Sunday, November 26, 2017


I forgot to post yesterday. It was a legit mistake, but it happened.

So the whole "Thirty (30) posts in thirty (30) days thing is done.

My grateful thanks to any of you who actually looked at any of this. It was fun while it lasted.

Peace out, and a hug.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sing, Sing

Why do people sing along to background music in public? That's rhetorical, of course. Auntie has a theory.

I think they do it to show how "cool" they are because they know all the words to the song. I think we're all supposed to be impressed by their musical acumen.

I also think that they think they sound as good as the professionally recorded singer and we should appreciate their amateur artistry, which is always amateur and never artistic.

So when we went out for coffee this morning to celebrate the Day After Thanksgiving and both of the people at the next table started singing along to the background music, your cranky old Auntie gave them the classic angry old lady glare.

For all the good it did.

I'm loath to label them hipsters, but the stereotype fits. All the smugness, the apparent entitlement, everything the rest of us think of when we hear the word "hipster" was visible as well as audible.

It probably would have been funny if I'd actually been able to finish my first cup before the serenade.

Did I say "probably"? I should have said "maybe".

Luckily it was a fairly short song.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Burp

It's done. Everything got made, most of it was eaten. The peas-and-pearl-onions were a fail, the piroshkis should have been hot and the pumpkin pie was seriously lacking, but everything else was fine and the crack pie was good and I got to see my loved ones so full of my food that they were physically uncomfortable.

This is Auntie's bliss.

Importantly, the Prince of Bassets (a most glorious beast) seemed as happy as your blissful Auntie, although he was much more Zen about it.

Almost as importantly, the clean up is done too. Everything all washed and tidied away.

All that anticipation, all that prep, all that all-ness, and it's all over.

I'd be sad about that except for my other tradition. I always try to have folks over the day after for leftovers. So it's not quite over yet.

Your Auntie knows how to milk a good thing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Five Count'em Five!

Well, my darlings, your Auntie done did it.

Cabbage and dill piroshkis, three-cheese scalloped potatoes, saag paneer, traditional stuffing made from scratch and one other thing.

I know I made five dishes today. What was the fifth one?

Oh, right. Pumpkin pie. Of course. It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. The crust didn't flute prettily and I ran out of maple syrup so I added some ginger preserves, but I think I'm the only one who loves pumpkin pie so the crack pie can take center stage. I know that came out okay. I made two and we cut a slice out of one of them.

Besides, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving if everything came out perfectly anyhow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

All Systems Go

It has begun!

Finally, I got to start the legit prep. There isn't all that much which can be done two days out, but what there was, is done.

I made the wild mushroom and barley thing, although I didn't use barley because I found some pearled faro at the store last week. I didn't even know faro could be pearled, but it was and I cooked it and it's yummy.

I cubed an entire loaf of challah and minced parsley, sage and rosemary for the stuffing. Yes, there will be thyme, just like in the song, but it goes in separately and I didn't want to have to keep track of two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme given how stuffed my kitchen is right now. I chopped onions and celery and put them aside for tomorrow.

The pie crusts are out of the freezer and the bone-in turkey breast has been brined.

There was a small crisis with the yams. I couldn't find my ricer and for a scary quarter of an hour it looked like I was going to have to peel four pounds of sweet potatoes but in the end, it turned out okay. The pureed yams with coconut and sriracha are chilling as I type this.

Tomorrow is the big day. I'm hoping to complete five recipes. I don't expect to, I'm sure one will be discarded, but right now, there are five on the list.

It's like one of those elimination cooking shows where they show everyone scrambling and stirring and chopping and flailing and failing and then the music comes on and voila, they all have their finished dishes in front of them awaiting judgment.

Cross your fingers and wish me luck.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tick Tock Tumbleweed

Auntie isn't bouncing up and down like a child on Christmas Eve because I am old and creaky. The anticipation is pretty much the same, though.

You should see my fridge. It's a solid wall of ingredients, and I really really really want to start turning them into food.

I can't, though. Not yet.

Tick tock.

Tomorrow I start chopping and measuring. I do this thing where I prep all the ingredients for a dish in separate baggies then put them in one bigger bag. It's just like one of those delivery services except that I did the shopping too. And chose the menu. Okay, except for the precisely measured bit it's nothing like a delivery service.

