Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Specific Instructions from Mom

Mom, as has already been noted on this blog, does not trust my ability to clean up.  Anything.  Anywhere.  Ever. 

She gave me the following instructions tonight:

"Listen.  Are you listening?  You are not listening!  You are reading a book with zombies!  [This was true.] Listen to your mother!  Tonight you will unload the dishwasher.  Don't say 'okay' like that; listen to your mother.  You will unload the dishwasher, then you will put the dirty dishes in the sink into the dishwasher.  You will close the dishwasher.  You will rinse the sink.  And you will put that bowl back into the refrigerator.  Got it?"

Then I tried to object:  "Mom.  You do understand that this is my house..."

She was not buying it:  "I do not want to hear that!  I am too tired to deal with you.  I have floating things in my eyes, remember?  Clean up the kitchen!" [pause] "And if you leave that fork in that bowl when you put it in the refrigerator, I will come into your room and stab you with it."

Then I became curious:  "Why is it okay to put the bowl in the refrigerator, but not the fork?"

This made Mom exasperated:  "You are an idiot!"

Then I became annoying:  "Maybe I prefer my flatware chilled.  Did you ever think of that?"

Mom does not put up with such nonsense:  "Maybe you prefer being stabbed in the middle of the night.  Did you ever think of that?"

Then I was, at last, silent.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fantasy Allergies

I was planning to begin this post by noting, in a rather trite way, that it's that time of year again (allergy season, that is), but not only would that be a trite opening sentence, it would be a damned lie.  It's still that time of year, at least for me, since I react to just about every kind of dust and pollen that exists on this ever-blooming planet, and it's only in the dead of winter that I am able to take a satisfyingly deep breathe and proclaim, "Ah, what a day!"

Which is really annoying to people who don't enjoy thirty-degree weather.  And also to people who lived in 1816.*

Naturally, I have medication for my allergies.  In fact, I sort of feel like I can date each of the periods of my life by what allergy med I was on at the time (Ah, the seldane years!  How quickly they passed!).  Each has its pluses and minuses, but none of them have worked for more than five years, and most last fewer than two.

Somewhere in a lockbox, along with my childhood vaccination history, I have a list of things to which I'm allergic.  It encompasses most of the natural world, from cats to ragweed, and is a truly depressing document.  This evening, after I finished recovering from mowing the lawn, an endeavor which involves benedryl, an inhaler and a steamed up bathroom, it occurred to me that instead of railing against having allergies at all, maybe I could persuade the universe the give me different allergies, better allergies, allergies that would actually enhance my life

You see, once you are allergic to something, you have permission to avoid it.  In fact, you are even encouraged to do so.  And if you can't avoid it, you're allowed to sit far away from it while covering your face with a cloth.  Can you imagine how fantastic it would be to be encouraged to behave that way around things you actually choose?!

Bliss.  Sheer bliss.

 Twenty-Five Things I Would Like to Be Allergic to
Instead of Dust and Pollen and Cats

[Note: I haven't included things like war or terrorism or mimes; there's really no point in being allergic to those, since it's already socially acceptable to flee when they approach]:
  1. Beets
  2. Crocs
  3. Committee meetings
  4. Telemarketers
  5. The non-grammatical use of the word like
  6. Animal print clothing
  7. Grits
  8. Motivational speakers
  9. Assessment reports
  10. The phrase I'm just sayin'
  11. Oysters
  12. Twilight novels
  13. Lima beans
  14. Eye-liner
  15. Chain letters / e-mails / facebook statuses
  16. The Aflac duck
  17. Jello
  18. Pantyhose
  19. Cooked cabbage
  20. Peeps
  21. Velveeta
  22. Pretentiousness
  23. Shoulder pads
  24. The expression It is what it is
  25. Ironing
 Alright, universe, I've made my preferences clear.  Tomorrow morning I expect to wake up free from hay fever and ready with a doctor's excuse for avoiding committee meetings and eye-liner.  Don't let me down!

      *The "Year without a Summer"--google it, my friends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Real and Imagined Conversations at the Studio

So last night as I was leaving the pottery studio, I had the following conversation:

     Me:  "Hi!"

     Woman Carrying a Painting:  "Hi!  It's been a long time."

