Saturday, December 25, 2021

Looking for an Invite

 Today, I engaged in one of my favorite holiday traditions: scheduling phone calls with my family at the exact same time as when dinner preparations need to begin. The beauty is that I've been getting away with this for more than a quarter century. Hubby, being both hungry and valiant, gets things started in the kitchen. If dinner's not ready when I'm done with the first phone call, I call the next relative. And so on until dinner is ready or I'm lured into the kitchen with a glass of wine.

Is that selfish?

Oh, hell yes.

I've been warned that I will not be able to get away with this next year.

Would it be okay if I spend the holidays with you? I offer that I'm good at washing dishes. I am fully vaccinated and my passport is in order.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

I didn't see it coming

 Of course I saw it coming! It happens every year: Christmas. And, every year about this time I think Crap! How will I get it all done?

I'm not sure what all needs to get done but I feel like there's a ton of it and only two and a half weeks to do it. 18 days, exactly.


I hear lists are good. 

1. Make list.

2. Shit. What's supposed to go on the list??

    a. names

    b. gifts

3. Order gifts. 

See? That wasn't so bad. It's getting started that's hard for me and the thing is my list isn't so big. I don't buy a lot of gifts but somehow I get tangled up in the enormity of it, the weight. Seriously, I could have purchased the few gifts I need in less time than it took me to write this post.

Ah, but remember the thing about getting started? I am easily distracted by - literally everything. Reading, writing, a jigsaw puzzle, getting regular exercise and nutrition, drinking my latte - oops, I need to brew more cold brew coffee for tomorrow - oh, and work. Wait, what's for dinner? Do I need to pull something out of the freezer. Or, maybe I should cook. . . . 

Work isn't all that busy right now. No hard deadlines. Just a large project that continues to nag, You don't want to put it off, much like Christmas. There's also travel and hosting travelers. And, cookies. Today is cool and threatening to rain (in a place where it rarely rains). It's a perfect day for baking. But, work! When am I going to do that? And what about all those other things?

I just need to focus on the next indicated thing: What's the most important thing in this moment? Just that. Also, I need to realize that none of this is really important. None of the hoopla, none of the worrying, none of the cookies, not even the gifts - none of it is important. What is important is saying "I love you" and meaning it. And that should be said all year round.

What I really did today:

  • Worked (go figure, would rather work than shop)
  • Did a crossword puzzle
  • Worked the jigsaw puzzle (but only a little)
  • Started (but didn't finish) a Sudoku puzzle (think I like puzzles much?)
  • Walked (about 8,000 steps today)
  • Started the cookies (and vowed I would shop while they're in the oven but I'm writing this and have a date in 45 minutes so it's looking highly doubtful)
  • Worried that I also need to send cards and made a mental note that the above list is supposed to be checked twice
  • Toyed with the idea of canceling Christmas altogether

Monday, December 6, 2021

The show was Hairspray.

Intermission was almost over so there was no line for the restroom. I thought I was alone until I heard a flush from another stall. I came out of mine and saw a woman behind a walker (the kind that has a seat and hand brakes), holding one of her shoes.

I recognized her. She was the woman that had been sitting in the seat in front me in the theater. She wore a beautiful black coat that was fringed in fur as her nearly bald head was fringed in wirey wisps of red hair.

Her eyes implored, “I need help.” I wasn’t sure if she actually said those words or if I only saw her lips moving. She stood with one foot bare and pointed at a plastic cap. She asked if I would get it for her. Meanwhile, she was able to retrieve the canister from the floor of her vacated stall. I guided her to a chair that was in the restroom. I’d always wondered why there were chairs in the ladies room. Perhaps for a moment such as this.

The woman was in pain. She sprayed her bare foot with whatever was in the canister. I don’t know what comfort it brought her. She had no toes, only a knob where her big toe should have been. I knelt on the floor and helped her put her shoe back on, loosening the Velcro straps as much as they would allow.

She grimaced as I tried to get her foot back in her shoe but she didn’t cry out. Her pain was inescapable, her endless reality, and she was handling it as best as she knew how. As she got back to her feet a theater usher appeared, ready to help her back to the theater and I wondered why this usher didn’t appear two minutes ago.

I wished the woman a merry Christmas as the pair left. Alone now, I washed my hands. Twice. Back in the theater, the second act had already started but I found an empty seat near the back and that was good enough. Easier than climbing over a row of people to get to my own seat, the one that had been behind that woman.

That moment of kindness for a stranger was both sad and beautiful. It was, no doubt, humbling for both of us. If I had only one gift to give this Christmas, that was it.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Have a heart.

It's only December 5 and the Grinch has already been sighted. Shortly after this image was taken, it's reported that the photographer was escorted off an undisclosed Palm Springs area resort. 

A witness to the event, who was not authorized to speak about it, said that "Grinchy" (as the woman identified him) often vacationed in the desert area prior to the holidays. "He just wants to be left alone," she said while a small dog cowered in the background.

It's reported that once identified, the Grinch lunged at the photographer vowing his Christmas would be the first to be ruined if the Grinch had anything to say about it. An altercation ensued which included the dog, the Grinch, the photographer, and one unfortunate waiter. Amid the chaos, the photographer's camera and nose were broken while the dog lapped up mojitos spilled during the melee.

Resort staff requested the resort not be identified stating it was for "obvious reasons." A statement was later issued by the resort management:

While it is unfortunate that paparazzi found access onto resort property, we continue to assure guests - both beloved and despised -  that guest privacy and safety is of paramount concern. We strive to provide a relaxing atmosphere for all our guests especially as preparations are made for the holidays. We understand that not everyone feels all warm and cozy at this time of year. However, we hope that this incident will not have a negative effect on the presents currently stacked under the tree in our grand lobby. (It is with great hesitation that we remind our guests that pets are not allowed.)