Then Wednesday I can cook everything which can be made the day before. Wednesday is the big day, but at least I can start tomorrow.

Right now there are metaphoric tumbleweeds rolling through my empty kitchen while I wait.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Water, Water Everywhere

Subtitle: Glass Not Even Half Full Dammit

Drinking water is important. Hydration is healthy for many reasons. You don't need Auntie to tell you about that.

What I will say is that you should probably do most of your water-drinking while it's still daylight, because a solid night's sleep is also important.

I say this because I'm about to refill my water glass knowing full well that it will mean getting up in the wee hours to wee.

Wait, do you think that's why they call it "the wee hours"? Hahaha snort.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tuba Marvelous, Darling

We went to an annual street fair last night. Walking down the middle of a 4 lane boulevard is always fun. It was mostly predictable in a pleasant enough way.

The food trucks all had block-long lines, except for the one that didn't. Uh oh.

There was a quartet(te) of pretty women in 40s outfits doing some excellent Lennon Sisters harmonies. They're there every year but it could be a different bunch each time. Who can tell?

We were half a block past the singers when I saw tubas. Auntie loves a good tuba. These tubas had skinny tweenagers in them. Not auspicious, but we were too close not to hear.

We heard.

It was eerily familiar.

I couldn't place it, mostly because I was transfixed by the barely 14 year olds and their anachronistic brass instruments. Marching band? Really? In 2017?

Then I recognized the tune. Seven Nation Army.



We even saw a fat old guy with scraggly waist length white hair and matching beard, in a red striped t-shirt and shiny red basketball shorts. Obviously off-duty.

Aside from the veritable plethora of dogs both in and out of costume, my fave was the ugly guy with the beatific smile who had pastel twinkly lights woven into his dreadlocks. Or maybe it was the octet of tiny little girls in stunning Chiapas style dresses dancing with perfect synchronization and very serious expressions.

The comedy moment was a snippet of conversation as we squeezed through the lumbering crowd. I never saw who said it, but there was both resignation and conviction in her tone:

"Yeah, he's an asshole but at least he knows how to work it."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Funny Is As Funny Stains

I was reading the answers to the Quora question "What was the funniest thing that happened to you in a restaurant?" when I realized that your adoring Auntie has a problem.

Apparently I don't know what "funny" means.

None of the answers were funny. They all involved spilled food or beverages, sometimes on someone who richly deserved it -- which is satisfying but not intrinsically humorous.

Oh well. Maybe it's me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Doggy Lemonade

Did you know that you can freeze pie crust dough for up to a month? It's true, which is why I made the pie crust dough for Thanksgiving on Monday.

I did a double batch, half went into the freezer and I planned to make a quiche with the other half. There's a recipe I saved from an old magazine because I wanted to eat it.

(This is actually rare. Auntie usually saves recipes she wants to feed to other people. Personal consumption isn't a consideration.)

So in between the morning and lunchtime, I blind-baked the crust. I was going to make the quiche in between things this afternoon.

Then I reread the recipe.

Or at least, I reread the part I'd saved.

It looked quite tasty and was pretty simple, right up to where it said "Continued on page 124".

So here's your second helpful hint: Torn up pie crust makes for an excellent doggy treat. I tore up half of the partially-baked shell into treat sized bits and finished baking them for when the Prince of Bassets is here next week.

When life gives you lemons, make dog treats.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Turns out I tried to do more today than can be done in one day -- at least, it was more than I could do. Still, I finished enough of it to feel some degree of satisfaction.

I was about to pat myself tiredly on the back when I remembered...

It's still November.

I hadn't done the daily blog.

"ACK!" I thought.

Thus here I am... and ergo, here I go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Get Set

Auntie didn't attack the crack pie today. I did read the recipe through a few times, parts of it out loud. Yes, yes, to an audience. Shut up.

Your auntie may be old and dotty but I can still tell when I'm talking to myself.

As it turned out, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world happened to be in my neighborhood today. I talked (and talked and talked) about Thanksgiving prep instead of actually doing any of it -- which was still great fun.

