I had to blame someone.

I gave up all ambition to accomplish anything today, and went back to bed. And it’s all my sister-in-law’s fault.

You see, my sister-in-law has the soul of a decorator.  Her house is always gorgeous, with just the right touches in the corners; the colors are not just pleasing, but comforting, the pictures hanging on the walls are always straight.  And she is constantly working on it – moving furniture, painting walls, even changing out the pictures, swapping them around to give the visitor a whole new perspective on perfect.

Me? Not so much.  I go for the comfortable look.  Once a picture is hung in our house, usually the day after we move in, it is there to stay until we move out.  I have no eye for color, no awareness of furniture fashion. Mainly, this lack of any decorating sense has served us well; it’s hard to want to bring new stuff into a household full of hairy, shedding beasts (and I include Bruce and myself amongst them).

But because my sister-in-law likes to change up her decor, she often takes pity on me and generously passes on items that no longer fit into her vision.  On my last visit, she asked me if I wanted a practically brand-new bed linens set. Gorgeous, swirling blues and greens, fresh, soothing, lovely.  From Pottery Barn. Even I know that Pottery Barn is THE place for quality home goods. So, since my dogs had recently taken to tearing open the seams of my old bedspread to pull out the stuffing, I greedily clutched the beautiful fabric in my hands and scurried home to re-do my bedroom, imagining a calm oasis in which to relax and lay our heads.  Two things: that was a month ago, and I just decided to attack the project now, so it’s all been sitting in a pile, creating a not-so-calm oasis in which I regularly heard Bruce cussing as he tripped over it. The other thing you need to know is that the bed set I am replacing was also given to me by my sister-in-law, about 10 years ago, and it, too, was a first-class set, including all the necessities, plus curtains. (come to think of it, the cover on my daughter’s bed was Susan’s, too – good lord, I’m the poor relation of which I’ve read in gothic novels!)

So I finally got around to my version of redecorating.  I stripped off old cover and shams, took down matching curtains, and hauled them all away. We shall not discuss what happens to curtains when they have hung for 10 years.  I will just say there were more critters in my house than I realized.  I had gotten around to ordering european pillows, which are square (why?), to fit the new shams,  and thought I would find some pretty curtains when I went to the store to pick up the pillows.  I ordered them from a store I had not shopped at in years and years, and, while I won’t mention the name specifically, it starts with 2 initials and ends with a name that sounds like a coin that is not a nickel, dime, or quarter.

I wandered in at opening, wondering to myself why I never shopped there – gee! look at all the sales! – and went back to the customer service counter to pick up the order.  Only one register was working, one man in his 80’s was working it (I am not exaggerating), and 5 people were in line with returns, pick ups, and purchases.  A sales clerk walked by, looked us over, and turned around and left.  When next she came by, I told her, politely, that I just had a pick up, and I’d be happy to pay for it at another register, if that would be easier.  She grudgingly took my number, and that of another customer’s, and disappeared. For 15 minutes.  About 10 minutes into my wait, I went looking for curtains, thinking I could at least be productive while she took what apparently was her lunch break.  I found some that would do (My sister-in-law would never have settled on something that “would do” – first mistake), and came back to the counter, where the clerk shoved a box only slightly smaller than my car across the floor to me, and said, “Here’s your pillows.” And turned away. I am not often stunned into silence, but I have to admit my mouth was hanging open, and nothing was coming out. I had a brief, internal debate about what my next actions should be, but, because I did not want to go to prison, I merely got back in line and paid for my curtains.  It was hot, and the curtains were on sale, and…I really don’t know what was wrong with me… I never stand meekly by when I have been so stunningly mistreated. But I did.  And then I ripped open the huge box in the middle of the sales floor, took out the three pillows, and stalked out. I’m sure they could sense my displeasure in my posture and stride. And they cared. I’m sure they cared.

When I got home, I scurried excitedly about, stuffing pillows into shams, smoothing covers, twitching the bed skirt into place. Everything looked terrific. For the final touch, I took the curtains out to hang them. And realized I had bought the wrong length. And that I was going to have to go back to the store to return them. In the heat.  To the customer service desk. And interact with those employees. At that store I had sworn to never again grace with my presence.

I couldn’t handle it. I just lost it.  I crawled into bed with two of the hairy beasts (not Bruce), and just gave up.  And blamed my sister-in-law.

Bits and Pieces

Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to write a tirade, or even if I don’t have enough for a longer post, I do have bits and pieces I feel you would all benefit from reading. This is that kind of post –

It is time for me to get back to work, though it has been a wonderful summer. While I could use two more weeks of lounging about and eating bon-bons, I crave the schedule, and, even more, the socialness of work.  Today I got back into the mood by prepping my lunches for the week; as one of my (many) bosses said “Ann eats everything out of jars.”  I do, at school anyway – I put together jars of yogurt and berries, jars of salads, jars of Pho, so I can just grab them and go in the morning.  Sunday mornings are kind of a ritual for me, though obviously not a religious one, as I grocery shop and then cut up veggies, cook up whatever is the protein of the week, generally get ready.  Then I have the rest of the day to relax.

