Tag Archives: Random

Poignant tangent, pop top … memories with t’s and p’s (but not TP)

[This post was first drafted three years ago. It was never posted because it’s a story that goes mostly nowhere except to veer into the territory of bad wordplay. But today, as I’m sitting in the new summer sun enjoying a cold beverage and admiring my pedicure, I’m again remembering bare feet and pop tops. So here you go. Don’t say you weren’t warned.] 

Before the ‘modern day’ pull tab, there existed…the pop top. Do you remember pop tops?

Way back when, before Coke Zero and New Coke and Coke Classic, you opened cans of soda with pop tops. It was a tongue of aluminum attached to a ring. You’d pull the ring, and the tongue of aluminum would curl off, leaving a hole from which to drink.

Depending on your fastidiousness, you’d tuck the pop top back into the can (risking an ugly swallowing accident), or you’d throw the curled-up pop top on the ground, inviting an open wound on the bottom of a tender foot. This design was finally abandoned because the discarded pop-tops littered streets and beaches all over the world. (For those who eschew litter, the old pop tops were good for making some very funky stuff: hats, dresses, even dog vests.)

Funny what sorts of things evoke memories.

I am watched my 9-year-old nephew wiping off his dirty summertime feet (in a valiant effort to delay a reading assignment). His feet reminded me of a summer day at least 35 years ago.

A neighborhood friend named Ryan was playing in my yard. We were maybe 4 or 5, I’m not sure, but this is one of my earliest childhood memories. I don’t recall what, exactly, we were doing, but we were probably playing tag or something.

Suddenly, he was bleeding. He had stepped on a pop top, and his foot was gushing blood. He was bawling.

My dad, who now seems life size to me, was a big, strong giant back then. He scooped up my friend Ryan and walked with the crying boy in his arms the block back home (uphill).

The memory is a mixture of horror (of the bloody foot) and hero-worship (of my father, who could fix anything).

Without pop tops, I wouldn’t have this memory of tops Pop.

All’s quiet on the western front

Someone asked me the other day what’s new, and I was dumbfounded.

Actually, two someone’s asked me the same question while I was making my way through the chiropractor’s office, and I was just as flummoxed the second time as I was the first.

If I was a normal suburban mom with kids going back to school, I might have said, “Oh, my oldest is a senior this year! Look out, senioritis here we come!”

But I only live in the suburbs, I don’t procreate here.

If I had a real job, I might have said, “Half-day summer Fridays are almost over! Back to a real schedule!”

But the only work I do most days is not paid work, so bitching about the end of half-days rings kind of hollow, and no one cares that I finally defrosted the freezer compartment but only because the error message on the front panel wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I plugged and unplugged the fridge.

If I was a gardener, I might have said, “Garden is growing like crazy! Need any cucumbers or zucchini?”

But to say I garden when all I really do is harvest would be insincere, and if I bother to pick any bounty, you can bet I’m going to use it myself or let it sit in my overstuffed fridge until I forget about it and it becomes fuzz-covered mush.

I mean, the truth is, nothing’s new. Absolutely, positively nothing.

Well, nothing worth talking about. Or blogging about.

The broccoli-apple soup I made the other day was sort of disappointing (do not, I repeat, do not believe the internet recipes that suggest fresh lemon juice in your broccoli-apple soup is a good idea; my Beloved would tell you the very concept of broccoli-APPLE soup is not a good idea). I’m addicted to caramelized onions lately, but I don’t really have anything new to add to the conversation (use butter and sauté over low heat, just like everyone tells you).

The dog, as cute as she is, hasn’t done anything out-of-the-ordinary adorable lately, and the shenanigans of my Adored stepson are probably not my business to share.

I cleaned out the cabinet above the toilet the other day, but that didn’t even merit a good before-and-after picture.

Nope, haven’t seen any good TV shows or movies. One of the books I’m reading, Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Laurie Notaro is wearing thin and not as funny as I had hoped. The weather’s been, well, kind of hot, punctuated by rainstorms. Pretty much standard issue for August in northern Illinois.

