Patsy Porco

Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

See Ya, 2017

In 2018, Humor on December 31, 2017 at 6:15 pm

It’s the last day of the year, so it’s either time to say, “Thank God that 2017 is nearly over!” or “2017 was a great year!” Everyone, however, can say, “I hope 2018 is a wonderful year.” There’s no judgment implied in that declaration, so God or the universe won’t be tempted to jinx you from day one.

I used to think that “the universe” was a PC way of saying “God,” but they could be separate entities. I can see the powers of evil in the universe jinxing you just for fun, but I think God just sits back and lets us mess up our lives on our own.

I’m happy to see 2017 go, but it ended pretty well for me and my family, despite the occasional curveball thrown throughout the year. There are inklings of good things occurring in 2018 (knock wood, universe!) so I’m curious to see if they’ll pan out. There are also indications that not-so-good things could happen (God forbid, universe!), but I’m not going to think about them.

I remember thinking, as a child, that life didn’t make sense. “You learn it all and then you die,” I thought. I didn’t realize that that was the whole point of life. You make mistakes, learn lessons, do jobs, and then, one day, you’re done. It basically comes down to: Was I a good person? Did I love my neighbor? If I had worn my lucky socks to bed every night during 2017, would the Yankees have made it to the World Series?

Happy New Year everyone! May 2018 be a great year for you, and may the evil in the universe stay the hell out of your way.

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Clap On! Clap Off!

In Humor, The Daily Post on December 27, 2017 at 10:11 pm

via Daily Prompt: Confess

If I do something wrong, I almost always confess. I cannot bear carrying around guilt. To my knowledge, I only have two things on my conscience that I haven’t confessed. They happened years ago — one of them happened when I was in elementary school. For the first and only time, I copied an answer from another student’s test. The answer was “The Holy Experiment.” I will never forget that. And the other thing, which I did many decades later, involved a lie I told to a close friend. I will never be able to right these wrongs. My fourth-grade teacher, if she’s even alive, would be flabbergasted to get a call from me regarding my cheating, and I still don’t have the guts to tell my friend I lied to her. So, these two things will have to be reconciled in my next life.

This Christmas, my husband gave me a pile of wonderful gifts … and the Clapper. I refuse IMG_3439.jpgto have the Clapper in the house. I will not turn my lights on and off by clapping my hands. Every time I think of the Clapper, I remember an episode of “Roseanne,” where Roseanne Conner, or maybe Dan, clapped her, or his, hands to turn on the lights. I refuse to own anything that Roseanne’s family owned. I can’t even buy plaid furniture because of their plaid couch with the black-bordered granny-square afghan hanging over the back. I remember one of the female actors hugging a male actor and asking him what he smelled of. The answer was, “the couch.”

I have to confess, though, that I love granny squares. The hippies were about 10 years older than I was as a kid and I admired the girls with their long, straight, center-parted hair and their granny-square vests and sweaters. I have crocheted lots of granny squares over the years, but I have never used black yarn in them. To me, the black-border screams “low-class,” because of the afghan on the Conners’ couch.

Anyway, back to the Clapper. My husband asked me when I was going to hook it up and I said, “Never.” I explained that I loved his other gifts but not that one, because it was trashy. I told him that there was a list, on Amazon’s “Clapper” page, of things that people who bought the Clapper also purchased, and a light for the inside of the toilet and a Chia pet were featured. My husband said, “I almost got you a Chia pet.”

I shuddered and then told him that he could have the Clapper. He said, “I don’t want it. Do you think I’m trashy?” I said, “Of course not.”

I didn’t ask him if he wanted a light for the toilet or a Chia pet, though.

Addendum: My husband said that the Clapper was a joke gift, and he didn’t get why I didn’t get that.


Two Christmas Trees

In Babysitting, Christmas Season, Humor on December 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

The other night, I babysat two young boys, aged 4 and 7, while their parents, Jodie and Joe, went to dinner with another couple.