That's the thing about this particular holiday and why I enjoy it even more than birthdays or Christmas. It's all about loved-ones and food, everything else is extraneous. No worries about finding that perfect clever gift or figuring out what to do to celebrate. It's just a pile of (hopefully) tasty food shared with people I genuinely want to see.

If you're still at an age when other people decide who you'll spend your holidays with, know that it gets better. It really does. I remember being forced to choke down yucky stuff with people who did nothing but argue and criticize. Been there, survived that. Outlived most of them, distanced from the rest.

When you reach a point where you have the freedom and independence to choose who(m) you consider to be your family, everything falls into place and what used to be an ordeal becomes pure joy.

And if you're really lucky, they'll bring their dog with them. This year, we also get to see the Prince of Bassets.

I said it before, but wheeee!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

On Your Marks

Whee--ee-ee my darlings. Thanksgiving cometh. It's visible on the horizon. Time to ramp up.

Auntie is pretty stoked right now. If you read this blog before, you'll know that Thanksgiving is my day. Feeding people I love makes me happy. I start planning the food in May and tweak the plan in the odd moment here and there between then and now. I set the final menu weeks ago.

Okay yeah, I changed it again this morning. In my defense, I now see a problem with the latest change and may revert back. Or change it yet again.

So far I've tested a new spinach recipe with acceptable but not stellar results (although I'm working on how to improve it) and done everything I can at this point except source two ingredients and draft the master shopping list.

Well, and work through the crack pie. And make a decision about the devilled egg issue.

(Shut up, spell check. Deviled eggs with one "l" looks vile.)

Anyhow, this morning I used my shiny new mandoline to sliver potatoes for the cheesy scalloped potato recipe, a small pan of which is test-baking as I type to you. When that's out, I'll try a different spinach paneer recipe. It looks much better than the one I tried before. I love the idea of making spinach paneer instead of just plain spinach even if it isn't traditional.

Tomorrow I attack the crack pie and make a decision about pumpkin.

Who am I kidding? It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Non-traditional is one thing, but pie is definitive even if my mother doesn't like pumpkin.

Well, that's the update. I'm going to check on the potatoes and see if it's time to uncover them and sprinkle more cheese and let it brown to a crispy crust. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday, Sundae

Today is National Sundae Day, which very specifically never falls on a Sunday to avoid confusion.

Since I don't care much about ice cream and I'm not into hot fudge sauce, I won't be observing this one either -- except to use it as a cheesy way of getting my "30 posts in 30 Days" in.

You know, just like I did yesterday.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow. I haven't asked Robert what day tomorrow is yet.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Today was National Vanilla Cupcake Day. Although I adore vanilla cupcakes, I didn't have one.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Mommy Thing

When I told my tiny elderly mother that I'm doing the blog again, she said she wanted to see it. It's a mommy thing.

So I did what anyone would do. I took out my phone, loaded it up and tried to expand the font to something her macularly-degenerated eyes could read. That didn't work well enough, so I closed it all up and promised to print the posts when I got home. (Which I did.)

That's not the story.

This is the story:

She was genuinely afraid that the posts were deleted because I turned off my phone.

Go ahead. Patronizing chuckles are appropriate here. I'll take you down in a second when you're finished.

Done? Good. Moving on.

Here is the point, and your comeuppance. See, it's all about perspective.

My mother knows nothing about the Internet (obviously). This doesn't make her foolish or stupid, it was a conscious choice on her part. When I first offered her a laptop fifteen or twenty years ago, she said "At my age, I have a limited amount of time and attention. I prefer not to learn how to use a computer."

Instead, she knows the latest theories and developments in physics, astrophysics and engineering, with a lesser emphasis on anthropology and archaeology. She is reasonably up to date on modern art and adores street art. For a while she was even up on contemporary music, but that stopped last year when she moved to assisted living.

The point is that she is an extremely intelligent person who chooses not to bother with the Internet. For someone who grew up during the Depression when radio was high tech, the fact that she's a whiz at Netflix is pretty impressive even without all that science-y stuff. Oh yeah, and she's still a kick-ass artist despite her bad eyes.

That's what I mean about perspective. The next time you think someone is stupid because they don't know something you think they should know, remember that they probably know tons about something you know nothing about and are very good at something you can't do.

