An unwelcome guest — April 14, 2021

An unwelcome guest

A week or so ago, I was wasting time on social media when a story caught my attention. According to said story, a woman in South Carolina was alerted to a critter being in her kitchen when her “dog just went berserk.”

She initially assumed her dog had located a mouse, but when she entered the kitchen, she spied what she believed to be a stray dog. Keeping her eyes on the “dog,” the 85-year-old dialed 9-1-1. When first responders arrived an hour and 10 minutes later, the woman learned that the “dog,” who had remained pinned in a corner of the room, was actually a coyote who had gained entry into the house through a pet door.

The first responders used pet toys to lure the coyote out of the house through the pet door. The story did not detail the coyote’s fate, but the woman said she has started keeping the pet door closed at night.

What an excellent idea!

Indeed, I would go one step further and keep that pet door closed permanently. This story has highlighted the reason I don’t have a pet door – you never know what’s going to sneak inside your house. It could be a slithering snake or a rabid raccoon or a small psychotic human.

You just never know.

And this invasion doesn’t have to occur at night or with evil intent. You could be hanging out at your house in the middle of the day, wasting time on social media, when you look up and realize a squirrel or a possum or a baby bobcat has taken up residence on your sofa.

I understand the appeal of pet doors, especially for dog owners. Pet doors allow dogs the freedom to come and go as they please. They allow humans a measure of freedom, too. Humans don’t have to constantly jump up and down like a yo-yo for that canine who can’t decide if he or she wants to stay inside or outside or actually use the expletive bathroom.

It probably works for inside/outside cats, too, but that notion is foreign to me. In fact, my dog, the late, great Mia Frances, was only inside/outside because I had a fenced-in back yard. Still, one time a neighbor’s dog funneled his or her way under the fence and appeared, to my and Mia’s surprise, in the back yard.

I’ve also spotted various other critters, including snakes, rodents, and rabbits, in the yard over the years. Bunnies might be cute, but I would go berserk if one hopped into my house, which is why I do not have a pet door.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Power down — April 7, 2021

Power down

You might recall that a couple years ago I wrote in gushing detail about my obsessive love for my fitness tracker, Esmerelda or Esme for short.

As with other fitness trackers, Emse was the type of gal who alerted me every hour if I hadn’t gotten my steps and –.

Oh, you might have noticed with that “was” that I’m referring to Esme in the past tense. No, I haven’t murdered her, but, well, keep reading.

Approximately a year ago, Esme started exhibiting a few weird characteristics. Most noticeably, she credited me for exercising when I had been doing less than nothing. In Esme’s world, since I was allegedly burning a couple thousand calories a day, I could also eat a few thousand calories every expletive day.

Although this might not seem like a big deal, it meant there was no need for me to input my food into the app because, at the end of every day, I allegedly had oodles of banked calories just begging to be consumed.

Also, Esme started glowing in the dark. It was as if The Child from The Mandalorian had swallowed a lightbulb and then crept into my room, no doubt looking for frog eggs to eat. I could not sleep with that green light worming its way behind my closed eyelids, so I removed Esme at bedtime.

To review, all this meant there was no need for me to log my food or my sleep, two of Esme’s reasons for existing.

To make matters worse, Esme also started exhibiting issues with her battery. When I contacted the company, they said, yep, there’s a problem, so we’ll give you a discount on a new model.

Uh, no thanks.

I made do with Esme. She continued to buzz me hourly (assuming I hadn’t already gotten my steps) whilst providing me a handy way to keep up with my water and the days I legit exercised (I input it manually).

But a few weeks ago, the battery pretty much quit working. It would be at 100 percent at, let’s say ten o’clock, and down to 12 percent by noon. I found myself charging it every couple hours just to keep it from dying.

Then, after a week when I barely communicated with Esme due to a migraine, I said to myself, “Self, what are you even doing?”

Since that day, she has remained on the table.

And you know what? I’m still drinking water and I’m still exercising five days a week. Sure, I keep track of these activities by pen and paper, but trust me, I have enough of both.

And, no, I don’t jump up every hour on the hour to get my steps. To be honest, though, that’s a relief because Esme had become something of a nag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

It was a week — March 31, 2021

It was a week

This week, everyone was enthralled by the saga of a man who might or might not have found shrimp tails in a box of cereal and with a big-expletive boat blocking the Suez Canal.

As for the tale of the alleged shrimp tails…all I have to say is that I only buy brand name cereal when purchasing for someone else or purchasing for myself with a coupon. And I’ve never found anything but cereal in my boxes of cereal. You can extrapolate that to mean whatever you wish.

As for the big-expletive boat…I am not nearly as enamored with this story as are my fellow galaxy mates, but I do wonder how the big-expletive boat managed to become dislodged in the canal. Where was it going? Why was it turning in the middle of said canal? I dare say that Capt. Stubing never allowed the MS Pacific Princess to become stuck in a waterway.

Regardless, I haven’t spent much time worrying over these matters because I’ve been mourning the back-to-back deaths of actress Jessica Walter and author Larry McMurtry.

Walter amassed oodles of credits during her 60-year, Emmy-award winning career. But for many of us, she came to personify Lucille Bluth, the character she played on Arrested Development. Indeed, on the afternoon of Walter’s death, a friend messaged me that Lucille Bluth had died.

