I feel lazy today

Yep, I feel very lazy today. That’s what my six year old grandson said when he had covid. I know I don’t have covid. My only symptom is feeling lazy. I could take a test, but I’m feeling too lazy to do that and besides, I have no symptoms.

It’s such a struggle to get things done when one is feeling lazy. After my usual hour or two of sitting and drinking water while I played each of my usual computer games – it takes that long now because I also started Duolingo to learn Spanish and they count the number of consecutive days that you “work at learning”. I’m up to 180 and I’m not going to let them start over at one just because I want to get off of the sofa now and then. Some days the Spanish just doesn’t want to go into my brain.

Anyway, I did finally put down the iPad and go to the gym. It was a rather lazy workout though. Elliptical for about 12 minutes and bike pedaling for about 20 minutes. And enough stretching just to be sure everything was at least as long as it was yesterday. Pretty lousy workout. I have friends who think it’s amazing that I go to the gym every day and wonder where I get the energy. I try to tell them that exercise GIVES you energy. I DO believe that , but today, I should have done more if I wanted to fill up this tank.

So, I came back up stairs (I should say I came back up elevator because that’s what I did). Had I actually used the stairs, I might not be feeling quite so lazy now. Anyway, there are a few things pending around here. As any female knows, there is always something that could be cleaned. Here’s the thing about that though. If you don’t clean on the days when you’re full of energy, are you really going to clean on a day when you feel lazy? I’ll give you the answer to that one. It’s “No”.

I have some packages that must be wrapped and there’s a deadline on that. The deadline is Saturday, however. Hmm… that leaves three more days after this one. I dug the box of wrapping paper out of the closet. Good start.

I often notice that when women talk about what a busy day they have had that they mention how many loads of laundry they did. We all know that we can do quite a few loads of laundry in a day while we are doing many other things. We can definitely have something on the stove and work at the computer or wrap packages while the washer is running. We never call each other on that because we know that we’d get called on it someday too. When all of the clothes are safely in their drawers, we do feel as though we got something done – and it IS something that would not have been done if left to our spouses. Well, it may have been done but nothing else would have happened and at least three items would be left in a pile on the bed because he just didn’t know where they went. I started a load.

I have a friend who claims that she irons. That would feel like getting something done, I guess. I just buy knits.

On the desktop here, I have some paint chip brochures. After Karl gets his bathroom redone (it’s his current project and I ABSOLUTELY, must post once (or twice or three times) about his decorating process !) , I’m going to get the house painted. I think about it all of the time. About a year ago I decided to go with mostly white. Of course, anyone who has seen my house knows that there will be many walls of various colors when I’m done. But one starts with a base color. Selecting colors is a very tricky process. Even if you’re just picking a white. Erika, my daughter-in-law, writes a terrific blog about home improvement and decorating and has a whole book about selecting the right white (It’s call “List in Progress” for those of you who don’t believe me). Anyway, I keep looking at my paint samples and moving them to different rooms and making opinion notes. I’m going to count that as getting something done.

And, of course, I could cook. I found some kielbasa in the freezer. I know we have a can of sauerkraut and Karl always has a pile of potatoes filling a hydrator. I took the kielbasa out of the freezer. There’s a start. I’ll ask Karl to open the can of sauerkraut. I’m sure he’ll count that as one of the important tasks he accomplished today. And he never says he’s feeling lazy.


The convenience of technology

We all know that I have not been posting as much lately as I had been. This is, once again, due to too many topics on which I have strong opinions. I sat here last week and wrote eight paragraphs before I realized that I wasn’t writing about the topic I had on my mind when I sat down. I had meant to write about doctors and doctor visits when I sat down and somehow, instead, wrote a page about the evolution of medical services in this country – as I see it. Of course.

With so much to say about either of those topics, I’m abandoning them for now. I’ll tell you about another topic, another big, big topic, that I am postponing. I’m considering writing a whole book about Karl. I know it would be very interesting to my readership. There is so much material for me to work with that I’m going to need a great deal of time and effort to edit it down. So for today, I’m writing about technology.

You all know that both Karl and I consider ourselves to be technologically challenged and so, we try to steer clear of the really complicated things and to seek help from others who we see as more advanced and more comfortable with technology. We keep as much personal information as possible off of the internet and we even seek professional assistance on a regular basis. But that doesn’t solve every problem.

