Friday, January 30, 2015

The Joy and Pain of Netflix

Sometimes I think Netflix is the best thing that has happened to us since the invention of the smart phone and other times? Well, other times, I curse the person who invented it. (Netflix – not the smart phone.)

Vince and I love watching Netflix because there are no commercials. He gets annoyed over commercial breaks on network television and we have to fast forward through them. And woe to the remote control operator if she is not quick on the draw and remembers to hit the button once the commercial has begun.

I can see my darling husband out of the corner of my eye as he starts doing this imaginary button pressing thing, which gets more pronounced if the commercial actually starts airing. And if I’m still focused on something else (like my smart phone, for instance), he makes noises indicating his frustration and even starts poking me in the side with his elbow.

Only once has he had to pointedly ask, “And why are we watching this commercial?” So I had to pretend like I was completely engrossed in the local ad featuring the lawyer with the horrible comb-over. Side note to my fellow Columbus-ites: does that guy really think he’s fooling anyone?! (I’d show you a picture of him, but, well, he IS a lawyer, after all, and I’m not completely familiar with libel laws.)

So, yeah. In our house, we are not big fans of the advertising commercial. Mental note to self: Hand him the remote on Sunday and let him decide if he wants to be able to discuss Super Bowl commercials on Monday around the proverbial water cooler.

Anyway, the lack of commercials is one big benefit of Netflix. Another benefit is that we can watch an entire series without waiting a week for the next “live” episode to air or months before the next season begins.

Consequently, we are in the know about where the phrase “Better call Saul” comes from. And we now know who got lost on Lost and why (sort of), and how Dexter could be such a good bad guy.

So we’re watching shows that were critically acclaimed – even if the acclaiming was going on a few years ago.

However, I have recently realized that there are other long-running series that are featured on Netflix and I’ve started becoming addicted to reruns and repeats that I already saw the first time around.

Like, for instance, I’m currently re-watching the entire series of Friends.  Did I watch Friends when it initially aired on NBC? Sure, I did. I even taped it on my VCR if I had to miss an episode. (That’s how long ago Friends premiered.)

My justification is that sometimes the videotape messed up and I missed certain pivotal episodes. Like the one where Ross cheats on Rachel because they were “on a break.” I needed to see it to piece together the entire Ross and Rachel thing.  Plus, I had no idea how the duck and the chicken came to live with Joey and Chandler. These are important questions that needed to be answered.

I know. Could I BE any more lame?!

But reliving those moments on that show puts me in a happy place. And there was some really funny stuff on Friends.  I have laughed so loudly I’ve even scared the cats a few times.

Fortunately, Friends is only a half hour show and without commercials, we’re looking at 22 minutes, tops. Thus, I can get through them pretty quickly.

So maybe it’s okay if I indulge myself this time. But I really, really need to stop after Friends.

…except that I think I saw that Netflix is replaying Cheers. And I’m thinking I should probably relive all those Sam and Diane moments.

Uh oh.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Incredible Inedible Egg in Jane’s Domain

I have to talk about eggs this morning.

Now don’t get all squeamish – we’re not going to talk about fertility issues or anything like that since I’m way past the age of wanting to deal with progeny. (And if we were talking about fertility issues, you’d have my permission to thunk me on the forehead and say, “Are you crazy?!”)

No, we’re talking about the incredible edible egg. And the fried version, in particular.  

I have never before attempted to cook a fried egg because I do not like them. Scrambled? Sure. A nice omelette with a little ham and onion and cheese? Absolutely. But, fried or poached?

Not on a bet.

But my husband likes them, so I’ve been trying to cook them for him for breakfast. And I am hopeless at it because I cannot gauge when the egg is cooked to Vince’s preferred level of “done-ness.” 

The specific level of “done-ness” for a fried egg is difficult to master. Some people like their fried egg to have a runny yolk so they can sop up the yellow gooshy stuff with their toast. Other people like their fried egg “over easy.” (Whatever that means.)

Vince, on the other hand, likes his fried egg done just until there is a “dimple” in the yolk. The yellow should not be gooshy – but it should not be as hard as a boiled egg either.

Yeah, like I can figure that out without poking the yolk with a skewer and setting off an instant egg calamity if the yolk isn’t fully cooked.

I never even attempted to cook a fried egg before recently because, well, I cannot stand fried eggs. And the reason I cannot stand fried eggs is because of a traumatic experience in my youth.

There I was – in Sister Lucy’s second grade classroom at Regina Coeli. And I was not feeling well. Badly enough that I interrupted Sister Lucy’s math tutorial to raise my hand and ask to be excused. 

Somehow, she must have believed that I was truly ill instead of just trying to get out of the dreaded math lesson where she was introducing multiplication tables for the first time – so she called my father to pick me up from school.

So I was sitting in the little reading chairs in front of the classroom all bundled up in my winter coat awaiting my father’s arrival.  Evidently, I got overheated and, suddenly, yacked up the fried egg I’d eaten that morning. On the floor. Right in front of the entire second grade class.

Was I mortified? You betcha. Believe me, second graders have the ability to feel mortification.  I was even more horrified when Sister Lucy started gagging – and quickly gathered up all my classmates and herded them out the door.

So there I sat, miserably sick and mortified and alone – at least until the janitor arrived to throw some kitty litter all over my regurgitated egg.

I can’t remember if I asked my parents that night to transfer me to the nearest public school or not, but I do remember I couldn’t even look at a fried egg for quite some time after that incident.

And to this day, a fried egg makes me a little queasy.  Much like the smell of Jack Daniels makes me a little queasy. But that is another story for another day. And it definitely didn’t involve Sister Lucy or the second grade.

At any rate, I – being the loving wife that I am – recently decided to tackle the whole fried egg issue just for Vince.

He’s probably wishing I hadn’t.

But he even showed me how it is done. He heats a little oil in the pan, cracks the eggs, salts and peppers them to taste…and then puts an ice cube in the pan and covers it. When he sees the little “dimple” in the yolk, he removes the eggs from the pan and slides them onto his plate.

Simple – right?

Noooo. It is not that simple, people!  The yolks, thus far, have been very uncooperative – and I have yet to see or recognize a “dimple.”

Guessing is not the answer either. Because the other day I guessed that the eggs were done – and they were soupy. Vince doesn’t like sopping up the yolk with his toast.

And this morning? Well, this morning they were so overcooked, he could’ve used a chainsaw to cut them. The yolk pretty much looked like a hard-boiled egg – without the shell.  (PS, I don’t like hard boiled eggs either and the appeal of the whole deviled egg thing escapes me.)

But at least my Vince is a patient and kind man. And he rarely makes any derogatory comments about my ineptness at cooking a simple fried egg.

I think, however, he’s been biting his tongue – because he casually mentioned that lately he’s had a hankering for some scrambled eggs.

Wonder if he’s trying to tell me something?

Meanwhile, I should probably check out the syllabus at the nearest culinary school. Maybe they have a remedial course on fried eggs.

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.


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. 


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.


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


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 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.