Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I’m a Believer. Goodbye, Mr. Jones...

Aw, man. I just read that Davy Jones from The Monkees died today of a heart attack at the age of 66. I’m sure his death won’t be as newsworthy or as shocking as the death of, say, a Whitney Houston or a Michael Jackson, but there is a large group of women of a certain age who will be really sorry to hear the news.

It makes me especially sad, since Davy didn’t know that I planned to marry him one day – and now he never will.

Actually, it’s probably a good thing he never knew I existed. At age 10, I was still shorter than his height of 5’3”, but by age 13 I was nearly half a foot taller than he was. Since I’m not real comfortable towering over my man, I’d probably have had to move on to one of the taller guys in the group, even though Davy was my first and ultimate tweener crush.

Still, I have many fond memories of singing Daydream Believer and Last Train to Clarksville. I even recall a really embarrassing incident when my best friend Michelle and I were standing by the record player belting out the lyrics to Valleri when my older brother came into the room and started making fun of us. When he wouldn’t stop, we trotted downstairs to complain to my mom, but she very gently suggested we tone it down a little. Huh. We thought we sounded pretty spectacular, but I suppose we could’ve been a “little” pitchy.

Oh well. My brother had cooties at the time, so what did he know?

Michelle and I spent countless hours holed up in each other’s basements decorating appliance boxes as the houses we would share with Davy when we became Mrs. Jones. Of course, since even at the tender age of eight we knew both of us couldn’t be Mrs. Jones, we’d have to call dibs. The loser had to be Mrs. Tork or Mrs. Dolenz or even (ew) Mrs. Nesmith. (What was with the green beanie knit cap with the pom-pom on top, Michael Nesmith?)

Anyway, while I can’t exactly recall, I’m sure being a little slow to call dibs now and again had one of us stomping home in a fit of pique when we didn’t get to be Mrs. Jones that day.

I don’t remember what day of the week The Monkees television show aired, but I remember being glued to the TV whenever it was on. This was, of course, decades before the advent of TiVO and Hulu or even videotape, so if we missed an episode, we were out of luck.

I can, however, clearly remember saving up my allowance until I could afford to buy my first record album, which was simply titled, The Monkees. We played that record until it was worn out, but it was one of my most prized possessions.

Critics might have called The Monkees a “fake” band put together from a casting call, but we couldn’t have cared less about any of that. We just thought they were cute and our crushes were completely sweet and innocent. And it didn’t matter one little bit that the only musical instrument Davy ever really played was the tambourine and the maracas on occasion.

By the time I turned 13, however, I’d lost all interest in The Monkees. Part of it was because, like I said, I towered over Davy Jones, but it was more likely due to the fact that I was 13. Thirteen-year-old girls are not known for the longevity of their crushes. As a matter of fact, I’d already blown through crushes on Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond and David Cassidy (although it was hard for me to move on from David).

But by this stage, we were spying on the live (and potentially more accessible) teenaged boys in the neighborhood who played basketball at the house across the street.

Over the years, there have been a few reunion concerts for groups like The Monkees, but I’ve never been interested in attending one. Mostly because I couldn’t imagine being a grown woman with more than her share of wrinkles jumping up and down in excitement like a giddy schoolgirl belting out the lyrics to Valleri along with the band. (Probably I’m still a “little” pitchy…)

Instead, I preferred to remember fondly those first crushes while maintaining a little dignity, even though my dignity might already be blown by admitting publicly that I had a crush on Davy Jones.

And whether they admit it or not, there will be a whole lot of women around my age who will feel a little sad when they hear the news that Davy Jones is no longer with us. So rest in peace, Davy. You made a lot of little girls daydream believers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

You Can’t Eat Yogurt with a Fork And Other Life Lessons

So the other day I was sitting in my car all ready to eat lunch and read the latest John Grisham novel when I realized I had forgotten a spoon. Since my lunch consisted of an apple, a piece of string cheese and a container of yogurt, that particular utensil was a fairly integral part of the operation. And given that it wasn’t an overly substantial lunch, I didn’t want to forego the yogurt. So I rooted around in the glove box, but couldn’t find a spoon. Instead, I found a plastic fork.

