Toe-may-toe, ta-mah-toe

Monica Lee:

I was using my “gleepers” this evening to grasp a piping hot cob of corn from the steamer, and I thought to myself: “I need to add that to the list of things to pack in the new camper.” It reminded me of this post from a couple years ago…

Originally posted on Minnesota Transplant:

Every family has nicknames for some things.

In my family, it’s the tongs. I don’t call them tongs, those things with which you grab hot dogs off the grill. Nosiree, in my family, we call ‘em “gleepers.”

It’s my mother’s word, gleepers. I’m sure you won’t find it in the dictionary, this word for “grabbing implement,” but you know what I mean, don’t you?

Tongs? That’s too easily confused with thongs. And what are thongs anyway? They’re either flip-flops or unmentionable women’s butt floss, and in either case, you don’t want your tongs confused with your thongs.

Gleepers. Definitely better.

My husband says we need new gleepers for the RV. Alrighty then, I’ll put them on the list, honey:

Gleepers.

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Through the looking glass

A Minnesotan can’t think of summer without thinking about The Lake.

It could be any one of thousands of lakes in the state with the tagline “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but whichever one that is home to your camper/cabin/boat launch is known as The Lake.

In my Minnesota memory bank of lakes is Big Pine Lake, Ottertail Lake, Long Lake and Rush Lake.

If you didn’t live near a lake, then a swimming pool probably played a privotal role in your summer recreational locales. Summer is short in Minnesota, so you get while the getting’s good, and I remember spending hours every day swimming at the Wadena municipal pool and later, lifeguarding at the Sebeka Pool.

No long after the tan lines fade, bodies of water in Minnesota solidify and anglers with nothing better to do go ice fishing, so the liquid in those summer watering holes is precious indeed.

Today, the travels in my transplanted home brought me to edge of Lake Michigan north of Chicago. This shore shot through the shady trees reminded me of a looking glass. Instead of seeing an image of my face, I saw summer lovin’.

Lake Michigan near Lake Bluff, Ill.

Lake Michigan near Lake Bluff, Ill.

Food for a crowd

chex mixEvery party’s better with Chex Mix.

The second annual family reunion of my mother’s side of the family this weekend was a great success. And for the second year in a row, my cousin’s wife made the world’s best Chex Mix. Oh, you know the kind — the original version made with the upscale nuts (no peanuts, thank you), those buttery pretzel sticks and, yes, extra butter? Yeah, that kind.

It was such a hit a year ago, she made twice as much this year (and I got to take some home). Awesome!

Gratitude … lint filter and all

Today I’m grateful for my clothes dryer.

I know I was waxing nostalgic for an old-fashioned clothes line only a few weeks ago, but my clothes dryer was operational then and a clothes line was just a fanciful alternative.

The clothes dryer went kaput last week, and suddenly, my laundry routine was paralyzed. Tragedy!

The Adored Stepson took the dryer apart and discovered the belt had broken. And then he left for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. And me, with loads of dirty clothes and no modern way to dry them!

The inside of a clothes dryer is weird. It’s really quite empty. The hulk of the dryer drum sat atop the dismantled housing mocking me every time I walked by.

Finally, the UPS man arrived with the replacement belt (we buy everything on Amazon around here). Stepson was AWOL, and my Beloved, semi-incapacitated, was not able to perform the necessary repairs by himself.

So I had to help.

Which I did cheerfully, even though I am anything but handy around wrenches and hex screws. Because I wanted to do the laundry! Imagine that! Me! Wanting to do housework!

We accomplished the repairs and, delightfully, the dryer whirred back to its warm and airy life.

So often in my modern life unhampered by stones and rivers and clothes pins and ironing boards, I resent doing laundry. But today, I cheerfully washed my sheets because my fully operational washer and dryer made it so easy.

Ahh.

 

The evolution of a stepmother

Da Man has entered the house.

Da Man, otherwise known as the Adored Stepson, turned 20 yesterday. He’s no longer a teenager. He knows it. And he wants everyone else to know it, too. He probably would like to be referred to as “Da Man” ever after on this blog, but he’s forever the Adored Stepson.

When we celebrated his 13th birthday with a new bike and a spaghetti meal at Bucca di Beppos, he was a foreign creature to me, but a friendly one. I suspected he was on the verge of big changes, and I considered myself fortunate he was a boy instead of a girl (I was a pubescent girl once and I never had the, um, honor of living with my stepdaughter during that transition). In fact, it was a gift to witness Adored Stepson’s evolution from boy to man.

The growth chart inside Stepson's closet marks the obvious. The unlabeled mark on the right? I think that's my height. Stepson aspired to be taller than me until suddenly, he was.

The growth chart inside Stepson’s closet marks the obvious. The unlabeled mark on the right? I think that’s my height. Stepson aspired to be taller than me until suddenly, he was.

We could talk about all the ways he’s changed since that momentous birthday seven years ago — the hair, the girls, the muscles, the sense of self — but that is a story told best by the one who experienced them. How, instead, has the stepmother come of age in the dawn to dusk of a teenager?

My Adored Stepson, he is a unique individual, an unexpected component of the Togetherness I endeavored to achieve with my Beloved. I enjoy Stepson’s sense of humor a lot more than I expected to. I liked teaching him about spelling, history and faith. The season he played Little League baseball was pure joy for me.

And I learned I’m a lot better at talking about sex than my parents were.

When he left us at age 15 to live with his mother, I was devastated. Gobsmacked, as a Brit might say. Unexpected grief washed over me in a way that taught me how special he was (is). I might have thought I was immune from such rejection, but, alas, no. We had bonded.

Fortunately, things get better. This is how teenagers are. They change.

What didn’t change was my desire to have a child of my own. Having a stepchild proved my theory that children require a lot of time, effort and emotional investment. And the responsibility! Uff-da! I am, for example, the sole reason Stepson will never enjoy gazpacho (lesson learned: Never force a 13-year-old to eat cold tomato soup).

Now that he is 20, I look back on his teenage years like a mountain climber: “I did it! I survived!”

But of course, like a biological parent, a stepparent’s job is never really finished. It just evolves.

 

No gilded lily

gilded lily

“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

~ Shakespeare

 

Summertime indulgence

After investing in a bottle of Rumchata for my very special rhubarb crisp (which reminds me, I’ve got more rhubarb in the garden, I should make that again — is rhubarb still good after July Fourth?), I came up with another use for it.

[Lowering voice]: This recipe is not for children or calorie counters, but it is sinfully delicious and offers the added bonus of creating a very laid-back mood, which is perfect for a summer weekend. And the weekend is upon us.

Tip: Use a double-walled whiskey glass to keep your hot little hands from prematurely melting your cool adult beverage.

adult malt

Adult Malt

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 shots of Rumchata
  • 1 shot of vanilla vodka
  • 1 shot of Kahlua
  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • several ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender with a strong constitution. Blend. Pour into a glass and drink immediately. Enjoy more than one at your own risk.