Christmas TreeJodie is Jewish and Joe is Catholic. Jodie solved “the Christmas tree conundrum” by putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with blue and white Hanukkah lights. The ornaments are mainly Santas and snowmen, though, since they’re much more plentiful in stores than dreidels or latkes. Jodie did, however, manage to find a few Hanukkah ornaments, and also hung several of those handmade picture frames that elementary-school teachers are required by law to have their students make. This year, Jodie persuaded Joe to buy a fake tree. It was so tall and full that I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t a real tree until I touched it. Even though it looked like a real tree, Joe didn’t like it on principle.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, I had brought an unconstructed gingerbread house to make with the boys. I have never made a successful gingerbread house. Even though I always buy the pre-made gingerbread, I am never able to get the walls to stand up and the roof to stay on. This one had interlocking walls. You would think that would have been foolproof. You would have been wrong. The notched pieces mostly stuck together, or the pieces that didn’t break off did. The adhesive was made of confectioner’s sugar, and the picture on the box made it look like it would be easy to pipe it out of the bag without slopping it down the sides of the walls and all over the roof. It wasn’t. Confectioner’s-sugar glue dries instantaneously, so you can’t wipe it off when it drools all over the gingerbread. You just have to move on. I built the house by myself in order to avoid more mayhem than necessary and then called the boys over to decorate it.

The plan was for me to dab sugar-glue on the house and the boys would stick candy all over the walls and roof. Those kits are stingy when it comes to how much candy they supply so we would have run out even if the kids didn’t eat most of it. Luckily, they knew where their mother hid candy, so they were able to find enough to make up for what they consumed, plus plenty extra. When it was all done, the house didn’t look bad. It didn’t look especially good, but it was festive. It was also germ-ridden since one of the boys had a cold and the other kept licking the candy before sticking it onto the house.

Afterwards, we had some leftover candy canes. I remembered that I had seen a recipe for handmade candy ornaments, so I decided to melt the candy canes and then pour the liquid into cookie-cutter molds. The three of us smashed candy canes and I put them on a plastic plate which I transferred into the microwave oven. I melted it for a minute at a time, stirred the candy, and then microwaved it for another minute. I kept doing this until it was melted … along with the plastic plate. The boys thought it was hilarious that one of their dinner plates had a big hole in it. I doubted their parents would be as amused.

Then I lined a cookie sheet with waxed paper and put a plastic Christmas-tree cookie cutter and an angel cookie cutter on top of the waxed paper. I poured the melted candy canes into the molds. The liquid went into the molds and right out the bottom, spreading all over the waxed paper and melting the empty plastic cookie cutters. I added two Christmas Cookie Cutterscookie cutters to the list of things I had to replace.

I took a picture of the melted plate and cookie cutters and sent a text to Jodie: “I owe you a plastic Christmas tree and angel cookie cutter and a plastic plate, which I melted.” I attached the picture and sent the text. I then cleaned up the mess and told the boys that they were forbidden to eat any more candy. They each grabbed a handful of candy and scurried off to watch TV. In the meantime, Jodie sent me back a text saying, “No worries.”

After the boys were in bed, I sat in the living room with their adorable poodle puppy. Suddenly, the puppy woke up and went to the garage door. Somehow, she had heard her parents come home, whereas I had heard nothing. This says something about who was really watching the house. I heard the inside door to the garage door open and I called out, “Hello!” A strange woman answered, “Hi!” The dog didn’t seem alarmed, so I decided not to be either. The woman came into the living room and said that she and her husband had gone to dinner with Jodie and Joe. She said that they and her husband would be right in. I introduced myself.

She laughed and said, “Jodie was freaking out when she thought you burned down her Christmas tree.” ”

What?” I asked.

She laughed again. “Jodie read your text about melting her tree to us at dinner. She really lost it.”

“I didn’t burn down her tree,” I said. “I melted a Christmas-tree ornament.”

We figured that out,” she said, “when Joe took the phone from her and said that there was a picture attached. Then we saw what you had melted.”

Right then, Jodie, Joe, and the woman’s husband came in. I said goodnight to everyone and Jodie walked me to the door. I told her I was sorry that I had melted the ornaments and the plate. She said, very calmly, “No problem at all. I was initially a little surprised by your text, but we eventually figured out what you were talking about.”

“I’m sorry I upset you,” I said. “I’ll replace the plate and the cookie cutters.”

“I wasn’t upset at all,” she said. “I am happy, however, that the tree wasn’t burned down.”

Her husband called out from the kitchen, “I’m not.”