The corollary is that right now when your Auntie is feeling stupid, I'm trying to think of what it is that I actually know quite a lot about. There has to be something.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


We all have stuff we should do but which isn't getting done because we don't want to do it.

That's a given.

If you're reading this at work, that's an illustration.

Individuality, creativity and good old-fashioned panache are shown in our choice of avoidance mechanisms. For example, if you really are reading this at work, that shows tremendous panache.

There is no panache in the fact that I'm writing this to avoid two onerous tasks. Dicking around online is an established procrastination tradition. A blog post, even one ordained by a challenge, doesn't get Auntie any points.

But if I go to get the smog certificate for my car, THAT'S a validly creative procrastination technique. It's intrinsically unpleasant and necessary. So much so that it shouldn't count as procrastination. It should be called anticrastination.

Anticrastinastion, noun. Definition: Doing something unpleasant and useful to avoid having to do something else unpleasant and useful.

You learned a new word today, which is useful.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Minimum Exemplified, Albeit Not Defined

Fine, thanks. How are you?

(You may be amused to hear that this took some editing. Auntie toyed with "Not much, what's up with you?" and my personal favorite, "How do YOU do?" before settling on the conventional.)

In other words, I have nothing witty to say but I refuse to forfeit my momentum. I said I'd try to post every day this month. I never guaranteed you a solid chuckle.

Still, there's always tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Daylight Savings Time

I promise you, this really does turn out to be about Daylight Savings time.

There was a knock on our front door yesterday. Robert had gone out. Since I was alone, I went to see who it was. (Ssh. Don't tell him, but I sometimes wait for him to get there first so he has to deal with whatever it is.)

There was a woman, maybe early 30s, or mid-20s with road years. Her eyes darted right and left but never once met mine.

"Can I talk to Coby?"

"Sorry, there's no one named Coby here. What house are you looking for?"

She answered with a sort of defeated panic that I wouldn't have thought was simultaneously possible. "This one. I was sure of it."

"No, sorry. I don't know anyone named Coby."

Then she said -- and I swear this is a verbatim quote ---

"Well, can I talk to his brother?"

Ba dum bum. Mic drop.

Not hilarious, although it is a decent punchline, right? She left shortly after that.

But this isn't about a random encounter. This is about Daylight Savings Time.

Coby's friend knocked on my door at an hour which would have still been in daylight the day before. This entire encounter took place in darkness.

What you just read sounds stupid and almost humorous, but the reality had an edge to it which I couldn't explain in the moment and still can't now.

She didn't scare me. I never felt threatened in any way nor expected an axe wielding fiend to jump out from behind her, still the whole thing felt creepy somehow.

Something about the darkness made it creepy.

Forget your extra morning sleep, now when I think of Daylight Savings Time, I'll always see her face.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, the definition of the word "splat" is this:

a single flat thin often ornamental member of a back of a chair

(First known use 1833)

Which begs the question why the word is used colloquially as a sound effect, given that onomatopoeia doesn't apply. There are no sibilants or alveolars in a plop.

Still, when it comes to this whole "thirty (30) blog posts in thirty (30) days" thing, I seem to have fallen splat by day five. Which apparently means like the back of a chair.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deeper Than Skin

Day Four of my pledge. I might be at spill-my-guts part of the process, or I could just be flailing for a topic. In either case, I'm about to divulge a secret.

Hush, my darling child. This doesn't count as clickbait because Auntie is sneakily manipulating you into not clicking away.

Over the last few days, a couple of people have very kindly complimented my complexion. I'm going to tell you a story about age and wisdom and only incidentally, beauty. The beauty isn't mine so I can use that word without vanity.

Once upon a time, I read an interview with Elizabeth Taylor. (The aforementioned and unarguable beauty.) In it, she said that she only uses inexpensive hand lotion on her face. She didn't buy into the hoopla surrounding fancy creams and whatnot.

If anyone could speak to the care and feeding of loveliness, it was Ms. Taylor. You'd think I'd have believed her.

But then I'd be writing about something else.

Ha! I thought at the time. She's taking the piss at best or at worst, being disingenuous. Back then, conventional wisdom required make-up remover, a creamy liquid wash, then tonic, then creme for the eyes which was different from the lotion on the rest of the face and a distinctive chant based on the phase of the moon.

