“There is always something to glean from Molly's life stories--hidden gems tucked away deep inside. But as a shallow person, I'm usually just racked with laughter, which results in milk shooting out my nose when I eat breakfast cereal in front of the computer.”
Barbara E. Brink, author of “Entangled.” 

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VACAY

We haven’t gone on a trip in over two years. Wait–we did get on a plane to California last Christmas. But that was it.

Now we get to go on a vacation. Yay! So much fun! But the week BEFORE vacation is so busy, I need a vacation just to rest up from getting ready for it. Here is an itemized list of what needs to be done before leaving:

  • Kick husband out of guest bathroom. I have never understood why he uses that one, since we have a perfectly good master bath with two sinks in it. Then, after removing all of his accoutrements (shaver, lotion, nail fungus meds {ugh}, etc.), I have to clean that bathroom. It also has two sinks, a tub, and a floor that I think I washed last Christmas.
  • Move husband out of his “office” and turn that room into a guest room for the California contingent who will be joining us immediately after vacation. Blow up mattresses, room for luggage, etc. Vacuum and dust that room before setting up, so my daughter won’t find the raisins her daughter dropped in the corners the last time they visited.
  • Go to chiropractor, because “What if your back goes out in North Carolina?”
  • Go to CVS for some of those “travel sized” shampoos, lotions, etc. Husband asks “Don’t we have a bunch of those?” Answer: “NO BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T TRAVELED TO ANY MOTELS IN OVER TWO YEARS.”
  • Change all planned wardrobe choices for vacation since weather forecast says it will be in the high 90’s and low 100’s while we are there.
  • Add super strength deodorant to CVS shopping list.
  • Swiff everything five times because Hattie’s cat hair is EVERYWHERE.
  • Consider teeth whitening strips.
  • Move lumbar pillow from my car to my husband’s car.
  • Reply to everyone suggesting audio books for the trip that husband hates audiobooks.
  • Clean the refrigerator, because what if my daughter opens the door and sees the Nutella stain that was left there the last time they were here.
  • Be sure to stock up on raisins. Also “sugar cereal,” because they only get that at Grandma’s house. The cereals that look the most artificial are preferred.
  • Try to sleep at night, because going on vacation is so damn exciting.
  • Don’t forget to take masks, just in case. Pray neither of us gets a covid variant right before we leave.
  • Warn self that the day after everyone is gone, it will be very sad, but I will get over it.

I will be absent from the blog next week. You probably won’t miss me…

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HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

A  massive heat wave is hitting most of us this week. I cannot fathom how the people in India will survive; many of them won’t. Technology has to save us! But in the meantime, I have some hints for those of us who are privileged enough not to worry about dying from the heat.

Stay very still. This comes from my husband. I, frankly, have never found this to be helpful, although I guess you sweat less staying still than bustling around. But sweat is sweat, and having it soak the back of your shirt as you sit very still is just as bad as having it drip down into your bra when you are emptying the dishwasher.

Drink a lot of water. Sure. So you can create more sweat. I know, hydration is key, but having a glass of water isn’t that cooling, unless you pour it over your head.

Old ladies like me know that having a fan (the kind Southern Belles used to flirt with, not a Dyson) in every room at one’s fingertips is a must. It is so helpful, and if you buy fans in bulk from Amazon, this is an easy feat. Get extra, in case you leave one in a restaurant or drop one on your way out of the library.

Popsicles are another must. Grape and cherry are the best flavors. Chloe’s out rank the Popsicle brand by a landslide. A landslide of popsicles. Save the sticks for your craft projects.

If you live in a place with a deep aquifer, as we do in Dayton, you may take three cool showers a day. If you live in California, God be with you.

Don’t forget to water your potted plants out there on your deck or porch. Every damn day. Or else they will die. And it will be on your conscience for the rest of the summer.

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon.

