Archive for the ‘Household Matters’ Category

Yesterday I did all the chores, paid the bills, folded the laundry–and even did a little yard work!–after which I felt completely justified in meeting some friends for a lovely dinner at a charming Belgian restaurant.
I have known these ladies for many years; we are all widows, all mothers of large families, all grannies. So there we were, demurely sipping our wine, chatting enthusiastically, and wielding the fork and knife with surpassing skill–when I heard someone calling my name. “Hope! Hope!” I looked up and there was my cousin from Minnesota, his wife and his son! Sitting at the next table!
Well! The lad is going to AU, and his fond parents have visited before, but still, we looked at each other with a wild surmise, struck all of heap. Then of course we all got to chatting and then they said goodbye and went off, leaving us to carouse as before.
Not really so surprising that they should be in that fine little restaurant, actually, being discriminating diners, and as this is their last child, of course they come to visit often. Still, it was a surprise!
It made me think of all the hidden coincidences we know nothing about, the person next to you on the bus whose grandmother, perhaps, was a dear friend of your grandmother–or whose cat is brother to your cat.
Or sister, as it might be.
Or uncle, of course.

In any case, a very fine dinner.


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On Sunday evenings I welcome a darling son to dinner, and thus have a delightful afternoon of cooking and baking–and as I am having a party NEXT weekend, I also made up a few batches of cookie dough in preparation for future festivity.
Sunday is also the day my darling daughter calls from her far away habitation in the exotic northern parts of the United Kingdom, and we chat pleasantly for a time.
Sunday is in fact a charming catch-up-with-family day.
Yesterday’s menu featured chicken pot pie, a favorite dish. As I chatted with far away daughter, I got the chilled pie dough from the fridge and commenced rolling it out. Up and down, back and forth! Finally it was the right size, I set it over the chicken filling, brushed it with egg wash, sprinkled with salt and pepper and WHISKED it into the oven.
An hour later, out it came, handsome, brown, bubbling: a triumph!
But as we ate our pie, it seemed to me that it was somehow–sweeter than chicken pot pie usually is. Good, you know, but...sweet.
The pie dough still languished in the fridge. I had used the cookie dough to top the pie.
Still, rather tasty. We ate it without complaint.

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Yesterday I stayed home because I was awaiting a serviceman. And not just ANY serviceman. This person was hired from Amazon. You’ve seen how Amazon is always begging you to hire a plumber or whatever, and mostly you say, I HAVE a plumber, shut UP Amazon–well, the light went out on my projector, and as I went through the business of ordering a new one, Amazon coyly asked if I needed someone to install it.
You are thinking, YOU HIRED SOMEONE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB? Well, yes, I own the soft impeachment.
See, the projector is an elaborate (AND EXPENSIVE) electronic device which is installed on the ceiling. I thought I could probably figure out how to effect the exchange, but the anxiety and fear of failure (and of irretrievable harm to the device) made the expenditure seem trifling. Comrades, I clicked YES!
When the doorbell rang, I hastened to the door and opened it to find a stout man smelling strongly of tobacco, no insignia or uniform, standing before me. He introduced himself, and I showed him to the room. He quickly did the job (it looked complicated, so I felt vindicated)​, we tried it out and it worked. Grand!
I thought, what a useful fellow! I asked him for his card, but he said he couldn’t give it to me. That bully Amazon has him in thrall!
It is a new thing, to me at least. I’m not sure that I approve–but am very relieved to have my projector back on track. Movies tonight!

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The dire month of January is speeding by–February awaits with biting cold or possibly balmy warmth, but either way it will soon be past, making way for March. The older I get (and this year I turn 70) the faster the time goes by, and though I attempt to welcome each new day, it is more of an effort that it used to be.
But let us not whine and moan, for heaven’s sake! Here we are in this pleasant land–not living in some ghastly prison camp, not cowering while bombs drop, not held at the whim of dictators–and there are MONTHS before taxes are due.

So show a little respect.
The lame disgruntlement you may sense from the lines above derives from an unsuccessful attempt to disable my ancient computer before tossing it on the dustheap of history. Having left it in the corner as I triumphantly installed my SHINING NEW machine, I finally decided the old hulk was no longer needed, so plugged it in to remove the files.
It would not turn on, not if it was ever so.
Something of a blow.
HOkay, no problem, I would simply remove the hard drive and dispose of it! I readily removed the side of the machine, and was able to dabble in its innards–but as for removing anything, NOT HAPPENING. Welded in, it seemed. One could have smashed it with a hammer–which perhaps, come to think of it, I should have done. Instead, I had a pleasant time snipping all the cords and spraying water all over what remained. Then, I inserted what was left in a garbage bag and tossed it in the bin.
I am now feverishly changing all my passwords–and I have A LOT of passwords–in readiness for the thieves and dastards who troll garbage dumps for computers, who will dry out and rewire the ancient machine and RETRIEVE ALL MY DATA.
Though that does sound pretty unlikely, actually.

