Posts tagged ‘humor’

The Night of the Bat

Last night, my Dad was tucked up in bed, and I had just turned on the big in-the-ceiling fan, which is the last thing I do before getting into bed. The fan is one of those big metal ones that is built into the ceiling, to draw air in from outside. It is also made, I know now, to offer ingress to creepy critters that might be hanging around in the attic.

Just before getting into bed, I realized I had left my glass of water and my book down in the kitchen. So I plodded down the steps, without turning on any lights . . . because I am a grown woman . . . who sometimes has to prove to herself that she is not afraid of the dark any longer . . . because there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of, right?

I had turned left into the dining room when I flinched from some corner-of-the-eye flash and a feeling of movement near my head. “Trick of the light,” I thought. Then, “Was that a bird?” Then, “Oh please-please-please let it be a bird.”

It was a bat. And it was flapping all over the house. Swooping, circling, acting as if it were auditioning for a Halloween movie.

Full disclosure:  In a crisis, I am 90% level headed. But the other 10% is Lucille Ball.

In about 20 seconds, my whispered “Hey Dad” had increased repeatedly to a full blown, full volume “DAAA-AAAAD!!!!!!!!!”

(Is the story funnier if I mention Dad showing up in his “jammies,” which is actually tighty-whities and a T-shirt? Or is the humor of that detail less necessary than protecting him from the embarrassment of knowing I told a bunch of strangers on the internet to picture him in his underwear?)

After a bit of running about uselessly, dumbfounded staring, and me randomly opening and shutting doors, the bat stopped circling the living room and zoomed up the stairs, straight into my Dad’s bedroom. He yelled, “Shut the door!” which was a very good idea. So I ran up and shut his door.

Then I stood there. Outside the door of The Room With A Bat In It. I was really creeped out. I felt a crawly feeling on the back of my neck, and my stomach said, You can’t handle this. Then my head joined in with three thoughts:

  1. Dad’s a manly man who has handled such things with ease all his life and he would handle this if I let him, but what kind of an asshole would I be if I let a 91-year-old guy with a relatively new heart valve handle this?
  2. I could almost hear my Mom telling me not to be a sissy.
  3. And I remembered an evening by the lake when I was teenager. I had stayed out a little too long and was by myself at the water end of the dock at dusk—when the bats came out to feed. There I was, alone, surrounded by flying beasts that (according to brotherly legend) often got stuck in girls’ long hair and probably had rabies. All I could think to do was not run and not panic. And so I sat, very still, like a freak show Snow White, with the bats swooping around me. Dozens of them. When I stopped being scared, it became fascinating. And it was beautiful. (Yes, beautiful.)

I foraged for weaponry, took a deep breath, and entered the room.

The bat was circling, swooping erratically, heading for me, veering away at the last second. I was at various points wielding an umbrella, a tennis racket, a bath towel, and for a short, hopeful while, I stood, like John Cusack, holding the empty clothes hamper aloft.

I managed to get the windows open, but, despite clear instructions and sincere encouragement, that damn bat would not fly out a window. Around and around we went, for half an hour, at least. Eventually, the bat appeared to be getting tired. And then, in a move that seemed like disaster but was actually good luck, it flew into the closet.

After all that heart-pounding, creepy, funny mayhem, there it was. Just a little bat, hanging on the wall at the end of the hanging rod. It looked tired. It looked tiny. (Maybe even cute.) And it looked terrified.

So. Right. I’m no sissy. I’m an independent woman who was once profoundly changed by witnessing the beauty of bats in flight at dusk. All I had to do was grab this tiny, helpless creature and let it out the window.

I took one step. I held up the towel. And I said, “Dad? Would you do it?”

And he did.


P.S. A friend of mine who deals with bats on a fairly regular basis at work says the best thing to do is shut off all the lights and then open doors and windows. The bat will go toward any light outside, where the bugs are.