I can only site a few examples here because there are truly too many frustrating circumstances to detail them all. Take this last Friday. As the earth rotates and causes the sun to shine directly into our windows, the shades must be lowered. I’ve been doing this regularly for years. Not a BIG deal, but shades being pulled up and down get worn and stained and eventually need to be replaced. Two years ago, I replaced them. In an effort to lengthen their life span and maintain them in pristine condition, I bought shades that worked on a remote control. If they must go up and down at least once a day, maybe they didn’t need to actually be touched once a day. I had them “professionally installed” (ain’t that a hoot) and instructed everyone who might have a need to reposition them that they were only to be moved via the remote. “Solo remoto” as the directions stated.

This has worked perfectly for two years. Back to last Friday. I pushed the button and – nothing. Well, of course. My professional installer had warned me that occasionally, they would need to be “recharged”. Ah yes – much like the cellphone, the Airpods, the Aftershokz, the Shuffle, the Kindle, the I-pad, the speaker for all of those things and probably lots of other things I don’t even know about. Fortunately for me, rather than filing all of the maintenance information in the file drawer with warrantees and other such things, I had placed all of the “Solo remoto” window shade information in the china cabinet directly across from the windows. A neat little pile, right between the red wine and the bourbon. No one’s going to forget it there!

I got it all out and spread it on the dining room table. I had a sample of my material (which will certainly be discontinued before I have a use for it), a couple of boxes with plastic things in them but no literature, a receipt, a sales brochure, an empty box, a fold out with instructions for installing these blinds, and a box with a long thin cord in it. I looked for recharging instructions but I think that, by 2023, everyone knows to find something that sort of resembles a plug attached to a wire and focus mostly on those two ends of that wire. So that’s what I did.

I was astute enough to figure that the big fat plug with two large prongs was for the wall socket. I’ve seen those all of my life. I don’t need to learn much more about those. The other end really didn’t resemble anything that I had ever seen, but I figured that if I found what to attach it to, it would probably look as if it would fit there. I got the step stool that has a handle to hold onto, placed it near my eleventh floor window and climbed up to look for whatever might look like the other half of my little plastic blob. There was something attached to the end of a 3 inch wire that might have been the object of my search. There was a second wire that didn’t appear to have anything hanging on it and, therefore, no purpose at all. But what do I know? I’m not a professional window shade installer.

I had to let go of that very reassuring handle on my step stool and reach way up to the 3 inch wire with the blob and try to see if I could connect the little blob in my other hand to it. These things were very small. At least, very small to the naked eye of a 74 year old woman about to teeter off of a step stool and careen out of her eleventh story window. But I was doing this for the convenience, right? About this time, Karl offered to help. His vision is worse than mine, his manual skills are worse than mine, and his technical skills are worse than mine. But he is taller. He didn’t need the step stool.

After some fiddling with the plugs and wires, a few words about unnecessarily complicated actions and a few other choice words, I think he got it connected. I tried the remote to see if that made the shade move. I figured if the shade moved by using the remote now, it probably meant that it was getting charged. It did! So after congratulating each other on a day’s work well done, Karl disappeared.

Next I discovered that the installer’s instructions stated that “a full charge requires 6 to 8 hours”. I started to look for another charger to do another shade. For what these things cost, every shade should have it’s own charger, but then, that’s just my opinion and I’m not a professional window shade installer.

I’m not going to test the patience of my readers by explaining the entire process of the disconnecting and repetition of connecting on other shades. We’ll let it suffice to say that the mission is accomplished. Of course, the window shade remote also has a battery. And it, too, is two years old.

I could be overthinking food, or maybe not

You were cautioned to be prepared for Super Bowl snacking and I’ve been working hard to take my own advice. I’ve been thinking about it for more than a week. I decided my best shot at junk food would be shopping at Trader Joe’s. They DO have many good quality items, but they also have – along the shelf above the frozen food mostly – some of the most decadent sweets and snacks. Even knowing where to go, though, requires more of a plan.

I figured out almost two weeks ago that if I purchased my snack items then, I would probably eat them all before game day. Shopping would have to be delayed, even for those items that have a shelf life going into decades. I would also need an item of two that could pass for a meal. For that , I was deciding between pizza – that someone else makes and Jersey Mike’s, which Jersey Mike makes. That was something that required day after day of mulling.