If I was just a little bit older and a little bit weirder, making me eschew social customs, I could have come up with some really depressing answers for “What’s new?” People I care about are feeling poorly, a business deal in which I was involved went south and to be honest with you, my sinuses are draining like mad and I’ve gone my whole life without being one of those whiny allergy sufferers, and here I am, allergic to something in the air when I’m about to turn 49. Frankly, this getting older stuff is bullshit, I’ll tell ya.

But I’m not in my late 60s and I’m way too Minnesota Nice to answer any “How are you?” question with anything but “Fine.”

Still, it’s stupid to say, “I’m fine” when someone asks you “What’s new?”

So, I sputtered and stuttered and finally said, “Nothing. Nothin’ new with me. How about you?”

Curmudgeon’s diary, halfway through the long winter

Winter is freezing my brain and blowing my compassion out the window (and into the next state).

My primary goals every day are keeping my feet warm and making comfort food for supper. I don’t care if you’re cold, too — it’s every woman for herself!

It’s not a winning attitude.

I don’t think I’m the only one. Did you listen to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night? Forget what you think of his policy declarations, did you listen to his speaking style? I think he sounded tired. He kept making little speaking mistakes, clipping words, restarting and restating. Maybe his lips were numb.

He is a poised speaker, so these mistakes are tiny, but for a guy who usually speaks superlatively, I noticed.

I’d be tired, too. I always got tired of a job after four years. I had mastered my duties by that point. I was ready to move on.

Just as Mother Nature has ground me into a crumble of my former self with her thumb, I’m supposed to be thinking about my taxes. Simply adding up a year’s worth of mileage, however carefully or sloppily tracked, makes me want to throw something violently. Like a snowball.

I should be celebrating. Life is good. Our house isn’t heated with propane. I haven’t been arrested for drag racing, my goofily smiling mug shot publicized around the world. My cruise vacation hasn’t been cut short because of rampant barfing.

Here’s what I’m celebrating: I’m celebrating I don’t live on Jupiter. Where it’s 234 degrees below zero.

Trivial pursuits

The following interesting facts aren’t worth their own blog entry, but they’re rolling around inside my head so they might as well be rolling around in yours, too:

  • Life is a series of 7-year cycles, a new acquaintance last week suggested to me. Plenty of evidence of this, Google would indicate. At 47 then, I’m on the downhill side of the seventh cycle in my life (42-49). While poking around the internet for descriptions of this, I learned each year can be divided into seven cycles, too. Lucky 7?
  • If you’re on a diet and succeeding, even talking about the “old fat you” is a form of fat shaming, says Amanda at fatbodypolitics.com. Never thought about it that way, but sure, I get that; if it’s rude to make someone else feel bad about being fat, why should it be OK to talk down oneself?
  • The biggest county jail in the country is in Cook County, just two counties east of here (Chicago is in Cook County). Who knew? (Not me. I did not know. Until I heard it on NPR.)
  • Ditalini is the name for short little tubes of pasta (think: a third of a macaroni) and they’re a tasty addition to a chopped salad (I enjoyed a delicious version yesterday at Trio Grille, in the bowling alley in Marengo, Ill.).
  • The premiere of “Klondike” is tonight on the Discovery Channel. What’s “Klondike”? asked my adored stepson. “Man vs. nature — in the bitter cold,” I replied. “Why are you interested?” he asked. “What better way to celebrate the third week of January?” I said.

Close encounters of a beachcomber

One can drive for miles on South Padre Island’s beach and see nothing but sand and waves. There’s a certain meditative quality to it.

Then, just as big events punctuate the hum-drum cadence of life, one happens upon a real find.


This strange space capsule sits on the beach on the edge of the dune several miles north of the municipality.

And it’s mine.

Can’t you see the spray-painted sign?


Wild, huh?

The other side has a message, too.


It might be a rescue pod from a ship, but in any case, it’s been wasting away on the beach a long time. A man was inspecting it as I approached, and he told me it’s been there at least 7 years; that’s when he first found it.


The man (who coincidentally happened to be from Willow Creek, Minnesota) told me someone had glued the crushed cans and lighters to the hull in the years since. I found this community art to be strangely appealing.


