Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rip and Sew So

I haven’t sewed anything much for a couple of years.  But today I hauled out that last scrap of black denim Eldest Daughter bought me a few years back and squeaked out a pair of pants. 

Now to me, a good comfortable pair of pants should have nice roomy pockets.  You know for a bit of Kleenex, a stick of gum, a list for head’s that can’t remember anything for more than five minutes, etc. 

The other need for pockets is for more critical stuff.  For instance, during the summer months, when Hub and I go golfing out on the back forty, instead of dragging our golf carts and bags along, we just grab a nine iron for me, a five iron for him, a couple of tees, a couple of balls, and we’re off for a game.  And that’s when everything becomes an inconvenience when I don’t have nice roomy pockets for my tees and an extra ball.  Or a Kleenex to weep into when I so miss the shot I intended. 

But right now we’re sewing pants and although the pants went together swiftly, I just couldn’t get inspired about pocket-making-intricacies.  I know, pockets aren’t that difficult, but each time I make them, especially if I haven’t sewed for a while, I must thoroughly review the process. 

I know that because if I don’t review the pocket-making-process, when my slacks are finished and trimmed of any stray sewing threads, and proudly turned right side out, the pockets will be neatly, soundly, and securely sewed shut.  Oh yes, they will.

So without the patience, or the inclination to relearn pocket making intricacies, I simply slapped those slacks together without pockets.  Then made a comfy wide elastic waistband, and hemmed them up. 

But pants without pockets are just not a good thing.  I pondered the situation, thought about other pants worn by the younger crowd and there I found a solution.  I simply plastered a couple of nice roomy patch pockets lower down on the outside of each leg. 

Hub laughs at me.  At my notions and how they change with the passage of time.  For instance a few years ago, when I was sewing slacks, I minded not being quite embedded in the process.  It was nothing for a project such as that to take four days, maybe even longer.  But no more.  Like I say to Hub, as one becomes elderly, they must find ways to accomplish progress in much shorter laps. 

I don’t have four days to spare pissing around with the construction of a traditionally pocketed pair of slacks.  I have part of a day, and by god, I will get them done in that time, or I won’t be making them.  I don’t have enough time for any long drawn out affairs.  (Especially, since I might have a blog to write!)

Too much of each day is used up trying to get out of bed, get my feet under me, and get in and out of the shower.  And the time I need for cleaning my false teeth, curling my coarser hair that would rather not, plucking strays from my chin, lotioning up my feet…and doing the rest of all the compulsory house chores in slow mo.   

Sewing is a luxury that must be condensed or it won’t be happening. 

So after all that, where am I going with this rant? 

No place, really.  Just want you to know the slacks were finished in two hours, they fit beautifully, they are very comfortable, and the patch pockets will work perfect for lists, tees, golf balls, sunglasses, or bug lotion – as soon as I get the tops of them opened up with my seam ripper!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Graciousness and Good Taste

[This is a continuation of my last blog.] 

I don't mind telling you that I have been in torment over those stupid buns since Thursday.  The neighbour was gone all weekend and while she was away, I just kept stewing about those buns.

Finally, and thankfully, I was able to get her on the phone earlier today.  A great relief because  I was sure when I finished my confession I could return to a life without angst.

So after the customary bit of small talk, I decided the time had come to get down to the business of the buns.  I began by telling my neighbour that I felt awkward and uneasy about something and for that something I felt I must apologize.    

I then went on in great detail about the oil substitution and how the buns tasted so off to me, and it wasn’t a good thing because she had made such a nice meal for us and I fair ruined it by adding to the mix my ‘tainted buns’.

So now the buns were out-ed.  Everything is back to normal.  The tainted buns have been given justification for being tainted. 

What a load off my chest! 

And so, after all that, I wanted her to say as some of my commenters suggested she might say…(i.e. “It’s okay.  Those things can and do happen”.)

But no, that is not what she said.

She said the buns tasted fine to her, and to her husband as well. 

And even her adult son, who is the gourmet of gourmets had given an evaluation of the buns.

The adult son that studies cookbooks like they were exciting novels and in all his spare time evaluates and makes note of the preferred companionships and relationships of spices, oven heat, and cooking time.    

This young man drives his mother to distraction.  He would rather starve to death than eat, if all isn’t perfection.  My neighbour gets quite impatient with his culinary demands.  And he only relinquishes momentarily his study of cookery for a bit of shopping time to buy all the unique items that are a must for his lavish recipes.  And so now, what did the gourmet  say?

He wasn't home the night we had 'the supper', but he ate left-over buns the next morning and said they were perfection.

I am stunned when my neighbour tells me these assessments of the tainted buns.  And then as I frantically review the incongruity of what is in my mind and what my neighbour is telling me, I am even more anxious than before. 

My God, in my mind I thought I just apologized for a grave error.  But maybe I didn’t do that at all.  Maybe what I just did was inform the individuals at the heart of this story that they lack taste-buds sensitive enough to recognize the difference between good and bad food?

