“Whether musing on her metabolism or the potential of a dead body in a car parked out on the street too long, Molly Campbell has a voice that cracks us up and reminds us of dear old mom.”
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A NEW HOBBY

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When you are retired, every day seems like Saturday. This is great, but wait. When every day seems like Saturday, you can get bored. Because there isn’t anything left to do. You did it all when your kids were living with you. Soccer games: check. Horseshows: check. Swim meets: check. Picnics: check. Sunday drives: check, except the kids hated those.

So now, we sit on Saturday mornings, thinking of something that might be “fun” to do. We look in the paper for movies. Funny thing—neither of us is interested in seeing Magic Mike. So we cast around in the “local activities” section of the paper. Nada. Then, as if by magic or predestination, our sister-in-law calls. During the conversation, she mentions Letterboxing. Apparently, this is kind of like an internationally organized sort of scavenger hunt, where you go out into the wild and look for hidden boxes that have exciting stuff in them! You need a compass, a map, a rubber stamp, and a little notebook. Wow! Sounds so much fun!! www.letterboxing.org

We look for sites in Dayton. There is one just down the street! We get our equipment (see photo, above), douse ourselves with bug spray, and set out. I can barely contain my excitement!

HIM: Here is the cemetery. Look for the grave with the angel.

ME: All the graves have angels.

HIM: The one with the tear running down her cheek.

ME: A fly just bit me. OW! Another one! The bug spray isn’t working! OW! I hate this. This angel has a tear. How do we know that ALL the angels aren’t crying?

HIM: Twenty paces. Look for a bush that has red leaves.

ME: None of these bushes around here are red. Are we supposed to be doing this in the Fall? OW!

HIM: No. Wait. Turn left by the grave that has a picture Saint Frank on it. OW. I see what you mean about the flies.

ME: There was no Saint Frank. You are reading it wrong—give me those directions! Saint FRANCIS, you idiot!

HIM: Oh, here it is! There should be a hidden box somewhere inside this bush.

ME: This bush is green.

HIM: But it matches up with the clues. Look inside!

ME: Ok. It has thorns. OW. Oh, here’s the box!

HIM: SO, what is in it?

Here’s the thing. Inside the box was a tiny little book. People had written their initials in it and used rubber stamps. There was a rubber stamp in there, too, so you could stamp the little book you had to buy in order to participate in this whole exercise. Luckily, we didn’t have to buy a little book. I had one. We were supposed to buy a rubber stamp of our own, to put a stamp in the little book in the bushes. We didn’t bother to go to the store to get one. Good thing, because the book in the bushes was totally full. We couldn’t have put a stamp in it if we wanted to!

ME: That’s IT? No clues to another box? No prize? I thought there would be a prize. Or at least clues to another box, and that one would have a prize. There are no other clues??

HIM: I guess the whole thing is supposed to be an adventure. You know, finding the box.

ME: But they tell you where to find the box! And why do they say you need a compass? We didn’t need the compass! There has to be more to it than this! looks angrily down at the box.

HIM:   Give me the box (as if I am stupid)! Nothing. turning the box over Nope. turns box over again.

ME: Well this just sucks. looks angrily at husband.

HIM: My sister said this was fun.

ME: still looking angrily and with great disappointment at the little box.

HIM: We are supposed to put everything carefully back, for the next hunters.

ME: I think we should put a disclaimer in here. Something like This is not what it is cracked up to be. There should be prizes.

HIM: You can’t do that. It will spoil it for the others.

ME: The others? All those people who actually bought the rubber stamps and put them in the little book? Do you think that the others just really loved finding the bush that wasn’t red, and then stamping the little book? And then went home? They liked this a lot? With no prizes? Are we missing something? Are we jaded?

HIM:

ME: I see.

HIM: Do we have any calamine lotion at home?

Letterboxing. Somebody needs to tell them there should be prizes. I’m just saying.

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CONFIDENTIAL FROM THE KITCHEN

There is a new, fun trend. Weekly boxes. They are doing them for everyone. You can get them for your pets. Book lovers can get them. But I signed up for a kitchen one. One for people who have run out of ideas for dinner, and who hate to shop for ingredients. I am not going to name the company I signed up with, because they haven’t offered to pay me to shill for them. This is a shame, because I would love the money. However, since I am now a kitchen box veteran, I thought I would give a report.

