?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.

Life is Complicated

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve tried to move money from an investment account at one company to our saving account at another company. In the past, this took only a couple days. However, given current logistics, if we were using the  money to close a mortgage we would probably have lost the deal.

Which makes me wonder why things are so complicated these days.

I acknowledge that Earl and I are old and probably less savvy about how transactions occur in 2024. Still we bank online, and I used the websites involved in the scenario above to move the money. We have gotten umpteen emails assuring us the company moving the money has received our request.

But that isn’t the same as implementing it, because the company that is supposed to receive the money hasn’t gotten it yet. Grrrrr!

I do not find this process user friendly. Is it because of our age or because technology has supplanted customer service? I leave the answer to you.

See more 10 Minutes in category , | Leave a comment

Multiples

It’s a sign of contemporary society that the single serving of a food item is readily available. You can buy mashed potatoes, soups, chips, beverages, for one. Also pot pies, Hostess cupcakes, and milk. Yes, the cost is probably higher; but you might waste less, especially if you live alone.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to buy a single roll of Scotch tape, one ballpoint pen, or one roll of tape for a calculator that prints. You can’t buy one banker’s box or one shirt box either. All these now come as multiples.

Then there’s Costco, the king of multiples. We bought three ketchups, two Romano cheese imitations, and two olive oils because that’s how they came packaged. Six pounds of ground beef is the minimum as is six packages of chicken breasts.

I realize Costco is geared for families, so I’m willing to excuse the excess in play even though I go home and repackage everything for a family of two.

And now there are BOGOs, the buy one-get one free phenomenon. If it’s really two for the price of one, I think that’s a great deal although the price of one is probably inflated. Additionally, these days many BOGOs are buy one-get one for fifty percent off. I guess if you need two in the first place it’s still a great deal. But what if you don’t?

The allure of getting a bargain often overshadows the fact that if you don’t need two, then the price of one is the best investment.

See more 10 Minutes in category , , | Leave a comment

Help Wanted

There are several household chores that I absolutely detest, and I’m wondering if other women feel the same way. If so, perhaps there is an employment opportunity for some hardworking individual to address these needs.

The first is oven cleaning. I have a self-cleaning oven, so the oven itself isn’t the problem. Rather it’s the racks. The oven manufacturer warns that leaving the racks inside during the self-clean cycle turns them black. And it’s true, because I did this with my previous oven, the one that I also detested and didn’t care about the look of the racks.

Now I have a relatively high-end oven, and I feel differently. I could take the racks outside in warm weather, spray them with an oven cleaner, and then scrub them myself. But I never get around to it. Perhaps there could be someone who does that for me, just as there is a chimney sweep for your fireplace or a lawn care service for your fertilizing needs.

What other services are lacking?

How about someone to water your plants when the sprinkler system isn’t working? Or someone to do your ironing? Or someone to organize files on your computer? The ideas are endless.

See more 10 Minutes in category | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day and Baseball

I’m not super keen on Mother’s Day, but I am super keen about baseball. (If you read my blog regularly, you’re probably thinking, “Boy, does she belabor the obvious.”)

Anyway, I started this Mother’s Day by reading Heather Cox Richardson’s essay on the original Mothers’ Day movement in the late nineteenth century. You can read it here if you’re interested. And I hope you are.

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-11-2024

This afternoon Earl and I went to see the South Bend Cubs, a feeder team to Chicago’s Wrigley Field Cubs. It was the perfect day, weather-wise. Warm and breezy, but not too breezy. We had seats under a roof, so sun was not a problem. We also had the traditional hot dog, which was traditionally mediocre. But that’s what you do.

It was a great game, even though our farm team lost 4 to 2 in the tenth inning. On the way home, however, we learned the pro-Chicago Cubs won against Pittsburgh 5 to 4. Not a bad way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

See more 10 Minutes in category , | Leave a comment

Meatballs, Part II

Tonight we had spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, salad, and shredded Romano cheese for the entrée. It was great, but this is what I learned.

I probably won’t make meatballs from scratch again. Not that they’re a lot of complicated work. It’s that I can buy meatballs at the supermarket we like just as well. Which led me to think about other foods I once made from scratch that I don’t anymore.

Pie crust: Pepperidge Farm makes a great pie crust. You simply unroll it and plop it in the pan. They come two to a package, so you have options.

Mashed potatoes: Bob Evans makes fine mashed potatoes in several varieties. There’s sour cream and chives, garlic, buttermilk red skins and a kind called loaded; but I’m not sure what that means. Usually I just purchase the original. My only complaint with Mr. Evans is that each variety has its own number of ounces, making some more economical than others.

Fresh fruit: I’ve moved from thumping a melon or smelling it to simply buying chunks that the produce department has cut and packaged for me. It may be more expensive but at least I’m not paying for rinds and seeds that are inedible. I never was very good at thumping anyway.

For the record, I still make my own spaghetti sauce from a recipe my Italian mother-in-law gave me half a century ago. It will never be replaced by a jar of Prego or Bertolli, because there are still some things that can’t be improved by convenience.

See more 10 Minutes in category | Leave a comment

Meatballs

What possessed me will remain a mystery, but I decided to make meatballs this afternoon. A spaghetti dinner was probably on my mind, but as a rule I just make meat sauce. It’s ground beef one way or the other.