Convincing myself that yogurt is thick and would be edible using a fork instead of a spoon, I unwrapped the utensil and mixed the yogurt. And then commenced eating. The first few bites were pretty successful and I was congratulating myself on my ingenuity. But then about halfway through the container it happened. A blob of yogurt slipped through the plastic tines of the fork and landed in a big splotch smack dab in the center of my black turtleneck.


Thank goodness I carry a Tide Stick in my car for just such laundry emergencies.

So I learned that a fork cannot really serve as a substitute utensil when eating yogurt. Probably not pudding cups either, although I can’t remember the last time I even thought about eating a pudding cup.

Anyway, it made me think of things that I’ve learned over the years.

Like, for instance, you should always carry a spare outfit in your carry-on bag if you’re checking your luggage. Sure, you can say that airlines don’t lose luggage that often, but you’d be wrong, Skippy. Besides, when it happens to you, it’s a big deal.

I’ve had luggage go missing on the return leg of flights, but I don’t care so much about it by then because it’s just a suitcase filled with dirty clothes. But one Christmas I flew to New Mexico to spend the holiday with family. My luggage, conversely, had other plans and took a side trip to Kansas City.

My brother and his wife were staying in a small, remote town about two hours away from Albuquerque while he managed an architectural renovation for a local college. It was a beautiful area, but the shopping situation was not ideal. We drove an hour to find a Walmart where I bought an ugly pair of pajamas and a couple pairs of socks. I figured I could wear the same outfit for a day or two as I was loathe to spend any more hard-earned dollars on stretch pants and a turtleneck with little reindeer printed all over it.

But my suitcase must have enjoyed its visit in Kansas City because it didn’t arrive until the day before I left New Mexico. By then I was so sick of washing my clothes every night and putting the same things back on every morning, I vowed to burn the clothes once I arrived home.

Believe me, it was the last time I made that mistake!

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that you should never wait until the low fuel light has flashed more than once to refill the gas tank. This holds true even if it takes your entire paycheck to fill up. It’s just way too embarrassing to be stuck on the side of the road with no fuel.

This happened to me for the first time when I was a rookie driver and didn’t realize my dad’s car had a broken fuel gauge. We didn’t even have flashing lights in our cars back then when we were low on fuel, so we had to rely on common sense and we had to pay attention to the little arrow on the gauge. But what did I know? So you can imagine my consternation when I stepped on the accelerator and nothing happened. Okay, it wasn’t “consternation” so much as “blind panic.” But 16-year-olds tend to be a little overly dramatic anyway.

I can tell you that I haven’t run out of gasoline since that day long ago. But that doesn’t mean others have learned this lesson. About a month ago, Vince was called on to rescue a friend of ours who had ignored the vehicle’s little flashing light insisting that it was low on fuel. He just as adamantly insisted he could make it a little while longer before refueling.

Not so much.

It’s hard to have as much sympathy for a 40-year-old who runs out of fuel as it is a 16-year-old, but you probably will assist either one when they ask. It’s difficult not to start lecturing, though.

And now, whenever we see our friend, he loudly announces that he has plenty of gas. The comment makes us laugh – and even more so when the crowd around him take a collective step back.

So the big lesson here, boys and girls: ALWAYS carry both a plastic fork AND a plastic spoon in your glove box for emergency utensil coverage. And if you can’t remember that simple rule, you’d better make sure you’ve stocked up on the Tide Sticks.

Oh, and one other thing. Don’t expect to buy cute PJs at a Walmart in a remote part of New Mexico. I just threw that in as a bonus. You’re welcome.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Interest in Pinterest

Oh boy, what have I started now?

Yesterday someone suggested to me that with my blogging and the quotes I put on Facebook every day, I should get on Pinterest. She even said she’d follow me.

While I’ve heard of Pinterest, I really have no idea what it’s all about. I mean, I assume it’s another social networking site. And I know you can “pin” things to it. What things I have to pin, I have no idea.