Jodie shot him an annoyed look.

Joe needs to learn how to sugar-coat the truth like his wife does.



Don’t Pass Gas in a Puffer Coat

In Humor, shopping on November 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm

As a public service announcement to all of you out there who are about to start shopping Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 2.42.21 AMfor winter coats, you should know that puffer coats grab onto smells, absorb them, and hold on like a baby to a pacifier.

I went to a Korean-barbecue restaurant the other night and came out smelling like I had never left. My coat drank in the pungent scents and retained them like water. It’s two days later and that coat still reeks.

Which brings me to some other aromas that will stick to your coat like glitter to anything: body odor, bodily gases, perfume, and cooking smells. Basically anything that your nose can sense will move into your coat and start unpacking immediately.

My husband has asked me not to wear my puffer coat until it’s stink-free. He came at me today with a bottle of Febreze but I wouldn’t let him spray my coat for fear of staining it. So, for now, it’s hanging outside in the yard. I hope there’s nothing smelly out there.

Wearing a skunked coat would really stink.

I Think I Love You

In David Cassidy, Death on November 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

When I was 10 through about 12, I was determined to marry David Cassidy. So were millions of other preteens. We all thought that we, alone, had what David Cassidy needed in a wife. We weren’t sure what that was, but we had it.

I remember reading my Tiger Beat magazine and discovering a contest to meet David. All I had to do was explain why David would want to meet me, personally. I told my mother that I was going to win because I cleverly wrote, “David, you have to meet me because ‘I Think I Love You!'” My mother said she imagined that every young girl was going to use the title of his hit song in their plea to meet their idol. I was stunned. Really? Others would think of this, too? Well, it turns out that they did. And some other girl, who was not me, won that contest.

Teen and preteen crushes are powerful things. They twist up your insides and can bring you to tears. You think that you just cannot live without the object of your infatuation. You learn that love can be physically painful.

And then you move on … to crushes on real people, or older famous people. I worked with a young woman, when we were both in our late-20s, who was determined to meet and marry John F. Kennedy, Jr. It was lucky for her that her dream didn’t pan out.

I moved on to real people in my late teens and 20s … and to Barry Manilow. I was way too old to still have crushes on celebrities, but that didn’t stop me. I listened to his albums day and night. I even exercised to them … and forced my boyfriends to listen to them. I ignored comments from those who said he was gay. How could he be gay? He was going to marry me! Of course, it turned out that he was gay, and he was not going to marry another woman. (He’d been married to a woman in his younger days.)

Speaking of inappropriate crushes, I was in my 50s, and married, when I was infatuated with Robert Pattinson. Looking back, I’d prefer to think that I was infatuated with his Twilight character, Edward Cullen, instead of a young man in his 20s.

But, as they say, I digress. All of this reminiscing started with David Cassidy’s death. He brought many people joy with his music and his show, “The Partridge Family.” Both are firmly entrenched in the memories and psyches of multiple generations; kids born in the 50s, 60s, and maybe the 70s, as well as their parents, watched the show when it originally aired, and then later generations watched it in reruns, when their parents insisted.

Many are saddened by the passing of David Cassidy. Are we mourning the death of our youth, blah, blah, blah? No. We’re mourning the loss of David Cassidy.

Why? Because we think we love him.

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Second Impressions

In Humor, Theater on November 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm

via Daily Prompt: Black

I saw a play yesterday with some friends. It was a musical rendition of The Bridges of Madison County.

The theater was tiny, with a capacity of approximately 120 seats. The stage was small, but the area in front of the stage was utilized by the actors, which often placed them within inches of the front rows of seats.

There was a point when the lead actor, who played Robert Kincaid, was directly to my right, about a foot away. I had to exercise all of my self control because I was sorely tempted to whisper to him that he needed to get a new pair of black socks because the ones he was wearing were threadbare.

He was fortunate, however, that he was standing next to a pillar of self-discipline, for that reason … and also because he was very handsome. Other, less-controlled women in the audience might have been tempted to distract him with their cleavage or salacious lip-licking, or even money, regardless of what that would have done to the continuity of the play. Luckily, he was very accomplished when it came to staring off into the middle distance and ignoring the audience. I suspect that he has dealt with inappropriate comments or actions from the audience before.

