ALTERNATIVE FACTS

Since we now live in a world in which there is a lot of room, apparently, for alternative facts, I am providing myself with some:

My skin is taut. That lotion that I got on Amazon that says there will be a “noticeable improvement” within 2 days is absolutely true.

I am as attractive today as I was when I was forty. It is due to the lotion mentioned above, as well as the exfoliation gel soap in the shower. Glowing foundation powder helps, but let’s just face it–I am a dead ringer for Marilyn.

I love to hike, swim, and then have a picnic. Bugs don’t bother me. I never sweat.  As a matter of fact, I think that RVing across the country for months with just a few possessions and some beef jerky would be a blast.

I am a New York Times bestselling author. I can say that. I can say that all I want to. I can say that in the shower, in this blog, and mutter it to myself while I am alone in the car.

I just love going to parties. Especially those where I don’t know anybody, because I am both a sparkling conversationalist and an extrovert. The reason I don’t go to more parties is because I am a New York Times bestselling author, and I get tired of people crowding around me, breathlessly asking me what my next book is going to be about.

My husband is 20 years younger than I am, and he works out at the gym six days a week. Friends have remarked that he resembles Aidan Turner. This is another reason why we don’t go to parties. We are very busy here at the house.

I have never been drunk.

The GOP is a party of true statesmen.

 

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DEAL BREAKERS

In the news: honest. A man asked the internet if he should be worried about the way his girlfriend used butter. See the above photo–was she a psychopath or not?

This man, along with so many others, felt that one should scrape a morsel of butter from the top of the tub, so that the butter would diminish in a level fashion, with the tub completely covered by butter until the tub was scraped clean with one final swipe. His girlfriend apparently dug down in the tub, leaving half of it full as she went along, attacking first the left side of the tub, and then the right side.

This begs the question: if you are looking in the tub of butter in order to come up with a reason to end a relationship, then the problem may be you and not your girlfriend. However, differences in the approach to things such as butter use can certainly cause annoyance. I can cite a few examples from my own life.

  • My husband affixes a chip clip to the end of the toothpaste tube, so that the paste remains even, and as the paste gets used up, he twists the tube and moves the clip, so that none is left in the bottom of the tube to go to waste. He refuses to squeeze the tube in the middle like the rest of us sane people, leaving a crumpled and forlorn mess at the end. He is fastidious. Or a psychopath.
  • Whenever my husband gets, for instance, a new golf shirt, he throws away or donates one of his current shirts. Thus, he does not have “old clothes.” Who on earth can exist without old clothes? What does he do if he has to paint something? Or clean something disgusting? He has to do it in “good clothes,” for God’s sake. Again–the “p” word–see above.
  • My husband says that if you walk outside with a glass of milk in your hand, the milk is no longer potable the second the exterior atmosphere hits it. It is immediately warm, potentially sour, and certainly poisonous.
  • If there are, say, two boxes of Girl Scout cookies around, you know who won’t open the Thin Mints until he has finished the box of Scot Teas. My God, nobody else in the whole universe does this. What’s more, who in heaven’s name opens Scot Teas first? Everybody knows you have to start with the Thin Mints.
  • Would you wonder about a spouse who eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every single day of his life? This is no exaggeration. How can someone do this without gagging on the ten thousandth sandwich? I am of course, citing my husband on this one, as well.

I would like to introduce the butter tub woman to my husband. I think they would hit it off big time. Kindred spirits. Birds of a feather.

Psychopaths.

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HIATUS

Happy Labor Day! I am taking one week off to recharge my brain and look around for ideas. Sometimes I just cannot come up with a topic!

Enjoy the day. Watch some fireworks. Eat hot dogs. Avoid the news. See you next week.

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THE END OF THE LINE

Dinner. I made it just about every night for 50 years. A protein, a green vegetable (sometimes cauliflower), a salad. I made lunches, too. Soup and a sandwich, perhaps a cookie or two thrown in.