It is BOTH THE HEAT AND THE HUMIDITY. I have never lived in Arizona, but come on, hot is hot. Humidity makes things worse, but 110 degrees dry seems just as horrible as 89 degrees muggy.

What is the rule? Wear black, or is white better? I can never remember, so I wear white. And spill either coffee or barbecue sauce on my white shirts, and ruin at least three every summer. So maybe black would be better.

Stay in the house! If you have a pool, stay in there! But don’t forget that your nose is very vulnerable to sunburn, while you are enjoying the cool, clear water. Zinc sunscreen and a hat. I can’t swim. The pool is not where I want to die. So I don’t hang out there. I very much admire women my age who like to go swimming. However, there is not a swimsuit that has ever been made that can make a woman over 65, no matter how slender, look good. Crepey skin, cellulite, and general “old person body” cannot be disguised. And old men in swim trunks? Ugh. Let’s not even consider Speedos–there should be a law against any man over 50 wearing one of those.

Don’t make Sun Tea. It harbors bacteria, apparently. This means boiling water, tea bags, and letting it cool enough to put in the refrigerator. Boiling water? Not advisable. Get Snapple.

Fabrics: cotton and linen, even though wearing linen makes you look as if you have slept in your clothes within five minutes of putting on that gorgeous linen shirt you got from the Gap. There is also a sort of “wicking” fabric that is supposed to keep one cool. I got a golf shirt that wicked. It gave me mega hot flashes. I tore it off my body and gave it to my husband.

Bermuda shorts. Remember madras patchwork ones? I loved those. These days, I wear capri pants, because Bemudas make me look a bit clumpy. Flip flops, but get a pedicure, for heaven’s sake! If you wear prescription sunglasses, here’s a tip: have a pair in your purse and one in your car. Men, wear a lanyard, because nobody thinks men in lanyards look like a granny.

That about wraps it up. I am now  going to go get a bag of frozen peas and wear it on my head for a while.

 

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HOW TO BE INTERESTING

Are you boring? Do you poop out at parties? Don’t have anything to talk about? Want others to talk about you? Spice up your life and your image:

  • Start rolling your r’s.
  • Be enthusiastic about throw pillows. Really enthusiastic.
  • Start a collection. But of unusual things, like pipe cleaners.
  • Paint your kitchen black.
  • Carry bubblegum with you everywhere.
  • Reveal embarrassing secrets.
  • Eat your hot dogs with a knife and fork.
  • Cross your legs at the ankles.
  • Carry a Thesaurus under your arm.
  • Order the cheese plate for dessert.
  • Leash train your cat.
  • Keep chickens.
  • Instead of Shakespeare, quote Anais Nin.
  • Wear a pencil behind your ear. All the time.
  • Button your shirts all the way up.
  • Announce you have to leave the table to “go brush your teeth.”
  • While you are at it, hand out toothbrushes to all your dinner companions.
  • Name your dog Steven.
  • Name your new baby Elon.
  • Place your EpiPen beside your plate at every meal.
  • Get a black dot tattooed on the end of your nose.
  • Put ice cubes in your milk.
  • After someone tells a joke, follow up by reciting a limerick.
  • Learn how to read Tarot cards.
  • Blink SOS in Morse Code at a cocktail party and see if anyone notices.

This should get you started. I have to go now and brush my teeth.

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TERRIBLE WEEK

Continue reading

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HOME

Anywhere you hang your hat. That sounds so easy, a pat answer that used to work, at least for many. But as we see in relentless media, home is here one minute, gone the next. People are now living in shelters, refugee camps, in ditches, basements, wondering if they will see the next day.

In this country, there is a large population of people for whom the word “home” means where they once lived. Folks who live in the streets, who panhandle for a living, or who depend on all sorts of cobbled together social services for their survival. For those of us who have never had to contemplate living this way, it is easy to judge–to think “These people are lazy, probably criminal in some way, addicts, or drunks. They did something to deserve to live like this.” Or as we drive by them, holding their signs asking for help, we feel a fleeting wave of pity and move on to thinking what to have for dinner.