August 21, 2020 at 4:42 pm 2 comments

The Packaging People Must Be Stopped

We all know the OCD-inducing-pick-pick-pick-maybe-some-teeth-okay-the-new-song-I-wanted-to-hear-is-now-an-oldie frustrations of opening CD or DVD packaging. (Honestly? It’s one of the main reasons I like to buy used video games instead of new.) And we’ve all made the transition to the extra bit of paper lid or plastic wrap between us and our over-the-counter medications, a flimsy li’l bit of whatchamacallit to guard us from societal crazies. Heck, there are a lot of kids out there, now old enough to need a couple of Tylenol, Tums, and Vitamin C tablets on a Sunday morning who have no memory of it ever being any easier to get hangover relief.

(Yes, sometimes, on my Conspiracy Theory days, I do sort of wonder if someone didn’t just poison those Tylenol bottles because they had this shiny new business plan in the trunk of their car for a protective packaging business. But I digress. And it’s almost positively not the case.)

(But, you know, if it were true, that a-hole is now very, very rich.)

Some packaging makes sense, and I don’t begrudge the manufacturers a living. That white foam stuff that a computer or microwave oven comes in? Sure, that makes sense. It protects the electronics, makes things less expensive to ship, and getting to your new toy is as simple as opening a shoebox.


But why is there a plastic-paper-tin-foil cap on my ketchup? Inside, beneath the real cap, beyond the bit of plastic that was wrapped around the cap. Why is there a super-secret hidden cap that you don’t know is there until you’re attempting to squirt that ketchup. (An-ti-ci-pa-tion, my ass.) Those secrets caps are everywhere now. Ketchup, mustard, mayo (and who the hell thought it was a good idea to put mayo in a squeeze bottle anyway?), salad dressing, chocolate syrup, coffee creamer. Half the time, you can’t get a pinky finger-hold on the spot marked “pull here,” and the other half the time, you pull and the contents go spurt! all over your new work blouse that you are now forced to wear around the office all damn day, including that important meeting with the big boss or the cute vendor.

Now, okay, deep down, you kind of tolerate all of that because, no matter how busy, lazy, or stressed out you may be, you generally don’t want to be poisoned. So, all right, fine.


Let’s talk for a moment about non-edible-product packaging.

All of it designed solely to make a product look good on the shelf. None of it designed to enhance product enjoyment by the customer.

The customer cannot be king if ruled by the evil dictator Twisty-tie.

Twisty-ties made of some super-polymer-covered titanium-like alloy crunched into place by someone very strong. (Picture those hard-core weight lifters every gym has two of, grunting as they put each twisty-tie in place. Unh. Unh. Good one Gunther. Heh heh leetle boy never get to play with toy. Unh.) One small toy; 452 twisty ties holding it place, holding it to the hard plastic envelope thing, holding that to the box it came in. (Hundreds of thousands of twisty-ties that, thanks to my cats quick reflexes and fascination with anything small and plastic, now lie stockpiled beneath my dresser, under the non-rolling rolling file cabinet in my office, behind the dining room buffet, and in every other nook and cranny you might one day have to peer into in search of a dropped pen, a rolling quarter, or a missing passport.)

And if it’s not the twisty-ties, which are designed to make un-twisting, at least, a viable theory, it’s those hard-plastic bands that you need industrial wire cutters to get through. Could there be anything worse?

Uh, yes. 

With the long Labor Day weekend, I, like many I would guess, start thinking “home project.” With that in mind yesterday, I stopped in at Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a few things that needed fixing or replacing. I strolled through the sale rack. (50% off the already marked-down sale price? Who can resist?) There was a lot of really ugly crap. (There’s a reason stuff is 50% off the sale price of course.) But, in the midst of the tie-dye style curtains, the Disco-era bath accessories, and the super-tacky His and Hers laminated faux-antique wall hangings, I spied The Perfect Kitchen Clock.

Round red metal, white face, simple style, kind of 40s or 50s? It looks a lot like the one currently hanging in my kitchen, except that it isn’t a cheap, yellowing, plastic-piece-a-crap that I salvaged and painted red around the edge because I couldn’t afford to buy the cool round red metal clock I’d seen in a catalog. And it was on sale. And 50% off the sale price.

I gleefully snatched that clock out of the Beyond aisle and checked out.

This morning, after a good lounge in bed, sighing, “Ah Saturday.” and a good loungy stretchy yawny Ah-Saturday cuppa coffee, I thought, “Ooh! I’ll start the tasks of the day with a fun and easy one:  I’ll put my new clock in its place of honor.”