By last Wednesday, I had decided on the pizza. It has been longer since I had pizza than since I’d had Jersey Mike’s and, for some reason, pizza seemed like the healthier option. Don’t ask me to justify that decision. It’s based upon nothing. Talking to Denise on Thursday night, I told her of my pizza decision. She said, “Good luck. Everyone will be ordering pizza on Sunday.” Hadn’t thought of that, but since we don’t order from a chain and since Karl likes to go pick them up himself, I still figured that our plan was pretty good.

Friday, I got up early to get to Trader Joe’s when they opened. Fridays and the weekend are always very crowded at TJ’s, so I was there when the doors opened. I really didn’t have a shopping list. I knew I wanted “Pirate Booty”, which Trader Joe does not call Pirate Booty, but instead refers to as “the stuff in the blue bag”. The bag isn’t blue. It has a blue banner across the top. I also wanted something sweet. One of my faithful readers reminded me of that after my last post. I can always find something sweet that I’ll like. If it’s sweet, I’m very easy to please.

The knock off “Pirate Booty” is in the first aisle at my TJ. Big surprise to me though, was finding that there is now not only the cheese version, but also a sour cream and onion flavor. It presented a bit of a time consuming conundrum, but I grabbed the one with which I was familiar…the cheesy one. Since I got two bags, I’m thinking now that maybe one of each could have been a good idea. But then, maybe one shouldn’t override these long thought out dietary decisions.

Getting to the shelf above the frozen foods (there were probably a lot of excellent choices among the frozen foods, but they would require some degree of “cooking”, so I ignored them), I spotted the maple leaf cookies. Have you ever had those? They are fabulous. Heaven to you taste buds. I popped a box into the cart.

Although I had a salty and a sweet item, and we weren’t expecting anyone to eat this stuff except me, I continued along the store aisles. Karl needed a couple of jars of peanut butter. There might be a new juice or something I hadn’t thought of. As I wandered back to the produce area, I couldn’t help but notice a fresh bakery area. For heavens sakes, they put it right where your cart will run into it as you try to get to the greens and berries. Their fresh bakery item offerings span the continents. There is something from most countries around the world…croissants, dumplings, kugel, torts, cookies, brownies, babkas…. and they make you run this gauntlet just to get to the area of onions, mushrooms and greens.

A lot of produce shoppers got caught in the quagmire of baked goods. Customers were circling like buzzards. I talked myself out of entering the competition and broke through to the piles of carrots and celery. I’d been to Whole Foods the day before, so I didn’t need much, but they had very nice raspberries. I tossed raspberries and apples into the cart.

Of course, to exit the produce section, one must again pass the universal baked goods department. I succumbed. One thing that usually saves me is that I’m not a fan of chocolate. They usually have chocolate chip cookies. They often have oatmeal cookies, but they don’t put raisins and nuts in them. They put chocolates chips in them! So I can generally run that gauntlet unscathed. But this time, a big word “BABKA” stuck out at me. I’ve never had babka. I know there is at least one whole Seinfeld episode about it. I hear about it on TV. It must be good. This was a chocolate babka and, for whatever reason, maybe low blood sugar, I succumbed. It’s now sitting waiting for me in the dining room.

I thought that I had a pretty good plan worked out. I was prepared. But then, yesterday, as I watched PBS, I discovered that their pledge drive was ongoing. They sometimes have on Dr. Fuhrman or Doo Wop singers to entice one to pledge. This time it was Dr. Hyman. He’s into clean, healthy eating with salads with no dressing and smoothies with collagen, MCT oil and dark, leafy greens. This is a guy who thinks that bananas have too much sugar to be added to his smoothies! He convinced me that this should be my path. It’s easy to eat raw fruits and vegetables. No cooking. As my more faithful followers know, I don’t even mind making smoothies. I’m certainly more prepared for his plan than I am for snacking. But what to do about the Pirate Booty and the Babka? We’ll just have to see how Super Bowl day turns out.

Weekend Plans🍕🍨🍩🍰🥪🥨

In spite of requests for part three of Karl’s journey into gourmet cuisine, there is a new topic that is more pressing to me right now. Actually, there are many, many topics more pressing to me than Karl’s kitchen ventures right now. I’m going to tell you about my recent Sunday.