Many of you out there can relate. It gets old. The ten thousandth time you make spaghetti, even if you use jarred sauce, the entire process becomes pure drudgery. A duty. The times you really have to try hard to excel, making turkey, stuffing, and all those damn sides, it saps the will to live right out of you. Me. It sapped me.

So one day, I threw in the towel and informed my husband that since the nest is empty, and I have no more will to sauté, it is his turn. He has to prepare the dinners, and I will clean up.

This has gone remarkably well, since we have subscribed to various meal subscription boxes. In our weekly box are the ingredients and recipes for three meals for two people. Thirty minutes or less to prepare.

Some observations:

  • The thirty minutes or less is aimed at those of us who have cooked for 50 years. For spouses whose main skills have involved strolling in when called and sitting down to eat, thirty minutes is way off. My husband optimistically starts cooking each night at seven, and two hours later, dinner is ready.
  • When I used to cook, I would make the stuff, then grab plates and scoop whatever we were having onto the plates and slap them on the table. No ceremony. No parsley garnishes. My husband’s goal, however, is to do what the chefs of the world call plating. If the food doesn’t look exactly like the photo on the recipe card, he works at it until it does. Even if some of the items on the plate get cold during the plating process, it’s the end result that counts.
  • The chefs that devise the recipes for these kits are very clever, and the food is generally excellent, even delicious. There is an occasional “miss,” but you can’t please everybody.
  • Since we are primarily vegetarian, the meal boxes hit heavily on Mexican, Indian, and Mediterranean food, in which meat isn’t so important.
  • However, if I never see another chickpea, it will be too soon.
  • Portion size varies. Some kits allocate one half cup of cooked rice per person. This might be fine, but when what is on top of the rice also measures one half cup, we have a problem. My husband, who is very slender by nature, eats his portion and gets up from the table, seemingly feeling fine. I however, head for the microwave popcorn. I am not inherently slender.
  • Sometimes the meal kit folks get confused and send us beef. We gag and give it to the neighbors.
  • On the four nights per week that fall back on me, due to the fact that we get only three kits a week, my husband knows he will be getting tuna sandwiches, spaghetti and Ragu sauce, or if I am really inspired, Doordash.
  • Since we have started doing this, we have subscribed to six different meal kit providers. Each company seems to favor certain ingredients (see chickpeas, above). Switching it up provides variation. The kits we get now feature black beans a lot.
  • The photo above is of fried brown rice with snow peas, garlic shreds, sesame oil, and carrots. Kale is involved.
  • We may soon be sick of kale, and then we will have to switch kit companies again. I will be looking for one that relies heavily on gravy.

 

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SUMMER’S END

It is almost over. The days are getting shorter. I am sick of my “summer throw pillows,” so I brought out the cozy ones.

Do you do end-of-summer things? I like to, for instance, roast local tomatoes to freeze, so we can have really great, fresh tasting spaghetti sauce in the coldest part of winter. We have corn on the cob “before it’s too late.”

When I deadhead the geraniums now, I think about how much I am going to miss them in November. Oh, gosh—November! The beginning of that awful time of year for those of us on Weight Watchers.

I wouldn’t want to live in a place like Florida, though. The seasons never change. Leaves don’t turn. Nobody needs electric blankets. Eating chili never seems appropriate. They don’t need cozy throw pillows, for heaven’s sake!

Nope. I will stay right here in Ohio, where the geraniums don’t last, the heat comes on in September, and it snows. I personally like days that begin to go dark at a reasonable hour—this Daylight Savings Time idea—who came up with that?

Goodbye to one more summer.

 

 

 

 

 

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AGONY AUNT

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

Things are so expensive these days. Is it ok, then, to bring my own popcorn into the movie theatre? 

Thrifty at the flicks

Dear Thrifty,

It isn’t a good idea to import comestibles into the movies. I suppose if you can conceal your popcorn, and you don’t feel guilty about cutting further into the profit margin of the theater owner during this difficult post-pandemic period when movie houses have suffered from two years of woeful attendance, then go ahead. But I strongly suggest you don’t try to smuggle in a tuna sandwich or a bowl of Cheerios.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

My husband passes gas and never excuses himself. What should I do?

Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed,

I have had this same problem for years, and thus far I have not come up with a satisfactory solution to the fact that so many men feel free to let loose at will. I have tried to cut down on certain menu items known to produce flatulence, but this is as far as I have gotten. My own spouse’s response to the failure to excuse himself is that he wasn’t aware that he passed gas in the first place. This may be simply a fact that you, I, and many other wives just have to accept and move on.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

Is there a good way to tell somebody that they have bad breath?

Grossed out

Dear Grossed,

Not really. Breathe through your mouth.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

My wife is the life of the party. She loves to socialize; she can really work a room. Here is the thing: she never introduces me to anybody, and so I just have to stand there looking dumb. What should I do?

Left Holding My Drink

Dear Left,

Two simple solutions here: ONE–  introduce yourself. TWO–I prefer a maneuver, however, that I have perfected over the years. You stay home and send your spouse to the party.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

If a joke is really a good joke, how many times can you tell it? Do people actually remember jokes? I have this really good joke. Everybody I tell it to laughs. Can I keep telling it, or do I have to stop? My wife says she is sick to death of this joke.

Funny in Dayton

Dear Charlie,

Oh, my Lord, people laugh to be polite. The joke is not “really good.” Stop. For the love of God, stop.”Take my wife, PLEASE” is not funny. I am sure the people who laughed at Rodney Dangerfield were just being polite…

 

 

 

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DIALOGUE

ME: Today is Sunday; it is going to be 90 degrees out there. I am going nowhere. So yay! I can stay in my pjs all day!

ALSO ME: Nobody sane does this.

Me: Sure they do.

ALSO ME: Nope. People who are of sound mind put regular clothes on before noon. It is ok on a Sunday to lounge around for a while, but you have to get dressed. What if someone comes over?

ME: We live in a secure building. If someone comes over, and by the way, nobody does, we have to buzz them in, and that gives me plenty of time to rush into actual clothing.

ALSO ME: Ok, not a good argument. But what about productive people? They wear clothes, not pjs.

ME: I can be productive in pjs. I write things. I never do it in public. So nobody reading my books and blog has any idea what I was wearing when I wrote them.

ALSO ME: You were wearing clothes. Except for when you wrote stuff in the middle of the night due to insomnia. You were wearing clothes.

ME: This is my point. I want to break the mold and be carefree. I want to throw caution to the winds and spend the entire day in pjs. Just to prove to myself that I can do it.

ALSO ME: Ask around. See if anybody you know does this. I bet they don’t, because people don’t want to be slugs.

ME: I bet my daughter does. She works two jobs and rides her horse every day but Sunday. I bet she is completely enervated by the time Sunday comes around. I can picture her just lounging in front of the tv in her comfy pjs all day long!

ALSO ME: So text her and ask. You will feel better, and she will give you permission to be a slouch, if only for this one Sunday.

ME: GOOD IDEA.

*after a pause, in which I text my daughter, who replies that she always gets dressed*

ME: God damn.

I am now wearing the full complement of underwear, polo shirt, and leggings.

ME: I wonder if I can go an entire day without styling my hair…

ALSO ME: You look like you need a lobotomy with your hair sticking out all over like that.

ME: Maybe I won’t brush my teeth today.

ALSO ME: Just give up and come to grips with the fact that you are a completely conventional person, not Frieda Kahlo, Colette, or Virginia Woolf.

ME: They all brushed their teeth every day?

ALSO ME: Molly, you are not an eccentric genius. Accept it.

ME: With toothbrush in one hand, hairbrush in the other, “Ok….”

If you want to come over unannounced today, it will be fine.

 

 

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URBANITY

 

I love our city home so much. The traffic noises. The skyline. The vistas for miles–no trees up here to block the view. Life on the fifth floor is a complete change. My entire life up until now has been suburban.

