Coronavirus, Scribbles by Viv, Vintage chicks lol

The Boredom of Trying Not to Die or Poke Someone in the Eye

Every day melds into the next. Week into week. Month into month.

And now, year into year.

I always thought if I had more free time, I would get so many projects completed. Those bins of photos and memorabilia that need sorted, catagorized (or tossed) and put into scrapbooks; that bathroom that needs a total overhaul; the two books and eight short stories I’ve been working on here, there and nowhere; that stack of sewing and mending that has been gathering dust in the sewing room for seven years now; a new backyard patio … the list goes on.

Conveniently, I blame the pandemic.

One good thing about the pandemic is that I have little contact with other people, most of whom I just want to poke in the eye. Hard. Seriously, when did vulgar stupidity become cool?

Conveniently, I blame social media.

I’m already bored with cooking. I cook it, we eat it and it’s gone. Seems like a whole lotta work with nothing to show for it but the extra COVID-19# around my waistline. It’s quicker and much easier to just grab a spoon, a jar of Nutella, throw in a handful of chocolate chips, some bacon and call it a day.

Don’t judge. Bacon is a food group.

Maybe I could complete more projects if I did not have so many distractions?

Last night I stared vacantly at the salad I had prepared for the fourth night in a row and distinctly heard a few active brain cells yawning. I put it back in the fridge, and rummaged through the cupboards for something more, um … tantalizing. In the back of a bottom cupboard — where I hide shit from my husband — I found a bag of stale chocolate chips. I downed a handful. And then another. And another.

Things must change. I have to get motivated, finish the projects, maybe shave my legs, brush my teeth, feed the poor, enroll in pole dancing classes, join the National Guard or recycle all those wine corks. Something.

Otherwise, at this pace, my first trip in over a year won’t be my lifelong dream of visiting and hiking in the Dakotas, but will likely be a trip to Texas for an appointment with Dr. Nowzaradan.

If you don’t know who Dr. Nowzaradan is, you probably are not the type of person whose idea of an appetizer is a bag of chocolate chips poured directly into your gullet.

Vintage chicks lol

Never Mind, Pass the Pie

My mom, a genteel Southern lady — who never uttered a single curse word (that I ever heard) until I  was well into my 30s, and even then, it was a pretty weak profanity — had an annoying habit of dropping family secret bombshells in the midst of a casual family dinner and then walking away while my brothers and sisters and I sat open-mouthed in stunned silence.

Our family dinners are not small, intimate events. This is People Room #1 of 4.

Mom: “Would anyone like more scalloped potatoes or ham?”

Bob: “Are those the potatoes from my garden?”

Margaret: “Did I give everyone copies of the kids’ school pictures?”

Janet: “Is that my kid eating the mashed potatoes out of the pan with a spatula?”

Darrell: “No, pretty sure it’s mine. Jesse! Leave some for the rest of us!”

Paul: “Why don’t you have cable TV, mom? You need cable. You get four channels, Mom. Four.”

Me: “What’s that smell? Smells kinda like dirty feet.”

John: “I think that’s your organic, gluten-free, vegan casserole, Viv.”

Mom: “You know (we certainly did not), your grandfather ordered a mail-order bride after your grandma died in 1946 when I was 14. She was from St. Louis (implying city whore), wore seamed stockings (definitely a city whore) and we (she and her four siblings) sent her packing.”

Us, in unison: “What?! Grandpa ordered a bride?! What did she look like? Did Grandpa just bring her home or did she show up on the doorstep?! What the …?! How come you never … Mom! What was her name? Did you ever see her again? What did you do to send her packing? Light her on fire? Was she an evil stepmother? Do any cousins know? Tell us more!”

Every time she did this — yes, she did it more than once and more frequently as she grew older — she would then wave her hand dismissively, change the subject and say, “Never mind, it’s not important, pass the pie. Yes Bob, those potatoes are from your garden.”

To this day, we all continue to use this phrase as a mantra for ignoring important news that we’d rather avoid altogether.

“I know I’m 40, but I’m pregnant, again. Pass the pie.”

“It was only two nights in jail and a $1,200 bond. Could you pass the pie?”

“By the way, I filed for divorce yesterday. Is that pumpkin pie? Pass it, please.”

“OK, I’m not exactly sure how old I’ll be when I finish paying off the $189,000 in student loans. Look, just pass the pie, OK?”

Cooking, Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

ButterNutting My Way to Pandemic Cuisine

How bored and anxiety-ridden am I? Enough to turn French.

 le freak; le maniaque; le sot.

My attempt at growing butternut squash is shown in the middle. My baby is flanked by the giant, mutant GMO squash on either side.

My son gave me the last of his fall harvest — two mutantly large (oh yes, those GMOs) butternut squash — and I decided to make butternut squash soup, for the first time in my looooong life (aged 20 years in 2020 alone).

It was simple, I guess, but peeling two butternut squash the size of Volkswagens is akin to finding head lice on Rapunzel.

