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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 it 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.

Cooking, Vintage chicks lol

Which Came First? The Chicken, the Egg or the Salad?

I’ve been trying to stick to a plant-based diet. I’m not a nut about it. I don’t go all psycho if I get asked if I want chicken on my salad. (I am the first to admit, chicken on a salad is pretty tasty.) I’m not a big meat eater, so it’s not a hardship to give it up. However — I gotta have my eggs. Cholesterol be damned. Here’s a photo of my fave salad. Everything but the kitchen sink. Oh yes, avocado. Always avocado.

My usual salad, sans eggs

The finished salad, topped with a fried egg, or two

I know what you’re thinking — fried eggs on a salad?! What the …

But trust me, it’s delicious. The yolk kind of melds with the dressing and, oooh, yummy.

I picked up this culinary practice after I attended a Woman’s Press Club of Indiana meeting two years ago at Traders Point Creamery in Zionville, just north of Indianapolis.

Traders Point Creamery is a 150-acre organic artisan creamery and restaurant with a working farm and restored barns. It offers a unique farm-to-table dining experience, inside or outside amid the beautiful gardens and countryside. The Loft Restaurant is located in an 1860s barn with hand-hewn beams and hand-carved wooden pegs. The Farm Store sells Traders Point organic cheeses and 100% grass-fed milks and yogurts. Two 1870s barns house the milking parlors, where the cows are milked twice a day.

It’s not just a place to eat, it’s a wonderful family excursion and experience.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, at our press luncheon, Julie — a friend and fellow club member — and I ordered salads. Julie was sipping her home-brewed ice tea and I was savoring my coffee with fresh, organic cream when our salads arrived — each topped with a fried egg. We looked at each other and raised our eyebrows.

“What the …?”

But we both dived it and later agreed it was a delicious addition. For dessert, everyone ordered the homemade, hand-scooped ice cream, which you can also get at the outdoor Dairy Bar if you’re eating outside. (The indoor Dairy Bar is closed due to COVID-19.)

According to its website and Facebook page, Tradespoint Creamery is open, but indoor and outdoor dining is operating at 50% capacity.

I hope to make the 2-hour trip again in the near future to share the farm restaurant experience with my grandchildren and show them how to order their salads sunny-side up.

Traders Point Creamery

Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

To Make a Mortal Enemy, Give a Friend a Bag of Amish Starter Bread

One crazy pandemic-induced hobby is baking bread. Well, for other people, not for me. I baked bread for my 4-H project in fifth grade, washed my hands of bread-baking and never looked back.

Another “bread” craze that I went through in the 1980s has made a ferocious comeback during the COVID-19 Era — Amish Friendship Bread (AFB).

If you’re unfamiliar with Amish Friendship Bread, then you either have no friends or friends who truly care about your mental health and well-being and have not offered you any of this neurotic-inducing yeast concoction.

Here’s how it works: You make the starter batter with yeast, flour, sugar and milk and then let it “grow” in a large baggie on your counter, taking care to “mash” and nourish and breast-feed the bread for ten consecutive days. Ok — just joking on the breast feeding. On day ten, you divide the starter dough into four or five 1-cup batches, keeping one for yourself and giving away the other starters to four or five of your friends.

Then you wait for your friends to “unfriend” you.

If any of your friends, upon seeing you standing on the doorstep with baggies of AFB starters, suddenly screams, makes the sign of the cross, throws a ring of garlic around her neck and slams the door in your face, you can be sure she has had a prior AFB experience, and now suffers from AFB PTSD.

My daughter’s friend — let’s call her Becky, ‘cause that’s her name — swears that her starter dough doubled or tripled in size as she slept. If there were three baggies when she went to bed, there would be 12 when she made her morning coffee. It creeped her out. She even called a priest to exorcise the AFB dough clones, to no avail.

Becky tried baking everything away, but that didn’t work. She was still left with one or two starter batches — which, to her horror, continued to grow — and she soon had 12 baggies of starter dough and 24 loaves of baked AFB on her counter. After the initial thrill of homemade bread (Who does that? Seriously?) Becky’s husband and son quickly grew weary of consuming Amish Friendship Bread, AFB lasagna, AFB tuna cupcakes and AFB WTF casserole.

I sympathize with Becky’s plight (although she better not bring that dough over here). I still have PTSD symptoms from trying to unload AFB on my (now former) friends back in the 80s. I too, tried to bake my way out of it, but my kids put their foot down when I tried to serve them AFB SpaghettiOs Pie.

photo by Ananth-Pai-On Unsplash

Close to a nervous breakdown from trying to give away millions of AFB baggie starters to friends who said, “No way in hell!” and from trying to bake or use all of the starters, I tried to secretly throw away some of the starters, even though this caused immense guilt — children in Africa are  starving! — but I swear it multiplied in the trash can, crawled out at night and chased my cat around the house before settling back on the counter in a gelatinous blob that greeted me in the morning with strange burping noises.