It is unclear whether the photographer will press charges against the Grinch. Meanwhile, the Grinch remains a guest of the resort.

While the the Grinch receives overwhelmingly negative press (in this and other publications), it should be noted that he has his supporters. As soon as news of his presence was leaked, a small protest of sorts was launched in downtown Palm Springs. The group, made up of children and adults with large ears, buck teeth, and strange hairstyles sang nonsensical lyrics while holding hands. The apparent leader, who was identified only as Cindy Lou, stood in the middle and held a sign that read, "Even the Grinch has a heart. You should too."

Friday, December 3, 2021

Is it over?

 Thanksgiving was a quiet affair. It was just the two of us with none of the obligations that usually come with a major holiday. We did all of whatever we wanted and none of whatever we should be doing. We hiked, ate cinnamon rolls, had breakfast for lunch, and made the traditional feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pie.

All the food came from Costco and was fool proof: 1) Put it in the oven. 2) Eat. Mostly, it was a day of doing dishes. Feasting and cleaning up.

We watched football, started a jigsaw, and read books. There was no family around to invite over so we invited a neighbor who would have otherwise been alone so we weren’t entirely selfish. As it turned out, though, she couldn’t make it so our selfishness felt guilt free. (We tried - a little.)

It was easy to appreciate all our bounty when we didn’t have to share it with anyone. But we also thought about our families who were elsewhere for one reason or another. Friends, too. We reached out by text which felt more genuine, in a way, than sharing a crowded room with them. It was a brief moment to share honest appreciation for one another without the chaos of a family gathering. Not that family gatherings aren’t joyful but they’re a lot of work.

The holiday started early in the week, as soon as the pies were either purchased or made. There were more cinnamon rolls than we could possibly eat so it made sense to get started on those early as well. Afterwards, of course, there were leftovers. We made tetrazzini with the turkey and we tried diligently to get through all the pie for more than a week.

Finally, it was garbage day and, sadly, whatever was left got tossed. The refrigerator and all of my food storage containers were reclaimed. (More dishes.)

As if I knew the void was coming, I'd already purchased baking ingredients. Cookies are not far off in my future. As one holiday swells into another, it's hard to think about work. No time for that when there's cyber shopping to be done.

Knock, knock! says work.

*visions of sugar plums dissolve*

This is not over! I shout.

And, indeed, it is not.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Because Tradition

This recipe is adapted from Real Simple | Bourbon and Orange Pecan Pie

This is Hubby's favorite pie and he requests it every year. Thankfully, this recipe is pretty easy:

1. Eyeball your pantry and refrigerator to make sure you have all the ingredients:

1 piecrust (store-bought or homemade)

1 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons bourbon (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups pecan halves

2. Go to the store for whatever you don't already have. 

3. Set an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 350° F. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet. (Oops. I forgot the foil. No worries as long as the filling doesn't travel beyond the boundaries of the pie crust. In that case, you will just want to throw your baking sheet away because the filling will caramelize into indestructible stickiness on the pan.)

I realize the original recipe only has three steps. I'm just trying to give you the most complete information.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup . . .

5. It looked like a full cup of corn syrup in the bottle but it turns out it was only 3/4 cup. Top it off with honey to make a full cup. If you don't have honey, there are other substitutes for corn syrup. Okay, . . .

6. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, butter . . . 

7. Turn off the oven and melt the butter. Right, melt the butter first.

8. While the butter is melting, grate the orange zest. If you only have a Valencia orange, that will do although it won't be as good. Use a zester (rather than a grater), then mince.

9. Turn the oven back on to 350° F.

Really, this recipe is very simple.

10. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, butter, sugar . . .

11. Turn off the oven. Turns out the brown sugar in the pantry was from two years ago (because you didn't make pie last year) and is rock hard.

12. Go back to the store. Get light brown sugar. While you're there, pick up a navel orange. It'll be better that way. Might as well pick up something easy for dinner because now you're running late.

Everything should go smoothly from here on out.

13. Turn the oven back on to 350° F.

14. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, sugar, butter . . . 

15. The butter has hardened slightly so ditch the whisk for now and use a spatula to stir the first three ingredients rather vigorously. If your grocery store was nearby then the butter shouldn't be too hard. (Otherwise, you might have to go back to the store because that was the last of the corn syrup!)

16. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, bourbon, orange zest. . . .


18. If you turned the oven off again, turn it back on for crissakes!

If you haven't already taken a swig of the bourbon, go right ahead. You won't be alone.

19. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, bourbon, orange zest, and salt.


Breathe. We're almost there.

21. Pour the pecan mixture into the crust. 

Here, I want to warn you that there's always excess mixture. You don't want to overfill the pie crust (refer back to Step 3). If you want to fish out the remaining pecans in the bowl, use a fork rather than the spoon to avoid adding too much of the goo.

22. Bake until the center is set, 50 to 55 minutes.

23. What the heck, pour yourself another bourbon.

24. Let pie cool to room temperature before serving.

25. Order something from DoorDash or Uber Eats because you don't feel like cooking anymore. And, the kitchen is a goddam mess.

26. Curse Hubby under your breath for requesting pecan pie which you don't even like and consider not making pie again next year. (Maybe that's why I didn't make it last year.)

Follow my blog for this and other easy recipes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hashtag Travel Stories

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, we traveled to a place most notable for rain - not in terms of inches but number of days. But having once lived in this place, I can tell you it is also a place well known for its beautiful sunny days (when that happens), it's relatively temperate climate, beautiful water, and amazing seafood. 