We didn’t have any engagements for this past Sunday. The hamper wasn’t over flowing either – imagine that! Karl told me that there were two playoff football games scheduled for Sunday. Ordinarily I would say, “Well, Karl, enjoy the games”. I gave up on sports some time ago. When I was in high school, I attended all sorts of events, It mostly depended on who I was dating at the time. I also watched and routed for the Yankees on TV. Football was literally unwatchable on black and white cathode ray tube TV’s but my Dad didn’t know that. I didn’t watch that with him.

In college, basketball was the thing. I can honestly say that I never saw Kentucky lose a football game but that is only because I only attended two games. I saw a lot of basketball and I continued to follow that team for years. Somehow, college sports became much like pro sports without paying the players. The whole thing looked corrupt to me and I was not proud of having attended “basketball U”.

But here was a Sunday when I’d be home with nothing that I had to do. I thought, “I’ll support Karl’s interests and devote my day to football”. Karl seemed to like this idea, We’d watch together. We could wrap up in blankets, stretch out on sofas, eat junk food – it was sounding pretty good.

Karl actually gave me background information on some of the teams and players. All of the quarterbacks were in their twenties. One was the very last to be selected in the draft, a distinction solidified by being called Mr. Irrelevant. Some teams have had playoff showings in the last couple of years, others had not. I worked hard at being interested. I checked for times and channels and scheduled my day accordingly. I got the gym, shower and all that stuff out of the way before kick off. I was most looking forward to the junk food plan.

And that’s where things went awry. Our provisions that most closely resembled junk food were dried fruits and assorted unsalted nuts. What’s THAT about? Near kickoff time, Karl offered to make popcorn. That sounded like a good start and I got my own small bowl. Before I’d even finished my bowl of popcorn, I saw 3 car commercials – I THINK they were car commercials, it’s hard to tell. and it’s impossible to tell what brand of car they are advertising. It is clear to me that car commercials are made by men for men, because it takes me awhile to even realize that it is a commercial for a car. There were also 4 commercials for movies that I never want to see. I do go to movies. I like movies, just like I drive and like cars, but these are movies I know I’ll never see and I won’t be sad about that.

I think it was still the first quarter of the first game when there was some sort of strange call because the ball hit a wire. The ball hit a wire? Why are there wires above the football field? It had to do with the drones? We need drones so we can see every play from every angle? I’ll bet if they had those in the games my Dad used to watch on the old Magnavox, the outcome of each and every game would have been very different.

Apparently, it takes a long time to figure things out when the ball hits a wire. I began thinking about good football eats. It didn’t help that some of the ads were now for pizza, Jersey Mikes and other assorted foods that interested me a bit less than pizza and Jersey Mikes. I went on a kitchen search. Something that didn’t need cooking, something salty, no, something sweet. Something that pours into a bowl and one can eat with one’s hands. We didn’t even have cheese sticks! Who is running this operation? We are woefully unprepared for decent snacking. We are not at all ready for football playoff season.

My kitchen search was pitifully unrewarding. I left the kitchen with a plate containing a cut up apple, 2 slices of cheese and a handful of unsalted peanuts. This was just going to have to hit the spot.

I decided to begin my wish list for super bowl eating. I told Karl that we needed pizza but he told me it was too late now (for these games). You see, we don’t have pizza delivered. Why, you ask? I do not know. Karl goes out for pizza. Why? I do not know. Anyway, it’s on his “to do list” for February 12. In the meantime, I have to decide how to work both Jersey Mike and Aldo’s pizza into one weekend. Oh! And there was an ad for a charcuterie board. I’ll bet we can work that in.

(Just so you know. I watched both games to completion. Here are the results. There will be two teams in the Super Bowl. They will play in Arizona. One team has red shirts and one team has green shirts but they will make one of those teams wear white shirts, I think. There will probably be drones and even wires above the field, so watch out for those. There will be many, many commercials, a lot for movies and cars. But most will probably be for food and drink). Prepare Now

Karl, the gourmet chef (part 2)

I’m going to go a bit off topic to begin. Just in case there are any out there who are writers or would like to be writers. When you have something that you want to tell, it is best to write it all down. If it seems too long, then divide it into two or three parts. It may not work out perfectly if you write the first half and decide that you’d like to write the second half two weeks later. It might not, then again, it might.