It’s in a cardboard frame sort of lidless box. There’s not even any cellophane over the front. What could be simpler?

I grasped the clock and, one foot already on the step stool, pulled. Huh? No give. Not a budge. And not a twisty-tie in sight. 

This clock is held to its packaging with screws. Screws! Two of them—drilled into the back of the box through washers. And, yep, you know it, Phillip’s head.

And so the Labor Day begins. I’ll be in the basement.

What packaging shenanigans would you put an end to if you could? Or, what sort of Labor Day fun are you getting into?

September 4, 2010 at 3:35 am Leave a comment

Famous Last Words

Friends applaud, the comedy is finished. (Ludwig van Beethoven)

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis. (Humphrey Bogart)

My fun days are over. (James Dean)

Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight. (Lord Byron)

Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well–let ’em wait. (General Ethan Allen, in response to his doctor saying, “General, I fear the angels are waiting for you.”)

I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. (Errol Flynn)

Am I dying or is this my birthday? (Lady Nancy Astor, seeing all of her children gathered around her bedside)

Get my swan costume ready. (Anna Pavlov)

How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden? (P.T, Barnum)

You can keep the things of bronze and stone and give me one man to remember me just once a year. (Damon Runyon)

This is no time to make new enemies. (Voltaire, when asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan.)

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. (Oscar Wilde)

Some of these cannot be 100% verified of course; some are mere coincidence (something said shortly before dying as opposed to an intentional last line), and it’s possible that some were edited by a well-meaning spouse or publicist. That said, as a student of the language and a lover of quotes, clever people, and the inherent irony of Death, I am fascinated by Famous Last Words.

As a Word Person, I feel a certain amount of self-induced pressure to be eloquent in public, whether preparing a speech, fine-tuning a short story, clacking out a blog post, or, yes, even signing a Birthday card. Given a bit of time, I can usually manage to put some decent words in order. Given a few years (how about 50?) to think about it, I might be able to come up with some cool Last Words of my own.

But, here’s the thing.

Although I may manage some level of grace on the two-dimensional page, I am not so graceful in the 3D real world.

I bump into walls, furniture, people, cars, telephone poles. I fall down stairs.  I slip on throw rugs on hardwood floors. I’m the one who would walk smack into a screen door (knocked it a good five feet out into the yard). There’s been a broken toe. Broken foot. Torn tendons. Chipped tooth. Skinned knees. Stoved fingers. Sprained ankles. One concussion. There are scars on my fingers from Exacto knives, kitchen knives, a broken wine glass, and one broken window. I drop things and I bang my head off stuff while picking them up.

I have tripped on a TV game show (I was four); fell like a rock from the top of monkey bars (I was 10); closed my fingers in a car door (I was 17); and, while painting cabinets, stepped off a kitchen counter into mid-air (about a year ago).

We’re talking Dick Van Dyke without the long legs, the ottoman, or the musical sound effects; Lucille Ball without the pretty dresses and high heels. Jerry Lewis without the intentionally goofy face. Time bomb ticking. Recipe for disaster. Banana peel soul. I am the proverbial bull in a china shop — on roller skates, juggling monkeys.

I am. A clutz.

And so, no matter how morbid it may be that I think about this . . .  I harbor an odd (but, I think you’ll agree, not really unfounded) fear that my Last Words will be:  “Oh Crap!”

Given the Opportunity, What Would You Say?

July 15, 2010 at 9:31 am 3 comments

Yardwork Tips

When you buy a house, you become more than just a homeowner. You become, like it or not, in one way or another, painter, inspector, handyman, window washer, plumber, security guard, and groundskeeper.

I have been the groundskeeper at my little house for nearly 13 years. And, as I gaze out on the freshly mown lawn and the flower beds that line my driveway this summer, I thought it worth sharing a few tips hard won over the years.