I paid my dues. Don’t be coming around pretending to be my friend while holding a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter.

Friends don’t let friends give other friends Amish Friendship Bread Starter.

Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

Day 62: Lazy, Isolated Woman Rescues Ant; Gropes Dirty Fruit

Since I’ve been “sheltering in place” I’ve made list after list of the things I would finally have time to get done.

I’ve done none of those things.

What have I done? Well, let’s see … I’ve eaten (a lot), slept (a lot) and uh, made lists (you know, a lot).

In my defense, I’m easily distracted. Take today, for instance. It took me a while, but once I figured out  what that golden orb in the sky was, I broke into song, danced around the kitchen and put on my work clothes in anticipation of finally getting some yard work done.

I then got distracted and spent a good hour watching an ant try to climb out of the kitchen sink. I wish I was kidding.

I rinsed out my coffee cup and noticed an ant struggling in the rushing water. I turned off the water, but the little gal appeared to be dead. Just as I was about to swirl her into the garbage disposal, she began kicking her skinny, little stick legs (obviously, she had not been in self-quarantine) and began swimming — or drowning, I wasn’t sure which. I didn’t know if ants could swim, and lacking a proper ant life jacket, I did the next best thing and threw her a toothpick. In retrospect, the rounded toothpick was probably not a good choice. But, this insect chick was no dummy. She quickly moved from stern to bow — executing some “Dirty Dance” moves along the way — and deftly log-rolled it to the edge of the water.

When she hit the somewhat dry part of the sink, she  abandoned the canoepick, collapsed and panted for a minute or two. She then used her front two legs to drag the rest of her water-soaked body to the edge of the sink, looked up, sighed and began her perilous ascent. She carefully made her way around each drop of water, because if she didn’t — which happened a number of times — the droplet would completely engulf the ant and send her sliding back into the sink basin. She would then have to regain her strength before going at it all over again. She never quit.

When she finally made it to the top, I scrapped all plans for squishing her. She deserved to live. I  gently picked her up on the edge of a paper towel and carried her outside, placing her near some well-known and thriving ant condominiums in the back yard. I smiled as I pictured the ants having a parade to pay homage to the hero (ahem …) who bravely swooped in and saved the ant from certain death.

Before continuing with my plans, I decided to make lunch and eat it on the patio. Because God knows, I needed another meal. I was eating some grapes, swinging in the glider, when my attention turned from the ant and backyard flowers to the odd-shaped fruit I had just grabbed. Two grapes had grown together and well, at that point, I became a full-on fruit molester.

I pondered the “pair” quite a while and stared longer than necessary at the fruit breasts, which led me down a long, dark rabbit hole of wondering how many other fruit porn stars were hiding and doing obscene things in my fridge. I had long been suspicious of the zucchini and kohlrabi.

I leaned back on the glider and suddenly felt drowsy. After a day of saving an insect and worrying about the morals of my fruit, I was exhausted and decided to take a nap in the warm sun.

I would work on that list tomorrow.

Coronavirus, Vintage chicks lol

Pandemic Turns Life Upside Down With 20 Daily Decisions

So very many pandemic decisions every day:

Masked troll vs unmasked troll

  1. Is it Monday? Saturday? Thursday? April? June? 1977? 99? Indiana? Illinois? IU? Purdue? Brad Pitt? George Clooney?
  2. Slippers or slipper socks?
  3. Frayed IU sweats with missing “I” or flannel pajama pants with stretched out elastic waist?
  4. Underwear or commando?
  5. Wine? Vodka? Mouthwash?
  6. Messy, rapidly-turning-gray bun or baseball hat?
  7. Hulu? Prime? Netflix?
  8. Pink hearts and unicorns face mask or black crossbones and skulls face mask?
  9. Sudoku? Jigsaw puzzle?  Crossword? Pin the tail on the Michigan Militia?
  10. Cheetos? Doritos? Kettle chips?
  11. Brush teeth and rinse with mouthwash or skip the teeth and gulp the mouthwash? (Refer back to No. 5)
  12. Watch news and open wrists? Watch “Keeping Up With Kardashians” and see if Kim’s butt got any bigger? Or watch “Shtisel” again and consider conversion to Orthodox Hasidic Judaism?
  13. Sleep? Nap? Doze? Move from recliner to sofa?
  14. Makeup? Face mask? Burka?
  15. Eat pan of fudge brownies or 2-layer chocolate chip and caramel cheesecake?
  16. Help an older lady load her groceries into her car or gut-punch the guy standing 6” from my face in checkout lane who’s wearing no mask and yelling, “This is bullsh–!”
  17. Brave the crowds to buy toilet paper? Hand sanitizer? Bleach? AK-47?
  18. Make a nutritious dinner for Hubby and me or hide in the closet and eat a quart of Häagen-Dazs with a soup ladle?
  19. Use 100-proof hand sanitizer on my hands or make a relaxing Tizer ‘n Tonic?
  20. Do something? Do nothing? Do anything?