Everyone in the play was very good. I especially enjoyed the comic relief offered by the neighbors, and the performances by Francesca’s husband and children. The young-adult orchestra was excellent, albeit a little loud sometimes.

The lead female, who played Francesca, had an ethereal beauty and a gorgeous voice. She was a pleasure to watch and hear. The lead male’s voice got stronger and more emphatic during the second act. Someone must have told him during the intermission that his good looks were only going so far … or that the orchestra was drowning him out. During the second act, when he started singing with feeling, and volume, the audience appeared to become more engaged with the play.

After the play, my friends and I all decided that the play was just okay. Some of my friends couldn’t get past Francesca’s infidelity and, therefore, they weren’t able to enjoy the play. Others had complaints about not being able to hear the actors above the music. Some of them didn’t think the story translated well as a musical, or didn’t appreciate that the story differed from the book and/or the movie. None of the complaints related to the acting, which was very strong and effective. I, personally, left the theater feeling ambivalent about the play.

However, my ambivalence kept me up all night. As I tried to sleep, all I could think about was the play. The actress who played Francesca made the audience feel her distress about giving up Robert in order to be loyal to the husband who rescued her from post-war Italy and gave her a good life, and to her children, all of whom she deeply loved. The actor who played the husband made us hurt for him when he struggled with Francesca’s unexplained angst. And we all internally cried for Robert, who was a lost soul who found his soulmate and couldn’t have her.

After a night of contemplation, I think I loved the play, after all.

I’m still going to send that actor some new black socks, though.

Bridges of Madison County

Photo by Heather Hayes



In Humor, knitting on November 10, 2017 at 11:06 pm

When God was handing out the analytical/logical part of the brain, I think I was off gabbing with a moron. Since I missed out on that part of the brain, I got the moron’s.

I cannot think logically, analytically, or mathematically. I often fall asleep trying to do math problems — like, if Movie Star X was born in 1964, how much older is he than Movie Star Y, who is 26? I then spend my dream running from Movie Star Y, who wants to kill me, while Movie Star X is somehow my son.

Things that are simple for other people are complex for me. For instance, I recently decided to arm-knit an eternity scarf. I saw a young woman wearing a pink one and I had to have it. Rather than tear it off her neck, I asked her where she got it. When she told me that her friend arm-knitted it, I wasn’t deterred, even though I had no idea what arm knitting was. I googled arm knitting and found a video that guaranteed that I could make an eternity scarf, using just yarn and my arms, in 30 minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 10.48.30 PMSo, I bought the super chunky, size 6 yarn and turned on the YouTube video that had step-by-step instructions, with some of them in slow motion. I tried to follow the host’s every move, but I never got past the first step. Every time the woman said, “And this is how the yarn should look in your hand now,” I looked at her hand and then at my hand and then pressed “rewind.”  After one hour, I was still on step 1, which was making a slip knot. By this point, I was supposed to have one scarf completely finished and another started.

Meanwhile, I had mounds of yarn all over my desk and the floor and nothing near a real stitch on my arm. Finally, I had a Eureka moment. The woman was facing me, so I should be doing everything that she was doing backwards. I immediately turned around, so that she and I were facing in the same direction. The problem with this was that I now had my back to the computer screen and had to twist my neck to see her, which meant I couldn’t see what my hands and arms were doing, which was nothing.

Then I decided to watch the video in a mirror. But the portable mirror I found wasn’t big enough to show the whole computer screen at a reasonable distance (I didn’t want to be watching the video from next door), and I couldn’t locate a table high enough for me to put the computer on so I could see into the bathroom mirror.

I’ve decided to put this project aside until I can find someone who can follow directions and who will agree to help me make my scarf.

In the meantime, I think I’ll talk to a moron. I’ve already got a mirror.

A Truly Awful Play

In Humor on September 23, 2017 at 9:38 pm

I took my husband to a play at one of our town libraries today. We met up with one of my friends, Kathi, and her friend, Dave.

Kathi and I, along with some other friends, had been to a play there a few years ago.  The play was performed by a traveling acting company. The actors were from New York and we live in Connecticut, and I think that’s as far as they travel. That play was based on a Nora Ephron book, I think. The scenery was bare bones, but it was really well done.

