Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A little cheer goes a long way.

“O-H-I-O …Your (insert your own word here) Has Got To Go!”   Hmmm…shall we say May Snow Fall? Virus Crap? Quarantine? We are lucky to live in a state with a good cheer name. Folks in Kansas, Iowa and Florida aren’t so lucky.  Texas works. “T-E- XAS …This Virus Shit is Such a Mess!”  Long state names could be just postal codes, which might work. New Jersey for example. “NJ-NJ Lockdown, Lockdown Again Today.”

See where I am going? Yeah, me neither.

Surely there is something to cheer about in all of this. For me, time has allowed for yours truly to relocate 6000 bricks into useful spaces after 12 years of being a condo complex for chipmunks. Actually the chipmunks moved out when the hawks moved in upstairs. Most likely they were forcibly relocated into the gullet of the aggressive new neighbors. But let’s return to cheering for now…

Laying bricks is rather mindless so I come up with stupid stuff to fill the void. Such as cheers. No, I don’t know why either.  What follows are few which could be fun to make into one of those “cute” videos to fill time in an otherwise endless stream of…well…time. A couple of O’cedar mop pom poms and you are good to go.

Medical personal at one hospital could issue the challenge cheer to the other hospital across town. “We got virus, yes we do! We got virus, how ‘bout you?!” “WE GOT VIRUS, YES WE DO! WE GOT VIRUS, HOW ‘BOUT YOU?”  “WE GOT…(you get the idea)

Instead of “Defense, Defense” it becomes “Face Mask, Face Mask!” 

“Gimmie a C, gimmie an O, gimmie a V, gimmie an I, gimmie a D, What it’s spell? CORONA!”  Hey, these kids have been out of school a long time, how do you expect them to spell anything? My auto-correct really hated this last section. Smoke be a com’n from the keyboard! I just wrote that to piss it off even more.

“Here we go shopping, here we go! (no you don’t)  Here we go shopping, here we go! (wear a mask!)”

“Here we go, Covid, here we go! (clap clap) Here we go Crazy, here we go! (clap clap) Here we go Drinking, here we go! (pour more!)”

“Pump up the Purell, Pump up the Purell, Pump up the Purell” (that would be pump up the volume for those of you too long in your lounge chair).

“2 – 4 – 6 – 8 Who Do We Appreciate?”  Delivery Guys! Doctors! Nurses! Truckers! And on and on and on….

“Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right, Stand Up, Sit down (can’t, my pants are too tight!)”

Okay, that’s enough. But I bet I have you thinking of some of your own! Since we don’t have sports or school or much of anything resembling the world “before”…it is still important to cheer each other on during difficult times. Okay, so these might not be the best ones to share with a neighbor.  Maybe this one is better….

“We got Pino, yes we do! We got Grigio, How ‘bout you?!” 

Cheers my friends!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wrapped Up and Ready

Bandito Chic, that is the term now popular in Los Angeles to describe our new obsession with face masks. I learned this in the Wall Street Journal so don’t blame me if you think it is a poor choice of words. I grew up with the Frito Bandito character by the Frito-Lay company from 1967- 1971 (voice by Mel Blanc) before the lawyers got involved and he was both canned and banned. His pencil eraser is still in my procession someplace, I believe incorporated into a small scale Hoard Couture dress.

So…face masks. Love them, hate them, tolerate them, make them? Are these bits of protective face coverings the new fanny pack, pager, ear buds or phone case? You know, the “must have” accessory of the moment that will be mass produced in infinite quantities to match every outfit, taste level and designer logo? Will there be whole display sections devoted to merchandising these nose diapers?

Now I am not talking about the need for medical grade masks, of course there is shortage and supplies are woefully under-stocked. I am not talking about the thousands of home seamstresses (myself included) that have joined the cause and made hundreds for local use by our health professionals. What I am speaking of are the do-it-yourself-er solutions to looking like a bank robber. Speaking of which, add them to the list of the currently unemployed. (in addition to strippers, toothpick makers and people working on facial recognition technology).