However, once I had that out of the way, I was full throttle to the Ultimate French Cuisine Snobby Pandemic Chef From Hell.

I decided to make crème fraîche (pronounced kram fresh-ha) and toasted pepitas as a decadent topping for the decadent full-fat creamy butternut soup. That extra COVID+19 around my waistline was not attained by munching celery and sipping lemon water.

Those two mutant squashes yielded SIX(!) freezer bags of future French cuisine — or freezer frost, depending on my mood.

Since I couldn’t find crème fraîche in the store (“Cream, right? Dairy aisle. Fresh ah, veggies? Produce aisle.”) , I decided to make it. Turns out by adding 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and letting it set for 8-24 hours renders a delightfully thick luscious type of French cream. Je suis très impressionné!

I cooked the cubed squash with chopped onion, apple, celery, carrots, garlic, veggie broth and salt and pepper until soft, blended it all in the blender (one small batch at a time) and poured it into bowls. Topped with a dollop of salted, roasted pepitas (come on — regular ole’ pumpkin seeds! Aldis —under $2 a bag!), fresh, chopped parsley and crème fraîche — and voila! A masterpiece!

For no one.

Bon appétit!

Just me. Always me. I have NEVER been so sick of me.

Well. there’s also my husband, who is also sick of me and whom I run into once in a while in the hallway on weekends. Alas, he could not see the splendor of a perfectly blended and exquistitely-plated butternut bisque and magnificently executed crème fraîche when all he really wanted was a dozen smoky BBQ wings with steak fries.

I ate it all. Thus, I upgraded the COVID+19 to COVID+24.

Would I do it again? Geesh, it was a lot of work. But, during the pandemic when there’s a lot of me, me, me time, I might foray into that French cooking arena once again.

When this is all over, though? Pretty sure I’ll forget the soup and enjoy a mixing bowl of the crème fraîche and toasted pepitas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. grossir pendant la quarantaine.

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On the 12th Month of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me …

So, I’ve put up the Christmas decorations and here’s the deal. I am not taking them down until the pandemic is over or has substantially ebbed. That’s when I’m hosting a big Christmas get-together for my family of 50-plus.

If that’s in July or August, so be it. Snow balls or sweaty balls, I’m celebrating Christmas with my family.

I’ve geared up and armed myself with treetop angels and balls of gold in the U.S. vs COVID war.

Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

Lofty Goals Crumble on the Sofa

What is it with old people these days? And by old people, I mean me.

Pappy, 87-years-young

An 87-year-old named Pappy climbed Mount Katahdin and has already logged in over 1,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail; 74-year-old Rosie Swale-Pope successfully completed a five-year around-the-world run, and; 103.4-year-old Al Blaschke qualified for the Guinness Book of World Records after taking a tandem skydive at 14,000 feet.

Good grief.

I consider it a major accomplishment if I can fasten my own bra in the morning.

However, after reading about these incredible seniors, I was motivated. I carefully inked my plan: Start with the 8.2 mile trail in a local state park five days a week, followed by the Springfield Sputter, Mutter & Putter Marathon in April and culminate in the Old Geezers Gasp n’ Collapse Triathalon in June.

I’m pretty good at writing action plans while sitting at my desk. Writing is not a problem. Action is the problem.

Viv’s Do It Or Die Journal

Caffeine in the only motivating factor in the author’s life and even that is short-lived.

Day 1: Walked out front door and down the five porch steps. Very cold out. Walked back up the steps, retrieved a warmer jacket and some gloves. Walked back outside and down the steps. Still cold. Walked up the steps and back inside to retrieve a hat. Both cats ambushed me, cursing “Raaoh!— Raaoh!” Quickly dumped some cat food into their dishes and walked back outside. Just as I got to the car, it started to rain. Went back into the house, put my pajamas back on and curled up in a defeated ball of lost ambition. I’m exhausted.

Day 2: Was almost to the park, all set to hike, when I found a coupon in the van console for a free latte at my favorite coffee shop that was only a few miles away. Made a quick U-turn and headed toward Jumping’ Jack Java. Had no choice. The coupon expires today.

photo by Mehdi Thomas Boutdarine

Day 3: Didn’t make it out the door. My son needed me to babysit while he ran some errands. The grandkids and I made cookies, which is akin to powerwashing the kitchen with a 10-pound bag of flour and swabbing the deck with frosting. Really did plan to go on my hike after they left, but it was impossible. I have a triple case of Distended Cookie Belly, Preschooler Sitter Fatigue and COVID Burnout. Took a nap, instead. I’m exhausted.

Day 2: Looked out the front window and thought for quite a while about hiking. While thinking, I climbed in the recliner under my blankie and read the paper front to back. Also did the crossword and sudoku puzzles. Got up and looked out the window again. Screw it. It’s cold out and it took me all morning to get my bra fastened. I’m exhausted.

Besides, I’m right in the middle of season 4 of Schitt’s Creek.

Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

Masking Encounters of the Third Kind

I’ve noticed more freedoms — not less — in wearing a mask each time I go out.