     Me:  "It has."

     W.C.P.:  "So it looks like you're taking a pottery class."

     Me:  "Yes..and you paint?"

     W.C.P.:  "I'm trying to learn.  I'm starting with abstract because I can't draw."

     Me:  "Ha-ha!  That's why I like the pottery wheel:  it goes in a circle, so I don't   
     have to have any actual artistic skill."

     W.C.P.:  "Well, it's nice to see you!"

     Me:  "You, too!  Good-night!"

So that's fairly normal, right?  Even boring?  But, gentle readers, you have only read the part of the conversation that took place aloud.  Here's the full version, including the parts that occurred inside my head:

     Me:  [Wait.  Do I know this person?  She looks vaguely familiar.  I'd better say,
     "hello," so that if she knows me, she won't think I'm rude] "Hi!"

     Woman Carrying a Painting:  "Hi!  It's been a long time."

     Me:  "It has." [Damn. She does know me. Who is she?  I don't work with her, do
     I?  Why did I greet her?!]

     W.C.P.:  "So it looks like you're taking a pottery class."

     Me:  [Well, duh, I'm covered with clay.  It's even in my hair.  Dang, she doesn't
     work for my doctor, does she?  Or is she a neighbor?]  "Yes..and you paint?"

     W.C.P.:  "I'm trying to learn.  I'm starting with abstract because I can't draw."

     Me:  "Ha-ha!  That's why I like the pottery wheel:  it goes in a circle, so I don't
     have to have any actual artistic skill."  [I have nothing else to say to this person,
     and I still don't remember her.  But I remember that I should remember her. 
     Does that count at all?  Am I incredibly narcissistic, or do I just have a bad
     memory?  Oh, no!  What if I'm losing my memory?!]

     W.C.P.:  "Well, it's nice to see you!"

     Me:  [I'll bet it's not.  I didn't call you by name, and now I'm panicking about
     maybe losing my mind.  This will teach me to greet vaguely familiar people; it
     always leads to tears.] "You, too!  Good-night!"

Now, again, some of you will find this sort of thing fairly normal, yes?  You're nodding and saying to yourself, "Oh, yes, ha-ha! this has happened to me, and we're all getting older, but really this blog is better when her mom appears.  There must be something more interesting on facebook..."

To which I say, do not exeunt so fast!  For on the way home, it occurred to me that Woman-Carrying-a-Painting had not said my name either, so she might not have remembered me.  That would be ironic, yes?  But, no!  Do not nod in acknowledgment of the strange twists and turns life takes outside a pottery studio.  Because she actually said that it had been a long time since we had seen one another.  Which implies, you see, that even if my name did not flow trippingly off of her tongue, she had some actual memory of me.

Thus, I conclude that the real conversation went something like this:

     Me:  [Wait.  Do I know this person?  She looks vaguely familiar.  I'd better say,
     "hello," so that if she knows me, she won't think I'm rude] "Hi!"

     Woman Carrying a Painting:  [Oh, no!  What's she doing here?  Is there  
     nowhere in this benighted town that I can escape the presence of this
     objectionable person?!]  "Hi!  It's been a long time." [Would that it had been

     Me:  "It has." [Damn. She does know me. Who is she?  I don't work with her, do
     I?  Why did I greet her?!]

     W.C.P.:  "So it looks like you're taking a pottery class." [I certainly hope so,
     though it's not beyond you to have just rolled in the mud for fun.  Sheesh.]

     Me:  [Well, duh, I'm covered with clay.  It's even in my hair.  Dang, she doesn't
     work for my doctor, does she?  Or is she a neighbor?]  "Yes..and you paint?"

     W.C.P.:  "I'm trying to learn.  I'm starting with abstract because I can't draw."
     [Actually, I'm quite skilled, and my last oeuvre sold for more than you make in  
     a month.  I'm pretty darned deeply offended that you're not familiar with my

     Me:  "Ha-ha!  That's why I like the pottery wheel:  it goes in a circle, so I don't
     have to have any actual artistic skill."  [I have nothing else to say to this person,
     and I still don't remember her.  But I remember that I should remember her. 
     Does that count at all?  Am I incredibly narcissistic, or do I just have a bad
     memory?  Oh, no!  What if I'm losing my memory?!]

