Monday, February 28, 2011

Stupid is as Stupid does

I didn’t tell you all about something that happened to me over the Christmas shopping season. I was in JCPenney stupidly spending money I didn’t have to spend when I wandered into their newly remodeled costume jewelry section.

I saw some rings and since I’ve been thinking about inexpensive rings for my middle finger for the last five years, I decided to see what they have. I tried on a ring that had some sort of idealistic, “we-are-the-universe” saying about hope and faith. I’m a fan of faith and patience, but they don’t market the patience part much. Or at all.

Anyway, I liked the ring and whatever it said didn’t make me laugh derisively at the universe.

Well to heck with the universe and its dumb self! It got back as me as, you know, the universe likes to do. Stupid universe likes the last laugh, isn’t that true? The ring was on a 2x3” piece of cardboard and securely attached with a thick plastic zip tie. I slipped the ring on my finger to see what I thought of it.

The ring wouldn’t come off.

I could tell it wasn’t too tight, but it was the saucer-sized cardboard keeping the ring from wriggling back and forth to get it off my finger. What a gloriously stupid way to display a stupid ring! Of course, it became a million times more stupid when it stuck on my finger like it had been hit by a spell from Harry Potter, Endora and Merlin.

You get what I’m saying? It had magically attached itself to me.

I worked it back and forth knowing all along that it wasn’t coming off and that I was making my finger swell.

Stupid, stupid ring and stupid packaging! I knew what I needed was to have the plastic zip tie cut off. I stood at the real jewelry counter with the $10 ring stuck on my hand. The guy behind the counter ignored me while he chatted with a customer about a watch battery.

Mind you, he wasn’t replacing the battery. Most places won’t do that anymore because Americans are such a litigious lot. I was ready to sue them for mental distress, myself. I moved closer. He wouldn’t even look up to acknowledge me. Stupid jerk.

I’m standing there with a dinner plate on my hand and he doesn’t notice. I’m a shoplifting arrest waiting to happen. I’m a frantic, panicked customer about to pass out.

Mr. Working on Commission doesn’t care about me and my $10 universe ring.

By this time I figure the security people have me in their sights and my finger is now angry and refusing to let the ring wiggle back and forth at all. I have visions of living forever in JCPenney’s jewelry department. The briefest idea flashes of buying the ring and taking it home on my cardboard-enhanced middle finger.

How ironic.

But by now, I HATE this ring with its stupid unrealistic, hippie freak-show saying and I’m done with it forever. I will never waste $10 on Stupid Ring! It mocked me with its hope and faith. I had hope and faith I wasn’t going to get arrested for shoplifting if they’d let me explain, but that was all the hope and faith I could muster just then.

I took myself down the escalator with this enormous meat platter stuck to my hand.

I stood in line at the customer service desk trying to will myself to keep my pale, Irish-heritage-living-in-the-snowy-Upper-Midwest complexion from blushing. The lady behind the counter was so kind.

I’m sure she laughed her head off in the lunchroom later on, but she was very kind. Unfortunately, she did not divine the problem without considerable help from me. She was incapable or unwilling to perceive intuitively or through some inexplicable perceptive powers my current helpless situation.

Probably unwilling.

Here’s how it went down:

“Hi, I was trying on a ring and it became stuck on my finger.”

“Oh, let’s see.” How could she not see? “Did you try to work it off?”

How much did I want to smack her?

She came up with a couple ideas and since I was using all the existing philosophical abilities I have in my body, which are minimal at best, I stayed calm, cool and collected. All York Peppermint Patty was I. Get the sensation.

I let her be a part of the solution as long as I could handle it. Then I said as nicely as I could manage and keeping the alarm out of my voice, “I think if you took some scissors and snipped the plastic zip tie, I could go into the bathroom and use cold water and soap to get it off.”

At this point, I’m fully prepared to buy the ring as penance.

Plus, as the ring’s owner, I would be well within my rights as a consumer to throw the blasted thing down the public toilet and flush.

“Oh,” she said. “That just might work. Let me find some scissors.”

Thanking God, literally, that there is still no one standing in line behind me, she ends the search for the only pair of scissors in the entire store and she snips the plastic zip tie.

Will you believe it? The ring slid off my finger without so much as a stutter or a catch.

I slid it toward her on the counter, apologizing for ruining the packaging. I said I thought I’d had enough of the ring and didn’t want to buy it. She was as nice as pie about it.