The man on the beach suggested we drive a few miles north, and we’d find another bit of community art, and we did.


Now one finds a lot of garbage on the beach including abandoned coolers, water bottles and clothing. But construction hats? That’s just bizarre.

Here’s what’s really weird: On our way back, the engine in the Escalade inexplicably quit within yards of the space capsule. It would not restart despite my Beloved’s best efforts. A Good Samaritan in a Jeep with a long tow rope towed us off the beach. While we waited for rescue (our cell phones had no service so we were at the mercy of passersby), the clock in the Escalade gained about 90 minutes (or lost about 22 and half hours, we’re not sure which). Only the battery worked the whole time; my Beloved suspects our fuel pump pooped out, not our electrical system.

So why did our engine quit, right there, next to the decorated space capsule? And if it really was the fuel pump, why did we lose time?

Cue theme from “Twilight Zone.”

Adversity, I laugh at you!

Laugh at the ironic. This is one way to deal with absurdity when you’re faced with a bad situation. Laugh.

Compared to some of the alternatives (scream, cry, crawl in a hole, plot revenge), it seems like a reasonable approach. A strong one, even.

With that in mind, my friend gave me these tea bags for my birthday. The tag on this particular tea bag says:

“A woman is like a teabag. You don’t know her strength until she is in hot water.”

— Nancy Reagan

I’ll sleep when I’m dead (or at least when my brand is dead)

Martha Stewart sleeps 4 hours a night.

Poor Martha.

She might have been the first lifestyle queen, and she made billions doing it, what with the name-brand bed skirts and magazine(s) and television show, but after that prison stint, I don’t think she’s going to catch the cute Rachael Ray or I’ve-got-my-OWN-television-network Oprah Winfrey. People today want a 30-minute-meal lifestyle or a possibly a fully-realized-self lifestyle, but I don’t think they want a three-course-dinner-party-that-takes-three-months-of-decorating-and-making-handprinted-placecards-and-cooking lifestyle anymore.

Martha’s time has passed, I guess. According to the newspaper story I read yesterday, her television show on the Hallmark Channel bombed. It didn’t even get as many viewers as reruns of “The Golden Girls” in the same time slot on the same channel a year ago. Oh, dear.

So the 69-year-old is sleeping 4 hours a night trying to expand her merchandising empire which, according to the newspaper story, is where her company makes most of its money. Martha Stewart dog sweaters or Martha Stewart kitchen cabinets anyone?

Isn’t it ironic that the woman who is capitalizing on 400-count sheets and hand-stitched comforters sleeps only 4 hours a night?

Submitted for your holiday music library

To be sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells” …

     Dashing through the snow

     In my brand new orange thongs

    O’er the drifts I go.

     Doesn’t this seem wrong?

     New paint on my nails

     Makes my spirit bright.

     What fun it is to do my thing.

     No pressure to be “right”!

    Oh, manicure, pedicure, I celebrate today

     This snowy day, this holiday in a whole new way. Hey!

     Go to church, then to dine. No need to achieve.

     New traditions with my love on this Christmas Eve.

     Singing Christmas songs,

     Hope we don’t do “Silent Night.”

     Then we’ll eat raw fish —

     Sushi in one bite!

     SUV, we’ll ride;

     We will not travel far.

     The way we’ll finish up the day?

     Drink cocoa, watch “Die Hard.

    Oh, manicure, pedicure, I celebrate today

     This snowy day, this holiday in a whole new way. Hey!

     Go to church, then to dine. No need to achieve.

     New traditions with my love on this Christmas Eve.


(P.S. The apt fortune that came with my Broccoli Shrimp and Fried Rice (yes, if you’re counting, that’s Chinese for lunch and Japanese for supper today): “You will do something different this coming weekend.”)