I may not be kidding about that last bit.

Fast forward thirty+ years.

Here is the secret I promised you: In my dotage, I wash makeup off with soap and water. If I use moisturizer at all, it's because I put too much on my hands and rubbed it on my face. Oh, I still have a few pots and jars of the real stuff, but I lack the motivation to bother with it.

And I still get the occasional compliment.

There's a lesson in there.

When I look in the mirror, I see Mary Wickes, and not in her younger days either. It's not about skin or hair, it's just a vibe. But when I was young and attractive and bothered with all the fuss-ery, I still thought I looked like a young Mary Wickes. The creams and chanting didn't make a difference then and they don't make a difference now.

What does make a difference is time.

I may see wattles and bags, but I also see contentment. I'm a happier person than I was. That matters.

Thus I finally understand what Ms. Taylor was talking about. Posh cremes won't make me pretty, any more than being pretty made me happy. I'd rather be happy.

Friday, November 3, 2017


I love me some office supplies. Then again, who doesn't?

Okay, yeah, folks who jet ski over waterfalls or drool over a pair of $3,000 shoes probably don't get that same frisson when they see a new kind of Sharpie(tm) or Post-It(tm) but your Auntie isn't athletic nor do I care about fashion. You'd know that if you saw more of me than just my head on an avi.

Then again, if you know me IRL you're already snorting. Calm down. Mockery isn't nice.

Back to the good stuff.

I needed a new steno pad. It never occurred to me that a steno pad is obsolete in these digital days. Why should it? You millenials embraced music on vinyl and black and white film, why not archaic forms of paper?

But as I wandered through the cavernous labyrinth of pens and Scotch(tm) tape and envelopes oh my and goggled at the glorious abundance of goodies -- to the point where I actually exclaimed out loud "I want ALL the paper!" because it was true -- doubt crept in.

There was a smorgasbord of spiral pads. Some were covered in glitter, some had sports imagery, others in colors not found on the RGB color chart...

...but they all had the wire on the left.

The few which opened from the top were tiny. Useful, sure, but not what I wanted today.

Had the steno pad gone the way of your favorite treat at Trader Joe's?

(For those of you who don't have a Trader Joe's, they always stop making something once you realize how yummy it is. Every. Single. Time. Trust me, it's a thing.)

To cut the suspense, I finally found the steno pads. Well, I found one. The last one.

There's a bit in Hitchhiker's Guide which goes: "It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'" (Douglas Adams, copyright 1979)

Well, that's about where I found the empty bit of shelf with a lonely surviving steno pad in the shadow of the back. Near the ground, at the farthest point of the enormous office supply store, under last year's day planners.

It's mine now, if you want to know what it looks like.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Stepford Zoom

We went to the zoo this morning. Shut up. It's better cardio than a treadmill and I have to start somewhere.

There's a strange kind of warfare just outside the LA Zoo entrance at opening time. Hordes of expensively-dressed women in their 20s and 30s wage vicious battle. Their weapon of choice: a baby stroller.


They all wear ultra fancy-shmancy workout togs. They all look angry, and they all push baby strollers.

(Usually the strollers are carrying a child well old enough to walk on its own, who should probably be in school on a Thursday. Very few actually contain babies. But I digress.)

The first thing that happens before you even get to the gate is that the soldiers jockey for position. They don't run, that would be obvious. Instead they all use the same ersatz nonchalant speed-walk combined with a virtuoso sideways shove of the stroller to edge ahead of the competition.

It's the uniformity that gets me. When I say "they all" it's because there are dozens of them and they really do all wear the same kind of pricey workout clothes and move the same way and have the same facial expression. This happens whenever we go, and it's not the same ones either. A fresh batch comes out of the factory every time.

One practically knocked me down this morning, but dammit, she achieved her goal. Good for her. We conceded our position. She got in ahead of us. She won.

Next, they go to Part Two of the battle plan. After racing to get through the gate first as if there's a prize waiting, BAM!

Once inside, they spread out and slow down. What was pushing is now blockage.

(Make your own colon joke. I'm nearly done and can't bother.)

We had to dodge and jink and weave to get past the gaggles of twos and threes and the occasional one with a phone, who position themselves with diabolical precision to stop anyone else from actually moving in a forward direction.