Lesson: Be nice to people who do stupid things.

Have a good day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Update to Monday, Monday

For some reason I will never understand, the powers that be scheduled the at-work cookie bake-off on WEDNESDAY. There is no way I would have done what I just did on a Tuesday night. You won't know until Wednesday evening, or after the voting Wednesday afternoon.

Right now I'm devouring a roasted chicken from a freezer clean-out I did. That and garlic potatoes. Please stand back for your safety.

Sunday, Sunday Can't Trust That Day

OK, so according to the Mamas and the Papas, it's really Monday you can't trust. I think it's just too ironic for things to go wrong on Mondays so I usually refer to Tuesday as the day you get hit from the side. Naturally, it doesn't always work out that way, but you get my drift.

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen today. My back is killing me from so much time on my feet hunched over the counter doing delicate maneuvers on not-so-delicate cookies.

I've been watching Golden Girls all day because I've really been too busy to concentrate on the television. This means I've seen the exact same set of commercials hour after hour after hour. It leads me to this revelation: The best advice I ever got from a doctor.

She said that lactose intolerance can be cured by drinking milk.

Somehow, I developed some intolerance to lactose years ago. That's a mystery to me since I'm a dairy loving fool. So I started to drink milk in little amounts when I was home to deal with the misery and can you believe it? She was right.

I was baking cookies all day. I won't tell you for sure what I finally decided to bake because my co-workers know about this blog. I don't know that they read it more than once a year, but they know about it.

Yesterday I spent the morning in Pella looking at eagles and letting them look at me. To stay warm, I ran in the snow. This led to a three-hour nap later in the day.

Then I saw two eagles in a tree right on the path. I had already trudged, alone, down the riverside to see some eagles, but they were really high up in the trees. One of them got all offended by my presence and took off. Then I trudged through more snow down a path and watched 5 or 6 eagles soar over me.

Back to the path. There they were, sitting there looking like eagles do. They have that look on their face that says they sort of hate you and they need to pretend you aren't really there. I have a photo that should knock your socks off, but you'll have to wait for Thursday's Nature Notes to see it.

That's been my weekend.

If you get hungry for cookies, wander on over. I've got a whole bunch. We can dip them in tolerant milk and watch Golden Girls.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nature Notes: A rare sighting

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.
I have a book about Pickles The Fire Cat in which Pickles goes up a fire truck ladder and then climbs high to rescue a kitten. I love this book! It also reminds me of something I saw once (a joke, maybe) about how you never see kitten skeletons in trees. But what if you did call the fire department to rescue a cat stuck in a tree? Would they come? What would they charge you? How hard would they laugh while they run the ladder up the tree?

Clearly I do not have enough life experiences.

I have a one-mile running route in my neighborhood and I wanted you all to know that we have a rare sort of tree here sans kittens. I'm sure some of you have seen the same type of tree. It never fails to make me smile.

Can you identify the tree below? The morning was full of glare and clouds and once again I became the neighborhood stalker taking photos in the early morning. I hope you can see well enough...

All I can think of is the kite-eating tree from Charlie Brown, but this is a basketball & football hybrid. No kites. These three balls have been in the tree at least since last summer, but without leaves they really stand out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After the exhaustion lifts, I write another post

Wow, I have reread yesterday’s post and it seems I had a hard time writing coherently! I can tell I was tired from the way the post read, the fact that I didn’t title it, the nap I took over my lunch break and the ten hours I slept last night.

I’ll try to do better today.

At work on March 1 there’s a cookie bake-off. Over the weekend I made chocolate chip cookies with bacon! as a bonus, but the bacon fades into the chocolate and was a big disappointment. The bacon only lends a chewy quality to the cookie, so you know something is different, but you can't identify it. I brought them to work this morning and although they were eaten, they received a big ‘meh’ from the people who ate them.

It went like this:
"Chocolate chip cookies! Yay!"
"What's the secret ingredient?"
"Really? Bacon? Hunh."

Dang it.

I have a recipe for Oreo cookie cookies and another recipe for homemade Oreos. I think I will make one batch of each and test them among friends and family. Then whichever gets the highest praise is the one I will submit. So far, without a taste test, I have one strong vote for homemade Oreos.