Home is complicated. It is something I have always taken for granted. The places I have lived have always been comfortable, safe, as attractive as I could make them, and most of all, far away from the places where the definition of a “home” meant something very different from mine.

Homes are being taken away by war, by fire, drought, and catastrophes in such great numbers I can’t begin to contemplate. I dread watching the news. This itself reveals how privileged I am. To sit in my designated room for tv watching and be made uncomfortable and sad looking at those who are homeless, fleeing, bombed out, living in the streets?

Let’s do something about it. Here is what I can do at my age and from Dayton, Ohio. Maybe you can join me from your home.

https://give.oxfamamerica.org/

https://www.habitat.org

http://www.lirs.org/ukraine-crisis

http://www.rescue.org

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NADA

What? Another week rolled around and Molly could not come up with a topic for her column? Are you kidding me?

No good news was in the headlines, and the rest of it is so horrible, it isn’t worth thinking about. Recipes? Nope, because husband now thankfully does most of the cooking.

Advice? Tips? Maybe you should still be wearing your mask. Otherwise, nothing there, either. The weather? Warming…

Book lists? Overdone.

Perhaps some podcast recommendations, then? Were You Raised by Wolves is a favorite. But no, not really.

Well, then. One more week, and surely something will come up.

Fingers crossed.

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A DIFFERENT WIFE

 

Have you seen the commercial for some sort of financial management firm that features a lovely senior couple camping? First, they are on paddle boards, then sitting in front of a campfire drinking coffee and laughing? Then they get into their RV and drive off? Of course you have, because it is on all the time.

Every time it comes on, we have a private joke: I say “That is just like us!” And my husband rolls his eyes, because I am not a camping sort of person.

That is as far as it went for a long time. But the commercial came on again last night, and I said something like “Would you ever want to go camping?” thinking of course that the answer would be a resounding NO. However, my husband looked at me with what I would have to classify as irony and said, “With a different wife? Yes.”

I was stunned. “Wait. What about adventure tourism (which I also hate and fear)? Would you go to Machu Picchu?” He looked at me with a level gaze. “Of course.”

Shocked, I continued. “You would enjoy that? What about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Would you think being freezing cold and having to carry out your own poop a fun experience?” Again, a “Yes” with not one millisecond of hesitation. I wasn’t satisfied with this. “Would you travel down the Amazon, despite fever bearing parasites, swarms of biting bugs, and alligators (I have no idea if there are alligators in the Amazon). He nodded, this time accompanied with an exasperated sigh.

My God. All of this time, I thought we were a match made in heaven. Now I find out that he has been holding himself back from fun for 52 years because of his “indoor” wife. I have robbed him of so many peak experiences! He has lived a boring life because of ME.

I thought for a minute, and then offered, “But you could do all of that stuff by yourself. Our friend (we will call her Rachel) travels by herself all the time. As a matter of fact, she was in Palestine all alone last Christmas. Her husband hates travel. At least I like some travel!”

He ran a hand over his nonexistent hair. “Yes, Molly. You love travel. As long as we are in big cities like London where English is spoken, where we stay in five star hotels, and where there are many shops. Oh, and there must be amenities. Lots of amenities.”

“Well, that is travel!”

“You didn’t ask me that. You asked me about adventure travel. Which of course, I couldn’t do alone, because you wouldn’t let me.”

I wanted to object.

I couldn’t.

 

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THE END OF SPECULATION

I like to have conversations with my husband. This, of course, gets harder the longer we have been together, because the majority of topics have been covered many times over.

One conversational gambit that always used to work was the “what do you think” question. “What do you think is the most water you would have to drink in order to die of water poisoning?” Another opener that used to work is the factoid probe: “Are basketball players more physically fit than baseball players? It seems to me that Babe Ruth was fat. And by the way, was Babe really his name?” Again, great opening for speculation. Opinion. Discussion about Babe Ruth vs. Steph Curry.