     W.C.P.:  [Right.  I've seen your so-called pottery, and there's no wheel in the
     world that's going to help you.  At least, you're not in my painting class.]  "Well,
     it's nice to see you!"

     Me:  [I'll bet it's not.  I didn't call you by name, and now I'm panicking about
     maybe losing my mind.  This will teach me to greet vaguely familiar people; it
     always leads to tears.] "You, too!  Good-night!"

See?  You thought that conversation was boring, but it was actually a scene of bitter conflict, evoking anger, fear and disdain.  Lo!  I repeat, Lo!  Beware casual encounters with clay-covered denizens of the arts center!

Especially if they've combined allergy meds with an over-active imagination.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How To Have a Headache If You're Me

I got a headache today.  This doesn't happen often to me, and it usually has a pretty clear cause.  Today, for example, my right contact lens kept itching, and it was driving me crazy, so I pulled it out and tore it in half.

Naturally, this happened before 10am when I had a whole day of student conferences scheduled.  Conferences about papers.  And, no, of course I don't keep a pair of spare glasses at work.

As I'm pretty damned stubborn, I held the conferences and graded papers with only one contact lens in, and by the time I drove home, my head was throbbing.

Now, according to my mother, a normal person would take a couple of pain relievers, lie down for a while, and the headache would go away.

But I'm stubborn. 

I don't like the idea of taking unnecessary medication, which is, by definition, any medication which I don't absolutely have to take to avoid limbs dropping off.  So, unlike the rumored normal person of which my mother speaks, I tried the following techniques to rid myself of the headache:
  1. Complain about the headache
  2. Drink a glass of water.
  3. Complain more about the headache.
  4. Take out contact lens, put on glasses, and try grading papers.
  5. Rub temples sensuously.
  6. Look up "headache cures" on the google
  7. Look up "symptoms of a brain tumor" on WebMD
  8. Panic about possible brain tumor
  9. Grade another paper.
  10. Whine about headache with slight catch in voice.
  11. Pet the cat.
  12. Surf internet desultorily.  
  13. Rub eyes.  Wish for chocolate.
  14. Whine pathetically about headache.
  15. Have water and ibuprofen shoved into my hands by Mom, who murmurs about the uselessness of higher education 
  16. Take ibuprofen.
  17. Look up possible toxic effects of ibuprofen.  Read effects aloud to Mom until she slaps me with a washcloth.
  18. Realize headache is gone.
 The sad part about this whole thing is that I go through it every damn time I have a headache (plus or minus a cat and a washcloth).  Clearly, something is wrong with me.

Possibly a brain tumor.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Overheard at My House During March Madness

Me:  "This is very cool.  Mom!  Come and watch this!"

Mom:  "What?"

Me: "This is multi-view!  I can watch more than one basketball game at one time."

Mom:  "Oh, joy.  I'm going to go watch Runway.  Don't bother me."

Me: (to the cats) "Wait.  How does this work?  Have you seen the instructions?  Why are you just watching me and not helping with this technological crisis?!"

Cats: "We are going to go watch Runway.  Do not bother us, human."

Me:  "Wait, I think I've got it.  Hey, Mom!  I figured it out!  Come and see!"

Mom:  (faint voice) "Stop bothering me!  I'm watching Runway."

Me:  ", no, no!  Why do I never pick Gonzaga?  I am a fool."

Me: "Woo-hoo!  VCU!  Woo-hoo!  WOO-HOO!"

Mom:  "Keep it down in there!"

Me: "Wow, that's ugly.  I mean, seriously, seriously ugly.  Ick.  How can they win a game like that?  Mom!  Come here!  Quick, quick!"

Mom: (entering the room) "What is it now?"

Me:  "Look!"

Mom:  "What?"

Me:  "The uniforms!  On the Baylor team.  What were they thinking?"

Mom:  "If you yell at me to come into this room one more time, and it's about basketball, I will break all of your fingers.  Idiot."

[next day]

Me:  "What!  No, no, no, no!  Mom!  Mom!"

Mom:  "I'm not coming out there!"

Me:  (going into her room) "A pigeon flew into the door!  It hit hard.  I think this is an omen.  A bad omen."