I also signed up to provide cookies for church one Sunday in March. I don’t have a shamrock cookie cutter, but I thought green shamrock sugar cookies would be too much work a fun little treat for March.

Note to self: buy a shamrock cookie cutter somewhere. This requires looking out for one. Much like winning the lottery, you must take action to achieve the end result.

As I look back over the last four months, I have to admit to myself that I’m tired. I’ve been going full-speed since October. I think it’s time for something slow and relaxing, but I’m not sure what that would be.

Besides cookie baking. Obviously.

I suppose really it’s all about carving out time to do some things, like organize life. I have started that: over the weekend I organized my laundry room, nightstand and jewelry box. Today I promised myself that over lunch I would organize my files for the Irish language study group I lead, but as I have three new students I have been working feverishly on a proper lesson for this evening. Let's hope I don't have to go through the crazy professor routine yet again of looking for something I can't find.

I did that last time, flipping through page after page of unfiled/previously filed paperwork and lessons, hair getting wiry from stress, my eyes wild and bugging out. It's pretty. No wonder people come back for more.

I’m the sort of person who feels better when I’m organized. Something else I’d like to do is get outside and start running. Even a mile at a time would be nice, but after sleeping off the triathlon and still feeling a bit worn down, I realize that can wait until this coming weekend. It’s just difficult to bypass decent weather this time of year!

I read part of a book in December that suggested we ask ourselves, “What is best for me?” When done properly, it brings good results, not always selfish results because sometimes what is really best for ourselves is doing something for other people.

Maybe that’s my new filter. At least for awhile.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I am in a fit of shoulder pain right now, but do you see how I sacrifice so I can blog for you?

Because I blog regularly, as you’ve noticed. I don’t want to let you down or anything.

The indoor triathlon was Saturday. Thus, the shoulder pain. I may have completely shattered all my expectations for the 500-meter swim on Saturday. I hadn’t done better than 21 minutes, but on Saturday I swam with everything I had to give and finished the 500 meters in 12 minutes, 14 seconds.

I couldn’t believe myself. My awesomeness was overwhelming.

I felt fine, too. You see, my shoulder started hurting about two weeks ago. I’ve been lifting weights a little bit in anticipation of the swim and because upper body strength is full of the fantastic, plus it helps with running.

I can’t lose with upper body strength!

Except that today I can barely keep myself in my seat here at work. I only got on my computer a few times over the weekend, too.


I have taken four Motrin and those little puppies better start getting to work before my arm falls off. Shoot, I had some sort of heinous shot last fall, like typhoid or diphtheria or Chinese Fallapart and everyone said, “Oh, watch out! That arm will hurt tomorrow.”

But it didn’t. Maybe this is a delayed reaction.

So there was one other woman in my age bracket for the triathlon and I smoked her. It was awesome because without her, my first-place status would be seriously in question. I congratulated her and hugged her and was really proud of her because I kept my eye on her the entire time, believe you me, and she pushed herself hard.

She worked just as hard as I did, I just happened to be faster. Or maybe I had more practice.

I’ll be honest with you; I’m not really used to winning. I’m fortunate that I feel a strong sense of accomplishment when I finish these events. I’m proud that no one had to dredge the bottom of the pool for my body on Saturday. I’m carrying an extra 9 pounds or so, and I’m not being modest when I say I’m not as in shape as I should be although obviously I’m no couch potato.

But winning was an interesting experience for me. I felt a little sheepish. My little triathlon was full of people like me: we wanted to do well and finish and there just happened to be winners. I don’t think anyone was a superior athlete and I just fell in love with the whole little group of us hanging out while the trophies were being handed out.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nature Notes - Drive Safely!

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

Winter Morning Poem

by Ogden Nash
Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes
Smooth and clean and frosty white
The world looks good enough to bite
That's the season to be young
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Snow is snowy when it's snowing
I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Put down that snack and exercise 70s style

Since most of the country is snowbound, let's take a look at how you could spend your day if it were 1970 and you had ordered your exercise equipment out of the Fall catalog.

You could hunch over and take a run on a treadmill that is not as long as your stride. I think this might cause you to hop your way to fitness. Or you could sit in a dry sauna that looks like a sci-fi alien probing machine. Or you could cross-country ski in your basement with the Nordic Track prototype below:

Perhaps you would like to ride a bike through Tuscany. Hopefully you have a good imagination for the Tuscany part, but Sears had the bikes. In the way far future, will athletes look at these models and wonder when biomechanics was born?

