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My husband Brian pushed his peas around on his plate. He looked like a sulky teenager.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “I thought you liked peas.”
“I love peas,” he replied, “but this is the third time this week that we’ve had peas with our dinner.”
“We need green vegetables,” I retorted.
“Yeah, but there are green vegetables other than peas,” he said. “Do you realize that you’ve cooked Sloppy Joes every Friday for the last three months?”
I paused. He was right. I had cooked Sloppy Joes for the last three months.
“They’re yummy and easy,” I told him.
“They’re delicious but would it be ok if we skipped them just for a week? I need a little variety.” He left me to mull over my lack of meal planning, took our plates to the kitchen and washed the dishes.
We’d agreed early in marriage that if one person cooked the other cleaned. The problem was that I always cooked and I ran out of culinary inspiration in the first six months of marriage. I needed fresh ideas. I needed something to light a fire in my stove, not literally, of course.
I needed the Internet!
The next day, I logged onto my Facebook account. My friend Amanda posted a picture of roast with potatoes and my friend Becky posted a picture of chicken enchiladas. I found a note pad and wrote down “Roast” and “Enchiladas.” Two ideas already!
I switched from Facebook to Pinterest, a web site where people post photos of their interests. Recipes are abundant on Pinterest. My list expanded rapidly.
Brian returned home to find me surrounded by a pile of paper, colored markers and my laptop.
“What are you doing,” he asked perplexed.
“You were right. I’ve been stuck in a meal planning rut. I spent the day searching for new recipes and creating a new meal plan.” I waved a sheet of paper at him. “Here it is,” I announced triumphantly.
“Wow! I just wanted to switch peas out for a salad. You went all out,” he said.
“Yep! I’ve planned it so we’ll have a different meal every night for three months! I know it’s overkill but once I started reading some of these recipes I just couldn’t stop! I’m excited to try new meals too,” I beamed.
“Great! So which one are we having for dinner tonight?”
I froze. “Tonight?” I’d spent so much of my time planning what to cook that I’d forgotten to cook.
I grinned. “Leftovers.”
Spring has arrived and with it comes warm weather, pollen and the return of my least favorite chore: shaving my legs.
It’s time consuming. I’m 5’8” there’s a lot of skin to cover. It’s also expensive and irritating.
I’d rather scoop the cat box with a fork than shave.
That’s why I don’t do it in the winter. I wear jeans and knee-high socks. Who’s going to know besides my husband Brian and we’ve been married longer than a year – the exact length of time I cared what he thought about my leg hair.
It’s 2015. Surely, some scientific genius has designed a better way to remove leg hair than the razor. I recently went to my local drug store to find out if technology can prevail over biology. The store’s shaving aisle had creams, electric razors and weed wackers.
There was also an entire section dedicated to hot waxes. I’ve fallen for the leg waxing ploy before and believe it should be outlawed as cruel and unusual punishment falling somewhere between waterboarding and bamboo under the fingernails as a form of torture.
I found a hair removal cream that promised to remove “unwanted leg hair, soften skin and cause a sudden outbreak of world peace.” For $8.99, it seemed like a deal.
I purchased the cream and hurried home to test its claims, specifically the claim that it removed unwanted leg hair. I was more concerned about hair free legs than soft skin or world peace.
I hastily read the directions and slathered the cream on my legs.
“What is that smell?” Brian gagged as he walked into the bathroom.
“My new hair removal cream,” I told him.
“It smells toxic,” he complained.
“I hope it is,” I replied, “to my leg hair, anyway.”
After the prescribed time, I rinsed the cream from my legs and held my breath. Would world peace ensue? Would my legs be silky soft? Would the hideous hair be gone!?
I blew out a sigh. The hair was still there. I rubbed. It clung stubbornly to my legs. Legs that didn’t seem any softer.
So much for technology.
I reached for my razor. The hair, now limp from the cream, refused to be shaved away. It clung to my skin no matter what I tried.
Removing leg hair is beyond the cream. It’s claim of causing world peace seems much more likely. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I still have my blue jeans.
Growing up, the kids in my neighborhood all thought my mom was nice. At every slumber party, one girl would begin the same, tired debate, “Whose mom is the nicest?”
Mom was unanimously the winner.
She won the title of Nicest Mom a record straight fourteen slumber parties. She even beat out Marci Jacobson’s mom the spring Mrs. Jacobson took Marci and her brother to Disney World and they got to miss ten days of school to do it.
Even after all the spankings, all the lectures and the time I got grounded for two weeks for laughing at the muscle under her eye that twitches when she’s angry, I still think my mom is nice.
But nice doesn’t mean weak, after all, the spankings speak for themselves.
Mom knows how to stick up for herself. Years of living with my father and raising my sister and I, taught her more than enough snarky comebacks to ensure no one railroaded her at home.