A bloody nasty and unfair criticism, considering as how I have a lack of something of greater value than sensitive taste buds. 

Obviously what I lack is graciousness.  Try as I might, I never seem to get it quite right.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Dilemma

I’ll tell you my bit of a story and then perhaps you will offer me some advice.

Hub and I were invited out for supper the other night.  That same afternoon I made some buns, so I brought a dozen for our hostess.  She was pleased to have them and I was pleased to bring them. 

I sampled one of the buns before taking them and it was very good.  But during our meal, we each took a bun.  And when eating that bun, I noticed an odd taste that was rather disagreeable.    

I was really dismayed and confused because there are only a few ingredients in buns, and nothing in mine could have been off.  All ingredients were fresh.  I said nothing as I began to think it was my imagination and wondered if anyone else noticed. 

I thought perhaps they had, because no one ate more than one. 

Of course if anything was off I couldn’t depend on Hub to notice.  But I was pretty sure our hostess would.  And perhaps she did, but of course good manners would have prevented her from saying so.

So we had supper and an enjoyable visit with no remarks made about the buns. 

Now the next morning, I ate another of that same batch of buns.  And no, it was not my imagination.  Something in those buns was not right. 

And only then did it come to me that when mixing those buns, rather than using regular cooking oil, which is what I normally use, I substituted olive oil. 

And why shouldn’t I?  It is the lighter taste of olive oil that makes it the preferred oil for salads and other things that are too delicate for heavy cooking oil.   

Now I know olive oil does not keep well but the olive oil I used was fresh.  At least it certainly should have been as I only bought the stuff last week.  At a healthy price, I might add, because I am always sceptical about the trustworthiness of no name and bargain food products – especially when it comes to baking ingredients that don’t keep well. 

But with nothing in those buns untoward except the olive oil, that’s what it had to have been.  (You want me to go taste my olive oil off a spoon?  Nah, I don’t want to do that.  But in sniffing it, it has no stale odour, and surprisingly enough, in a salad it tastes fine.) 

So now, I feel so bad that I took those buns to a special supper given by friends. Especially because in this neighbourhood I have a reputation for being a good cook and that reputation is important to me.

My friend, too, has a reputation for being a fine cook and I know that reputation is very important to her as well.  Between us, this cooking reputation thing is like a silent challenge each time we eat at the other’s home. 

So now, do I tell her what led to my buns tasting off?  Do I just stay quiet and hope she didn’t notice?  She is one of those cooks that under no circumstances would substitute one type of oil for another as I am wont to do. 

Telling her, seems to me like a shaky thing to do, because perhaps she didn’t notice, but guaranteed, if she did, she is not above telling everyone that I brought buns to her house that tasted bloody ‘gawd-awful’. 

And that is a crisis situation.  Cause you know you just can’t have a reputation for being a good cook and then you go and make something ‘gawd-awful’.

What to do, what to do. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stinky, Stinky, Stink

Hub and I go into a shop in town.  Rather quiet in there.  Only a couple of clerks -- one behind the till, another washing the floor with a mop.

A smell permeates the air.  A floral, lemony, breezy, freshy smell with a kind of soapy tang.  It tingles our noses.  Maybe we unconsciously screw up our faces a bit.

With a sniffle, the clerk says, "I know.  I know.  Too much 'clean stink' in here for anyone!"

I pay for a few purchases and Hub and I go the the vehicle.  I toss my shopping bag on the console.

"What did you buy?" Hub asks

"Warm mitts and gloves," I reply.

"Oh for cryin' out loud," Hub says.  "That wasn't necessary.  There is a box of gloves and mitts in the basement."

"I know.  But for so many of them one is missing and those blue gloves I've been wearing?  Those stupid thinngs are both for the same hand.  That's why I bought new ones."

"Don't you know how to fix that?" Hub asks.

"Well, yeh, I guess.  I can wear them anyway.  Up to now that's what I've been doing but I find it annoying and uncomfortable to wear two gloves for the same hand."

Hub laughs.  "Don't you know if you turn one inside-out, it will fit the other hand?"

I sniff.  Maybe unconsciously wrinkle my nose a bit.

"Too much 'smart stink' in this vehicle for me!

So with a slightly different take that obliquely parallels what my mother used to say after a lovely meal...

That was stink enough to leave me sufficiently suffonsifized to the point where anymore would be superfluous.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Scrabble Enigma

Since childhood, I and my clan and many of my friends have engaged in Scrabble games.  And since time immortal we have done so on the old cardboard game board.  And what grand visits and conversations we had while doing so. 

Even though there are scores to calculate and record, a bag to be passed, tiles to be drawn, (and counted while doing so).  There is the to and fro-ing of the dictionary to look-up words like “cwm” or "udo" to see if such a bizarre combination of letters could really be words. 