  • If you have a really steep hill, you can use an S-hook to attach a bull rope to raise and lower the mower (until the S-hook slips and the mower rolls away).
  • If you have a really steep hill, you can go out and buy an easier to handle electric mower and cut sideways while rope-wrangling the cord.
  • If you have a really steep hill, you can hire someone to cut your grass.
  • Small pine trees that are dying when you move in can be revived with some careful attention and regular applications of Miracid. It really works and will greatly increase the challenge in about 13 years when you decide to cut down those big ugly pine trees.
  • Beware flowering plants at hardware stores. They often come with a lot of weeds and may not be that hardy. Find a small, local nursery with a kind and friendly owner who knows her stuff. Better plants and a more enjoyable shopping experience.
  • Many people get confused about this next one. The difference between perennial and annual is that all of the plants in a flat of annuals will last about one season. And perennials is spelled differently.
  • Deer eat the flowers off of tulips. Additionally, deer are careful planners who will travel miles, often by bus or rail, to arrive in your neighborhood on the same day your tulips bloom.
  • Miracle Gro really does work. Don’t believe me? Come sit in the shade of my dandelion trees.
  • Get a decent set of gardening tools. Cheap ones bend or break. Good ones will last a long time.
  • If you purchase 20 or 40 tulip bulbs, they grow better if you plant in the spring or fall—instead of leaving them in a bag in the garage until they rot. (But at least the deer don’t get them.)
  • A beautiful garden and a beautiful manicure are mutually exclusive.
  • There is one flowering plant that grows well at my house. Sweet peas. Sound delightful. Grow little pinkish whitish flowers on delicate tendrils . . . tendrils which grow as if in a time-lapse video and choke out every other living thing in a 2-mile radius.
  • Each spring, set aside $100-200 for your garden. After the last frost, put that money in a shredder and spread it evenly among the bare, dead, brown plant beds.

When I was first house shopping, I thought about purchasing a row house in an area of town where property was cheap. (It has since become popular and kind of expensive.) I decided not to move to that area because . . . I wanted a yard.

Yeah, that’s funny.

If I had all of the money in the bank that I’ve spent on the dang yard over the years, I wouldn’t have to wait to renovate the basement. And I’d probably have enough left to get a stove with four working burners and an oven temperature control gauge that matches the oven temperature.

I have abdicated grass cutting. Part of a hedge is currently being held up by a bungee cord. The flowers are sparse this year. I do not have whatever talent or magic my grandmother had. And, there is certainly irony in me using these green-thumbless hands to type under the heading of Life Preservers.

But. Still. It is a good thing, to dig in the dirt.

What’s growing in your yard?

July 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm 7 comments

Say Cheese

I mentioned previously that I’ve had a camera since age 8. About five years ago, I made the big leap from 35mm to digital.

I know we are not supposed to love things. But. I loved my Olympus, like an adorable pet, like an old comfy friend, like a cherished Christmas-morn toy.

It took a lot of convincing to get me to set my beloved Olympus (and it’s wonderful zoom and macro lenses purchased over the years) aside, and it took a lot of money to get a digital camera that would give me the quality and versatility I was used to. The keys to purchasing something new were the assurances (from the camera seller at Ritz Camera) that (1) digital cameras had become capable of providing the same quality and (2) the camera I was purchasing offered a variety of lens attachments that could be purchased later.

Now, I will admit the quality is there. And of course, the ability to know you got a shot before waiting to get pix developed is fantastic. Similarly, eliminating that sickening moment of realization that the film had not caught and advanced properly is beyond awesome.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to pick up an accessory lens. I’m heading on a vacation of a lifetime soon (walking tour in Ireland). And, if that doesn’t warrant a bit of a splurge on camera accessories, I don’t know what does.

I returned to Ritz. Not the same store where I bought the camera, but the same chain. They’d be able to help, right? They’d be able to fulfill the promises they made when I purchased the camera, right?

I began by asking if there was any possibility to get an adapter to put old Olympus lenses onto a Canon. Clerk 1 says no. I ask if it’s possible to buy a digital Olympus base that would take old Olympus lenses. She said maybe but she’d need to see the lenses. (Okay, you’re a kid who doesn’t know cameras all that well, that’s fair.) I asked what lenses they had available for a Canon G5. She told me that camera won’t take any other lenses.

I explained that, when I bought the camera (at a Ritz), I was assured I’d be able to buy lenses.

Clerk 1 asked Clerk 2. Clerk 2 explained that my camera can sort of take other lenses but you need an adapter and the lenses aren’t very good and the lenses are quite expensive for the quality you’d get.