Still, I suppose they're attractive enough. Take note, if you're ISO something like that.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No Mo No No

Well, my darlings, it's November again. That means another National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is upon us.

Auntie isn't doing it. Nope, non, no way. It was enough to search this blog for previous mentions of my past attempts and slog through the verbal sludge.

(Okay, one of them was pretty entertaining, but for the most part it was a lot of "I'm doing this now!" followed by "I'm not doing this anymore!")

The last one was four years ago. Granted, I've spent most of the subsequent time on Quora rather than writing this blog, but I'm as vain as the next person so that makes sense. No one reads blogs and I get twice as many views on Quora in a week as this blog has gotten in nine years, if I do say so myself.

Be that as it may.

Enough people close to me have committed to giving Nanowrimo its annual go that I want to do something to show solidarity. Auntie had a corker of an idea.

My commitment for this November, the November of 2017, is to post something on this blog every day. It may not be much. Hell, I may just flip the pages of my big paper dictionary and type out a random definition, but I promise to try to put something on here.

On my mark, I'm set, let's do it --

Thus endeth the first post.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Birthday To Whom?

They meant well. Of course they did, they’re nice people. Besides, it’s their job. But the only way I got through last night’s debacle was by telling myself what a great anecdote it would make.

Here it is:

My elderly mother is now in Assisted Living. Fabulous place, we both love it. The people are great. I can’t stress that enough. They’re wonderful. But sometimes, I question their judgment.

For one thing, they occasionally try to enforce fun. Last night was the monthly obligatory birthday dinner. Everyone with a birthday in that month is allowed one guest. This month, that included my mother (and, by invitation, me). They (we) all have to sit at a special long table. There are balloons. There is cake.

Sounds great, right?

Except that it was a long table against a wall and the people use walkers. Try getting between someone who can’t maneuver and a wall to reach your assigned chair. (Oh yeah, you don’t get to sit wherever you want. They decide.) That was fun.

Once I managed to get my butt down, I tried to make polite dinner party conversation with the nice lady on my right. That was a bit of a disaster. As soon as Emily Post would have, had she been alive and in my seat, I turned with some relief to my mother on my left. She was trying to make conversation with a tiny lady with a mischievous smile who was wrapped in a turtleneck and thick jacket. On the hottest day of the year so far. I had sweated off my makeup before I even got there.

Turns out Jacket-lady can’t speak. For discretionary purposes, I won’t describe what happened when she ate. That would be jumping too far ahead anyhow. There was no food for an hour and twenty-five minutes.

A huge, beautifully decorated cake was brought out. We waited ten or fifteen minutes for a handful of non-uniformed employees to be summoned. Happy Birthday Dear Resident was sung. Meanwhile, we watched uniformed wait staff serve meals to everyone else in the communal dining room.

Then the plot twisted. Two more birthday people showed up who weren’t on the list and hadn’t reserved seats! The long table was full, the song had been sung, and the cake had been rolled away.

Another table was shoved over, quickly and efficiently. A cautious young waiter took drink orders and brought soup. Every grandma at the table held her breath as the bowls rattled in his careful but nervous hands. Think of an ant under a magnifying glass. He was a champion. I wanted to applaud or hug him. (I did neither.)

By this time, we’ve been sitting there for about 45 minutes. Everyone else in the room was eating. Many had finished.

The others at the table had all lived there for years. The conversation centered on how it used to be in ye goode olde days, with champagne and special food for the birthday people instead of the same ordinary menu everyone else got. The nice lady across from me has memory issues, so we had this exact same conversation on about a seven minute loop, with increasing emphasis, whenever she looked down at the menu in front of her.

Eventually, the overwhelmed young waiter took food orders with the helpful guidance of the elegant and charming new Dining Room Manager who really ought to work somewhere with a galaxy of Michelin stars and a high rating. My vegetarianism was generously accommodated. Like I said, I love these people.

The cake came back out. By this time, pretty much everyone else in the room was done. They all got slices of cake. It was a really big cake.

It’s now been an hour and twenty minutes. The non-food service employees have all gone home. The room slowly emptied. My truculent neighbor on the right got up, squeezed unsteadily past the late arrivals, grabbed her walker and left. I think she was convinced that she’d already eaten.