Today’s play, Marriage is Murder, was also put on by a traveling group. It might be the same group as before. If so, their standards have slipped drastically.

There were three actors today. One of them was a woman, dressed in black, who came on stage between scenes and cleared up all of the props used in the previous scene. She made exasperated faces and hunched over like she was carrying a load of rocks instead of papers and sweaters. She was the comic relief, and she was very funny.

The other two actors, a man and a woman, played ex-spouses who were trying to write another murder-mystery novel together. They had attained some success earlier in their lives with their mystery character, and they wondered if they could do it again … without killing each other.

The man was really good. His acting was terrific and believable and, most importantly, he knew his lines.

The woman was truly terrible. Her acting was over the top. She sneered, grimaced, and mugged. And she didn’t know any of her lines. She knew the general outline of the play, and that was it. Her lines were posted on every flat surface on the stage: on an ironing board, on the lid of a box of chocolates, on her martini glass. And she still flubbed them. On a number of occasions, she just stopped talking and looked at the script to see what came next.

It was horrible. Awful. Terrible. My head was aching when I got there and the pain escalated throughout the six — yes six! — scenes. The running joke was that the spouses wanted to kill each other.

I was pulling for the husband.


Thank You, Rudy

In dogs, Pet Death, pets on August 30, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Rudy1Our beautiful Golden Retriever, Rudy, died two weeks ago. I didn’t think I’d be able to write about it because of how sad we were, and still are, but I want him to be remembered in writing.

Until you own a pet, you don’t realize how hopelessly intertwined their lives become with yours. Every happy, joyful, thrilling, depressing, sad, dispiriting, and even mundane moment of your family’s life is shared by your pet, who contributes to your responses with joy, compassion, or equal boredom. When that pet is no longer with you, there’s a void in your lives and a gaping hole in your family unit.

My parents had black Labrador Retrievers from my teen years on. I never really noticed them, other than as peripheral beings who would lie around or occasionally swim in our pond. I know that my father considered Sam to be his dog, and my mother considered Chaka to be her dog. I’m not sure who Licorice, our first dog, belonged to. I was a teenager when we got her, and too self-involved to notice what was going on around me.

Rudy5My husband, son, and I have had only had one dog, Rudy. He had a personality as big as the house. He was so joyful that you couldn’t help but laugh at his big, drooly grin. Right up to the day he died, my young-adult son would say, “I love his face! Look at his smile!”

We really should have named him Joy. But he had other sides, too, and some were uncannily human-like. For instance, when I talked to him, he would cock his head sideways, like he was really considering what I was saying. When he saw me drinking wine, he would bark and bark so that my husband would notice. When my husband would say, “She’s allowed to drink,” Rudy would snort in disgust and walk away.

He disapproved of many things, so there was a lot of huffing and puffing from him. He didn’t like when I told him he couldn’t have what I was eating. He especially didn’t like when I stayed up too late, according to his timetable. He would bark and bark, and then my husband would yell, “Shuuuuut Uuuuup!” Then Rudy would snort and throw himself down on the rug at my feet. He would also be sure to give me the side eye while I continued reading or watching TV.

Rudy16Rudy was also very conniving. If he was outside and barked to come in, I would open the back door. Then, he’d just stand there. If I didn’t offer him something he wanted to eat, he refused to come in. However, if I closed the door on him, he’d start barking again to come in. Sometimes, if I got too close to him with whatever food I was bribing him with, he’d grab the food and run off like a burglar. We had to admit that he was clever to make us bribe him to do something he wanted to do, like come in.

We had an inkling from the day we got him, when he was barely eight weeks old, that our lives were going to get interesting. Of course he was terrified. We had just taken him from his six siblings and parents. We understood that. So, we tried not to react when he walked into our house and emptied his bowels on our new dining room rug.


Rudy in his homemade “Thundershirt.”

Our patience was sorely tested over the next year, however. He chewed baseboards, ate whole flip flops, and dug up our new carpets like they were dirt. He was terrified of fireworks, thunderstorms, and even rain. We learned that the hard way. One day, we left him alone and when we came home during a thunderstorm, he was happily sitting among endless curls of our new Berber carpet that he had dug up. When he was afraid, he would dig, no matter where he was.