To resume… Karl has been cooking more lately as it turns out that he wants to eat and I don’t want to cook. The shopping situation has not changed too much. I continue to shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because I can get pretty much everything that I eat there AND I can get his favorite peanut butter. He continues to shop at Safeway, Harris Teeter and Giant. He used to shop at those places because he could get things that we needed like meat or prepared foods or things in jars and in the freezer that I don’t pick up in the stores that I go to. I’m not sure why he still goes. Oh, he also goes to BJ’s. He gets huge bags of salted pistachios there. Unfortunately, he also comes home each time with 24 rolls of paper towels, 48 rolls of toilet paper and a box of wine. To be truthful, I think he has quit buying the boxed wine as he experiments with a semi-dry January. Not sure about that though. I do know, if you hear on the news that toilet paper is running low in the stores, you can all come here to pick up a few rolls.

Back to the cooking. Karl has spent the last few months focusing on his signature dishes, the stew beef and the ham/green bean combo. His ham combo meal was pretty good but, by his own report, not as good as when I used to make it. I showed him the “trick” to making it tastier without dumping on salt or other ground things that sprinkle or pour out of containers. The “trick” was to brown the ham pieces, deglaze the pan and repeat this process a few times before adding the green beans. He tried this once but found that he didn’t really like paying that much attention to the stove while it was supposed to be doing the cooking. He returned to his quicker method which allowed him to return to more important things that he had to do. I don’t know what those things could possibly be but I noticed that he soon gave up on this creation. Who wants to stay in the kitchen and work just because they’re trying to make a meal?

He decided to branch out into soups. His interest in making healthy food grew. He did a lot of internet research for healthy foods, spices and recipes. He started with black bean soup. As always, he rejected prepared soups from the stores but he did begin his recipe with canned black beans. I’m pretty sure that in the first few efforts he threw in some of that great leftover stew beef slathered in onion soup mix. I’m hoping he runs out of that soon but if he does, I’m pretty sure there will be some gigantic multi-packs of the stuff at BJ’s.

Because enquiring minds want to know, to his canned black beans, he adds chopped garlic, onions, red peppers, and any greens we have around, cooked or uncooked. He also adds almost anything that he has read is healthy. Preparing one of his most recent batches, he rummaged through the spice cabinet. After removing almost everything to examine the labels more closely, he queried, “Don’t we have cumin?”. I have to admit here, he usually asks before he disassembles a whole cabinet searching for something. I always urge him to look first. I guess he’s learning and maybe I’ll make some adjustments to my suggestions also. Anyway, I replied that I knew that we had cumin seed but that I doubted that we had any ground cumin. I didn’t want to get into teaching the whole mortar and pestle thing. It wasn’t a cooking technique that I thought he would want to add to his repertoire. He started planning a trip to BJ’s. They have gigantic containers of ground cumin there.

Just a little aside here. Be careful whom you ask to buy your spices, especially if they shop at BJ’s or Cosco. I think even Mr. McCormick could present his offerings in smaller containers.

Fortunately, Karl seemed more interested in cooking than shopping right then, so the soup was prepared sans cumin. Maybe he followed one of my cooking procedures and just found something ground that appeared to be about the same color and threw that in. I don’t really know. Maybe he just skipped it or maybe he switched to a different internet recipe. He had dozens of them that he had perused for days. The soup got made and he was very proud of it. I tried a bit. I found the salt to be overwhelming.

When asked what I thought of it, I stated that it was quite salty. He disagreed and added that he had put no salt in it. The discussion that followed included the joint reading of the contents labels of canned beans and onion soup mix. Since Karl had read that salt is something that we all get plenty of without adding it, he was agreeable to reducing the salt. I told him that as long as he used canned – well, anything, but here we’re talking about his beans – there was going to be a lot of salt. I suggested dried beans. He rejected this idea at first because they were too hard. I told him that they were meant to be soaked for quite awhile before using. He asked how long “quite awhile ” was. I referred him to the printing on the back of the bag. Karl prefers reading on the internet to reading anything printed on the item he is holding in his hand.

And so, Karl began to work on his ultimate black bean soup. I don’t know how long the beans soaked, nor do I know most of the ingredients. I know there was garlic, onion, and red pepper because those are staples of his recipes. He never did purchase ground cumin. Beyond that I’m in the dark. I don’t even know how long it cooked on the stove.