Mom:  "Poor birdy."

Me:  (upon returning to the living room)  "Argh!  You hateful pigeon!  Missouri lost, and it's all your fault! My bracket is busted, busted!"

Mom:  (faint voice) "It's not because of the bird.  It's because you missed Runway.  Idiot."

Cats:  "We would like the pigeon, please.  Fetch it for us, human, or feel our wrath."

Me: "My bracket is busted; I cannot indulge your savagery."

Cats:  "You should have watched Runway.  Idiot."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Real Questions from My Sister

"Do you know that you have twenty-eight pieces of pottery in the living room?  I think you need a new hobby."

"Does the cat actually drink out of a bowl on the kitchen counter?!"

"Seriously?  Seriously?!"

"Do you know what this pillow smells like?!"

"Can you please do something about the bathmat?  My daughter has to change her socks whenever she goes in there."

"Do you really think I would watch any of those movies?  Please."

"Seriously?  Seriously?!"

"You don't want me to go down in the basement because it's messy?  You?!  You're kidding, right?"

"You'd better not be telling me that you let the cat drink out of the ice trays and then serve the ice cubes to people, okay?  Because that's just gross."

"What purpose does that table actually serve?  You can't be using it as a desk with all that junk on it?  Why do you even call that your office?  What can you really do in it?  You're ridiculous."

"Seriously?!  How can you roll a double-six whenever I start to get ahead?  We're playing another game.  We're playing until I win."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Half of Conversations with My Niece

"No, I don't have any glue."

"Sure, you can use the glitter glue.  No, you may not use the glitter glue on the cat."

"Please don't walk on the sofa."

"Please don't walk on the other sofa."

"No, the cat is allowed to walk on the sofa.  I know it's not fair.  Meowing will not help; you still can't walk on the sofas, but the cats can.  Deal with it."

"Yes, I am very kooky.  You are quite intelligent to have noticed."

"I'm staring at you because you're so beautiful.  Yes, it is.  That was my sincere voice."

"You did not hear me say that.  You DID NOT.  And you will not repeat it.  Ever.  Especially in front of your mom.  Do you promise?  Pinky promise?  Listen, if you mess this up and repeat what I said, we will both get spankings and not the good kind."

"I'll tell you what that means when you're seventeen.  No, do NOT ask your mother!  Please?  Here, have a candy cane*."

"I love you too."


*I swear, Gretchen, that I did not actually give her a candy cane.  That's artistic license.  No, I'm not lying.  You can count them if you don't believe me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Cookbook Collection

Okay, I've already posted about my somewhat erratic cooking, but as I was cleaning the dining room in preparation for the arrival of my lovely, beautiful, brilliant, charming and delightful niece, I paused to count the number of cookbooks I own.

This is the kind of thing I do when cleaning, but that too was the subject of an earlier post.

I have over thirty cookbooks.  Now that might not seem very many to those of you who think of meal preparation as an art or a social event or even, most confusingly, a way to relax, but I don't actually cook.  I just buy cookbooks.

I started collecting them in grad school, mostly because my best friend at the time, who is quite a good cook, liked to talk about recipes.  She had the famous Moosewood Cookbook, a vegetarian cookbook that every graduate student in the Northeastern United States is required by law and custom to own.  A futon, a pair of tiny little glasses and the Moosewood:  they'll set you on the road to a Ph.D.

If you're unfamiliar with the Moosewood, it's a kind of counter-culture book with a handwritten look.  It contains recipes served at the Moosewood Restaurant and is bound in a lovely soft cover that begs to be stroked.  I love my Moosewood, but I've only ever made one recipe in it:  the vegetable stew.  It's a great recipe, even for someone with no culinary skill at all, and it doesn't contain any confusing ingredients or require knowledge of complicated and suspect vocabulary (Blanching?  Really?  That's a thing?  Sounds like an embarrassing misdemeanor:  "The defendant was caught blanching in public for the third time this month, Your Honor.")

A normal person might simply photocopy that recipe and pass the book on to someone else.  But I just can't do that.  I love it.  Like most of my cookbooks, I don't cook from it, but I love it.