Oh, what fun it is

A few unique ways to celebrate the season:

  • I woke up this morning, the day after winter solstice, and announced the following to my Beloved: “Today is a special day because it’s all downhill from here — every winter day from now on will be longer!”
  • My neighbor down the street corralled her brood and cajoled them into organizing all their toys. I thought this was a great idea three days before Christmas — to sort, store and possibly give away some toys in preparation for all the new ones at Christmas.
  • A long distance friend on Facebook announced she had been the recipient of a Christmas Jar, and she encouraged her friends to google the concept, which I did and found a delightful way to make a charitable contribution without the bureaucratic middleman and with the certainty that you’re helping someone you really believe needs it. Check it out … http://www.christmasjars.com/index.html
  • There’s nothing like soup to warm the soul when it’s cold outside. I made a big pot of Homemade Gourmet Chicken and Rice Creme Soup. Yum!
  • The neighbors across the street stopped by with Christmas carols and a plate of cookies. What made their performance beautiful was that, with 11 or 12 children, they truly sounded like a choir! They were so cheerful and merry!
  • I’m wrapping up my last day on earth as a 43-year-old by writing a blog post and enjoying a cup of creamy pumpkin spice coffee. Can’t slow time down, but I can savor it.

Have myself a muted little Christmas

Call me Scrooge.

Maybe I’m a Grinch.

Put coal in my stocking.

Do what you must do (tsking under your breath, public mockery, lighted doggy doo-doo on my doorstep, whatever), but I refuse to contribute to an eager-beaver, overly materialistic, Martha Stewart Christmas this year.

I have never been a fan of decorating for Christmas to begin with. My ex-husband willingly did all that during my first marriage, and I grudgingly took over those duties in my second marriage but only for the benefit of the bright-eyed innocent child with whom I shared a home who adored the pine scent of a real Christmas tree, loved the little Santa figurines on our mantel and dreamed of snow falling outside his window on Christmas Day. He did not, however, water the tree regularly or help put the decorations away, and I resented being responsible for preventing us from being the completely embarrassing neighbors who dump their piney fire hazard on the curb in February and take down their Christmas lights in March.

Since 16-year-old Caswell won’t be here to enjoy the decorations anyway, I am not decorating for Christmas. No tree, no Santas on the mantel, no lights. And no clean up. If Mother Nature decides to bestow us with a white Christmas, I won’t object. Too much.

I’m not Christmas shopping either. While I can appreciate women (usually, it’s women) who try to get their Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving so they can enjoy the season, I abhor retailers who make me feel guilty for not being one of those far-sighted planners by putting up Christmas decorations in October, “leaking” Black Friday sales in November and forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving (Sears, I’m talking to you). It’s a sickening testament to materialistic American capitalism. This year, it’s gift cards for everyone. My beloved friends and family all will get more for my money by buying gifts of their choosing after Christmas.

And I’m not baking for Christmas either. Really, why does December have to be a non-stop smorgasbord of high-fat, high-sugar empty calories? My mother and sister, with whom I have made Christmas cookies for many years, will be two states away, and fellowship with them was the only reason I make Christmas cookies in the first place (well, that and Russian tea cakes, but that just brings me back to the whole empty calories topic).

Here’s how I’m celebrating Christmas this year:

  • Christmas cards. Yes, I’m participating in this tradition because it involves paper, writing, reading and stamps, which I approve of at any time of year. (If you want to be assured of receiving my annual missive, send me your own Christmas greetings with a legible return address, and I will joyfully return the warm wishes for a merry holiday and a happy year ahead.)
  • Sushi on Christmas Eve. Tyler and I enjoyed this last year, and I want to make it a tradition because I love sushi, I don’t have to cook (and I can’t make decent sushi at home), and Asian restaurants are just about the only restaurants open on Christmas Eve anyway.
  • Church. Jesus is the reason for the season, as it is said, and I’m going to look for merriment and joy in worship instead of in the hallowed hallways of the mall.

If you’re already shopping, already decorating, already baking — good for you and your over eager capitalist friends. I respect your choices even if I don’t want to participate with you and, in fact, I’ll probably enjoy the fruits of your efforts in the form of a stronger economy, a pretty street and shared goodies at some party or another. If possible, though, please refrain from imposing the merriment of the season on me by calling me names (i.e., Scrooge, Grinch,Martha Stewart) and taunting me with lighted doggie doo-doo on my unlighted, unadorned doorstep. Thank you.