And then there is the outrage of  “Roll up your sleeves for pete’s sake!…following by a gasp and sigh and then the concerted brainstorm among all participants to return the tiles to their original positions.   

And this is generally followed by a tutorial to demonstrate the difference between a sleeve roll-up and a sleeve-shove. 

And so we are busy, very busy it would seem, but still amazingly in the midst of all this other activity, the game goes on at a steady and stimulating pace.

And so when opponents come to visit, I say to them…
“Would you prefer to play on the computer or on the old-fashioned board?”

And for a very few times, they generally say “Let’s play on the computer -- it’s probably faster.  We won’t need a dictionary and no one has to do the abominable task of keeping score.” 
And so we go to comfortable chairs at the computer and Hub even sets up extra mice so each player will have their own. 

But this is where the insidious and mystical thing happens.  The participants seem reluctant to visit.  The game is played in some kind of reverent, or should I say, irreverent silence. 

All those things I mentioned previously (i.e. passing the dictionary round, drawing letters, counting tiles, sleeve tutorials, scoring, etc.) are not interrupting our game and the game is going smoothly --- but oh so silently.

Yet amazingly, either way the game seems to go as quickly. 

But when the grandchildren come, they like to play Scrabble and yes, although they be tied 24-7 to their electronic hand-helds, they shut them off, put them aside, and positively insist that we play on the board rather than the computer. 

And this is where, in the midst of some kind of magical trusting openness, I find out so much about their moods, frustrations, school, and their day-to-day lives. 

I think the silence of a computer-game is embedded in the insidious psychological effects of electronic devices overall.  But I am mystified, and as yet have not encountered the research paper that seeks to explain it. 

Perhaps you might?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Toilet Paper Management 101

As you are, by now, well aware -- Hub and I are retired, we live in the country, and many days there is nothing that occurs in a 24-hour to pleasure our senses.  This can drive one to derive pleasures from things in ways that to others, in a more active and stimulating environment, appear completely immature and idiotic.  And that is what leads to this next story.     

Now it just so happens, that Hub sometimes goes to town thrice in one day.  For fuel, tire, batteries, …or just to take the puppies for a drive, but despite the oft-taken trips to town, Hub will not take with him even the shortest list of food or cosmetic items I may need.  He will pick up a prescription, or gladly fulfill a 23-item list of mechanical or hardware items.  He might even grudgingly go to the bank or pick up the mail, but groceries or cosmetic shopping is out. 

But this week, the need was critical.  When we were in town together I went to the grocery store, while he went to the drugstore to pick up a prescription.  Before he went his way and I mine, I told him toilet paper was on sale at the Drugstore and we needed to get some.  “So while there,“ I said, “could you just grab a couple of packages.“ 

He grudgingly said he would.

But, of course, when we got home, I discovered he had not bought the T.P.

Yesterday, when I opened the T.P. cupboard in the bathroom to get a new roll, there were only three rolls left, actually two after I replaced the empty roll. 

So when he announced, a short time later, that he was going into town to check out some hardware on sale I said, “Oh, good.  And while there you can pick up the T.P. you didn’t pick up when we were in town the other day.” 

“Okay,” was his response.

Now Hub does have my sympathies.  I know how frustrating the paper-aisle can be.  With shelf tags that one can never be certain if they match the item above or below the tag.  And each brand making 23 different kinds -- lotion laced, unlaced, double, mega, regular, big carboard centres, small centres, quilted, pillowed, woven, etc. etc.

So, I was sympathetic and not too surprised when Hub came home with a 12-pack and said, “I don’t think these were on sale though they were above a sale tag.  I think someone just deposited them there by way of exchange when they noticed the sale stuff.  I paid an arm and a leg for these.  Probably averages out to $3.50 a roll.”

I was only half-listening to this rant cause I know how frustrating the paper-aisle can be. 

Now this morning, I checked the cupboard to see if the T.P. was properly put away and in doing so, I remembered what Hub said about how expensive that T.P. was and reached out a figure tip to feel the texture of the T.P. he had bought.

Something that felt like an electric current made me quickly pull my hand back.  And something else made me reach out and touch it again.

I came to the kitchen for coffee. 

“You know, Hub, I have to tell you something about that T.P. you bought.  I felt it this morning -- well you know, just to see how it felt.  And you know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you are totally overjoyed, or that tingle you get in your spine when you hear really fine music?  That’s what happened when I touched that T.P.  Fine, mighty fine.

So now, since you are going back into town today, you will need to pick up something else.  Go to the Drugstore and see if they have regulatory pills, meaning pills that will ensure we only need to go once a week.  You know, something, that works like those birth control pills that allow women to suspend their menstrual flow until after the beach party. 

And since they are always advertising pills for people who urinate too often (maybe get some of those while you’re at it)…they must have something for those who do the other too often.  In the meantime, the eating of cereal or yogurt with enzyme-activated biotic cultures are suspended. 

And we are both on a diet of strictly rice and cheese until the all-too, way-too, expensive T.P. is used up.