Okay, well, can I see what you have?

“No, we’re in a tiff with Canon and aren’t selling any Canon lenses right now.”

Hmm. Can you show me any of the newer cameras that WILL take additional good lenses?

Clerk 1 gestured at the display case and then looked at me expectantly. I asked her to please pick one out to show me.

So, I looked, but there was pretty much no way I could rationalize buying an entirely new camera (plus lenses). It’s not just the cost; it would feel wasteful when I’ve already got a “good” camera, y’know?   

I was about to leave and had a thought:  Do you have any kind of trade-in program? They do! Can you tell me the trade-in value of my G5? Well, it depends on the condition. Well, can you give me a ballpark? Um, no. Well, could you look it up? Let’s pretend it’s in mint condition, just to give me a ballpark number.

I waited 10 minutes for “the program to load.”

And, going just short of a giving me a drumroll, Clerk 1 announced . . . $36.

I laughed out loud. Yes, you could characterize the sound as a guffaw.

I bought a good camera for nearly $800. A replacement plus a lens attachment is going to cost me about $1,000. And the trade in (for the camera you sold me by telling me I’d be able to purchase a variety of lenses) is $36?

Clerk 1 did not see the humor in this. She even felt compelled to underline the fact that I’d only get $36 if the camera was in mint condition. I really did try to stifle the next laugh. She looked a bit offended, poor thing.

Boy, it seems crazy that Ritz stores are going out of business everywhere, don’t it?

So, for now, I’ll stick with what I have. I have no tiff with Canon. But I still love my Olympus more.

Are there any good camera stores left? You know, some small shop tucked away somewhere, run by some old guy who actually knows something about cameras and appreciates photography? If you know of one, please share.

May 29, 2010 at 2:04 am 1 comment

Wish I Had a Camera in My Head

I wish I had a camera in my head.

No, I don’t mean a photographic memory. I mean a camera. In my head. Lens (with zoom) in the middle of my forehead and wires and stuff all connected so that I just had to hard-blink or push a button embedded in my thumb or carol-burnett my ear lobe to capture images.

I have stated this wish for years and I don’t think it’s completely insane to think that, someday, probably, the technology will exist. And somebody better be willing to push my wheel chair to the hospital if it happens in my lifetime.  

I have been fascinated with photography since my gramma and grampap gifted me my very first camera (black inset with faux wood paneling) at age 8. I’m on my sixth, somewhat sleeker camera now, and through the years have developed a bit of an eye (or enough dumb luck) to capture some good shots every now and then.

The problem is, I “see” pictures all over the place. And pretty often, I don’t have the camera handy or I don’t have hands free to click. Like tonight, for instance, as I was leaving the office.  

As I sat at the end of the office driveway, waiting to pull out, I noticed the  stopped car. A rare sight at 5:00. With cars spilling out of every driveway in the office park and everybody going 50 in the 35 zone. Yes, there was a lot of honking, but not, as you might guess, from the other cars lining up behind the stopped one.

Next to that car, above the high curb, on the lovely grass lawn, stood a mama goose, a papa goose, and four goslings. Below the curb, on the road, waddled gosling number five. The little guy’s family was honking like mad. He was walking fast but, you know, fast is relative when you’re about 4 inches high with really teenie feet at the bottom of some stubby new legs. There was no end to the curb in sight and his nubby wings weren’t ready to fly.

Kudos to the driver who managed to see a little goose. Thanks for stopping. And God bless you for your extreme patience.  We waited. We sat and watched.

Then mama goose gave a big wild honk and kind of flapped her wings. I don’t know if it was a maternal freak-out or a very timely lesson, but suddenly the little guy kind of lifted his nub-wings and hopped and somehow crested the curb to join his family. 

Traffic got moving.  And I imagine those other drivers were grinning from ear to ear. And perhaps swallowing a wee lump in the throat.

I wonder if any of them wished they had a camera in their head?

Would you get one? If the technology existed?

May 6, 2010 at 11:43 am 4 comments

Do you enjoy the go?

The other day Charmin, sellers of bathroom tissue (what us normal people call toilet paper), encouraged me to “Enjoy the go.” 