Of course, I read the cookbooks I buy.  I mean, they're books, and I'm an English professor.   An unread book is like a piece of really good chocolate or a tall gin and tonic on a hot day; it simply must be consumed and preferably before anyone else gets her grubby little hands on it.

Sometimes I like to talk about the cookbooks, too.   Not to be repetitive or anything, but may I remind you that they're books.  Next to reading them, the most fun you can have with books is talking about them.  And there's plenty to talk about:  Do they have photos?  Are they staged or is that real food?  How do you get a job photographing food and does it pay more than grading papers?    The organization?  The index?  Where are appetizers, and are there any good recipes for squash?  Is there a party section?  Is the terminology used in this s0-called ethnic cookbook an example of objectification and exploitation, or does it celebrate its culture of origin?  What about the font?  Seriously, what is with that font?

The best cookbook I own, by this standard, is The Joy of Cooking.  I can't actually make anything in it, but the narrative is lovely.  There are whole sections on the origins of spices and suggestions about which kind of custard is most palatable for Americans.  You know that movie where the woman cooks everything in Julia Child's cookbook?  Well, you could have a really fantastic reading group based on a chapter-by-chapter analysis of The Joy of Cooking.

But I'm not dragging that book into the kitchen.  Uh-uh!  It could get dirty.  The last place I want my cookbooks is next to the food.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mom and I Watch Moderately Bad TV

Me:  "What do you have on?"

Mom:  "The show with the witch."

Me:  "Oh."  [pause] "Are these supposed to be high school students?"

Mom:  "Yes.  Hush!  I'm watching."

Me:  "Why is that dark-haired girl dressed like that?  You can't dress that way in high school!"

Mom:  "These are modern days.  No one wears any clothes anymore.   Naked people in the stores.  It's embarrassing."

Me:  "Is she having sex with her teacher?"

Mom:  "Well, right now she's in class, but yes, they do that sometimes."

Me:  "Does he get arrested?"

Mom:  "No.  Shut up.  He becomes a professor."

Me:  "Oh, right, that's likely.  Does he know professors aren't allowed to sleep with their students either?"

Mom:  "Shut up.  They're all getting one of those phone beep things."

Me: "Is it possible that you mean a text?"

Mom:  "Yes, and they don't know who it's from.  It could be a ghost.  Could be a murderer."

Me:  "They should just get new cell phones with different numbers.  Of course, all that mascara is probably making it hard for them to think straight.  Why do you watch this?  Can't we put on some Buffy dvds?"

Mom:  "You are being a pain in the ass.  Oh, there's the witch!  I wish they 'd tell her what's going on with those beeps.  She'd get that ABC person."

Me:  "How do you know she's a witch?"

Mom:  "It's on the other show with the three sisters and the old house."

Me:  "Do you mean Charmed?  Wait, you watch Charmed?!"

Mom:  "I do all kinds of things when you're at work.  Sometimes I [censored].  Now, would you please shut up."

Me:  "I'm going to go bleach my brain."

Mom:  "Do not get bleach on those new towels, or I will kick your butt!"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blood and Caulk

You know how some companies put a 1-800 number on products, so that you can call with questions?  Well, sometimes the operators are fantastic (yeh, Butterball hotline!), but sometimes they're just not prepared for, well, customers like me.

Because my lovely, adorable, brilliant and amazing niece is coming to visit, I decided that I needed to recaulk the bathtub.  Because that's the kind of dedicated and wonderful aunt I am, of course.  Unfortunately, uncaulking is quite difficult, and somewhere along with shattering two pairs of scissors and a putty knife, I must have given myself a shallow cut, the kind that bleeds a lot, but doesn't really hurt.  I only noticed that I was injured when I was finishing the caulking and saw the pink streaks in the white caulk.

Now this was super-amazing, one-hour drying caulk, so I was immediately concerned.  Not that I might give myself some kind of blood infection, but that I might have ruined the caulk.  So I found the 1-800 number on the caulk container and dialed.   After wending my way through the automated computer (by hitting zero again and again) I reached an operator, and the following conversation ensued:

Operator:  "You've reached the [company that makes bathroom caulk] customer service center.  How may I help you?"

Me:  "I'm recaulking my bathtub, and I just realized that I've accidentally mixed a certain amount of blood with the caulk.  Will that affect the seal?"