So yes, some things I do miss. We don’t hear crickets at night. There are no cardinals or bluejays downtown. I had a bird feeder up here for a while, but I took it down, because city sparrows poop all over balconies–who knew?

The  wildlife we observe is something we never saw in the suburbs: every night, hundreds of starlings roost on the stadium lights at the baseball field in front of our apartment, and according to Google, they exchange information. The meetings last about 30-40 minutes, and there is a lot of chatter. I love to watch them–when the meetings are over, the birds depart in groups, each one a little smaller than the one before. The last group to leave consists of just a few birds. I wonder how they decide who should leave when, and I wonder which bird gets to adjourn the meeting.

One time, a falcon landed on the railing of the balcony next to ours, and I was thrilled. By the time I turned on my phone camera, it had flown away. There are also geese that fly by the building on their way to the river, which is just a block away.

I rescued two tiny feral kittens who I saw frisking around on the baseball field. I had seen their mom previously, but I didn’t realize she had a family. The Dayton Dragons management was so helpful, and they set out a trap, but we only managed to get the kittens. We found them homes. I never saw the mom again.

The sunsets are brilliant. We can see the huge fountains on the river from the apartment. They go off every hour on the hour during the summer months. All we saw from our house in the ‘burbs were trees.

We can walk to restaurants. Watch baseball games from the apartment. The Dayton Celtic Festival is going on this weekend, and we can walk over to it in two minutes. We can also hear the bagpipes from the living room!

On the whole, this has been a tremendous experience. We are so glad we made the move while we were still “young” enough to do all the packing and slogging. Still young enough to have this one more adventure.

I would encourage any of you out there who have grown children to get going. Clear out your attics and basements; get rid of all that junk. Your kids don’t want your antiques. Mowing the lawn is a pain in the ass. So are cleaning the gutters and shoveling snow. Downsize now, before downsizing means moving from your house into a nursing home, for God’s sake.

A falcon is waiting to land on your balcony.

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TODAY’S NEWS

Are you tired of all the awful headlines? Sick of divisiveness, hearings, pandemics, and climate change? Who isn’t? But if you look hard enough, not all news is bad. Actually, this news story I found isn’t really good, either, but it went a long way to make me forget all the news that gives me insomnia.

This is from a very reliable source, as far as I am concerned: NPR. Here goes:

Bob Salem (who may or may not be classified as sane) succeeded in pushing a peanut all the way to the top of Pike’s Peak with his nose. He crawled on his hands and knees for seven days, pushing a peanut with a spoon affixed to his nose with masking tape. Multiple peanuts were required, as the one he was pushing often disappeared into crevices or rolled downhill to be eaten by wildlife.

His motivation was to raise money for the town at the base of the peak, but since there only seemed to be one attendee, the NPR staffer who reported on the event, my guess is that Salem failed to raise much money.

Now, I love to watch television documentaries about folks with huge appetites for adventure who climb mountains, jump off buildings, get lost in the woods on purpose, and make casseroles out of insects, because those shows are exciting. The participants compete for big prizes, or else they are just daredevils who do these things for the adrenaline rush.

There can’t be a lot of adrenaline involved in pushing a nut with a spoon taped to your nose. Crawling on your hands and knees. Nothing dangerous about it, unless skinning knees is somehow life threatening if you do it for seven days. It would certainly cause bruising, but bruises don’t kill.

I bet you a hundred dollars that Bob Salem isn’t married. I would bet a hundred more that he is divorced from a woman who got tired of cautioning him to stop entering pie-eating contests or striving for the Guiness Book of Records as the person taking the longest bath. And if Bob has children, they probably all have migraines due to excessive eye-rolling.

I salute Bob, however, because I spent a worry-free afternoon trying to imagine how long Bob will last before his next escapade, and what that might be. I vote for having Bob accept the challenge of taking a dog’s temperature in church (courtesy of the great Pat McCormick, who invented this line that I have never forgotten).

May you  be blessed with interesting headlines.

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