This trip was over several weeks and we visited several locations. At one time, we stayed on an island, accessible by ferry. Tourists flock to the main town while the rest of the island is quiet, residential, and heavily wooded. We had been to this place before and knew its best haunts. This time we had a car so we decided we didn't need to stay in town and opted for a lower cost option instead. I won't mention the name so I'll just call it the Un-Quality Inn.

There was nothing really wrong with it, exactly, but there were several things that could have been more right, shall we say. It was a motel where the rooms all had one window with a heavy curtain facing the parking lot. Beneath the window was a through-wall A/C unit that, we soon learned, rattled. The motel advertised that it had been remodeled which translated to a fresh coat of interior paint (which didn't cover the smell of the pets who had accompanied travelers before) and a truckload of new air conditioning units that had been delivered but not installed (due to a significant labor shortage). 

We were not deterred and our spirits not dampened because, in this place, we could get fresh Dungeness crab - in my opinion, the best crab to be had. We secured our crab and a bottle of wine and proceeded to eat it at a bistro table and chairs arrangement which had been placed on the sidewalk between our hotel window the trunk of our car. The meal was romantic, not because of ambiance I assure you, but because we were in a special locale, generally speaking, eating exquisite local crab.

Before too long another guest pulled into the lot, backing his exhaust into our picnic dinner. Larry dropped the tailgate on the back of his pickup truck, opened a beer, and joined us by the fact that it was rather unavoidable. We learned he had been living in the room next to ours for the last two months while he was on a construction job building a multi-million dollar mansion on the island. 

Soon, another pickup truck parked across the way. This was one of Larry's co-workers, also living at the hotel but across the parking lot from us. He complained about the air conditioner unit in his room and said he had had enough. He was going to march right into the motel office and offer to install one of the new air conditioners in his room himself. He and Larry then argued about whether they should charge the motel for this service and, furthermore, offer their services to replace all of the units since they were staying there anyway.

All three of the men - Hubby included - trudged off to the office bolstered by their collective resolve to get this job done. Hubby did an excellent job of supervising while the young men carted a new unit to Larry's co-worker's room. 

Here arose a problem. Neither construction worker had any tools in their work trucks. Imagine.

Hubby came to the rescue in the form of a never before used screwdriver which was factory installed into a secret compartment in the truck of his German import vehicle. Larry and his co-worker found this fortuitous as well as amusing - not so much that he should have a secret compartment with tools in it but that it had never been used. (Hubby showed must restraint by not telling them that no self-respecting German import vehicle owner would be caught dead using the tools himself. Especially not on his German import vehicle.)

The next night, they repeated the story they told at work: Some dude in a fancy car was staying at the same cheap motel that they were. One worker responded, "At least he knows where to count his pennies so he can afford that expensive car." Hubby took pleasure in telling our hotel neighbors that his car cost less then their work trucks. They were astounded.

And, it came with its own screwdriver.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A weekend in America

NASCAR at PIR. My weather app says it’s 86 degrees, 16% humidity. Nevertheless, I’m overheated. My heart is pumping even in the shade. A man loaned me a hat for a while but I knew I couldn’t stay in the sun much longer. Hubby came with me as we climbed higher in the grandstands to find available seats in the shade. I feel better but my heart is still pounding. Soon I will have to get my cool cloth wet so my brain will snap back to full attention. 

I ate a hotdog and now I feel like I need to shit. What fun! The track is oval and I can see all of it, cars so load I have to wear ear protection in the 42nd row. Cars roaring around in circles. (Ovals!)

It’s hard to describe a NASCAR event without offending the people who love it. In an attempt to avoid stereotypes, I would describe the spectators as proud, hard working people who come to see heroes. The drivers they look up to represent American values (whatever that might mean). Most of the drivers are white. The crowd appears to be at least 99% white. There are a few beautiful people here. Most are ordinary. Like all of America. 

On the way in, people were seeking signatures from registered voters. For what, I don’t know. One man yelled, “Are you tired of people laughing at our voting system?” 

“Let’s go Brandon” shirts were popular. 

We stood in line for hot dogs - the one that still makes me want to empty my bowels. We were behind a man who told us that COVID was a made up thing. He went on to say that his father died of COVID. He also had COVID. He’d lost his sense of taste and smell and “maybe had some brain damage.” Even still he concluded the whole thing (COVID) was manufactured. 

He didn’t have all of his teeth and, at one point, spittle flew from his mouth as he was telling his story. I saw it fly towards Hubby. Would it hit his face or his beer? I didn’t see where it landed and Hubby either didn’t see it or pretended not to notice. This man had been attending NASCAR at PIR every year for 30 years. It was the increase in prices that got him spitting but he was a nice enough fellow and, really, who hasn't spit accidentally while talking?

One of the things I noticed this weekend, which also included attending an NHL game, was that while people seemed weary of talking about COVID, they nevertheless did. And people who championed choice had strong opinions about other people’s choices whether it was an individual, local government, Federal government, or foreign nation. 

After we got the hot dogs, I tried to refill my water bottle but the three water fountains I tried were dry. I thought it was illegal not to make free water available at a stadium. Not sure about that and don’t know how long it would have taken to find a water station if there was one. (With 40,000 people in attendance with no mask requirement, they couldn’t have been worried about transmitted diseases.) I bought another water instead.

Before the end of the race, I saw woman with beautiful gray hair and professional cut gumming a cigarette. Her face was caved from missing teeth. She was thin and hunched over as if too tired to manage sitting up straight, weary-like. She was sitting alone and it was easy to imagine she'd had a rough life but for her well coiffed hair. I imagined instead that she was had been beautiful in a former life. 

My need to rid myself of the hot dog I ate previously has not waned. I let out a noxious fart in the ladies room and pretended it wasn’t me. 