This is what I DO know. When he proclaimed it done, he poured himself a bowl and tried a spoonful. Then another and another. He said, “This is the best black bean soup I’ve ever had in my life. Using fresh ingredients makes all the difference. It’s so different. You should try this. It’s so good. It’s so much better than using prepared products.” He was enraptured by his fantastic soup. After finishing his bowl and preparing a second, as well as handing me a bowl of soup, Karl proclaimed, ” Who knew you could become a gourmet chef at 78?”

Indeed, who knew?

Karl, the Gourmet Chef (part 1)

As you may or may not know, every so often I declare that I am done cooking; that I just won’t do it anymore. And I don’t, for maybe a week or a month or a few months. Eventually, something goes wrong – like I’m hungry and there’s a snow storm and I can’t get out to a restaurant – so I cook something. As we all know, “the best laid plans of mice and men so oft go astray”.

I made my fairly frequent declaration again last fall, or maybe last summer, and I’ve been rather true to it. Sometimes I get in the mood for something – say chili in October – and I gather the ingredients and I make it. But in what many people consider to be the usual time each day to start prepping dinner, I don’t move a muscle. This seems to affect Karl very little. He makes popcorn, pours out some pistachios from his gigantic stash or makes a run to Pot Belly. Sometimes, he even cooks.

Let’s review Karl’s cooking history. One of his early efforts was Thanksgiving dinner for his mother. He did this before we were married. He had a house and he invited his mother for Thanksgiving dinner. By her report, she was somewhat surprised to find nothing much going on in the kitchen in the morning. Or the afternoon for that matter.

Eventually, Karl went to the kitchen and about an hour later he told his mother that food was ready. She went to the table and he presented an aluminum foil packet on a plate. Inside the packet were bite sized pieces of stew beef thoroughly soaked in an undefined juice and Lipton onion soup mix. As they finished eating the contents of their packets, Karl hopped up and exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot the broccoli”, which he then threw into some boiling water. Twenty minutes later, they finished their well balanced meal.

At that time in his life, Karl also knew how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. I did not. He taught me. You butter the OUT side of the bread. I’m including this for those of you who did not yet know.

I don’t recall Karl cooking much in the early years of our marriage. I was busy finding recipes for meatloaf and trying out new things on the store shelf like hamburger helper (please tell me this is no longer an offering). Karl did start to develop his own “recipes” for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was oatmeal (not cooked, wetted or heated…just out of the carton) with nuts, raisins and anything else he found that looked like it might be healthy and fit into his bowl. His lunch was canned salmon, black beans, cabbage, onions, any leftover vegetables from dinner the night before and anything else that he found that looked healthy and fit into his bowl. I assume most of his coworkers tried to meet with Karl before lunch and save their afternoons for paperwork in their own offices.

Karl also was willing to take over the kitchen and prepare supper for the kids when I had to work late. He had a few specialties. Laura referred to one of her favorites as “the brown meal”. That was chicken nuggets and tater tots. He also was familiar (in fact he introduced me to it) with the blue box from Kraft. I don’t think he prepared a side dish or vegetable with the mac ‘n cheese. I think he considered that a fairly balanced meal. Sometimes he would take them out. I recall one time when I was having a party for some coworkers and he said he’d take care of the kids. He saved me the bother and expense of hiring a sitter by taking them to Chuck E Cheese and then to Home Depot to buy a playhouse for the backyard. I figure hiring a sitter that night would have saved us almost $500.

In the past few years, whenever I take my break from cooking, Karl has managed on his own. He has a few “signature dishes”. Stew beef with onion soup mix has never left the lineup. He also thinks he’s pretty good at ham and green beans. That’s the item list as well as the recipe. Ham, green beans, heat.

During my current sabbatical from cooking, I have also refrained from buying meat. I figure I don’t eat it and I don’t cook it, so I can’t come up with any reason to buy it. You can’t eat it raw….well, at least I can’t. Because of that, Karl has had to expand his shopping as well as his cooking. And he has. And we’ll get into that next time…

Fun Fact: 2023 is going to be fabulous🤪

It’s obvious I’ve been remiss. You could count on these pearls of wisdom every Monday morning when you got up for more than a year and then what? Suddenly, you couldn’t. Now I’m going to do a bit better. It’s not a resolution. I don’t do those. It’s just a fact. I do believe in facts… until they’re disproved and then, well, you know how it goes.