Between the internet and the local grocery stores, anything goes. Socks for instance, there is video to cut a sock and make a mask with the unfortunate protrusion of a heel section on one cheek. The simple bandanna performs just fine of course which is totally Frito Bandito, even though he never wore one but we do associate bandannas with train robbers in vintage western movies. I saw a man wearing what looked like a knit jersey shirt sleeve that had been cut off and pulled over his face like a turtle neck gone wrong. Personally, I am waiting, just waiting, for control top pantyhose to make an appearance!

Then there is the elastic vs strings debate. Myself, I prefer elastic, but I make only strings. Elastic is the new tickle me Elmo. Can’t buy it, can’t find it, can’t order it… substitute with hair bands say the experts. Or cut open a bungee cord which makes me feel like a cross between Survivor and MacGyver. As for strings, the seam bindings are sold out, shoe laces are hard to find, and ribbon is just weird. It took me multiple tries to finally find a string method I like, long after my batches of masks have been delivered. Isn’t that always how things go? (FYI – String ties are better for people who wear hearing aids, oxygen tubing or eyeglasses, less irritation behind the ears, just say’n) Personally, I prefer strings because I like to tie one on.

Medical people aren’t bothered by masks, they have grown accustomed to that aspect of protection. Us lay folks however, ugh!!! My peripheral vision downward is completely cut off. Nobody can tell if I am smiling at them, of course, they also can’t tell when I curse at them either. Hmmm…bonus!  But there are advantages. If you happen to be someone (not me) who gets lip injections or Botox around the laugh lines…money in the bank! No need for that stuff. So too if you wanted a rhinoplasty (aka nose job), save the bucks and put on a mask. Make up? Why bother, those rosy cheekbones are no longer visible, that perfect shade of lipstick is a waste of time and if you put on sunglasses, damn the mascara as well. Think of all the time we are saving to add to our tally of time to kill while hanging out at home. Have you alphabetized the spices yet?

Internet sites including Pinterest, Etsy and others have multitudes of creative mask ideas using feathers, netting, bedazzlers, fur, and so on…. I predict there is an industry coming and a marketing ploy in place to get you to purchase masks as a "must have" fashion accessories. Heaven forbid what would someone think if you wore a mask that didn’t match your outfit? I bet sports franchises and other logo/mascot based businesses are already cranking out the fabric. Staying at Caesars Palace in the future? Forget the golf shirt souvenir, it will be a signature logo mask.  Rooting for the Steelers? Better have their team colors on your face. Wearing Chanel to the ladies lunch? Coordinate with pearl trimmed CC fabric hiding those now deflated lips.

So much can change with the addition of mandatory masks such as the art of self-defense, now just a sneeze away. Feel threatened in public or while on a hike? Pull down your mask and start coughing.  Perhaps a teen afraid to be laughed at for wearing braces? Put on a mask, “doctors” orders, nobody will argue. It does make it tough to chew gum and blow bubbles however. And Halloween!... costumes will not be a mask, but a face without one (with its unbleached teeth, mustache waxing, nose bob job, lip fillers, chin hairs….who needs a werewolf mask now?) So as long as Dr. Action rules our fashion and DeWine says the look is fine, we here at Hoard Couture will do our part and make face art.  

PS – Banana bread follow-up number two. Follow-up one was on the last blog but only 7 of you read it. This time I made 2 loaves but had to substitute plain pecans (walnuts sold out) and some left over chocolate chips I found in the back of the pantry. The extra oil and milk didn’t seem to affect the outcome either since I did not want to leave a half cup in either container.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Teamwork under Quarantine

We hear it every day, we are all in this together. Teamwork and all that. So I looked around to see who was on my team and decided I am the Captain of the Quaran-team! Since there are no real sporting events going on this will have to do. Not that I ever really cared about sports unless it was the last two minutes (really like 30 minutes) of football (of that last game of the season), or the final hour of the Masters, or whatever equivalent there to the “is it almost over” moment for such activities. Saying this in Stark County is like inviting an arsonist over for a cookout, but since ya’ll are having to stay home, I’m good until the order lifts.

My hubby is the General Manager. The person around who oversees the operations but lets the team do its thing. Since he is out there on the front lines everyday keeping those moms and babies safe, his job is just a bit distracting right now so we let the front office not worry about what is happening in the locker-room.