So I clicked on the site and asked for an invitation to join. And I was sent an email that said I was on the “waiting list” to join. That kind of irritated me because (a) I have to ask to be included in their super-secret society? And (b) someone then gets to decide if I’m worthy of being a member?


Yet a few hours later when I received an email telling me I was invited to join, I immediately clicked on the link.

What does that say about me? That I can’t stand not being “in” on things? That I am without a modicum of pride and I jump at every opportunity to be a joiner? Perhaps. But I prefer to think it says that I’m simply curious and I’m trying to learn about and keep up with modern trends. Yeah, I think I’ll stick with that answer.

So apparently I now have a Pinterest account. I don’t know what it looks like because I haven’t seen it. But I’ve gotten several emails telling me people are following me. Really? They must be bored or something to be following me since I have no idea where I’m going. Not yet, anyway.

Of course, it was only a couple years ago I wasn’t so sure about the whole blogging thing. And here I sit writing my 254th blog. This is an activity I thoroughly enjoy, so I don’t imagine I’ll stop using anytime soon.

Unless, of course, some bigger or better blogging website comes along. Which I’m sure is in the works as we speak.

So joining Pinterest means that I now have one more user name and password to remember. It probably means I have to add another app to my overcrowded iPhone. And it means that there is something else on the computer that will divert my attention and keep me occupied instead of, oh, I don’t know, talking to people face-to-face.

So let’s see. I have a Facebook account (well, actually, three accounts – but two are for work). I have a Twitter account that I haven’t accessed in well over a year. Probably I can’t even get back into it because I’m sure I’ve forgotten the password. But that’s probably not a bad thing because I am really lousy at trying to write a message using only 140 characters.

I have Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail accounts. I have a Google+ account that I’m not even sure I’ve ever used. I am a member of Plaxo and LinkedIn. I email, text, IM and I have about a bajillion accounts on various things like bank sites, travel sites, shopping sites, and X-Rated video sites.

I have an Etsy account and an eBay account…

What? Oh, so you WERE paying attention! Yes, I’m totally kidding about the X-Rated video sites. I so don’t need that kind of trash on my computer infecting it with all sorts of viruses and stuff. As it is, I get enough SPAM from places like the Central Bank of Nigeria telling me I’m the beneficiary of some inheritance and I only need to send a nominal fee of $630 to cover administrative costs associated with the release of the funds. Or that I’m an international lottery winner, which is weird because I don’t even play the lottery in my own home state. Or that I can get 20% off my order of male enhancement pharmaceuticals if I order by midnight.

Anyway, you get the idea. I – like many folks – have way too many online things going on. No wonder we freak out whenever we see the “low battery” signal or panic at the thought of a power outage.

Nevertheless, I am sure that I’ll get the hang of Pinterest. I will probably even enjoy the experience and find interesting things on the site. But for now, I’m a little stressed about my first “pin.” What to do, what to do? Oh, hey, can I possibly pin a link to this blog? Wow, now that’s a GREAT idea…

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Beef Stroganoff Situation

Vince called me on his way home from work the other night and asked me if I’d eaten dinner yet. Since his schedule is so varied these days, there is never one correct answer to the question. It depends on what time it is when he asks. It depends on what time I get home from work. And it mostly depends on how hungry I am when I get home from work.

But, since I had just returned home from my weekly loop around the library, grocery store and gas station and hadn’t yet had a chance to forage for food in our fridge, the answer – on this particular evening, anyway – was “No.”

He said he had a craving for beef stroganoff, which is the Wednesday special at The Rusty Bucket. Not being a big fan of mushrooms, I didn’t have the same craving, but I was happy to accompany Vince while he indulged. Okay, mostly I was happy that I didn’t have to cook.