If this reads like I didn’t have a good time, you’d be mistaken. People watching is great. (Cars driving in circles, meh.) People wore shirts with messages - some in support of their favorite driver, some political, some funny, and others celebrating the consumption of alcohol. 

I wore a plain white t-shirt and just enjoyed the show.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

I cannot recommend the toast. Nevertheless, I love the toaster.

 The toast comes as is - however the toaster spits it out. Dark on one side, light and uneven on the other. Sometimes one side is barely warm while the other side is charred. While it hasn't happened (yet) in my current dwelling space, it occasionally sets off the smoke detector. (Also, occasionally, it makes good toast.)

It has no buttons or sliding plungers. Only a single ineffectual knob that once upon a time might have allowed a user to select how toast was produced on the light/dark spectrum.

Other than that, it's in perfect condition - until recently, that is. Sadly, part of a plastic leg has broken off. It's in an obscure location so I should try to glue it back to preserve its mid-century aesthetic. 

Seeing as the toaster is older than I am, I think the toaster is rather remarkable. But as I set this plate of toast before Hubby, he suggested it might be time to ... ahem, retire it.

Never! I replied.

Perhaps I should remind him the toaster is closer to his age than mine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


I have a beautiful back yard where I can hear a rooster crow (Rohelio, he's been named, after Rohelio De La Vega.) There's a fountain and it's serene. But the view is from the front of the house and so that's where I am this morning. Sitting in a camping chair with my coffee and my laptop in the driveway.

Perhaps I should push my desk out here for work. Alas, the temperature will climb to north of 100 today and the brick pavers would bake me. As of this moment, however, the temperature is just 79, a blessing.

All this week, the morning temps will be in the seventies until Monday when the low temperature will drop to 68. I may need to find a sweater!

[Edit: I just heard a train whistle. I love that.]

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Find a dollar, better hollar*?

Checking in at a hotel recently, there was a man in front of me who appeared to be homeless. He wore loose and dirty clothes. He had a knit cap and large jacket even though it was warm outside. Over his face, he wore a mask and glasses. All you could see of his features was his nose, the color of ash. His hair and beard were colorless with only hints of gray and both hung down to his jacket collar. 

He was treated with respect and professional courtesy by the staff behind the counter. They smiled and maintained eye contact. The man held a thick wallet from which he pulled a credit card to secure his room.

I wondered what his story was. Was he homeless or more of a hippy type? Either way, his appearance was incongruous within the context of the lobby of a downtown Hyatt.

The town was one of apparent and abundant wealth. People went about their business in very fast and expensive cars even though there was so much traffic there was nowhere to get out of second gear. All show, no flow.

My coffee was over $7. (I had splurged for a triple latte instead of a double but, still, a pint of beer was $8. Might was well have beer for breakfast.)

In that same town, I saw a folded dollar bill on the sidewalk. It wasn't crumpled, as from someone's pocket, and it wasn't folded in half like it came from a wallet. It was folded rather neatly in a square and it lay on the corner.

I laughed because I might have picked up a penny but I didn't pick up the dollar. Neither did anyone else that crossed that intersection in this town of milk and Tesla. I even pointed it out to a man who regarded me as someone crazy. Of course there are dollars bills in the street, his look seemed to be saying.

I thought of the man from the hotel lobby? Could have dropped it? Would he have picked it up?

Find a penny, pick it up ... 

* Hollar is now a defunct online dollar store. Maybe because all their dollars are on the sidewalk.

Monday, July 19, 2021

What is it you do, again?

We were seated first. It was a table at the back but perfectly comfortable. It was a Main Street kind of place (literally, it was on Main Street) that served the most amazing Italian food. 

Another couple was seated next to us. Attractive, younger, obviously successful.

We eventually struck up a conversation which led to the inevitable question of "What do you do?" I dislike this question because my job is boring to everyone but me.

The question passed from one to the next and seeing I'd be asked last, I wondered "What would be a more interesting answer than 'Tax Preparer'?"  Finally, the woman asked me while the men were engaged in their own conversation.  I told her, "I was going to tell you that I'm an Accountant but was trying to come up with something more interesting, like . . . "

Hubby suddenly chimed in, "It's great! She can work from anywhere. In fact, she worked this morning. From bed. In bed, drinking her coffee. I mean, how great is that?" 

Hubby hadn't heard my answer. I'd finished my answer with, I'm a Sex Worker. 

The timing of Hubby's comments was perfect. The woman and I practically spit out our wine with laughter. My glasses fogged up as I covered my mouth with my napkins. Tears threatened to squeeze out of my eyes.

He was bewildered by our response. "What did I say?" he asked.

"Nothing, honey, but next time I'll go with 'Ear Model'."

Sunday, July 11, 2021

If you have an HOA...

According to the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) of our Homeowners Association, we must seek approval from our immediate neighbors whenever we plan to make changes to the outside of our homes. Even, it seems, if the change is to a fully enclosed, private backyard. I learned this when a neighbor requested my signature on a form for such a purpose. The neighbors, it seems, wish to install a pool.

In response to their cover letter, I responded:

Dear Neighbors!

Nice to "meet" you! We are also full-time residents and, like you, find our street lovely. Ah, the warm breezes, construction dust, roosters, and traffic noise. Soon, we shall also have street lamps to light our night skies. And to think, all of that at no extra charge!

If you would kindly schedule your construction while we are out of town, we would appreciate it. Otherwise, we may need to turn up the volume on our karaoke and, surely, you wouldn’t want that. 

We are feeling left out, however, as we may be the only ones on the street with no pool. You wouldn’t mind putting in a gate in our common wall, would you? We’ll bring the chips! (Also, you don’t mind if we swim naked, do you?)