Operator:  "You mixed what with the caulk?"

Me:  "Blood." [pause]  "My blood.  I didn't kill anyone and try to caulk him to the tub or anything."

Operator:  "You mixed your blood with the caulk?  Your blood?"

Me:  "Yes, but it was an accident.  I'm not someone who does strange rituals with blood and plumbing products, ha-ha!"

Operator:  "Ha-ha?"

Me:  "And it's not in all of the caulk, only the part against the lefthand wall.  Do I need to redo that part, or will the seal hold?"

Operator:  "Could you hold on for just a minute?"

Me:  "Probably.  I'm not really bleeding all that much now."

[Really terrible muzak.]

Operator:  "Are you still there, Ma'am?"

Me:  "Yes, I haven't fainted from blood loss or anything!"

Operator: "Are you bleeding now?  Should I connect you to 9-1-1?"

Me:  "Oh, no!  I'm just being a bit of a smartass!  Spring is the mischief in me, you know.  Warmer weather, more sunlight.  No, no blood now.  Except in the caulk, of course."

Operator:  "Could you tell me which kind of caulk you're using?"

Me: "Sure, it's [name on the somewhat blood-smudged caulk label]."

Operator:  "Just wait one more minute, Ma'am."

[More awful muzak]

Operator:  "Sorry to keep you waiting, Ma'am.  My supervisor says that we have no actual information about the effect of mixing blood with the caulk.  However, if you give me a contact number, we would be happy to get back to you during business hours tomorrow after consulting with our research department."

Me:  "Wow, really?  Okay, my number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.  This is pretty exciting, stumping the customer service department."

Operator:  "Yes.  Exciting.  You're sure you don't need medical attention, Ma'am?"

Me:  "No, no.  But I'll be looking forward to the answer to my  question."

Operator:  "You have a nice evening, Ma'am, and try not to bleed anymore tonight."


Note:  the company actually called me back!  And it turns out that blood has no effect on the seal of the caulk in the "limited amount likely from a shallow cut that is not bleeding profusely."  However, "a slight color change in white caulk is likely to be permanent."  The company is not taking responsibility for this change, as "caulking with an open wound is not a recommended procedure."

So if, the next time that you buy caulk, there is some warning on the label about not caulking with an open wound, you know who's to blame.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Real Conversation with Mom: Some Book

Update:  The book Mom is talking about is Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.  I have not read it.


Mom:  "Hey, did you hear about this book a woman wrote?"

Me:  "Does it have vampires in it?"

Mom:  "No.  Idiot.  Listen, this woman wrote this book, and the people are trying to get it out of the libraries and bookstores and places."

Me:  "Hmmm...WifeyHarry Potter?"

Mom:  "No.  Listen, it's got sex in it."

Me:  "The Feminine Mystique?"

Mom:  "What are you talking about?  Those are all old books!  This one says that women like rough sex."

Me:  "And it doesn't have vampires in it?"

Mom:  "No, dumbhead!  No vampires or star trekkies or any of that stupid stuff!  It says that some women like the rough sex.  Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?"

Me:  "I know nothing whereof you speak.  Alas and weylaway!"

Mom:  "Will you stop being an idiot for one damn minute!  It's all over the news!"

Me:  "I haven't watched the news today."

Mom:  "Why not?"

Me:  "I was working.  And grading.  And accidentally pouring tomato soup all over my new shirt."

Mom:  "Listen, you have got to keep up with the world.  I need to have someone around who knows what's going on and can explain it to me."

Me:  "I'll try to do better."

Mom:  "You'd better.  I want to know what's going on with this book.  Something is wrong somewhere, and I think I should be pissed off at someone."

Me:  "You need a book for that?"

Mom:  "Oh, shut up.  And get me some brandy."

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Cleaning of the Kitchen Cabinets

Ah, gentle readers!  It's an exciting week here, as my beloved sister and adorable niece are coming to visit.  The anticipation is nigh unbearable.  Even the cats sense the impending joyous reunion and have celebrated by pulling down the new drapes four times, vomiting on the new sheets twice and turning over the water dish once.

My adorable and lovely niece, unfortunately, is afflicted with a nut allergy.  That means that I'm burning off the energy of anticipation by de-nutting the house.  Step 1 is the cleaning out the kitchen cabinets.