When we were little, I used to dread Sundays; they were long and hot, I had to sit still and be good in church, and every Sunday night we had to fold clothes.  My poor mom – with 4 kids, we had mounds of clothes to fold, and we always did it while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Wonderful World of Disney.  Now that I am a full-fledged grown-up, I childishly refuse to fold clothes on Sunday nights.

Reading the two paragraphs above, I just realized that I’ve traded one ritual, folding clothes, for another, prepping meals. Insert wide-eyed emoticon here.

Continuing the food theme (so many of my posts do seem to center on food, don’t they?), this year’s cherries have been absolutely the best I have ever eaten.  Big, deep red, firm, and as sweet as sugar.  I keep bringing pounds home, planning on pickling them, and then eating every one before I can get the vinegar out.  Pickled cherries are a Dixon thang – all the sibs love them, and all the in-laws think they are an abomination against man and beast.  If  you are a pickling freak, here is the very easy recipe:

J-9’s Pickled Cherries

  • 1 quart cherries
  • 3 T Salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • White vinegar

Wash cherries, pack into canning jars.  Add salt and sugar to each jar, pour vinegar over.  Store for at least 6 weeks, turning jars over periodically. I like them best refrigerated after the six weeks of sitting.

We did get to go on vacation this year – Bruce and I took an absolutely amazing cruise to Alaska.  It was the first time in several years that we took a real vacation, and we had some trepidation about being in such close quarters for 10 days.  In fact, some people who may or may not be related to me were taking bets on who would return alive. Hah! We both did – just to spite them.  Actually, we got along really well, and made some great friends, and not just with the bartenders.  A couple-and-mother-in-law group took us under their wing and taught us a new card game, Three and Thirteen, which, luckily, can be played while holding onto a frosty Moscow Mule.  Absolutely great people, who don’t know it but probably saved one of us from being pushed out onto an ice floe and sent out to sea.  I won’t make you look at vacation pictures, but here is one such ice floe.  The colors are truly that deep. (I’m having problems getting the picture to show; bear with me.)(Nope, not happening.  More research is needed.)(Screw it.)

IMG_0104

Best of all, I was cool for an entire week, even cold on occasion.  It was glorious.

But I missed my dogs.  Oh, and my kids. Of course I missed my kids.

The hardest part of the cruise, and I say it with shame in my heart, was the days we were without internet connection.  I truly got anxious when I was out of touch with every one, and when I couldn’t google something I needed to know instantly.  My attachment to my phone is ridiculous, and I recognize that, but I can’t let it out of my hand. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about that.

Even as wonderful, necessary, and luxurious as the vacation was, getting home was best – my own shower, my own bed, my own dogs, and, as a neighbor once said, “Two doors between me and everyone.”

Back to work tomorrow!

 

Time To Get Political (Fair Warning)(Also, Religiousity)

Discussions at our house have touched lately on The Transgender Issue. Except I maintain steadfastly that there is no “Issue”, and feel very strongly that individual rights, both to choice, privacy, and inclination, should be left to the individual.  According to the last census count, 1.5 MILLION people in the U.S. identify as transgender; this is no longer an issue of the odd kid down the block who likes to play dress up, and we need to get past that type of thinking.

One of the sub-topics that we have discussed is that of tax money being used to pay for surgery, especially for those who  make the change while they are imprisoned. I don’t resent my tax money paying for that; it’s a necessary surgery to that person, and I don’t think that they see it as “elective’ – it is compulsory. There are worse things they could be doing in prison, as I well know from my research of binge-watching Orange Is The New Black.

What I do resent my tax money being spent on: Congressional hair cuts, subsidies to not grow crops, political junkets to anywhere except Bakersfield, California (the most boring place on earth, no chance of getting into trouble there), pork belly spending, subsidizing ever bigger sports venues, wars fought over mythical weapons of mass destruction, the street barriers in my hometown preventing me from turning left across traffic, and any departmental spending just to spend because if we don’t spend it, next year They will cut the budget.

I resent like hell paying for the guys in jail for 20-to-life over an arrest for a few ounces of weed. If President Obama is going to give out any get-out-of-jail free cards before he leaves office, those should be the people he hand them out to. Or is it to whom he hands them out? Grammar aside, those poor bastards don’t belong in there, and that money, my money, could be better spent elsewhere.

But I digress. My current main beef is with Texas Governor Abbott, who is thrusting himself into the limelight by getting involved in the Fort Worth ISD’s decision to allow people to use the bathroom of their chosen gender. The Superintendent is following federal law, and Governor Abbott does not have a dog in that hunt, as we like to say here in Texas.  I have long advocated unisex bathrooms; when I need to pee, I don’t care who is in the stall next to me, as long as they don’t try to talk to me through the cubicle wall, but are still willing to hand toilet paper under, in an emergency. Why can’t all the bathrooms just be unisex? Problem solved.

No matter what you believe in, surely we can agree that our one job here is to do the best we can with what we’ve got, and be kind, helpful, and courteous to those around us. I sometimes forget, or get off track, and need to be gently reminded, it’s true, but, ultimately, it’s easier to be nice than it is mean. It is less stressful to mind, body, and soul.  So, even if you don’t do it for others, be a good human being for your own sake.

Thanks for listening to me preach. Go out and be nice to someone today. And, as my mom would say, wear a little sparkle.