We appreciate you letting us know about your backyard improvements as we were not aware that modifications to the backyard were subject to our HOA's robust CC&Rs. With that in mind, we must let you know that we are building a rocket. We will be very conscientious of the noise moving forward and will let you know when we start taking delivery of rocket fuel. While the rocket itself is only temporary (we hope to launch sometime in 2022), the launch pad itself could be considered permanent. Perhaps we can re-purpose it as a stage for live music. It’s certainly something to think about.

We are most happy to sign your form. If you have any concerns about the rocket, feel free to notify the architectural committee. (There’s no need to notify our other neighbor since they have moved, prompting us to wonder if they knew about the rocket.)

Your form is enclosed. Please feel free to disregard everything else. 


We have not heard from our neighbors since and have left town in case they have notified the authorities about the rocket.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Pinch me

I remember reading a year ago how adults were telling their senior parents to stay home, to stop getting together with other people, to be safe. But, no. They wanted to party.

Not me. I stayed home. I neither warned my parents to put away their party shoes, nor was I warned by my own kids. It seemed simple enough at the time. Stay home. 

And, so I did.

Then it was masks and social distancing for so long it verged on what I began to think of as normal. No big deal, right?

And then the masks came off which made me nervous. Can we hug people now? Do we shake hands or are we still twisting our arms around to bump elbows? It still felt natural to keep six feet of distance from the next guy in line for coffee or a register but I felt a little naked, at first, without the mask. The instinct to double check that I had one in my purse was real.

And, then, my first party in over a year. I am not talking about a genteel gathering. This was a full-blown party with a live band. People crowded together, leaning in with their drinks, faces mere inches apart so we could hear each other. We breathed the same air, each other's breaths. It was bizarre after so many months of near isolation.

That was a week of starved zombies coming out to feed: pool party, live-band party, karaoke party. We couldn't get enough.

Yes, karaoke. Yes, I sang. 

And, yes, we all shared the same microphone without wiping it off in between.

Have we all lost our minds or have we forgotten what normal looks like? Just yesterday, I sat at a bar and sat next to a dude. Did I mention:

A) at a bar?

B) next to some dude? Next. to. some. dude!

Maybe I'm not ready for all this.

Maybe it was all a bad dream.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

True Story

We meet a guy who appears to be traveling with his girlfriend. His name is Champagne. He gives us his card. His name really is Champagne. He is a traveling salesman and he sells seeds.

His traveling companion, Lily, is a Hooter’s bartender. She is also a real estate agent. It turns out she is not Champagne's girlfriend. The traveling seed salesman has kidnapped her. We decide to buy them a drink (why not?) and they tell us their stories.

Champagne speaks to Hubby while Lily bends my ear. When I tell her where we’re from, she tells me she has a golf tournament in our city soon. I ask her what her handicap is and she says it’s 7 or maybe 5. I think she must be a pretty good golfer until she says her handicap depends on how long the hole is, that she prefers her shorter irons to the the longer clubs. I wonder if she's as talented at real estate.

Champagne says Lily is a terrible bartender. Lily shoots back that’s because she’s just being professional and she doesn’t want him to get drunk yet it’s clearly apparent that they both are currently. 

They tell us they were drunk last night as well when they spent the night together (not sleeping together, she assures us, saying she is one-third virgin). The night involved being stalked by her ex-boyfriend of three months, six months ago, who kicked in her door and took her phone. Then there is something about how she couldn’t drive her new car, not because she was drunk, but because she bought a car with a manual transmission and she doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. In any case, Champagne rescued the bad bartender by taking her to his house, possibly driving her car, where they drank until they fell asleep. 

He woke up early because he had to hit the road. He had to sell seeds but she was sound asleep on his couch. So he loaded her into his truck and took her with him with nothing but what she had on. It seems she was agreeable enough to the arrangement when she came to because she was still with him after a shopping trip to Target to get a bathing suit and a change of underwear.

As we take our leave, I remind myself to see if there's a Hooter’s golf tournament coming to our town in the next month. We say our goodnights. They are arguing about how there’s no chance they’d ever sleep together considering she’s such a bad bartender and he’s the doofus who kidnapped her which is okay as long as he gets her home before her next shift and she can borrow his phone so she can check social media to see what her ex is up to.

We wish them luck.

We bet they sleep together.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Hubby Is My Coffee Dealer

Hotel room coffee is sketchy, at best. You make it in a well worn seasoned coffee maker that pumps artesian, unfiltered water through a plastic pod containing wood pulp coffee grounds into a sterilized, plastic-wrapped paper cup.

Imagine, then, that we were presented with a choice whilst on the road. No, not like a choice between caffeinated and non-caffeinated wood pulp coffee but a between regular and dark roast wood pulp coffee. But here’s the catch. We had one regular wood pulp coffee pod, one dark roast wood pulp coffee pod, and one tea pod. (Which, upon reflection, was probably all the same wood pulp thing.)

We both wanted the dark roast (which, again, upon reflection, probably made no difference.) So Hubby, in a self-preservation, if he knows what’s good for him when it comes to coffee white knight sort of moment, went to find someone who could help him out. Don’t come back without the real deal! I shouted.

Housekeeping was done for the day so he went to the Front Desk.

The Front Desk only had the regular coffee-like stuff. Nervously, he accepted two pods. He headed back to the room with coffee but not the right coffee so he had to think fast. 

He tailed spotted a woman who was just dragging her luggage into her room. He approached her carefully saying, “I don’t want to scare you but do you drink coffee?” What ensued was a trade: his two regular coffees or her two (how is it that she had two?) dark coffees.

The deal completed, he returned. 

The monster within me was sated and the world turned.

Honestly? The coffee wasn’t that bad.

(This is just a draft - needs to percolate but I think it’ll get stronger.)