The box comes on Friday. I has three meals in it. All are completely complete. You get cute little tiny bottles of, for example, mirin (I have no idea), and tiny little bags containing, for example, a single teaspoon of tamarind paste (again, no idea). So all you have to do is get the recipe sheet out, and follow the directions.

Here are some tips:

  • Read the directions thoroughly first. For example, if it says “save one cup of the pasta water after pasta is cooked,” it does you NO GOOD to read that right after you have drained ALL THE PASTA into the colander. Yelling “WAIT, WAIT, I NEED A CUP OF THAT!” as it runs down into the disposal and deep into the sewers of your Midwestern city–that won’t save it. Nor does using the F word six times successively. Good thing for chicken broth.
  • Those little cartons they send the eggs in? They won’t hold the eggs steady if you attempt to carry them across your kitchen. They made it all the way from the distribution center to your home intact, but once they make it inside the kitchen, they open up and deposit their contents on the linoleum.
  • You need your own olive oil.
  • See that there on your chest? Yes, THAT is why they suggest that you wear an apron while “sautéing.”
  • Apparently, lemon zest is now a necessity in every single decent recipe on earth.
  • Sugar snap peas have strings. Who knew?
  • Garlic has snapes. Again, who knew?
  • If it says, “stir gently,” it means “don’t even touch the stuff in the pan, because it will disintegrate if you do.”
  • “Use a non-stick pan if you have one” translates literally into “Go out and get a non-stick pan, you idiot, or you will need to deep fat fry everything to keep it  from adhering to your obsolete cast-iron skillet.”
  • “Serve immediately.” Who doesn’t serve immediately? Do some people plate up their dinners and then go to the movies?

I can tell you this. I am sticking with the box thing. Even the disasters have so far been tasty, even when the parmesan cheese refused to “incorporate completely” into the sauce. Luckily, over here in the heartland, we like globs of melted parmesan. And that mirin stuff is incredible.  

Next up, I am going to make strawberry jam for my baked Brie grilled cheese sandwiches. Good grief. And I can’t wait to find out what Inknut tastes like. Bon appetite, gang.

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TAKING A TIME OUT FROM JUDGING

There is a social media frenzy going on right now. I guess frenzies on social media are quite common, but right now, there are a lot of people getting very judgy about things. I am appointing myself as mother to everybody, and putting you all in time out. Let’s just simmer down!

First of all, Bruce Jenner is a very courageous person, and frankly, now that she is Caitlyn, I applaud her. She looks beautiful. Those of you who think it is a publicity stunt are certainly entitled to your opinion. But it seems to me that there are way easier ways to get publicity than changing your sexual identity surgically. So let’s all let Caitlyn be. I just wish I looked that good in an evening gown.

Then there is a woman who for some reason decided to change her racial identity. She used a lot of tanning products, curled her hair, and then became the head of the NAACP in Spokane. I have no idea why she did this. But once again, although it might be complicated and fraught with sociological issues, now is not the time to criticize the quality of her afro.

Free range parenting? Oh, boy. All I can say about that is I remember the first time I let my third-grader go to the park all by herself, and she ended up with a concussion, the emergency room, and a broken ankle. That certainly made me rethink free-ranging it. Now I worry whenever I see kids playing without any adults present. I have to restrain myself from threatening to call their parents or herding them home. Just saying.

There are some things that we can all get very righteous about, though. We can just judge, judge, and then judge some more. As a matter of fact, let’s just get nasty about

  • Pets or children left in hot cars
  • Animal abuse
  • School shootings
  • Terrorism
  • Racism
  • War

Those are inarguable. But here’s another list of things I feel perfectly judgy about

  • People who have snakes as pets
  • Manscaping
  • Stilettos—why on earth aren’t women refusing to wear these?
  • Tongue piercing
  • Why people think salmon is delicious
  • Everybody wearing earbuds all the time
  • Waiters who squat by the table and call you “you guys”
  • Tasting menus
  • Improper pronoun reference
  • Misspelled tattoos

I could go on and on. But I have a lot to do. They are tweeting about John Stamos getting a DUI. And Goat Selfies. This is OUTRAGEOUS.  Gotta go chime in!