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In all the excitement of Christmas preparation, it may have happened that I purchased a few more food items than were strictly necessary.

Or even, MUCH MORE than a few.

Adding an impetus to the problem, many of my family found themselves unable to relish their meals due to a superabundance of truly wicked Germs, which caused non-festive behavior and led to much time spent in the smallest room of the house. So that in making a current comprehensive assessment of available viands in the house, I find I could readily entertain as many people this weekend as I did during the festival itself.

However, my children are all fled to the far corners of the earth, and I own to a longing for quiet. Lucky thing there is the FREEZER, that seemly apartment for storing food. Mine is luckily quite capacious. There is also the fact that the current COLD temperatures keep any food items carelessly tossed into the garbage from making themselves known via heinous bad stinks.

So, mostly we are back to pre-holiday status here, aside from the lavishly arrayed freezer. There was however a large container of ricotta which had to either be tossed out or used. HA! There was also a large bag of dried figs (what MADNESS descended on me as I bustled through the bursting aisles at Costco, truly, I am baffled at such wild behavior) and suddenly I thought—FIG AND RICOTTA PIE!

Nice looking, no?

Though what the hell I am going to do with it, one wonders–my powers of eating are limited– but at least I have used up the pint of ricotta!

So there’s that.

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When the painter said he couldn’t start until the 14th, I SHOULD have said, OK, we’ll have to wait until after Christmas. But instead, with that imbecilic fecklessness which is one of my (very few) flaws, I brightly bade him go ahead. Which is why instead of baking cookies, making casseroles, and wrapping gifts, I have spent the weekend dusting books and objets d’art –and they are VERY DUSTY INDEED, (for which I blame no one, least of all, myself) and putting them back on shelves. The shelves are now gleaming white and looking very well indeed, but possibly their former dilapidated and grubby aspect would not have materially depressed our holiday spirits.
SO–having not had time to do all the cooking and baking I usually task myself with, I steeled my nerves and set off for COSTCO to purchase food stuffs. And wine, of course. Getting there is slightly terrifying, a trip I could never make without Siri and her firm directions–horrifying high speed expressways intersecting in bewildering complexities. But, made it there, and as always was overwhelmed–it is a TEMPLE OF GREED–everything you could want is there, towering up to the ceiling in huge piles of luxurious amplitude. I spent quite an astonishing amount of money, filling up my little car, and am now back home and ready for lunch.

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Ever striving to be a responsible householder, I decided I MUST have an attic fan, to keep the attic from overheating. WRONG said Google–why, that would be blowing all your expensive cooling and heating out the window. No, what I needed, I discovered, was INSULATION: just like putting a cozy hat on my house, keeping all that warmth and coolth inside.
NOT, as it turned out, an inexpensive undertaking.
Quite the reverse, as it turned out.
However, I bravely engaged to do my bit in saving our precious fossil fuels, and stayed home on Wednesday to welcome the enterprising insulators. But then, a setback–what did I want done with the stuff stored in the attic? ‘Oh, it’s just a few empty boxes’, said I airily–‘please to pile them in my bedroom and I shall throw them out’.
When I ventured upstairs, I was horrified to find a MOUNTAIN of boxes, piled floor to ceiling in my bedroom. Not just boxes either–also in the heap, a trunk (neatly labeled with the previous owner’s name), a rusty bike rack, old chairs, dingy milk crates, framed pictures of surpassing ugliness….

​I could not possibly transport all this debris. Nor would the county’s bold garbageurs agree to take it all. ​
Comrades, I called a hauling company as soon as the insulators had left!
And then sat down to do a little job which my boss had suddenly demanded. BOTH computers failed for various reasons, and a little job that should have taken a few minutes took and hour and a half. But did I complain? Well, yes of course I did.
At which point, the hauling truck and 2 beefy young men arrived. Clumping upstairs to view the Vast Heap of Shame, they were appropriately awed by its immensity, and gave me to understand that having lunched previous to coming, they felt they had the strength to tackle the job. The one youth modestly confided that he had eaten a dozen boiled eggs as his first course, followed by an entree of chicken (in a balsamic sauce). The other admitted to a mere foot-long Subway sandwich–and gravely added that he had counseled his colleague to mention the eggs, as explanation of any subsequent vomiting that might occur.

What innocent lambs they were, I thought–sounding more like boys of 10 than men of 20. However, they managed to cart away everything, I wrote them a HUGE check, and the house and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then I went off to my dentist appointment, where the dentist was so pleased to have an opportunity to try out his new diabolic teeth cleaning device, the one that shoots out needles of piercing spray at great force.
When I came home, I found I had no energy left to do anything else.
So tiring, this housekeeping business.

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