Friday, June 18, 2021

A thought that counts might not pay

In an effort to be less lazy at work, I got up early - before six. It was already too hot to think about working out (we're headed for 120 degrees today), so I found the coolest spot in the yard to drink a cold coffee and read the paper.

Then, as is my morning routine, I checked the emails on my phone. There were several interesting items that seemed to warrant further investigation. a Facebook post from a niece which lead to investigating a post from the Vancouver Beer & Wine Fest which prompted me to see what was happening at other northwest venues (Esther Short Park, Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, Edgefield). Of course, this necessitated looking at AirBNB to see where we might stay if we were going to get out of the hot desert in August.

Then, there was an article about Ajijic, Mexico, which, again, necessitated another investigation into AirBNB. There were e-mails from LaQuinta Brewing, and San Diego Beer News which both seemed important considering it's Friday and there's a whole weekend ahead of us. 

At 8, it was still early - an impressive time to log into work this time of year. I powered up my desktop and found more required reading at 76003.1414. There might have been some more AirBNB inquiries. A personal email. A chair at Ikea I was interested in buying. By 8:30, I was seriously thinking about logging into work, though, but I recalled that I hadn't brushed my teeth yet. Working from home, I attended to that easily when Hubby let me know the installers for the ceiling fans were on their way. Since one was to be installed in my office space, it didn't make sense for me to log in until they were through.

It was nine now. Still plenty of time to get to work at a decent hour (considering I haven't had much luck logging in before 10 since the tax deadline passed). I made toast for breakfast. Then a latte. Then, I considered the irony of waking up early and logging in late (the inspiration for this post). Writing this seemed to be a good use of my time while the installers finished their work.

And, like magic, it was 10 am and I was late for work again.

I should have just slept in.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Outsmarted, in the end.

There are some things I don’t want to do on a public wifi such as any kind of banking transaction. Or any kind of download of any kind regardless of the source. On a recent trip (and on many such trips), I find that WiFi is available but the security is - well, is there any? At least if I have to give up my name and room number, that’s something. (Isn’t it?) Sometimes there’s a password but it’s the same password for everyone. Do they change it on a regular basis? I guess if it’s a hotel you go to on a regular basis, you would know that but what if you’re just passing through?

Anyway, I had an idea for a post and I wanted to draft it so I opened my laptop and searched for a connection. No one is going to steal this post but, still, I didn’t want to open an open line to my what-feels-like-my-entire-life. So I tried to connect to my phone as a hotspot which I can do on Bluetooth but for some reason (which probably has to do with getting both a new phone and changing cellular networks), it wouldn’t connect via WiFi and since I didn’t want to connect on a public WiFi, I couldn’t look up how to resolve this on the interwebs. (I tried looking on my phone but didn’t type in the correct phrase to elicit an immediate solution.)

All I wanted to do was draft a post. I was about to give up and thumb tap it out on my phone when I realized *forehead slap* that you don’t need the internet to write.

Waaaaay back in the day, we called it “word processing.” It was made-up PR jargon that meant “typing on a computer.” And you know what? You can still type on a computer. Without the internet. It’s like writing with a pen on paper.

It’s so archaic.

But here’s the thing. It still works.

(And it’s secure.)

This word processor disagrees.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Life after tax season

Life after tax season is all about getting your life back: sleep, personal hygiene, exercise, proper nutrition, and conversations that do not include the words "bond premium amortization." I would include detoxing from caffeine and chocolate here but that's generally a permanent condition.

In this comic strip, Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis for May 26, 2021, Rat begins the practice of daily meditation which makes him late for work. It reminds me of my own attempt to regain the mental and physical aspects of my life. Immediately after tax season, I thrust myself headlong into my old workout routine but without any sense of time or priority. There was coffee to attend to first and probably a load of laundry. There was a period of wandering about the house not understanding the lack of pressure to do anything by any specific time.

Everything seemed to be going fine. It was 7 o'clock in the morning. Still, plenty of time to work out and get to work. Somehow, it became 8 o'clock which was fine. I don't know how it got to 11 o'clock before I signed into work or where those hours were lost like blank pages in my journal. Perhaps there was a disruption in the space-time continuum. The lost time was baffling.

The only good news, with respect to my boss's approval or disapproval, is that everyone else in the office is going through the same thing, each of us reintegrating with her life the best way she can. It's like re-entry from outer space. It can be a little bumpy, abrupt, and disorienting.

As a collective, we should be back to normal in about a week. In the meantime, I'll be floundering in that general direction and maybe I'll get to work by 10.

Sunday, May 16, 2021


One more day until the magic happens. Not that there hasn't been plenty of bandwidth magic. The magic is always there but the real magic - the "I don't know how they do it" magic - happens in the last few days. We become one tax preparing organism. It's like sharing the same thoughts, helping each other out, knowing what needs to get done and stepping in where there's a gap. It can't be explained but it's always there.

Today is the last real dig into the reserves. Most of those reserves were used up yesterday in an all-day, late night session - people going above and beyond. One more bleary-eyed, coffee-fueled day. One more day of forsaking family, chores, and (in mild cases) personal hygiene. One last day of delaying self care - the stuff that won't hurt if put off but will catch up with you if you put it off too long. Like sleep, exercise, and a diet that consists of anything but coffee and chocolate. 

That's today.

Because tomorrow is tax day. Tomorrow is the day for double-checking lists and waiting until we can lock the door. There's always that one guy that comes in at the last minute but there's got to be a limit. The tax filing deadline might be midnight but we're locking the door at five. We're going to go get a drink. We're going to get reunited with our families and our better selves. We're going to get some sleep. Heck, we might even take some time off! Maybe some self-pampering. What do you think about that?

