Monday, June 3, 2013

Mystery Solved

We have an inground pool.   No one uses it much now that our youngest is gone, but The Man takes good care of it--the water is always a beautiful blue.  Last year I was talking to a friend from church who happens to live in our neighborhood.  After discussing the heat and the fact that we have a pool, we made plans for their teenage kids to come over to swim. 
I was kind of excited to have them over and filled a cooler with drinks, brought out all the fun pool gear from the shed, arranged the chairs around the pool, and made sure the side gate was unlocked.  Then I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  They never came.  Hmmm.  “Could I have missed them?” I wondered.  “Did they come to the front door while I was out back?  I finally wrote it off as typical teenage fickleness.  Another, more attractive option must have presented itself! 
Fast forward to a few days ago.  My niece, her husband and their band, stayed over for a couple of nights as they “toured” the northeast.   They all graduated from the same Christian college and were allowed to use two of the college’s vehicles for their tour.  Well we were all sitting around the family room when the doorbell rang.  It was one of the teens who was supposed to have come over swimming.  (Her name is Laura.)  She and an older brother (who attends another college and was home for the summer) were rollerblading through the neighborhood and saw the car and van with the college’s logo sitting in our driveway.  Laura plans on attending that very same college in the fall, so she was all excited and came to our door to ask why the vehicles were at our house. 

I invited them in, rollerblades and all, to talk to the band.   We were all glad they stopped by because Laura told us about an “open mike” opportunity at a local coffee shop that night.  The band hustled and got themselves together, gulped down some dinner,  and left.  

Now Laura sings too.  Actually her whole family sings and plays instruments.  (Her parents are the music directors at our church.)  So Laura and some of her brothers were also planning on playing/singing at the coffee shop’s open mike night.  The Man and I went over to watch the band play and while there, I ran into Kim, Laura’s mother.  She said, “Boy do I have a funny story to tell you!”  

It turns out that after Laura and her brother got home from their impromptu visit that afternoon, she told her mom she had been mistaken about where we lived.  She thought we lived in another house her mom had once pointed out (where another acquaintance lived).  That’s the house she and her  brother had visited to go swimming last summer.  So while I was scurrying around preparing our pool for them, they were happily letting themselves in someone else’s gate where they proceeded to swim for about two hours.  Laura even went in the back door and used their “facilities”!  (Apparently the homeowners :  1. weren’t home, or 2. were cowering in their closet wondering if the uninvited kids in their pool were crazy and possibly dangerous.)

Anyway—it was evident that no other “more attractive option” had presented itself on that fateful day last summer—it was just  a case of mistaken house identity!  Mystery solved.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sorry to disappoint you, fat gray squirrel!

It's probably safe to cool this chicken broth on the back porch.  I don't think that fat gray squirrel will show much interest in it! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Brownie Bandit

It all started because I wanted to park my cool minivan (ever hear of sarcasm?) in our garage for the winter.  But shockingly, our garage was too full of stuff for anything approximating the size of an automobile to fit in it.  So after The Man and I updated our kitchen, the old kitchen cupboards went up on the garage walls.  Their job was to hold the stuff taken from the big plastic shelving units lining the walls on the side of the garage where Miss fancy minivan was going to be parked.   After all the wrangling and after recovering from an accident involving a cabinet falling on my face due to failing to master a personal fault which some—including my husband—call impatience (yeah, okay, so maybe I should have waited for him to get home from work before trying to hang it by myself), the coveted space was finally obtained.  The supercool minivan now sits contentedly in the garage, safe from rain and snow. 

After most of our stuff was corralled into wall cabinets or taken to the basement, we ended up with two empty tall plastic shelve units.  (You know the type--they come in a box and you put them together.  The supports are round and they fit into one another.  The shelves are an open grid pattern.)  I decided to put the two units on the back covered patio until I could figure out whether to take them to Mom’s (to help organize her garage mess) or find some other use for them in our overflowing abode. 

***All the above was written to explain why we had two big stupid looking plastic shelving units on our back patio.  (Didn’t want you to think we were some kind of hillbillies or something.  I mean there’s no sagging old couch out there or anything like that.  At least not yet.)*** 

Back to our story.  The Man had suggested we entertain some of our friends on a certain day. A little history:  When we renovated the basement a few years back, The Man bought a nice projector and wired the place up for surround sound.  We made a 93 inch screen and hung it on the wall.  So we like to have friends over to watch a movie now and then.  Well, you don’t  bring guests over and immediately usher them downstairs to the “theater”—a time of preliminary chatting is necessary.  That “chatting” needs to be done with snacks in close proximity.  I knew the ladies were going to want to eat all “healthy” (blah), so a big pile of vegetables were cut up and tucked into the refrigerator to await the evening.  But not wanting to see the disappointment on the men’s faces, I figured something involving butter and sugar should be made as well.  Lime squares and brownies (from scratch) would do nicely.   I like to throw a bunch of chocolate chips on top of the brownies when they come out of the oven.  They melt pretty quickly and can be spread to make a sort of frosting.  The only problem is that it takes a long time for the chocolate to cool and harden.  (And it’s difficult to “plate” them until the chocolate is hard.)