Earl, since he is often the sous chef, and I got the ingredients together. And he mixed them as only he can. He can blend anything to the right degree, so I knew the recipe was well mixed. Then we made the balls and cooked them in the oven.

As an aside, Earl does all the things I don’t like to do. Chops onions for anything, shreds zucchini for baked bread, mixes ingredients for other recipes that I cook. It’s appreciated.

He made the meatballs with a cookie scoop and we put them on a cookie sheet to bake according to the recipe. Less than twenty minutes later, we had funky looking meatballs somewhat smaller than a golf ball and certainly more crispy.

I sampled a couple and thought they were really salty. But then Earl will love them, because he eats with a saltshaker in his left hand. Tomorrow we’re having the aforementioned spaghetti and meatballs. Review of same to come.

See more 10 Minutes in category | Leave a comment

Shred

My son, Kevin – poet, professor, runner, soccer and tennis aficionado – has finally seen the results of his four-year labor. He wrote a book about running and being during the pandemic, when he spent his sabbatical year in his sunroom. On May 1, NDSU Press announced its publication. It’s called Shred!

You might wonder how something written during the pandemic might be relevant today. But it is. The fact that it was written during the pandemic doesn’t mean it’s about the pandemic. It’s about running and how it could change the world.

Seriously.

I’m waiting for him to bring me an autographed copy when he visits in June. In the meantime, if you’re interested visit https://www.kevincarollo.com/.

If you know Kevin personally, you know how intense he can be. If you don’t know him, take my word for it. Which is how his book is. Intense. Literate. Thoughtful. Worthy.

See more 10 Minutes in category , | Leave a comment

The Sandbar

In the 23 years we’ve lived in this area, we’d never been to The Sandbar, a local eatery established in 1948. That changed recently when we visited for the first time with friends. They armed us with advice as we met in the parking lot.

“It’s really loud in there,” C said. “Always. It’s crowded too, even when you come early.” Which we had.

The Sandbar is your basic burger joint. There’s not much to eat for vegetarians except for salads and novel “starters.” Like fried green beans or mac-n-cheese bites. Oh, wait, there was a black bean burger at the very bottom of the menu on the back page almost as an afterthought. And each table had its own roll of paper towels, which gives you a sense of the vibe. Definitely not white tablecloth.

There are stairs to navigate to get into place and the number of televisions is daunting. So is the variety of alcohol behind the bar.

But we had a great time in spite of the challenges because the food was excellent, our server was entertaining without being annoying, and he gave C three olives in her drink.

I can see why The Sandbar is a popular place. It’s unassuming and comfortable and reasonably priced. It’s also open until 2 AM, so perhaps this is where people go when other restaurants close for the night.

To make this restaurant review stand apart, I searched the internet and learned that the world’s largest sand bar is located along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia. It has been 750,000 years in the making and, unlike most sand bars, it is home to various vegetations and wildlife.

Perhaps The Sandbar in St. Joe, Michigan can say the same thing, but in terms of time it’s just a newcomer.

See more 10 Minutes in category , , | Leave a comment

Mulch

The weather forecast has dictated my recent activities regarding my gardens. If it’s warm, but not hot and with little wind, I cancel other projects to dig in the dirt.

Spring is early this year; usually I don’t even consider these activities until the middle of May. But with company coming the end of the month into the following month, I’m glad to get a head start.

My annual plan starts in October the previous year. That’s when I close the gardens and vow I’m not going to do as much next spring. I keep this resolve through most of the winter; but when the temperatures climb and garden centers open, I forget my fall promise.

Instead, I visit various nurseries and buy all kinds of things: azaleas, petunias, zinnias, celosia, Dusty Miller, etc. The plants all smile when I put them in my checkout basket. How could I not bring them home?

So the past two days of perfect gardening weather, I have pulled weeds, planted annuals, pruned various bushes, and gotten ready to mulch. This last is important because I am only one of two residents in our complex who didn’t accept the standard association mulch. Which means I’m on my own.

No matter. The complex where I live spread mulch about four weeks ago without weeding or pruning. Unless you’re into gardening, this might not matter. But for those of us purists, mulching is the last thing in garden prep, not the first.

See more 10 Minutes in category | Leave a comment

Oxymorons

Oxymorons are everywhere. Earl recently gave me some, and my son Kevin and I have had more than one laugh about them.

By definition, according to one Richard Nordquist (whose credentials I didn’t check, but he seemed erudite enough) an oxymoron “is a figure of speech, usually one or two words, in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.”

Here are some of his 100 examples:

Alone together, cheerful pessimist, new tradition, plastic silverware, authentic reproduction, limited lifetime guarantee, devout atheist, exact estimate, uninvited guest, found missing, ill health, jumbo shrimp, larger half, one man band.

You get the idea.

Actually the ones that stood out most for me revolve around war: civil war (Really?), living sacrifices (This feels awfully prescient), partial ceasefire (This too) and military intelligence (?????).

Nordquist also says the word ‘oxymoron’ is an oxymoron. It’s derived from two ancient Greek words: oxys meaning sharp and  moronos meaning dull or stupid.

If you want to read more of Mr. Nordquist, go to

https://www.thoughtco.com/awfully-good-examples-of-oxymorons-1691814

And by the way, I’m writing this from my home office.

See more 10 Minutes in category , | Leave a comment