But we still have to get through today.




Saturday, May 15, 2021


Do you ever dream about tax returns? 


I don't recommend it.

Friday, May 14, 2021


 The rule used to be "don't speak to me before I've had my coffee." 

Now it's "don't speak to me until Tuesday."

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Siri was pissing me off so I downloaded Alexa to my phone. Now, neither one will talk to me.

I just got a new phone and the iOS that goes with it which, apparently, also updated Siri. I guess the idea was to make him seem more conversational. (My Siri identifies with he/him/his.) Problem is, he’s a little too relaxed. I think he might be high, in fact.

When I say, “Hey, Siri” a full second or two will pass before he says, “Yeah.”

Yeah? Is that a proper way to respond? To anyone? I might start a request and then I’m interrupted with, “Yeah.” I’m not even sure it’s a question. It’s more like a “Yo” than a “How can I help you?”

But, then Alexa arrived in my life. While Siri lives on my phone, Alexa lives on my kitchen counter. Whenever I was cooking and noticed I was running low on something, I would go back to my office and ask Siri to add the item to my grocery list, whenever he deigned to answer me at all. It quickly became obvious that it would be easier to just tell Alexa to add the item to the list. And, since Siri was being rather aloof, it made sense to put Alexa on my phone as well.

Except she doesn’t like my phone and Siri doesn’t like Alexa and now nobody will talk to me. Except Samuel L. Jackson which is pretty fun. 

I’m just saying, nobody’s expendable. Got that, kids?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Friday, April 9, 2021

Just like that, the beautiful mess was gone. The dynamic changes again.

On day three, the dynamic changed when the oldest decided he didn’t want to participate in the herd anymore. He’s practically a teen, you see. The herd dynamic changed and new alliances formed and feelings got hurt when one was left out. They were tired and worn out from hours in the hot sun, turning pink, their feet bleeding from rough surfaces, soldiering on so the fun wouldn’t end.

Day four, the oldest opted out again but the herd adjusted. He was missed but no longer crucial to the functioning of the herd.

And then it was over. Half of the herd left and the dynamic is fated to change again. Seven became four. The teenager wants nothing to do with his sister. The adults are busy with work. Order is restored and fun is left to each own’s devices (generally, electronic these days). Boredom and frustration set in. Adults check their watches frequently, wondering when they get their lives back. Tick, tock - don’t tease your sister!

We’ll probably go to the pool again, risking skin cancer and permanent damage to the soles of their feet in the hope there will be other kids there who can join our herd. Until 27 days from now, the youngest of our herd predicted, when they will flock back. For a week, he says.

Sounds good to me.

(How about Labor Day weekend?)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Herd immunity?

More of the same. I was up first and went straight to work. The day was busy and consisted of feeding, cleaning, swimming, herding, feeding, cleaning, crafts, and freestyle wrap by Chicken Nugget (aka C-Man). The rest of the stage show included themed clapping (cheer clap!), and dancing in the kitchen.

At the pool, the kiddos multiplied. We started with four and ended with four (thank the heavens) but in between they swelled to an alarming number, especially when you consider we live in a retirement community. Where did they come from? The under 10 year-old-crowd outnumbered the over by, dare I say, 10 to 1. 

There’s a funny line between your space, ordered the way you like it, and another muddled space where you don’t really care about the line. Most of the time, the line is a defended border. When the border is breached, the mess can be beautiful.

I’m now immune to the herd (or, quite possibly, I’m numb from the wine). I will feel a hole when the herd is gone. Peace and order will be restored. The border will be re-established and I will need to be inoculated again.

The dynamic changes when there’s a herd. They mostly take care of themselves. Well, except for the feeding, cleaning, transporting, supplying, washing, folding, limiting… 

Somehow it all comes together.

Day two.

Monday, April 5, 2021

This is when I would normally post "10"

... but it's really 42.

Forty-two .... 


Could be worse. 

Could be 10.

Spring Break

A collaborative day. Three adults and four kids. A decent match. 

I was up by 6 and started work by 6:30 am. D was the second to rise at 7. The rest followed and soon the day was a hive of activity. Breakfasts, commutes, pick ups, drop offs. Work, play dates, indoor activities, outdoor activities. Juggling schedules and covering for each other. Sunshine, exhaustion. Clean up and do it again. Snack. Build a fort out of blankets and cushions and leave it there because it’s no longer worth the effort to pick things up. Dinner and clean up again. Laughter, games, loud. Decibels up. Decibels down. 

Slowing down, the adults unwind, the kids settle into quieter activities. I find a moment of silence. (This one, now.) A breeze. A fountain. (A glass of wine, thank goodness.) Sleep is not far behind and I am not afraid that the kids may have to fend for themselves.


It was great.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

My creation is completed.

Yesterday morning, I woke up first as I often do. I had poured myself a cup of cold coffee and was reading the paper when I heard Hubby stirring. I really like a hot coffee on the weekends and he prefers cold so I poured my joe into his cup (reading, "The Man, The Myth, The Legend") and prepared to greet him as he shuffled into the kitchen.

The sun was streaming in the windows, the day was young with promise, the fountain on our beautiful patio was beckoning us outdoors. My heart was full with gratitude for all that we have, not the least of which being each other. 

I prepared to welcome him into my open arms and greet him with a kiss but he reached for the coffee cup still in my hand. It was only a second before he realized the error, if you could call it that. He relaxed into my embrace and then went for the coffee but not before I noticed the shift in priority: coffee first, hug second.

I completely understand. My work here is complete.

Friday, April 2, 2021

It's like I've never made coffee before.

Maybe it's a sign that my mental acuity is in decline but I temporarily forgot how to make coffee. 