A woman across from me had gone through an entire oxygen tank and had to switch to her emergency back-up one.

Eventually, the food arrived. Except for my garden burger, it was the exact same food everyone else had gotten. There was more discussion about that. There was also a mix-up because one of the ladies had been sitting for so long she’d forgotten what she’d asked for and took someone else’s entrĂ©e. A fresh one had to be ordered. You can imagine how well that went over.

Jacket-lady was wheeled away. The process of getting her back into a wheelchair involved three people (two worked there, one lady at the table tried to be helpful but got in the way) and an equal dollop of tragedy and comedy. Even when she stiffened her body like a little surfboard to avoid the wheelchair, Jacket-lady smiled that same sweet, twinkly smile.

The remainder of the cake was wheeled back out. One of the late arrivals insisted on being sung to. Repeatedly. Since the employee choir had long gone, the Manager did a solo. In Italian. In an operatic baritone. (I kid you not. He was amazing.) On further request, he even brought out champagne and sparkling cider for the handful of remaining celebrants. I had cider. It was good.

After we left, my mother apologized for having invited me. I assured her that it was much better this way. Now, it’s a story.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lock, Lock and One Mocking Carole*

One night late last year, a car plowed into the side door of our favorite morning coffee place. Insurance companies being what they are, the door isn't fixed yet. The yellow hazard tape is down but the "Please use other door" note is still taped up. That's the important point. There is a sign.

The nice lady kept trying the door. It won't open, but she kept trying. The server explained and pointed to the working door, through which the nice lady had entered in the first place.

She kept staring at the locked door. The one with the sign on it.

She tried it again.

That's what got me. She tried it after someone explained it was locked. After the sign was pointed out. After she had tried it half a dozen times.

It's the impulse to press the already lit elevator button, to think that those five other pedestrians didn't activate the walk signal. It's the "Here, let me try" phenomenon.

What do you think, neurosis or The Little Engine That Could? I'm waffling. No, smarty-pants, I didn't have waffles this morning. I only had coffee. This is philosophical or psychological or something like that.

Do we do it out of a conviction that we can make a difference, or to make sure that it was done properly, or to fill the waiting time with something to do, or what? Because we've all done it.

Except that once, I didn't. And that one time was also this morning, hence the repetition of the word "lock" in the title of this post.

Also this morning, the deadbolt on our front door broke. The door won't open. Robert tried the latch on the inside and the key on the outside. I phoned the nice man who installed it, and he said he'll come over next week, but the thing is that Robert suggested I try it and I demurred on the grounds that he already did.

That was before I saw the nice lady in the coffee place persist in attacking her locked door. That's why she became symbolic, why I started thinking, and why I'm putting up (what is now a very rare) blog post about it.

What was it that caused me not to do that thing we all do? Oh, it was probably an urgent need for that first cup of coffee, but maybe not. Maybe I've gotten a little more wisdom than I thought I had. Maybe I've reached a point where I can accept the world for what it is.

Then again, after we got home but before I called the door guy, I did try it myself. So never mind.

(*Read it to the tune of "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels". Well, it cracked me up anyhow)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tattoo You

Do you have a friend who reads signs out loud when you're in the car? I do. Probably most of us do. Most people read t-shirts too, although I often don't. But I do read tattoos.

That's where I got in trouble. I was trying to read a tattoo.

In my defense, it was on his arm, and he was wearing short sleeves so the ink was visible. Short sleeves on a cold day -- I assumed that he wanted it to be read.

Silly, silly auntie.

"Sorry, could you repeat that?" I asked with a smile. "I was trying to read your arm and I got distracted."

Two things happened. First, he twisted around to try to see the back of his own upper arm. Of course he couldn't, not without a mirror. Besides, he should know what it looks like.

Second, he got annoyed. Not that I hadn't been listening, but that I presumed to invade his privacy by looking at his arm.

I assure you, my darlings, your auntie was not being nosy or lascivious. If anything, I was politely respecting the fact that he cared so much about whatever the tattoo signified that he put it on public display. So I asked about it.

"That's personal!" he snapped.

So today's moral is this: Just because someone goes out of their way to put something in front of your face, that doesn't necessarily mean that they want you to look at it.

No, I don't get it either.