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ALL THE NEWS

 

I used to subscribe to the New York Times. It was expensive, and when I realized that I no longer needed to spend that kind of money in order to be up on things, I cancelled my subscription. Because now I simply get all my news from Facebook.

Facebook is the “big brother” that George Orwell warned us all about. We didn’t listen. Facebook seems pretty innocuous, but it is all knowing. It has algorithms. I don’t exactly know what an algorithm is, but it is a heinous thing, apparently. Facebook uses algorithms to track the things that you “like,” and so it fills your Facebook feed with things along those lines. So I see a lot of posts about kittens, low-carb food, and Caitlyn Jenner. This is well and good. Scary? No privacy? It’s the price we pay!

Facebook provides me with the only window to the world that I need. It gives me breaking news that it knows I am interested in. Not like Twitter, which simply floods my timeline with ALL the news. I don’t want ALL the news, and Facebook knows it. So I get all the news that is filtered by Facebook to meet my specific needs.

For instance, I can tell you what foods boost your metabolism. Most of them are spicy. Or what if you don’t want to pay for that expensive facelift? Well, no problem! You can use foods commonly found in your cupboard to create wrinkle-busting facials! Bananas and honey are involved, I think. Also, there is a doctor called Mercola (he never lists his first name, which is a little bit bothersome—do you just go by Mr. Jones?) who uncovers all kinds of icky stuff that you shouldn’t be doing, ingesting, or even considering.

I just found out that collecting rainwater is now illegal in many States. Of course, since I only read the headline, I have no idea why or in which states. The same is true for anything about The Duggar family—but I see enough about them to know that I wouldn’t want to be one of their children. And did you know that there is now going to be a women’s Viagra? Yep. Saw it on Facebook.

I share some of this groundbreaking information with my husband, but he just asks tedious questions like “Which state is now almost underwater?” and “who would want to buy a purse for$150,000?”

Apparently, Facebook also knows I like to celebrate. Because I know all about National Donut Day, National Hug Your Cat Day, National Wear Your Clothes to Bed Day, and National Eat Cheese Day. All of these are holidays worth celebrating with as much pomp and circumstance as possible.

Oh, and is it your birthday? Well, Facebook will let me know if it is. I also know what your favorite TV shows, movies, songs and foods are. Of course, I have seen all of your children’s graduation pictures and first haircuts. I know exactly what you had for lunch yesterday, because Facebook showed me that picture of your beet salad.

Incidentally, did you know that eating the placenta after you give birth isn’t really good for you? Or that drinking eight glasses of water a day is just not that beneficial? And that Ferris Bueller took his day off 30 years ago?

Gotta go. I have to check my Facebook feed. Big news: Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty got into a huge brawl in Times Square. Inquiring minds want to know…

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A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

That song is so completely the 50s. Sappy. I feel it should be updated. But not in rhyme, because I am not that gifted. But here are a few of MY favorite things.

  • Ok, I will grant you the kitten whiskers.
  • iPhones with tons of apps, because now waiting rooms and long car rides are so much more pleasant. I heart word games and checking my email every ten seconds. And posting random shots of stuff on Facebook. That woman who said social media is an addiction was totally correct. Just think—I can make a smartass remark on Twitter, and people worldwide will see it! And some bloke in Australia might even respond! And all the cat pictures! What’s not to like?
  • It used to be chocolate cake, until I had to give up all sweets. Now it’s fruit. My God—how did I ever live without daily doses of grapes and watermelon? And now they are seedless!
  • Binge watching. It’s the best! When I was growing up, we had to wait an entire WEEK for another episode of Dick Van Dyke! What did we do with all of that spare time?
  • Casual attire. Good grief, I haven’t owned a dress in twenty years. Yoga pants are on the verge of being accepted at even the finest eating establishments. Fantastic. But see “spandex” above. Must wear Spanx at the Five Stars.
  • My Kindle. Never again will I run out of reading material at two in the morning and be forced to hum to myself to pass the time. Oh, and
  • The kitten whiskers. Bears repeating.
  • I wish I could say the Crock Pot. But I can’t, because everything I make in mine tastes boiled.
  • Louis C.K. This almost goes without saying.
  • Google. There are no longer any questions that remain unanswered.
  • I do love the kitten whiskers.

There are more, but lists can get tiring. However, I may now be forced to compile a list of some of the things I hate. Later.

Kitten whiskers…

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