On my first attempt, I forgot to put the top on the carafe before pressing the brew button. This is a problem because without the lid, the coffee won't pass from the filter into the carafe. The idea behind this feature is if you pull the carafe out while it's still brewing you can pour a cup of coffee without the still-brewing coffee dripping, searing, onto the hot plate below. (In the old days, if you couldn't wait to get your first cup of coffee, try as you might, coffee would always - always - sizzle on that hot plate.) Without that lid, the water just floods the filter basket and eventually overflows wet coffee grounds all over the counter.

I pulled the plug, cleaned up the mess, and started over. This time, I forgot to put the coffee grounds in. I figured out my mistake when I noticed the warm fluid in the carafe was completely clear. I panicked and tossed the coffee grounds in the filter basket after it was already about half through the brew cycle. I ended up with a very translucent brew that looked more like tea which is the definition of weak coffee. (I like coffee dark and thick enough to chew on.) I tossed the whole batch out.

At this point, I was out of ice.

The coffee I was making was what is sometimes referred to as Japanese Iced Coffee or flashed chilled coffee. Using this method, you substitute half the water in the carafe with ice. After pouring the water into the coffee maker, the coffee is brewed directly onto the ice.

But I was out of ice so I so I had to wait.

Thank goodness I have an espresso maker because waiting will not do.

And, thank goodness I remembered how to make that because the situation was becoming dire. (Lives were at stake!) 

Later that day, I was able to make my flashed chilled coffee and order was restored to my refrigerator and to my coffee cup the next morning. And the world was safe again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Off the grid is great until you need a pizza

The idea of getting off the grid, unplugging, having some privacy from the digital world that follows you around in your pocket, is appealing. Some people do it. Many have envisioned it. There are practicalities to consider like services that you hope you will never need but if you do, you really, really need. Like emergency services.

Or pizza. Trying getting DoorDash when you don't have an address. Or Amazon Prime. Sure, these are things we can live without but we sure have become accustomed to instant gratification, delivered, haven't we?

I just purchased a new address that didn't exist. We moved, actually, to a brand new home. So new, the neighborhood is still being built around it. So new, Google didn't know it existed.

Let that sink in a second. Google didn't know my address existed. It felt like I had disappeared in a sense. In the sense that Google couldn't find me. Of course, they could but it was harder to be found by the people I wanted to find me. Like family. Or pizza delivery. Or, more importantly, furniture delivery.

In the satellite view in Google Maps, our house is still being built but anything north of us is still dirt. Those homes don't even exist on the satellite images yet. Interestingly, Apple Maps had already had our address. Google was behind the curve.

Now I know about Plus Codes and pins. These are features inside Google maps that allow you to share a location without an address. Or, you can share a specific location even if a building has an address. Like a specific entrance to a large building or venue.

I actually asked Google to take me back. "Please, Google, put me on the map." Which, of course, they did. Whatever momentary illusion to privacy I held is gone. But, I got my pizza and if I'm lucky the furniture will arrive later today so I'll have something to sit on when I eat it.

Thank you Google. I'm sorry I ever thought to leave you.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Time Flies By

 The Earth Orientation Centre has announced there will be no leap second added at the end of June 2021. Leap seconds have been added roughly every year and a half to adjust for the difference between atomic clocks and the time it takes for the earth to complete one revolution around its axis. Now, we have too many. Seconds, that is.

Despite how it seemed to drag on, and the Leap Year, 2020 was unusually fast.

The 28 fastest days on record (since 1960) all occurred in 2020, with Earth completing its revolutions around its axis milliseconds quicker than average. | Earth is whipping around quicker than it has in a half-century

 This raises the question of whether a negative leap second will be introduced. Should that happens, the last second of the year will disappear. Ryan Seacrest will count down, "... five, four, three two." That's it. Anyone who was born in the last second of any year, will be skipped over for birthday presents. Celebratory kisses will occur one second earlier. Whatever 2021 brings, good or bad, will be over.

 The night will be that much shorter. Coffee will reach my lips that much sooner. And we will all be older, regardless of how you measure it.

Friday, January 1, 2021

A perfect end to an imperfect year.

We had no plans to celebrate the end of the year. There wasn't much to celebrate other than it was finally over! For dinner, we made a steak in our cast iron skillet and served it with sides of mashed sweet potato and peas. And just because it was still 2020, and because the question of what else could go wrong left open the possibility that something would go wrong, the cast iron skillet exploded on our induction burner resulting in a crack halfway across the pan.

The steak, thankfully, was still fine and dinner was delicious. The pan, like 2020, is ruined.

Also on the last day of the year, I received a phone call from Eisenhower Health. Apparently, while I was at the hospital for a high fever earlier in the month, I may have been exposed to the coronavirus. They were required by the county to inform me of this and to find out if I had any symptoms. Luckily, I never developed any other than the fever and I had self-quarantined for ten days. Nevertheless, the irony was not lost on me: Best not to go to the hospital if you can help it. This was true, more than ever, in 2020.

When I think back to all the events of 2020, both personal and global, I liken the past year to living on a deserted island. Thrust into a situation of no one's choosing, we were isolated, lacked toilet paper, suffered mental challenges, found new ways to toil but found money useless: We could not travel off the island and there were no restaurants. We went gray and or grew beards. Personal grooming became meaningless.

There were other events that were exactly the opposite of a deserted island - or maybe a divided one, much like my cast iron skillet. Riots raised our awareness while the election made us want to cringe from awareness. 

I haven't even touched on the wildfires or murder hornets. There was a pandemic, for crying out loud - the storm that landed us on our islands.

There were births. There were marriages. Love was transmitted through the ether to family and friends who were on their own deserted islands. We made an effort to connect however we could. There were bright moments. 

The pan cracked but it didn't break apart.