So Vince picked me up and we headed to the joint. All the while he’s practically rubbing his hands in anticipation, which was a little tough since he also had to shift while he was driving.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get clear in my mind the difference between The Rusty Bucket and the Old Bag of Nails restaurants. What’s with these weird restaurant names in Columbus, I’m thinking. And why can’t I ever remember which is which? Usually I combine the two and it becomes The Rusty Nail. This makes me remember the time when I was a kid and stepped on a rusty nail and had to go to the hospital to get a tetanus shot, which was pretty traumatizing. This memory does not exactly evoke happy thoughts of food, so then I muse that it's a good thing neither restaurant called themselves The Rusty Nail.

Yeah, I know – what can I say? I have a pretty fertile imagination and my mind takes weird detours from time to time.

Anyway, we get to the restaurant and what happens? We sit down and Vince, not even cracking open the menu, tells the server he wants the daily special. But oblivious to the impact her answer will have on my husband, the waitress breezily chirps, “Oh, we’re completely out of the Beef Stroganoff!”

The silence at our table was deafening.

Vince was so let down he very nearly stood up and walked right out of the restaurant. I believe he only restrained himself because I was with him.

He ended up ordering something else that he said wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t beef stroganoff. The poor guy was so disappointed. Even worse, he had had lunch that day from the same restaurant chain at the location nearer to his office. And he specifically didn’t order the beef stroganoff just so he could have it later that evening at dinner with me.

Yeah, I’m thinkin’ he won’t make that mistake again.

Meanwhile I was still happy I didn’t have to cook. Or clear the table. Or do the dishes. So basically I would’ve been happy sitting there drinking a glass of water and munching on a carrot stick or maybe even a piece of cardboard.

Um…on second thought…maybe not. There really aren’t a whole lot of pots, pans, dishes or silverware to wash with either a carrot stick or a piece of cardboard, so what would be the point? Plus, I don’t think cardboard would be very tasty – not that I’ve actually ever tried it. No, not even when I was a stupid kid doing stupid things like stepping on rusty nails.

So the impulse to learn how to cook beef stroganoff for Vince is kind of strong right now. But I’m trying to tamp down the impulse since I really don’t know the difference between button and morel mushrooms – and I’m not sure I want to find out.

Besides, I’m not sure I could take the disappointed look on Vince’s face when my version of beef stroganoff can’t compare to The Rusty Bucket’s version.

So instead I think I’ll just drive over to The Rusty Bucket next Wednesday and get a Take Out order of beef stroganoff for my dear husband.

(Better get there early, though.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Nasty Germs Got Me!

You know that moment when you realize you’re getting sick? When you’re actually aware of the glands in your neck (the very same glands that never ever cross your mind except when you’re sick)? When your eyes feel scratchy and there’s that vague headachy feeling behind them? And when you’ve sneezed for the third time in as many minutes – and there isn’t one little speck of ragweed lying in wait – so you know it’s not your allergies kicking in.

Yeah, that’s where I am right now. I’m pretty sure I’m getting sick and, given that it’s Friday, I’m pretty bummed out about it. There’s nothin’ worse than being sick all weekend. Well, except for maybe getting sick on Monday morning and then having to work all week while coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose and feeling pretty much like doody.

So I suppose there are worse things than having the opportunity to rest and drink plenty of liquids all weekend long. Maybe by the time Monday rolls around I will be feeling a bit better.

Of course, I could be jumping the gun and the cold I’m trying to catch won’t really take hold. After all, I’ve been popping Airborne pills and Vitamin C tablets and every other non-proven cold remedy known to man for days now.

Why? Well, because Vince has a cold, which he has been enduring and dealing with for the past five days. Poor guy. Guess it’s a good thing we bought that ginormous pallet of Kleenex at Costco the other week.

Fortunately, he’s started feeling a bit better in the past 24 hours so we think he’s going to make it. Yay. And since I hadn’t yet gotten sick, I sort of figured that I was in the clear.

Heck, I’ve been so enthusiastically patting myself on the back for having avoided catching his cold, I’ve risked a rotator cuff injury. Hmph. Perhaps I was a bit premature in my self-congratulations?