When I first saw the commercial, I posted my confusement on facebook. A few people didn’t quite believe it was true. I don’t blame them. I don’t lie, but I am, on occasion, a smart-ass. Heck, if I hadn’t been able to rewind and pause live TV, I wouldn’t have believed me myself.

Enjoy the go, eh? I guess, Everybody Poops but not everybody really enjoys themselves?

Don’t know ’bout you, but I don’t generally approach a powder room door with an expectation of balloons and confetti falling from the ceiling. Not that the loo is an un-happy place but, you know, it ain’t Disney World, people.

I saw the tagline again yesterday, and, curiosity got the best of me. I googled it. And I’ve learned more about this campaign—a campaign that someone thought up and (instead of just amusing colleagues with fake mockups) shared with a client, that someone reviewed, that someone presented to the boss, that someone approved and spent a lot of money on.

Enjoy the go is part of Procter & Gamble’s “Charmin-branded bathrooms. . . . multi-channel campaign. . . . [which] includes a microsite, a mobile application, social media and charity components.”

That sentence alone is a preposterous and euphemistic gigglefest.

But there’s more.

Their bathrooms include extra, giant toilets. For “photo ops.” They do a daily blog. Yes, they publish a journal about what goes on inside their bathrooms. 

Please insert your own pretend bathroom blog post here. I tried. But I just couldn’t do it without slipping to a level of humor that would only have been appreciated by my 12-year-old nephew and my cousin Denny. And a Lady always edits.  

I vow to you Life Preserver readers:  I will never blog from the smallest room in the house.

Last but not least, Charmin offers consumers (a word choice I would have deliberately avoided in such a promotion) the benefit of being entertained by the Charmin Go Team. No, they are not there to monitor your performance or cheer on your efforts. They are there to perform musicals.

Yes, I said musicals. Inside the bathrooms.

Now, I believe in the beauty and magic of dreams as much as the next old-fashioned starry-eyed romantic, but if you’ve packed your little bag and run off to the big city and your break finally comes and it’s doing song-and-dance in a public bathroom, it might be time to become a hooker.

Okay folks. Looks like intermission is almost over and the bottle of champagne I keep in the tank is perfectly chilled. I gotta go.

April 22, 2010 at 11:51 am 3 comments


About three weeks ago, I was sitting on an airplane with my work laptop. Never used the computer on a plane before; have always been more of a book person when flying. But, it was going to be a long flight, and I wanted some variety. So, I turned on the work-Mac, slipped in my ear phones, and sat back to enjoy some music.

But then the music stopped, and the screen went blank as the computer turned itself off. I turned it back on and got one of those international no symbols, with the circle and the slash?

Now, those of you who know me know I am a bit technology-challenged. You likely will not be surprised by the following confession.

I thought this meant I could not use the computer on the airplane. Not as in “you don’t have permission” but as in “we’re too far from earth or some setting is searching for something and can’t find it up here in the clouds.”

Those of you who are not technology-challenged know exactly what horror that symbol announced. But, for the sake of those like me, I’ll explain. The circle stands for “O crap!” and the slash is representative of the sound “pfft.”

My hard drive was gone.

I lost a lot of stuff. Including:

  • About a thousand or so family photos, slides, and movies that I spent about 6 months gathering and digitizing last year. Had been meaning to get those onto a DVD . . . and the road to hell is now paved with my baby pictures.
  • Every setting, add-on, preference, bookmarked web page, etc.
  • A few work files. (Computer gods be praised, I had done a backup not too long ago.)
  • All of my itunes, about 180 purchases and about 10 hours of uploaded (or is it downloaded?) CDs.

I thought my tunes would still be accessible because I had itunes (with the same login) on my home pc.

O crap!

I thought, well, they’ll be on my work backup server.

And pfft!

I figured, well, these were purchased electronically, and the company will replace them. Uh . . . not according to their Help page.

The Official Policy is, basically, “Tough beans you should have done a backup you moron.”

To my credit, I have done itunes backups previously, when leaving a job or changing computers. But . . . it’s been a while.

Well, after trying the click-here-ho-ho-try-this-ha!-how-bout-here?-omg-snicker-she’s-still-trying!-heh-heh snipe hunt for over an hour, I figured that was it. But decided it couldn’t hurt to send a note to someone.