Official text from a publication in 2918: "As late as 1970, bicycles were too short for people. Their legs never extended properly. Was this from poor biomechanics? Was it inexperienced cyclists? Did humans grow by massive leaps and bounds in 1970 before the bicycle industry could tackle the problem? In the same century, school desks in Japan were too small for the gargantuan children being born, perhaps these exercycles were left over from an earlier era when beds are known to be much smaller than only 50 years later..."

I'm confused by one thing on this page below. The bike on the left simulates cycling and rowing, but the image in between is riding a horse. Any ideas out there? Let's just leave that one for now and move forward with color.

It's really a shame that only a small number of pages in the 1970 catalog used color. Get your crayons and follow along: The bike with the lady on it has a sunshine yellow frame and a vinyl wood-look panel on either side. The synchronized-action exerciser has an avocado frame. I hope your crayon box has avocado. I imagine in 1970 Crayola had the shade. Everybody else did.

Um. I never quite understood these. When I was a kid, I thought these were a joke for sitcoms and cartoons. Obviously not, but I'm still not sure about the purpose of jiggling. At any rate, pull of your shoes and wiggle your toes in the plush moss green carpeting. Seriously, yes. The copy does mention wiggling your toes while you jiggle. Is this for entertainment or exercise? Only you can decide.
Why spend $4.77 on the Daisy Decor Twister shown below? I have a free idea:

Well they've got a new dance and it goes like this/Yeah the name of the dance is Peppermint Twist/Well you like it like this, the Peppermint Twist/It goes round and round, up and down/Round and round, up and down/Round and round and a up and down/And a one two three kick, one two three jump

So enjoy your day off at home with the kiddos, remember to stetch safely and don't hurt yourselves. If you fall off that Sears horse, get back on and ride to Tuscany.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The death of me

Twinkies will be the death of me.

Mostly because they're Twinkies. Obviously. Not a member of a respected food group. Unless you count preservatives as a food group.

Some people do, ya know.

When I was a kid my mom would hide our lunchbox treats so my brothers wouldn't eat them all. She would often put treats in the freezer, too. I think she hoped it would slow us down, but it just taught me to eat frozen Twinkies and Christmas cookies.

When I was a teenager, I lived in Germany. If any of my high school friends ever read this blog, they could correct me if I a wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right when I say we didn't have access to Twinkies. So for three years I didn't taste a Twinkie.

When we landed stateside, one of the first things I did was eat a Twinkie.

And I gagged. It was awful. It was sickeningly sweet. It tasted fake on my tongue. I was convinced Hostess had ruined my childhood love of Twinkies! I swore them off after that. In the past 27 years, I'm sure I could count the Twinkies I've had on one hand.

But then I read the book Eat This, Not That for Kids and they said of all the treats, they'd choose Twinkies. Saturday night, we had company for the kids and so as a treat I bought the Devil's Treat.

I did exhaustive research reading all the Hostess and Little Debbie boxes and the Twinkies were not so bad after all. So I bought 'em.

Isn't this a riveting tale?

I know I can freeze them and I intended to.'s only 2 or 3 left in the box and now I'm obsessed thinking about how eating them would remove them from the house once and for all.

I've backed off on sugary treats since the week after Christmas and I've done well so far. And I actually told myself they wouldn't interest me because I am full of will power, good intentions and like I said, they're sort of gross.

If by gross, you mean tasty. In a gross way.

For all my good intentions, I'm sure the road to hell is paved with Twinkies.


This morning we caught Question Mark Kitty in the shelter house. He ran off while we provided food and another towel, but he stood and watched. Tonight he was gone. I hope he's warm.

All this weather we're having makes it feel like we all live in the same neighborhood.

More deception on the grandkids front. First Christmas milk and now candied plums. That's right, candied plums.

Otherwise known as prunes. She loves them, he wasn't falling for it.

Every winter I feel as though life slows down to a crawl, but this month I have been busy. I realized a few things tonight like how I miss you guys.

I read your blogs on my phone and think I will go back later on the computer and comment, but I don't.

I also remembered that I can email a post to blogger from my phone! Maybe that will help. It's what I'm doing now.

Does this weather make anyone else think of the books The Long Winter or Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder? That's what today has put in my head. I may dig those out tomorrow and read my head off.