I don’t have to remove the bits of spinach in my teeth after eating a salad.

There’s no need to pluck that one stray hair that grows out of my chin every month.

I can sneer undetected or mouth all kinds of obscenities at annoying people who get in my space.

I save a lot of money on lipstick and dental work and no one is the wiser.

Hmmm … Weren’t my grandchildren still in elementary school? Who were these young adults?

A mask, combined with large sunglasses enables me to crash random gatherings and visit random people. They don’t know that they don’t know me.

Case in point: I recently traveled to Virginia and stayed with my son and his family.

At least, I think it was my family.

Come to think of it, the house looked different and the grandkids were taller and more grownup than I remembered.

I watched the man I thought was my son forgo his 7-mile daily run and down three pieces of pie in one sitting. Weird.

Growing more suspicious, I glanced up at my “son,” which was weird in itself,
because he was normally only a few inches taller than me.

I watched as the very fit and health-conscious daughter-in-law downed two glasses of wine before dinner, turned her head too quickly, grimaced in pain and rubbed cooling gel on her aching shoulders.

Who were these people?

At dinner, I overheard the grandson as he leaned over and whispered to his younger sister, “Wasn’t our grandma a lot taller? “

“I think so,” the girl said, glancing at me sideways. “And,” she said, “I don’t remember Grandma telling the same stories over and over and always leading with, ‘When I was your age …’, do you?”

“I’m scared,” the teenage boy said. “Her eyes look a lot like that crazy cat lady down the street.”

I excused myself, grabbed a bottle of wine and went out on the front porch to recheck the house number. Was it possible that I missed it by one or two numbers? Was it possible that my GPS had directed me to a family in Maryland instead of Virginia? Was it possible that it was not actually me inside my mask?

Life has become very confusing during this pandemic.

Coming of Age, Vintage chicks lol

Bermudas, ‘Fad’ Shirts, Pegged Pants and Shirttails — Outlaws of The ’70s

I came across the 1970 dress code for my high school and it gave me pause. It’s not as I remembered, which is odd, since I recall with clarity the name of the boy who spit a chunk of bubble gum the size of a cantaloupe into my hair as I sat in the lower bleachers at a 7th grade basketball game. And, I remember exactly how I saved that wad of bubble gum, added to it and placed in on his seat in English class on the very day he was sporting a new pair of Docker khakis. Ah, the sweet stickiness of revenge.

But I digress. The dress code of that long ago day was established by an older generation who was deathly afraid of hippies, nuclear proliferation, bra burnings, Barry Goldwater and Reefer Madness, not necessarily in that order.

This is an actual excerpt from my high school handbook:

For Boys: No shorts of any kind. No pegged pants that are “extremely form-fitting.” Pants are to be worn at the waist, shirttails tucked in, coats may not be worn in school, and no “fad” shirts.” No “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles.

For Girls: No bermudas, slacks or shorts. No “pant-type” dresses. No tight skirts or sweaters, no “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles. Shirts and blouses must be tucked in. Skirt lengths are to be at the top of the knee when standing.

If you wonder why they used quotes on “extremely form-fitting”, “fad” and “extreme”, it’s because they were probably quoting my Dad.

Midwesterners were always at least ten years behind on the newest fashions being worn on on the West and East coasts. By the time Hoosier teens found out who the Beatles were and fell in love with the Fab Four, they were breaking up. So, it was ironic that the school outlawed extreme hair styles in 1970 when many of the girls were still sporting ’60s beehives that scaled the ceiling tiles.

I never did wear the “hive.” That hairdo frightened me more than the Apollo 13 landing. I’d heard tales of horror about bugs burrowing and nesting in the ratted and sprayed coiffures.

The skirt length relegated to the top of the knees certainly would have made me LOL, had that been a known acronym in 1970. In truth, the skirts were so short that we had to hire first-graders to tie our shoes and pick up any change we dropped.

I remember lots of girls getting sent to the principal’s office so he could check and see if their skirts were too short (they were). I always wondered if he also checked to see if their skirts and sweaters were too tight. All I’m saying is some of those girls didn’t come back to class for a long time.

Short hemlines were always a problem, but as you can see, the administration forbade girls to wear anything but dresses and skirts — no bermudas, slacks, shorts or  “pant-type” dresses.

Bermudas would have been much more modest than the miniskirts that let everyone see for themselves if we were wearing the appropriate panties for that particular day of the week.

Bermudas, by the way, were not a type of onion or triangle, a self-governed British colony or a semi-permanent area of high pressure found in The Atlantic Ocean. They were longer, fitted shorts that actually did go all the way to the knees. Interesting sidenote: In 1970 we could not say “go all the way” without lots of snickering and raised eyebrows.

The ’70s is the reason I can’t get too worked up about any outlandish fashions, hairdos, body piercings or tattoos that younger people are sporting today.

I had my day. Let them have theirs. We were young, carefree and it was glorious.

Even more so in form-fitting pegged pants, tight sweaters and miniskirts.