When I moved back home during my college years, I often found the cleaning supplies that I purchased with my hard earned money pilfered by my father, the man who could teach a hospital staff a few things about cleanliness.
“This is my broom,” I protested loudly to my mother when I discovered it with my parent’s cleaning supplies. I’d given up complaining to my father. He wasn’t going to listen. Perhaps I could persuade Mom to take up my cause and wave the flag of the sanctity of personal belongings.
She rolled her eyes. “Then get on it and ride it back upstairs,” she shot back at me.
Plainly, I would get no help from that quarter.
I later hid the broom and my favorite scrub brush from my father. He isn’t the only neat freak in the family.
It took years but my mother finally got me and my broom out of her house.
Last summer, she came to live with my husband and me when I ruptured a disc in my back. I spent two months in bed and Mom spent two months cooking for us and ferrying me to doctors appointments. I’m sure the girls from the slumber parties would agree that this was her greatest act of kindness yet.
She even made all the time spent in bed bearable, dare I say almost enjoyable? As bad as I felt and as difficult as being bed ridden is, it was great to have so much time with my mother. Though, I do hope that when I spend time with her in the future, that we’re both mobile.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Whether your slumber party title was Nicest or something less flattering, none of us would be here without you!
“Have you seen my socks,” my husband Brian asked me.
It was his first day returning to work after taking time off to accommodate our recent move from an apartment to a house.
I stared at him blankly, trying to force my brain to think, something it stopped doing approximately two hours into the move.
I’m convinced that cardboard kills brain cells.
“Socks,” he said again emphatically. “I have to get dressed for work.”
“Socks,” I muttered. Socks? Where had I seen socks?
“They were in a box,” I said dully.
We stared into our dining room. Boxes packed it so tightly from floor to ceiling that not even a nimble cat could enter the room.
Brian sighed. “They’re probably in the far back corner.”
I wept silently at the thought of opening even one more box.
“What am I going to do,” he asked. “I have to go to work.”
“Do you have to wear socks,” I asked.
“Yes, I have to wear socks! I work on my feet all day. I don’t want to get blisters!”
Wearily, I found a box cutter.
He grunted and shifted a box of books.
I wriggled through the opening he’d made in the wall of boxes. Carefully, I shoved my way through the stack. I ignored boxes that didn’t have “socks” written on the side. When I made my way to the far corner, I located a box labeled “Brian’s socks.”
“Found it,” I shouted triumphantly. I sliced open the tape, grabbed a pair of Brian’s socks and tossed them to him.
“Thanks,” he shouted. His voice was somewhat muffled by the wall of cardboard between us.
“Do you know where the ironing board is?” he asked.
“In the office,” I replied. We shoved boxes until we reached it.
“Do you know where the iron is?”
“In the bathroom,” I answered. We lifted four stacks of plastic bins and pressed through until we found the iron.
“Have you seen my work shoes?”
“They’re in a box labeled ‘Shoes, mostly Brian’s,’” I told him. “It’s in the hallway.”
We stared into the hallway. The box with the shoes was under the bins we’d just removed from the bathroom. With a sob, I began putting the bins back into the bathroom.
When he was dressed, Brian kissed me goodbye.
“Don’t leave,” I begged. “Don’t leave me here with all these boxes!”
“I’ve got to go to work,” he told me.
“Ha,” I retorted. “You mean you’ve got to escape.”
“Call it what you will,” he said. He dashed for his car.
I rolled my eyes. Brian might have been off to his job, but he knew he was leaving me with the unpacking: the real work!
At 1 a.m., my eyes snapped open. A sound I had not heard in years roused me and ended all possibility of sleep.
It was too insidious to contemplate, too horrendous to imagine. Though I had not heard the noise in a long time, I knew what caused it at once.
A cat was on the counter!
But how and more importantly who? We live with two cats, Seti and Mimi, and neither gets on the counter, ever!
A feline form at the foot of the bed assured me that the offending cat wasn’t Mimi. She snored by my feet.
If it wasn’t Mimi, that could only mean one thing. My precious, sweet, angelic, boy, Seti was on the counter!
I didn’t know if I were more angry or astonished.
Friday and Hemmy, two of our cats who’ve since passed on, spent more time on my counters than they did on my floors. They ignored the prohibition of animals on kitchen surfaces with a degree of contempt that only a cat can manage.
“Busting” them in the act required stealth, cunning and a bit of courage since Hemmy wasn’t afraid to put up a fight.
A great lover of food, Hemmy made hourly forays across the counters to search for dropped crumbs, forgotten leftovers and, once, an entire slice of pizza. Seizing the slice in his mouth, he made a dash for the safety of his favorite hiding hole: under the bed.
His philosophy was that it was better to have food in the mouth while getting in trouble than no food at all. He would desperately gobble his prize even while we pried it from his jaws.