I snagged the next Contact-Us email address I found (which was completely unrelated to my question) and sent a plea. I got one of those immediate emails that say things like “We got your question! And we’ll get back to you,” which younger, less cynical types might feel pleased or even hopeful about.

But I am in my mid(ahem)-forties. It’s been quite a long time since Hope swung it’s little hobo stick over a shoulder, flipped me off, and strolled out the door.


Get this.

I heard back from Apple the very next day. Got a very friendly, very helpful note from a customer service rep (who seemed to be a real person) that demonstrated empathy for the problem, provided easy-to-understand instructions, and granted me a one-time deal of replacing all of the music purchases I had lost. FOR FREE. Couple of clicks and it was all downloading.

I am still a bit astounded.

In this day and age when overworked-ness or over-lawyered-ness or budget cuts or just plain bad manners have amped up the Useless Jagoff Meter in nearly every aspect of so-called service, there is a company—that already has my money—that helped me? Even though their Policy says otherwise? And they did it for free, without secretly adding an automatic deduction from my checking account somewhere deep in the fine print? And they were nice about it?

This my friends is what I call the international symbol for yes:

April 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm 7 comments

How To Make a Pie

Today, I was having over some impromptu company. Pulled pork in the crock pot and figured I’d make a quick pie using ready-made crust and canned filling. So, after I got home from a run to the grocery store, I realized . . . I forgot the crust.

Now, I am not a bad cook. But pie crust from scratch is my kitchen nemesis. I have just never been able to get it right. Yes, I considered a second trip to the grocery store, but laziness won out and I pulled out the recipe card box. I have six different recipes for pie crust. Not different pies. Just different ways to make pie crust. (You see, I have tried this before.)

This time, things appear to have turned out okay. So, I thought I’d share a how-to on pie making.

Step 1. Clear and clean some counter space in tiny kitchen and set out ingredients in neat rows (milk, flour, oil, salt, pie pan, bowl, measuring cups and spoons).

Step 2. Dig rolling pin and fancy (bought it cause I thought maybe that would help) pie-crust rolling mat out of kitchen drawer.

Step 3. Call mom to ask, “Does this recipe I got from you make 1 crust or 2?

Step 4. Mix 1-1/3 C flour and tsp. of salt in mixing bowl.

Step 5. Put 1/3 C oil and 3 Tbs. milk in measuring cup. Do not stir.

Step 6. Realize you will not have enough oil to make the second crust. Pick up measuring cup and run to neighbor’s house.

Step 7. As you leave the house, pull door shut tight behind you. As it clicks, realize that you have just locked yourself out of your house.

Step 8. Climb in through kitchen window, unlock front door, and leave house again to get oil from very kind neighbor.  

Step 9. Put all the ingredients together and stir using the big fancy whisk that has the neat little whisk ball inside of it.

Step 10. Dig dough bits out of whisk. Bend outer whisk to remove stupid ball thingie and dig dough bits out of that with a fork.

Step 11. Throw fancy whisk into sink and finish mixing with hands.

Step 12. Layout fancy Tupperware rolling mat, sprinkle mat, rolling pin, self, floor, and counter top liberally with flour.

Step 13. Make more counter space in tiny kitchen so you have room to actually use a rolling pin properly.

Step 14. Roll dough out, aiming for the perfect 9” circle that is imprinted on fancy rolling mat.

Step 15. Steal chunks of amoeba-shaped dough and add to spots where there is no dough.

Step 16. Look at dough. Look at pie pan. After some thought, place pie pan upside-down on dough. Flip over entire mat. When cloud of flour clears, see that this worked just fine.

Step 17. Steal more bits of dough to Frankestein a somewhat circular, somewhat full-coverage bottom layer.

Step 18. Remove everything that you cleared from counter from out of the cupboard where you store the can opener. Open pie filling can. Dump into bottom crust. 

Step 19. Make second crust, repeating most of the steps above. And crimp edges.

Step 20. Poke in some pie holes with a fork.

Step 21. Cover pie in wax paper and foil. Place on a dinner plate. And slide into refrigerator.

Step 22. Call Mom to ask, “Hey, what temp and how long do you bake a pie?” and “Oh, so I should bake it now instead of waiting til dinner time?