And now, there are so many topics swirling around in my head. I could tell you much more about vacations this fall or plans Karl is making for 2023….quick update here….Karl abandoned the flight to Australia and hence the entire trip as he was belted into his seat on the flight to Honolulu. I was wary of that trip when we first looked at a map. Fun fact: Distance from Washington DC to Honolulu, Hawaii is 4,826 miles. Distance from Washington DC to Sydney, Australia is 9,856 miles. My source is Mr. Google, so I could be off by a mile or so, nonetheless, it’s a fact.

I could tell you about the holidays, but you all had some sort of holiday and did some sort of prep. Now, of course, I’m removing all of the bows and ornaments, cards and wrappings, The wonderful news here is that I’m ridding our storage unit of at least one large box of Christmas “stuff”. Dropping things off at Goodwill warms the cockles of my heart, whatever those are. And here’s one for Ripley…Karl emptied half of a closet and is ready to donate half a dozen suits and a tux! I know Goodwill is anxious to restock their tuxedo rack.

And now it’s 2023. So we’re just going to continue on with what I’m thinking about in 2023. That takes us to yesterday, and see, we’re right up to date. Yesterday, friends of ours gave a party to welcome in the new year. Although I think midnight parties with too much food and too much drink and music that’s too loud is fun for the young, I think afternoon parties on New Year’s day are much better for my age group. I’m not saying that all of the party goers are in my age group, but they were at the party.

I’d never been to this couple’s new digs and I LOVE seeing houses (who else keeps HGTV turned on all day). It’s newly remodeled and everything is perfect and beautiful. Karl was most taken with the backyard which was huge and gorgeous, with a deck, gazebo, firepit, lovely landscaping…the works. And space to spare. On top of that, it was one of those wonderful Virginia days that we get every year. Sunny, warm, perfect for being outside – and right in the middle of winter! I love that about Virginia. We had one of those days Friday also. They’re not that rare. So fabulous!

There was also great food, wonderful company, but I’ll tell you what made my day. One of our friends and party attendee, now reads my blog. She was even able to pick out Karl at the party 😉. A new reader! It was inspirational! And she seemed to like it! Amazing! She said that I write just like I talk. I’m not exactly sure what that meant but I’m pretty sure that it was meant as a compliment. I mean, I wouldn’t know how to write the way someone else talks, or the way someone else writes. I’m just going to take it as a compliment and assume that I both talk and write well. It beats the heck out of getting offended about anything. She is a writer herself (or is it “she herself is a writer”? Uh oh.), so if I take it as a compliment, it’s an even bigger compliment!

My interpretation of the day is to take inspiration and fire up the keyboard. To make this worth my while, you all need to get a friend to become a follower. If you all do that, we could have a dozen or more followers! Imagine! Pretty soon, I’d be an influencer. And that’s a fact!

this is what you’ve been waiting for – so, Merry Christmas🌲🎶👢

Yep. We performed. Yep. We were great. Penny and Sue insisted that we needed more practice before the Thursday performance so I reserved our condo party room and we showed up on Wednesday – just the three of us. And, of course, there were questions.

My question had been, “What is this additional song we’re dancing to and what dance are we doing to it?” but I got that question answered by Dorie on Monday. The song was “Mary’s Boy Child” and we used the choreography that we usually do to “Under the Boardwalk”. Seemed like a good fit.

Their questions (and they’d been to all of the rehearsals!) were “What are the songs and what dances go with each song?”. I shared that info with them, but they both continued to claim that the hardest part was remembering which first steps went to which song. I did what I could.

There was one point of debate. When we were doing the steps that we do to “Achy Breaky” to the song “Jingle Bell Rock”, there’s a grape vine then a hitch and three straight steps backward. Sue and Penny insisted that we were to turn left 90 degrees on the hitch and continue on with the three steps back. I maintained that at the hitch, we were to turn 90 degrees to the right and go back in the direction from which we had just come. My reason was that if we kept going in that direction, someone was going to run into a wall. That didn’t seem to make a difference to them. They had attended all of the rehearsals; I had not. I recalled when we had the exact same discussion about a hitch in the Mockingbird dance. No joke! The exact same discussion!

That time, after minutes of discussion and demonstration, I just gave up.. I said, “We’ll do it your way.” And we did. We practiced and practiced and when we returned to the “professional” class, we were corrected.