So who is on the team? Our oldest member is Sadie. Nicknamed Tades (rhymes with shades) because at one time this scrawny cat was rather chubby like a big old twice baked potato. Pushing 18 (about 90 in cat years), she is boney, pukes a lot and being deaf, whines all the time. Sort of like having a skinny toddler around who can still jump on the counter and tables. I guess she can be the annoying assistant coach who yaps and yaps at the other players but really doesn’t do a whole lot.

Next is Cersei, the rescued Maine coon cat who was a mass of matted fur, burrs, sticks and icks when I almost tripped over her at Bottler Park. So named by the GM because she had to be shaved off and spent her first two (or that was the plan) nights in the ½ bath (throne room). She had other plans however and broke down the baby gate ….we should all be amazed after 30 years that I still had a baby gate!...and made her way to the bedroom, claiming a rightful chunk of the mattress. She hasn’t moved very much since then, now about 3 years or so.  As skinny as the other one is, this girl is a roly-poly.

The bulk of our team is comprised of the dust bunnies. No social distancing for these little boogers. They are gathering like barnacles on the bottom of a battleship, scurrying from one corner to another all day long.  Their motto must be strength in numbers. A lone tumbleweed of cat hair goes floating by and out shoots a bunny, grabs that tuft and adds it to the arsenal under the sofa. I suppose I should do something about them…..when there is the outside possibility that we will have guests inside other than the Orkin man and he doesn’t care. Maybe I can organize them into a drill team, Bunny and the dusters. Speaking of which…

Our team spirit really is one. This neighborhood is built upon Paleo-Indian settlement land. Many of them have not left the area. One resides in my house. Confined to one room and quite friendly actually, we have co-existed peacefully for 28 years. Others sensitive to such things are aware of him, those who are not, never notice. I leave out swifter dusters in hopes he gets around to knocking off the dust bunnies that are way up high in the corners (who decided 2 story rooms were a good idea?) and those eyelash thin strands which form between the moose antlers. Mostly likely he is in cahoots with those bunny boogers, creating ever so fine artwork visible only when the sun shines in before the leaves come out and block those revealing beams of brightness. Mind you I appreciate a well-constructed web as much as anyone, but that is a short term installation piece and the artist who creates it is made famous rather quickly by his rapid demise. An appropriate burial at sea soon follows.

Finally, we have the occasional walk on player from the nearby woods. Cersei however is not too fond of undocumented additions who dare cross the threshold and will roll off the bed (most likely just squashing the little critter) and take credit for what the Orkin man was probably most responsible.

I suppose the manikins could be on the team. Half a dozen headless body forms hang out in my back studio along with a bag of Styrofoam wig heads.  Okay, that sounds creepy. Best to keep that squad in the equipment storage room. Other than that, it is pretty sparse around here. One indoor plant, a scraggly looking cactus that has been around forever and gets water every so often when I think about it, which is why no other plants are indoors. Plants are meant to be outside where watering is God and Mother Nature’s responsibility. The Garden of Eden was outside so that is good enough for me.

Speaking of the outside, team Red Tail Hawk takes on Team Crow or Team Blue-jay on a regular basis. That is entertaining though very noisy. Team Chipmunk was knocked out long ago. Team Earthworm dried up when I laid bricks and left their dirt homes on the driveway…in the sun.  Team Squirrel doesn’t play by the rules, making end-runs up the bird feeder and Team Ground hog keeps becoming Team Ground Chuck since they have yet to figure out a thing called traffic (although there is now much less  traffic so Team Ground hog is gaining some ground).
All in all, our Quaran-Team is doing pretty well. Sincerely hoping the post season starts soon. I hope your Team is doing okay too. As a follow-up, I did make a second loaf of banana bread, (living dangerously by adding a third rotten banana), but forgot to add the vanilla because it wasn’t in the “add to” list. So I just mixed it in after the loaf was in the oven for a bit. My kids gave me a “5 ingredients only” cookbook. Stay tuned, this could be old school math or today’s common core method!!….now go wash your hands.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Snarky goes bananas.

Are your toesies feeling a bit chilly? That would be the beginning of Hell freezing over. No, not because of the C-19 virus, but because I decided to bake something. No biggie to you all most likely. To me however, check out the date on the bottom of the baking powder can, that should tell you the last time I used it.