These things don’t work any more, because of Alexa, Siri, Google, Google Maps, and worst of all, Wikipedia. I ask a stimulating question, and I am met with “Check Wikipedia.” Here’s the thing: I DON’T REALLY WANT THE FACTS. I want a conversation in which he will open with, let’s say on the water question, with “Oh, that’s an interesting question. Are you asking how much water one would have to drink at one sitting?  Because I bet it would have to be more than a gallon.” To which I would hazard a guess, and then we would move on from there to how much beer might be too much, and so on.  In the era before the internet, conversations like this could go on and on.

But no. These days, any question like that is squelched by the “check Google, etc.” response. End of discussion. This happens all the time–not just with my husband. Friends in restaurants often pull out their phones to fact check everything from “Do you think those realtors on Selling Sunset are all anorexic?” to “Is sushi really that popular, or do people just pretend they like it in order to seem sophisticated?” We seem to have lost our ability to speculate and probe deeply into things, offering up our points of view. No– we just ask Siri and move on.

It gets harder and harder to have a good time when we feel the need to research every topic on our phones in order to get the definitive answer. There is a way to get around this, however. I just figured this out! Good heavens, why didn’t I think of this before? The solution is to ask speculative questions about the future:

Oh my God what do you think will happen when Elon Musk starts running Twitter? 

How many more Ken Burns documentaries do you think there will be?

Will women ever admit that high heels are torture?

Will people ever reconsider kale as a vegetable?

Take that, Wikipedia.

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CLIFF NOTES CAMPBELL

Not sure if you read my blog regularly, but I wrote  a while ago about my aversion to Ken Burns. Not personally, because I am sure he is a very nice man, despite his unfortunate haircut. No, I am not a fan of his docuseries, because they are so minutely detailed.

The fact that Ben Franklin (I am making this up, because I did not watch the series about him), liked to give his wife pink roses is lost on me. All I need to know about Franklin is the kite and the key, thank you very much.

Digesting the news is a similar situation. I like to get the gist. The gist is all I need. The gist can be obtained from reading just the headlines. For instance, if Putin attacks another city in the Ukraine, all I need is the name of the city, because we already know how he will do it: blast it to smithereens. Therefore, details about how many people were killed or how many churches destroyed are needless and anguish- producing. I don’t need those details; just the main fact or facts is enough.

This drives my husband crazy. I will tell him something I read that I think he will find interesting. For example: “Hey, did you know that a woman grew a gourd that looks exactly like a penis?” That is all anybody needs to know. But my husband will immediately ask me, “Where does she live? Was it in her backyard, or is she a farmer?” Where she grew it and what she does for a living are absolutely NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. Literally.

He also quizzes me on the details of the news I relay to him via my newsfeed. Five black bears were hibernating under a home for months, and the homeowners had no idea. That is enough to know. I scrolled past that headline just after I read it to Charlie, and so I lost that story forever, and I could not tell him what state that was in, or what city, or how the homeowners who had no idea became aware of the bears. Does it matter? There were FIVE BEARS under there! Who cares about what state that was in? I know it isn’t Ohio, so why clutter my mind with needless further information?

Thls habit of mine for going for the barest of information has led my brother-in-law to call me “Cliff Notes Campbell.” Cliff Notes are a gift to mankind. Frankly, sometimes even the Cliff Notes versions of things aren’t abbreviated enough: All one needs to know about Finnegans Wake is that the book ends with the first half of the first sentence of the novel–all you need to know to avoid reading it altogether. Cliff Notes won’t help you with James Joyce. I am not sure James Joyce could help you with James Joyce.

I leave you with a quick summary of something that you might find interesting, and this is all you need to know about it:

FLORIDA BRIDE AND CATERER CHARGED AFTER SERVING MARIJUANA LACED FOOD AT WEDDING.

I rest my case.

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