So, this time, I decided that wasting time arguing would not be beneficial. Again, I said, “Fine. You’ve been to all of the rehearsals, I have not”. And we practiced with our hitch turning us to the left and one of us always running into the wall and another of us running into the one who ran into the wall. Sue and Penny were undeterred.

The big day came and we were all in our black slacks and festive tops. My biggest problem was finding black shoes that I could dance in, but I managed. We entered the church hall to find it beautifully decorated, tables set with centerpieces and tablecloths, and a lovely catered buffet awaiting. It was very festive and charming.

Barb, Penny, Deb,Sue,Mary Lou,Dorie, me, Pat, Peggy

All of the dancers were seated at one table – maybe that’s how one was to tell us from “the seniors” – and we enjoyed a good meal and lively conversation. As all finished eating and plates were cleared, Peggy began the music set up and we took our places. One dancer (who was not dancing that day) had volunteered to video. She’s a much better dancer than videographer. (I’ll try to attach a video, but don’t hold your breath. She may not be a great videographer, but I’m an even worse computer blogger – or whatever I am).

As the first few notes of Jingle Bell Rock played, we went into action. Towards the end of the first sequence, as I hitched to the right, I was looking right into Sue’s face. I peeked at the row behind us and there was Penny, facing me with a huge smile and waving. I’m not sure any of the other dancers or anyone in the audience noticed their swift 180’s. But I do think that the next time there is a discussion on which direction to go after doing a hitch, that my opinion should be considered. I’m just saying.

(PS..I actually DID manage to attach a video but then a sign flashed telling me I’d have to “upgrade” to include it. That sounded intimidating so, sorry folks, no video 😥) Merry Christmas !

Practice doesn’t always make perfect

Remember how Sue, Penny, and Nina were plotting to become featured dancers in this year’s holiday performance for the seniors at the church? Well, let me bring you up to date on that.

Building on our success of keeping our Friday Freestylers free of actual teachers and monetary transactions, we have all been chosen to perform this Thursday at the Catholic church. Our big debut!

Three weeks ago, Dorie, one of our leaders at the church class asked for a raise of hands of those who would be willing to dance at the senior luncheon. My hand shot up. Sue’s hand went up pretty quickly. When Penny saw our hands up, she raised hers. Nina wasn’t at class that week. That was sort of it. Dorie asked. We raised out hands. We were prima line dancers 😊👯‍♀️👯‍♀️😊

No one even asked if we had red sweaters! We all made the cut, so there was certainly no talent required. From what I know of the dancing of some of the Friday Freestylers who made the cut, one doesn’t have to know any steps or even recognize the music.

At the end of class, Penny went up to Dorie and removed her name from the list of dancers. I tried for 3 days to convince her that she should do it. At Friday Freestylers, Sue talked her into it somehow. Maybe it was because she also enlisted Nina. Penny is well aware of the limitations of Nina’s dance abilities. I don’t know what did it, but suddenly, we were all among the chosen.

My story may get a bit vague here because I then left for ten days in Boulder. I missed two church classes and one Friday Freestylers class. I did leave the exact songs (even listing which singer we needed – do you have any idea how many people have recorded “Let it Snow”? Well, those hundreds of recordings pale in comparison to the number of recordings of “Mary’s Boy Child”) that were needed for practice. I also left written copies of the exact dance steps for each song.

Upon my return I heard two things. One, Dorie kept asking “Where’s Alice?” and two, the Friday Freestylers wanted multiple lessons and instruction on dance steps and which song went with which dance. Apparently, I was indispensable.

Well, folks. Today was our last rehearsal. Dorie seemed concerned that we needed more practice. Actually, so did everyone but me. Peggy, the other teacher at the church, said she was glad that she danced behind me – that’s a bit concerning 🤔. My only concern was that my red sweater isn’t red enough and that my dance shoes aren’t black. I either wear black shoes that I’ve never danced in or I am the only one with brown shoes.

We were told that our performance would be videoed. I’m really hoping I can figure out how to get a video into this blog so that you can all share the holiday cheer we’ll be spreading on Thursday. But then, the last time I performed in a dance group, there was a significant amount of time with our – well, I’m going to say our “backs” – all of the “backs” of all of us – was what was facing the audience. If our final rehearsal is any indication of what the performance will be (it’s supposed to be, right?), this travesty is about to happen again.

I don’t know if this phrase is still appropriate for a senior group, but it’s OK if you want to say, “Break a Leg”.