A little more history:  One of my grandmothers was from a family of 10 children.  Her father was an old school minister/evangelist which, as you probably know, means they didn’t have a whole lot of material goods.  If there’s one thing she learned growing up, it was how to be resourceful.  When I was a kid, she made a rag doll with me.  Grandma dug out one of my mom’s old baby dresses for my new rag doll to wear, and we stuffed her with old pantyhose—no need to waste money on store-bought batting.  I like to think that resourceful gene was passed on to me.  

Back to the brownies.  It’s winter.  It’s cold outside.  We have open grid shelves (great for air flow) sitting on the back patio in our fenced backyard.  May as well take advantage of the conditions and put the brownies on those shelves to cool.  May as well put the lime bars out there as well.  No point in sticking hot brownies in the freezer and raising the temperature needlessly, right?  I put paper towel on top of the pans and cooling racks on top of the paper towel to make sure the paper didn’t fly off if the wind kicked up.  The pans were plopped on the shelves on the patio.  With that done, it was time to retire to the bedroom to take a little nap before proceeding with the remaining preparations.

While padding down the stairs after awakening from my well-deserved nap, I remembered the baked goods and headed to the back door to retrieve them.  Oh the sight that met my eyes when I opened that door!  One of the cooling racks was lying on the ground.  The paper towel, dirty and torn, was pushed off to the side.  The now exposed brownies had been sorely defaced.  Big chunks were missing from the beautiful brownie landscape.  The shelving unit was smeared with chocolate or dirt or both.  (It was hard to tell which it was, both being brown you know.)  The horror of what must have happened started to dawn on me—some despicable, deviant animal had torn that cooling rack right off those brownies, cast the paper towel aside with his filthy little feet, and had himself one big old gluttonous brownie party!  (The lime bars, thankfully, had been spared.)  

Needless to say, the whole pan had to be thrown out.  Boy that made me mad.  What a waste.  A whole new pan of brownies had to be made.  As if there weren’t enough other stuff to do before guests arrived.  What could have gotten into those brownies?  It’s the dead of winter.  The shelves were within a foot or two of the house.  Could it be the neighbor’s Alpha cat who roams the neighborhood looking for trouble?  I didn’t think so.  The only other animal running around that could make it into our fenced yard would have to be a squirrel.  But do squirrels even like chocolate? 
The next day while standing in front of the window over the kitchen sink (which looks directly out onto the patio), I looked up to see a big, fat, filthy gray squirrel wandering around on the top shelf of the defiled shelf unit, looking like he was trying to find something.  Ah-hah!  It was a squirrel!  Guess he was coming back for his second course.  What nerve!  And I declare he turned and looked me square in the eye as if to say, “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”  Lessons learned:  1.  Don’t put your baked goods on the back patio to cool, and 2.  Squirrels do like chocolate. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Darn it!

I like this top.  The colors are nice.  It has some built in bling.  It’s unstructured and kind of flows over the body in a rather flattering manner.   I wore it to work today.  Unfortunately I also wore it while cooking dinner on my glass top stove. That’s where the unstructured, flowy-ish nature of the top went from being an asset to being downright hazardous.  

The problem arose when a hot pan (containing stir-fried turkey) was moved off the burner to another part of the stove.  After messing around for a minute with the rice and vegetables  on the counter,  I looked back at the stove and noticed some goop on the burner.  “Now what in the world is that?” I wondered.  “Was something stuck on the bottom of the pan that I didn’t see until it was moved?”  All of a sudden, I knew.  That wasn’t  smeared food on that burner—that was a chunk of my shirt!  And sure enough, when I looked down at my lovely flowing top, a 3” by 4” hole met my eyes. 

Rats!  Hopefully some creative cutting and sewing will enable the shirt to be salvaged.  (Or it will sit unaltered in the sewing room until it finally gets thrown away.)  Bummer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bothersome Things

1.  When you wake up to a beautiful sunny day, but by the time you get your “work” done and go outside to enjoy the weather, the sky has filled with clouds and there’s no sunshine to be found anywhere.

2.  When you sacrifice your evening to drive one of your kids to (and then back again) a party/school or church activity/sporting event/etc.,  and at the end of the evening he/she says he/she had a rotten time.

3.  When you carefully nurture a favorite euonymus shrub and a little stinker of a dog named Cambridge comes along and tears it to bits.

4.  When you plant ivy in the front yard in the hopes it will grow down the hill and fill in the spots where the grass looks like the top of a bald man’s head, and it grows up the hill instead.

5.  When you sit down to watch a certain movie you really wanted to see, but you just can’t keep your eyes open.

6.  When a cashier acts like he's/she’s doing you a big fat favor by ringing up your items.

8.  The fact that people vote even though they haven’t attempted in any way to learn anything about the issues and where the candidates stand on those issues.

9.  When it takes two years for the next book in a beloved series to be published.

10.  When people complain about “bothersome things” when they live such a blessed life that they should thank God every day that they have it so good!