Woe unto me, gentle readers, seriously woe!  For even though the cabinets were just cleaned out eight months ago when Mom and I moved back into the house after the Great Falling of the Poplar crisis last spring, we have somehow managed to accumulate a plethora of mysterious food-like items.

This evening, whilst you, gentle readers, were doing something exciting, lucrative or possibly illegal, I found the following in just two of the kitchen cabinets:

  • Five bottles of vanilla extract
  • Four bottles of lemon extract
  • Four bottles of pancake syrup, three of them open
  • Nine packages of birthday candles, eight of them white.
  • A six-inch solid sculpture of the Great Pyramid of Giza made of brown sugar.  Which I dropped on my foot.  Which hurt.
  • Five bottles of olive oil, all of them open.
  • A plastic container of flakes of something tan-ish.  Could be coconut flakes.  Could be toenail clippings.
  • A ziplock bag full of a mysterious yellow powder.
  • A can of organic beets.  I hate beets.
  • 1/2 pound of bay leaves.  Seriously.  Do you know how many bay leaves it takes to make up half a pound?  Enough to cover the entire damn kitchen floor when I drop them, that's how many.
  • A bottle of pinkish stuff.  It was once either red wine vinegar or fish sauce.  Either way, it's permanently sealed itself into the bottle, so its true identity is lost to posterity.
  • A single, lost cube of chicken bouillon.
Of course, now that those two cabinets are de-nutted for my adorable, lovely and brilliant niece, I have no idea what to do with all of this stuff.  Logically, I should throw most of it out, but, well, what if I suddenly need organic beets and I don't have them?  I mean, that's at least $1.29 I won't be seeing again in a hurry.  And what if I intended to buy all of those birthday candles?  Is there a big birthday coming up?  Birthday candles don't go bad, after all.  Surely, I'll use them up eventually.

And, ah!  the bay leaves!  Suppose the zombie apocalypse comes tomorrow, and I get assigned by the Director of the Human Preservation Society to cook soup for one hundred terrified survivors?  Where will I find bay leaf then, I ask you?!  Will I not fall into a black despair if I've composted half a pound of bay leaf when the pathetic remnants of a once great society come to me for a last flavorful repast?

It doesn't bear thinking about.

So into the cabinet most of this stuff goes, unaccompanied by any nuts or nut-related products.  And don't go calling that hoarders show on me either, or you'll find a bottle of mysterious pink stuff sitting accusingly on your doorstep.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Real Questions from Mom

"Why is the salt shaker in the freezer?"

"Why do you use paperclips as bookmarks?  You have dozens of real bookmarks!"

"Why are you sitting in my chair?  You do not have permission to sit in my chair."

"Where is the clicker?  No, the other clicker.  No, the other clicker.  You're an idiot.  Find the damn clicker."

"What is in that cup?  Do not bring that cup in this house.  No, just throw it away.  I don't care what it says on it!  Why do you think that matters?  Have you seen what's in that cup?!"

"Did you fix the cushions?  That is not fixing the cushions.  What are you doing?  Do not just hit the cushions!  What are you doing to that poor sofa?  Get away from there.  You are useless with the cushions."

"Why did you move those glasses?  I just rearranged the kitchen, and you moved the glasses back.  I don't want to hear it.  No.  You are not five years old and should not be breaking glasses all over the kitchen.  Shut up.   I'm not letting you use the glasses anymore.  You can drink from the cat dish."

"Why is the cat dish in the freezer?!"

"What are  you doing now?  No, I did not ask because I wanted to know.  I asked because I wanted you to stop and come over here and help me."

"Are you limping?  Why are you limping?  That's not good enough.  I don't care.  I'm not telling people you keep getting hurt in pottery class.  It's embarrassing."

"Did you eat the last piece of pizza?  That was my pizza.  What?  Listen, if there is only one piece of pizza, it's always my piece of pizza.  New house rule."

"Don't you think there are too many shoes in this room?  There are eight pairs of shoes in this room.  Yes, I counted them.  I counted them when I was trying not to trip over them.  Don't you think you should put them away before I throw them out in the rain?  Yes, good idea."