My daughter in law and my future daughter in law can zippity-do-dah their way around a complex delectable treat and only dirty one pan. Me… I had to figure out which pan on that top shelf of unused bake-ware deserved to be dusted off and made to feel useful again. The recipe said to pour into a pan….well shucks all mighty miss recipe contributor, could you be more specific? But I digress, let’s start with how I got to this point.

Rotten bananas. They are to blame. I must have hoarded bananas. I recall that rotten bananas are used to make banana bread! Such a genius I know.  However, a hazmat trip to the grocery store turned up no boxes of mix (an aisle of the store I have never ventured down) that required bananas as part of the process. Really? And you call yourself a banana bread mix? Bull crap. So I bought a mini carton of eggs. Everything requires eggs right?

Back home, fully sanitized and ready to work some magic, in the drawer that hardly opens because it is so full of receipt clippings, (someday it will be excavated to find petrified chopsticks) I found one of those cookbooks where members contribute their favorite recipes. It was the New Neighbors League book from 1992, a group that kicked me out when I moved here, so much for being neighborly. Blame it on my second child, he was hungry and they had a no children allowed in the meetings policy. Anyway, yes, there was a recipe for banana bread. Now I am not a fan of things with too many ingredients if I have to assemble them. I won’t even read a comic strip if it has too many words, they are supposed to be pictures. So below is a picture of my assembled ingredients. As I said, the baking soda was rather expired, but my husband said it would still be okay. The sugar had to be put thru a chipper shredder, the flour must be original to the canisters I bought for our first house in 1986 and when you don’t have walnuts, well…..substitute. A nut is a nut. (pictured at the end, my improvised secret ingredient)

The recipe called for vanilla extract too. Good. That was probably fairly new. The recipe did not say when to add it however. Just like the pan thing, some more detail would have been nice. I figured since it was liquid, it went in the liquid bowl. Even though sugar, which is not liquid, went into the liquid bowl too. See, that is dumb, but I am sure Mrs. Davidson explained it during home ec class in 1973 but I was probably busy doodling on the newspaper cover of my history book. Whatever. Sugar dissolves so it goes into the eggs, oil and water bowl. Notice I scored on the egg purchase!

I think my bag of baking powder was intimidating all the other ingredients. He was a bulk purchase baby to replace the old box in the fridge that has been there for years. (You have all cleaned your fridge as part of the stay at home routine right?) So I successfully combined all these ingredients, which by the way, are listed in a different order than they are combined, that is dumb too. That is why I don’t like recipes. List the ingredients needed in the order in which they will be combined. Common sense to me. I counted 4 bowls and lots of utensils that were dirty by this point.  Finally I got to mushed up the rotten bananas, resisting the urge to use all 4, not just the 2 needed. Hubby the chemist said if it says 2, use 2. Improvise on the taste not on the quantity. Fine. Fork over your bourbon pecans, they are the new walnuts. Loaf pan selected, batter poured in and pop that puppy in the oven. The recipe gave two different temp options depending upon your type of oven. What? It’s an oven, it only has one set of numbers on it. Fine. (exasperated sigh inserted here)

55 minutes later, in went the knife to test done-ness. That part I remember because I always laughed that one got to murder the poor bastard prior to eating it. Gotta make sure those bananas and nuts are good and dead!

Out came the loaf pan and onto the cooling rack. Those little rack buggers were a bit entangled in that skinny cabinet that holds cutting boards and cookie sheets (which I call glue gun trays). Neither of us could recall when to take it out of the pan so we decided right away was a good choice. Most of the finished product cooperated, the bottom decided it would rather shelter in place so those calories don’t count.

I still have 2 rotten bananas. Actually I have enough ingredients to try this again. If neither of us has food poisoning by tonight, then perhaps I shall attempt a second loaf before putting that pan back on the highest shelf with the spring forms, muffin tins, and assorted bake-ware that probably put out a missing poster someplace when their buddy took an unexpected pleasure cruise through the tropical heat and the waterfall box.

So….that is my saga of Snarky vs the rotten bananas. I wonder what other items are lurking in pantry? This could get interesting….. Thanks for reading! Wash your hands!! 
(Walnut schmalnut!)