Step 23. Preheat over to 425 degrees and remove pie from refrigerator. Remove foil. Remove wax paper. Place pie in oven.

Step 24. Remove pie from oven and take it off of the dinner plate. Put pie back in oven.

Step 25. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Use that piece of foil to cover crust edges to keep them from burning. Then, bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.

Step 26. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack to cool for at least 2 hours to “let filling settle” (according to

Step 27. Enjoy! (I hope.)







Have any tips for making pie crust? Please do share them with me in the comments box.

March 28, 2010 at 7:11 am 10 comments

Thanks Mom

What is it about these curlers?

They look funny and they never hold all the hair you want them to. They sometimes even hurt a bit and they are surely an awkward item to store, but, I admit here to you today that I love my curlers. I don’t use them very often. On a normal day, I barely have time to camouflage a cowlick with the curling iron or a strategically placed barrette.

But. Every once in a while, when I have all the time in the world, I put the curlers in. And I get such a big kick out of them. I walk around. I jiggle my head. I look in the mirror and I giggle.

Today, with a jiggle and a giggle, I pondered this odd thrill. And I found myself back in time.

I am sitting in the kitchen at 312 Pennsylvania with my Mom and my sister. Curlers and pin curls in my hair. A great big balloon of a hat, puffing heat and slipping down my forehead. That balloon-hat of course was part of an old-fashioned hair dryer. For those who have only grown up with the hand-held variety, picture an over-sized shower cap made of vinyl. And picture a big tube connected to that cap, connected to a box-contraption with buttons, connected to an electrical cord, plugged into the wall. And imagine sitting, connected to all this for half an hour or longer.

Sounds awful doesn’t it? So why oh why does the memory make me smile?

Because it is something uniquely girlish – or, more specifically, uniquely mother-daugther-rite-of-passage-ish.

It belongs to a collection of moments in life when you discover the things that are (feminists be damned) distinctly female. How to bake a batch of cookies. How to set the table. How to iron, do laundry, sew on a button. Can you remember when these things were not chores? When they were exciting and new and, yes, fun.

Better yet think of the moments when your Mom let you go through her jewelry, revealing hidden treasures in velvet cases, little pouches, old boxes. Beads and gems and sparkly items. This was my mother’s. This was a gift from your Dad when we were dating. Go ahead, you can try it on.

Entrance to the inner sanctum!

Didn’t every girl, at some point in time, fall in love—and, yes, covet!—her mother’s Pretty Things? My Mom had a pair of patent-leather, ankle-high, kitten-heel boots that, to this day, I think were the most smashing pair of shoes I have ever seen.

There was a kind of magical osmosis that occurred when you witnessed her excitement when getting dressed up. In a pretty dress, wearing the special jewelry, and a bit of makeup. This was not everyday Mom who made you clean your room, stand in the corner, and finish your dinner. To trail after her as she got ready and then watch her put on her good coat and go out the front door with Dad with a big smile on her face, looking even more beautiful than ever. These were real-life Cinderella moments.

That is why, I believe, we women still, years and years and years removed from those front-door moments, get a little inexplicably giddy about things like the perfect shade of lipstick, a pretty perfume bottle, a sexy dress, a new pair of shoes. And yes, even curlers.

Curlers look silly and feel weird, but they also look and feel like a treat because they remind me of having my Mom do my hair; of being allowed to use Her Things; of feeling loved, pampered, and joyfully girlie.

That joy is not, as some may see it—or as today’s advertising and movies may portray it—a symbol of vanity or veneer. I believe these things are symbols of something to be cherished. Pretty Things are a connection to the child we were and the women we adore. Amidst the run-down monotony of work and responsibility, we remember fairy tales. Despite a few extra pounds, gray hairs, or worry lines, we may yet carry a few secret bits and baubles that reveal our true identity, our inner princess.

So, I may be spending a rainy Sunday, wearing sweats and ratty slippers, doing laundry, scooping cat pooh, and putting out the garbage, but my hair looks fabulous.

What’s one of your favorite items from your Mom’s closet, jewelry box, or dress-up routine?

March 14, 2010 at 7:51 am 3 comments

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