He was also an escape artist. If the front door was open even a sliver, he’d dash out and run all over the neighborhood, behind houses, across busy streets, and onto lawns. I spent many a midnight running behind our neighbors homes, praying that they wouldn’t wake up and call the police. If it had happened to snow, the game level increased. He’d roll and jump and let me get almost close enough to grab him, and then take off.

Rudy2I remember telling a friend that the first months were exhausting, with all of the chasing and crying. “Why was Rudy crying?” she asked. “He wasn’t,” I said. “I was.” Racing up and down streets in my robe in the middle of the night was harrowing.

Rudy put my son through the same paces on their daytime walks. He learned to slip his collar and take off. No matter what kind of collar we put on him, he’d learn to escape from it. There were so many times that my son came home from walks cursing and sweating and dragging Rudy up the front steps.

But, we were always able to laugh, after the urge to kill wore off. Rudy was just so full of life and joy that it was contagious. We were able to forgive him for anything, even the times he pulled the leash out of our hands and dove into the nearest mud puddle or muddy brook at the park. At least those horrifying incidents made for good pictures. And, he always resignedly accepted his fate of being hauled to the dog-washing place.

Rudy13Rudy got bathed or hosed down a lot in the summer because, like all Retrievers, he loved to swim. He’d swim until the end of time, if we let him. We would take him to the dock of a nearby river, or to a nearby dog park at a lake, and he’d fetch balls in the water with all of the other dogs. Playing fetch combined with swimming was his idea of the best life had to offer, not counting food, of course.

Rudy3Rudy had another side, too. He was compassionate to the bone. If any of us were sick, depressed, or upset, he’d be right by that person’s side for as long as it took. He was so loyal that it touched our hearts. When we were sad, he was sad right along with us. If one of us were depressed, he’d lick and lick and lick our faces, letting us know that he loved us.

The day before he died, he was as lively as ever. He had slowed down a little, but not much. He was nine and would be 10 on Halloween. He and I had gone out back and played fetch, and then he dug and ate grass while I weeded my garden. Then, we went back inside and my husband and I left for the movies at 6:30 p.m. Our son was at work. When we came home, around 10, our son was home. I asked him where Rudy was. He said he had just gotten home and he had called Rudy, with no response. That was odd. Rudy was always waiting for us by the front door. As soon as he heard our car pull up, he would bark his head off.

I looked all around the house, and then went to the basement. Rudy was huddled in the dark. He had been sick. We cleaned him and the floor and then tried to get him to come upstairs. He refused, so my son decided to sleep on the basement couch, next to him.

Rudy18The next morning, we discovered that Rudy had been sick several times. We tried to comfort him and tell him he’d be okay. At one point, he demanded to go out back. We let him out. He never came back in.

Our son had to leave for work in the early afternoon, but before he left, he and I tried to get Rudy to the car to see the emergency vet. It was Sunday, and our regular vet’s office was closed. Rudy was very large and weighed more than 100 lbs. We couldn’t lift him, so we dragged him to a sled and got him on it. We planned to drag the sled to the car. Rudy was very weak, but he mustered his strength, stood up, and went back to where he had been lying. We tried again, with the same results. We decided that he wanted to stay home to recover. Our son left for work.

Rudy glassesMy husband and I took turns sitting with him. We truly thought Rudy was just sick and would recover. We knew that he was really sick, though. He had such little strength that, when he lifted his head to drink from his bowl, he couldn’t get his head out of the bowl.

I will be forever grateful that we kept a vigil with him during his last hours. After I sat with him, and told him that he’d be fine, that he was the most wonderful dog in the world, and that we loved him, I went inside and my husband sat with him. When my son got home from work and rushed out back to see Rudy, Rudy looked at him, convulsed, and died. He was waiting to see us all before he left us.

Rudy in poolThe shock was indescribable. The grief was awful. But we had to focus. Flies were landing on him and we had to do something quickly. We wrapped him in his vinyl blow-up pool, and dug his grave. We read that the grave should be at least three feet deep to keep animals from digging him up.

It was late afternoon and the sun would be setting soon. We dug and dug and, about two feet down, hit solid rock. We could dig no further. The sun was now lower in the sky. We could either find another place to dig or use the grave we had dug. Our yard is not an easy place to dig. We had encountered thick tree roots, vines, and rocks, that had to be cut or dug up, after almost every shovelful of dirt was removed. We didn’t know if our digging would be any easier if we started over someplace else.

