought I could live with. I copied and pasted them into a file that I could show Alissa, my Hairstylist Extraordinaire.

And yesterday? Well, we did it.  Okay, so Alissa did it. I pretty much just sat there. When all was said and done, I believe she cut off about 19” of hair. No, not really. It seemed like it, but 3-4” was probably closer to reality. Alissa then expertly wielded the hair dryer and flatiron and – voila! – I had a fantastic new hairstyle.

That was yesterday. 

Today? Well, today, I’m dealing with shorter hair that I can’t seem to style to save my life. Currently, I have it pulled back. So, clearly, there is a learning curve here.

So I think I’m glad I made the decision. Vince was complimentary, but he’s a smart guy. He knows I can’t glue the hair back on and it will take a while to grow out if I don’t like it. 

So I’ll have to work with my new style and I’m sure I’ll get it figured out. Yeah. Probably around  the time I decide the heck with the “Official Old Lady Handbook” and decide to grow it long again. Maybe I’ll even try to find a pair of hot pink pants and experiment with that cat eyeliner look again.

Not really. While I’m not ready to completely concede to Father Time, I’m also not willing to make a complete fool out of myself.

After all, forty-two-years-olds do develop some level of maturity. 

Heh, heh. ("Why, yes, that's exactly my age...")

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Go Speed Racer, Go! On Second Thought...

Someone in our household got a speeding ticket yesterday. I won’t mention any names…but it wasn’t me. Since there are only two of us living here, and the cats don’t have valid driver’s licenses, I imagine you can guess the culprit.

Ever since I traded in my white car for a red one, and bright red vehicles are magnets for those eagle-eyed laser gun handlers, I’ve been behaving myself on the roadways. Or trying to, anyway.

But my better half? Yeah, not so much.

So the unlucky ticket holder handed me the citation and asked me to pay it for him. It seems as if he doesn’t want to be reminded of his wrongdoing.

So in an effort to be helpful, I logged on to the city website to find out how much the fine was going to set us back, but I learned he cannot pay it online. He has to either pay the fine in person or mail a check – and I think I’m going to make him write it out.

Just because the guy in the Porsche was antagonizing him and playing tag on the freeway does not mean that he had to participate in the “boys will be boys” testosterone test. After all, he’s the one who got caught – not the guy in the Porsche.

But while I was on the website, I started perusing fines associated with various citations.

For instance, in the city of Dublin, Ohio, a person can get fined eighty-nine bucks for hitchhiking and the same amount for jaywalking. Wonder if they double the fine if a person is jaywalking while hitchhiking?

Some of the fines are pretty straightforward and clear. Like, we all know you aren’t supposed to speed in a school zone and there is a hefty fine if you get caught doing it.

But I didn’t realize people could get fined for driving too slowly. That’s a concept that I can’t really wrap my mind around. Driving in a 25 MPH zone feels unnatural to me. My car doesn’t like going that slowly and despite my efforts to keep it in check, it speeds up. All by itself. Honest! So it makes me wonder how many tickets could possibly be written for driving under the speed limit?  

There is a fine of $109 for having the beam of one’s headlights off kilter. Yikes. The one time I tried to replace the headlight on my car, I messed with the wrong screw and the headlight pretty much illuminated the sky instead of the road ahead. I tried fixing it, but only made things worse. So, after shaking my head and rolling my eyes at my pitiful mechanical skills, I took the car to an expert who fixed it with a few turns of a screwdriver. Probably he was snickering all the while.  But now I’m thinking it was a good thing it was daytime and I didn’t need to turn on the headlights on the way to the mechanic. Having to pay a $109 fine in addition to the cost of the headlight itself as well as the cost of the fix, well, that would’ve just added insult to injury.

If you’re as old as I am, you can remember when the 60s version of the modern-day mini-van was piling all the kids into the bed of a pickup truck. There were no seatbelts. But then, there were no seatbelt laws either. Apparently those in the back of the truck just knew they had to hold on. Today, there is a $99 fine if you have a passenger in the bed of a pick-up. Probably the cop would tack on the $51 fine for said passenger not wearing a seat belt, too.

So it was interesting reading about all the fines that Dublin, Ohio, can impose upon the lawbreakers amongst us.

Fortunately, I’m not overly worried about too many things on this list. I’ll have a serious talk with my car about the 25MPH thing. 

But the other person in our household should probably watch his Speed Racer tendencies.


And he should probably avoid guys in Porsches altogether.