But, hey, it seemed reasonable that his cold passed me by. Because, I mean, I’ve spent so much time this past week washing my hands that they’re now dry, scaly and practically crunchy. And I’ve become hyper-aware of keeping my hands away from my eyes, nose and mouth, which is hard to do because apparently I rub my eyes, nose and mouth a lot – especially when I know I shouldn’t because it’s a good way to introduce nasty cold germs into your formerly healthy body. Not only that, but Vince and I have been living like distant roommates all week with only an occasional wave to each other from across the room.

On the other hand, his sneezes are amazingly forceful and so incredibly loud that they can startle someone a block away. Seriously. Whenever he sneezes, the cats run and hide. So I’m sure that his germs have managed to infiltrate my sinuses despite all my efforts at keeping my hands away from my face.


Oh well. It’s not like it’s his fault. Usually I’m the one who catches the cold first and then passes it on to him.

Other than being a little quieter than usual and heading to bed earlier than normal, Vince has been a great patient. He’s eaten his chicken noodle soup and taken his Nyquil in the evening and Dayquil in the morning. And he hasn’t complained too much.

So if I have, in fact, caught his cold, I’m going to do my best to refrain from whining about it.

I just hope we still have some Nyquil left in the medicine cabinet. I have a feeling I’m gonna need it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Major "Whew!"

As I was taking the entrance ramp onto the freeway this morning, I noticed a state trooper in the lane to my left. I usually think the posted 45 MPH speed limits on these ramps are mere suggestions and I tend to drive a little faster than that. Okay, a lot faster. Of course, if it is snowing or raining I actually pay attention to the posted speed limit because I’m not a big fan of skidding off the road.

At any rate, the trooper was going slightly faster than I was, so I figured I was safe. The SUV in front of him, however, was not. Suddenly, the trooper hit his lights and siren and my first thought was that he was going to veer around the SUV and head off to parts unknown to assist in an accident somewhere up ahead. But, no. He was pulling over the SUV.

Eeek! This has always been a paranoid fear of mine and I hate seeing police cars directly behind me. Even if I’m obeying all the traffic laws, there is always that possibility that my left taillight has magically burned out at that precise moment or the body that inexplicably has been stashed in the trunk will come back to life and wave at the trooper.

I know it’s unreasonable. I mean, there are far too many bags and boxes in the trunk of my car so there is no way a body could fit in there, too. Nefarious miscreants wanting to stash a body in an anonymous trunk would move on to another, more accessible, vehicle. Like the Mini Cooper down the street. Or even one of those little clown cars.

But what can I say? I always feel like I’m breaking the law and am being closely scrutinized for infractions that I can’t possibly know I’m committing whenever I’m directly in front of a cop car.

Probably it’s because I’ve only been pulled over by the police a couple times in my life. The first time was when I slid through a red light in a car that was not good on snow or ice. I could barely stop the vehicle when the officer pulled up behind me lights flashing, and I was probably going 5MPH or less.

Fortunately, he let the infraction slide (ha) and only gave me a warning. I’m sure it was not the only time I ran a red light in that car – I spent many a winter slip-sliding away in it until I bought a new car that handles snow and ice a tiny bit better. But it was the only time I was pulled over by an officer of the law. Well, for that particular infraction anyway.

For the most part, it’s difficult to speed on the freeway heading to work because the road is so clogged with commuters. We’re usually driving at a snail’s pace, so we rarely see police cruisers aiming their radar or laser guns at oncoming cars.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that my imagination went into overdrive when the trooper pulled over the SUV this morning. I mean, the guy wasn’t excessively speeding. He hadn’t even had a chance to enter the freeway. So, what? Was he a wanted man? Did he have multiple outstanding arrest warrants? Could he have been a known drug runner and it was his sorry misfortune to be driving directly in front of an eagle-eyed state trooper?

I am sure I’ll never know the answer to those questions or find out the real reason the SUV was pulled over.

But mostly? Mostly I was happy it wasn’t me – and my morning wasn’t ruined by being on the receiving end of a ticket.

That’s a big 10-4, good buddy. And it’s also a major “Whew!”