We decided to use the shallow grave we had dug. We gently lowered him into the hole and covered him with dirt and rose petals from our rose bush. Our son drove to the hardware store and got topsoil and heavy rectangles of sod. We cried and cried as we covered him with more dirt, and then the sod.

Rudy4When we were finished, I walked across the sod to pat it down and made a horrible discovery. I could feel Rudy’s body under the sod. Oh my God. I was walking on his head.

It was dark by then, though, so we decided to wait until morning to do anything else. We placed the sled on top of him, to deter animals (As if that would work. We obviously weren’t thinking clearly at the time).

The next day, I cautiously approached his burial site. Thank God no animals had moved the sled or tried to dig him up. I lifted the sled. I walked on his grave. I could still feel him. It was a really terrible situation.

Our son went back to the store and bought more dirt and more sod. We piled sod on top of sod, on top of sod. This is not the recommended method for sodding a lawn. We didn’t care. We reasoned that, eventually, the first one or two layers would settle around him and then the top layers would lie flat.

That’s what we’re hoping. Meanwhile, there’s an unexpected mound in the middle of the grass. At least he’s safe.

We love you, Rudy. Thank you for nine wonderful years.



Three Rotting Bananas

In baking, Humor on August 12, 2017 at 12:13 am

I don’t like to cook. I do it, but I don’t enjoy it –– or attain a trance-like state while I chop, slice, and dice, like a friend of mine does.

“Chopping vegetables is so relaxing,” she told me a few years ago. To this day I don’t know if she was being serious, or lying to see my reaction. I just told her she was nuts.

Chopping onions burns my eyes. When I peel carrots, I always wind up peeling the skin off my index finger. Grating cheese always involves grating my fingernail along with the cheese, and then sifting through the pile of cheese to find the nail shavings. I now polish my nails bright colors so they’re easy to spot.

Most of all, I dread having to locate the necessary spices, because when I open the above-my-head spice cabinet, an avalanche of spice bottles roll out and fall into the sink, scaring both me and the dog.

By the time I manage to get whatever I’m making onto the stove or into the oven, the counters are littered with peelings, eggshells, onion skins, meat wrappers, and dirty pots, pans, bowls, and measuring cups. And the dog is underfoot, licking up whatever hit the floor.

As much as I dislike cooking, I thought I liked baking. Tonight’s attempt at making banana bread made me realize that I was thinking of someone else, maybe one of those cake experts on the Cooking Channel.

It all started with three bananas that were so ripe that they were going to liquefy if I didn’t do something with them fast. For as long as I’ve been alive, whenever someone complains that his or her bananas are brown, another person never fails to say in a perky voice, “Make banana bread!”

Up until today, I’ve always thrown out brown bananas (and steered clear of people who make upbeat pronouncements), because baking with putrid fruit never seemed honest. But, tonight, I decided to reconsider the ethical question of disguising rotten fruit as a loaf cake.

I looked up banana bread recipes and they all called for bananas that were well past the eating stage. Some of the recipes even gave instructions for transforming  perfectly nice bananas into sludge. All of the recipes demanded that the bananas be very brown, very soft, and very aromatic.

So, I made banana bread. The process was just as annoying as cooking, and easily as messy. Flour-drenched counters, a sugar-coated Golden Retriever, sticky bowls, and caramelized beaters awaited me once I slid the pan into the oven. It took me three hours to make one loaf pan of banana bread, not including the baking time. I blame the butter.

Who knew it took hours to bring butter down to room temperature? The recipe said to soften it naturally and not expedite the process with the microwave or hot water. Don’t you think that should have been mentioned right under the title, in all capital letters? But no, the author waited until I had mashed the bananas with sour cream and vanilla, mixed the dry ingredients, and tripped over the dog before mentioning that room-temperature butter had to be beaten with sugar.

Oh well. It’s done now. I have no idea if it’s any good. Nor will I ever know. I hate banana bread. I’ll probably freeze it, and one day when I can’t identify what it is, I’ll toss it in the trash.

Next time, I’m throwing out the brown bananas.

banana bread




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