Friday was far more devious. He took the approach that it was better to have the food and avoid detection, though when he was caught he cared very little: the greater my fury, the greater his tranquility. He often scouted the house to make sure no humans were looking before he leapt onto the counter.
Bearing the expertise of Seti’s two predecessors in mind, I eased silently out of bed and crept into the kitchen. My stealth was unnecessary. Unaccustomed as he was to being in trouble, Seti didn’t know he wasn’t allowed on the counter. He purred at me happily.
I scooped him up and carried him to bed.
I’m not sure if Seti has a philosophy regarding countertops but I realized that I had a new approach when it comes to cats: it is pointless to have rules. They will only break them and derive pleasure in ignoring you; even the ones who never “ever” get on the counter will surprise you.
This is a repost from last year, but it’s timely. For my part, I’ve abandoned the fight.
My best friend Lexi gripped my arm. “Don’t go out there,” she said. “It will be the end of you for sure.”I knew she was right but I’m stubborn. “I can do it. I’ve been training for this.” I patted her arm. “Don’t worry. I’ll be ok.” I shrugged her off and headed for the door.
“Nora, no!” She lunged at me, threw her arms around my waist and dragged me back into the room. “You don’t know what you’re doing. I know you’ve been training but you’re not ready. You have to live with the decision you make.”
I turned to face her, sighing. “Lexi, we’ve been over this. I’ve done Booty Butt Crunch, Ballet Bar Buster, Ab Agony Explosion and I’m running my first half marathon next week. I can do this. I am ready.”
She hugged me, tears pooling in the corners of her eyes. “Good luck,” she whispered. “I love you.”
I turned, confident with her blessing and headed into the bikini department.
Ah, swimming season, that magical time of year when women over the age of 18 are faced with a choice: one piece or two? At 34 with a nasty carbohydrate addiction, this choice gets tougher and tougher for me to make. Should I aim for modest or punish the people sunbathing around me?
As Shakespeare might have put it, “To see or not to see, that is the question.” Should I suck in my gut the entire day on the beach or surrender to the Tankini? And since the development of my second rear end, that’s the bit of fat at the top of my thighs but under my actual butt, I’ve begun to wonder if I not only need to cover my mid-section but everything down to my knees as well.
Perhaps we’re a nation too concerned with body image. Perhaps I should let myself, all of myself, be free to experience the sun. Then again, I’ve seen some of you and perhaps we’re not concerned enough with our appearance. I recall one notable day on a Florida beach ruined when I witnessed a bathing suit gasp its final breath, burst and succumb to a watery grave. Oh, if only that woman had considered her options more carefully and made an honest assessment of her body, that old man with cardiac disease might still be alive today.
So here’s to bikini season. Whatever you suit you choose to wear, wear it well and should it cause a heart attack just assume it’s because you’re so stunning and not because you should have chosen the one piece.
I can think of no better punishment for criminals and miscreants than to force them to move to a new home every six months. Moving is the worst punishment to endure.
My husband Brian and I are moving next week. Prayers are welcome.
Next week’s move will be our second in two years. The previous move took us from Augusta, Georgia to Greenville, South Carolina, our current home. Now, we are vacating the apartment we’ve rented since our arrival in SC and we are moving across town to a charming (read tiny) home in a historic district.
Our last move was major. We moved roughly three hours away, changed states and changed jobs. We sold our home in Augusta and I sold my pet sitting business. We rose early on a Saturday morning and with the help of family, loaded a truck, drove it to Greenville and unloaded it all on the same day. It was a Saturday that lasted ten years.
There is no language, dead or living, that sums up the exhaustion we felt at the end of that interminable day.
The experience taught us several things about moving.
First, not all of our belongings will fit into U-Haul’s largest truck. I’d always thought our possessions were modest until we moved from a charming three-bedroom house (read tiny) into a small, two-bedroom apartment (read microscopic).
Secondly, paper cuts are bad, but paper cuts from cardboard boxes make you cry like a four-year-old. To this day, Brian won’t handle them without work gloves. It makes receiving shipments from Amazon both a joy and a terror.
Finally, even in our thirties, we are too old to move. Ibuprofen, medicated muscle relief patches and sadistic massage therapists couldn’t relieve the back pain we felt. We limped and moaned for days, stretching to no avail.
After that hellacious experience, Brian and I have a few tricks to make the next move go more easily.
We scheduled two days instead of one for loading the truck, driving across town and unloading our furniture.
Brian has his trusty work gloves with which to confront scary cardboard boxes.
But most importantly, because my back is still in bad shape and Brian is forty-one now, we bribed several of his employees to help us.
They’re neither criminals nor miscreants but they are twenty-somethings. They won’t feel this pain for at least ten more years.