In the days since Walter’s passing, I have consoled myself by watching clips of Lucille and giggled again and again at her unparalleled ability to roll her eyes, judge another character with only her eyes and a frown, and deliver a biting line. All whilst holding a martini glass.

I was still mourning the loss of Lucille Bluth/Jessica Walter when the same friend messaged me about the death of McMurtry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove and oodles of other books.

The obituaries for McMurtry have described him as an unsentimental author of the American West. I’m simplifying it, obviously, but anyone familiar with his work would agree with that assessment. My sister, Kathy, has read dern-near every work of fiction McMurtry penned. This weekend, she told me she couldn’t finish one book in particular because it was too dark. I told her I can’t finish one series in particular because I know it will end with the death of the main character. As long as I don’t finish the last book, he will live forever.

Of course, no one lives forever, including McMurtry’s fictional characters. As I sit here, I can remember turning a page more than 20 years ago to discover the fate of a beloved character. I immediately threw the book across the room and I, a woman not prone to fits of sentimentality, began weeping. I briefly cursed McMurtry for killing the character and for letting the readers know her fate.

But he had to do so. He had to be true to his story. And such was the power of his stories and his characters that their fates still move me. I can always revisit the books, though, where I will find the characters alive and alluring.

Just as I can always re-watch Arrested Development and find Lucille judging everyone as she day drinks.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Food fight — March 24, 2021

Food fight

If you have indoor cats, you’ve probably noticed they begin to clamor for food as soon as they can see the bottom of their bowl. There are several theories as to why they do this, but at least two of them — poor depth perception, whisker stress (look it up) – suggest they eat from the middle of the bowl and, once it empties, have trouble seeing the food at the sides.

My cat army has another weird eating issue. They refuse to eat food that has fallen out of the bowl and onto the floor and/or food they have nibbled on that has fallen into the bowl.

It is maddening.

For starters, from my aged human eyes, it always appears that the bowl is full, and, thus, that the army should be happy. Trust me. That is not always the case.

Indeed, on a recent Saturday morning, I checked their bowl, saw that it was full, and proceeded to break my fast with a warm bowl of oatmeal. The army did not break their fast. Instead, they sat on each side of me, giving me pitiful stares.

I quickly deduced that the bowl was filled with fallen food and it was beneath my spoiled, privileged felines to feast on such filth.

But on that morning, I decided to make my stand. I had given in before, but not on this day. I am proud to say that I have never lost a staring contest with a cat. What’s more, I roll my eyes when folks compare an unmanageable task to herding cats. Pshaw. It might take some time. You might sport scratches for a few weeks, but you can herd cats.

You can force them to eat fallen food, too, and I was going to prove that if our standoff lasted days.

It lasted three hours and ended with me throwing out the bowl full of, to my aged eyes, perfectly acceptable food, and filling it with fresh food.

When I related this saga to other humans who live with cats, they repeated a variation of the same lines, “You should have known. They always win.”

True and true.

The cat army’s refusal to eat food that has previously touched their mouths and/or the floor has led me to this question – are big cats such as lions or tigers or even mid-size cats like bobcats and cougars so weird? And what about feral cats and outdoor cats?

Because something tells me that cats that survive in the wild are not going to stare at me for three hours and then run to the bathtub and howl with hunger pangs if I so much as suggest they nibble on a kibble that did not directly come from the bag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A moment in the sun — March 17, 2021

A moment in the sun

In case you haven’t noticed, Daylight Saving Time commenced Sunday. And in case you haven’t heard, a bipartisan group of US senators have introduced legislation to make DST permanent.

Let’s make one thing clear – I don’t have strong feelings on this subject. Sure, it’s no fun losing an hour in the spring, but it’s one day. And, yeah, it’s no fun when the sun starts setting so early in the day come winter, but, well, I’ll address that later.

Apparently, I am the only person in the galaxy who doesn’t care that much about what we refer to at the Goff Estate as the time change. For decades, however, I have endured countless complaints from people who believe changing clocks twice a year is such an arduous task that it should be included in the World’s Strongest Man competition.

Our devices, such as computers, cell phones, and DVRs, are smart enough to change their own clocks. So, what are we talking about? Changing the clock on a microwave? An oven? In a car? A watch? A couple wall clocks? How long could this possibly take?

What’s more, I get the inkling that some people believe if we switch to DST for keeps, the sun will literally grant us an additional hour of sunlight every day. It will not. You might want to sit down for this. But there will still be only 24 hours in the day. The days will still have the same amount of sunlight regardless of what time is displayed on all those clocks in your house.

So, this means that, if we switch to DST permanently, the sun will rise at its regular time, but it will be dark when you go to work or to school or to the gym or to the clock store.

I’m fine with this, just like I am fine with the sun setting at five in the winter, because the sun has to rise and set some time. And maybe you are fine with this as well. But if you are not, then be forewarned: If this bill does pass and DST becomes the law of the land, then I don’t want to hear any complaints from you. If you start whining about how the mornings are so dark and depressing, I will hit you and/or throw something at you.

If you start whining about how there’s no point in having an extra hour of sunlight in the evening in the winter if it’s going to be too cold to go outside and talk a walk, I will hit you twice and/or throw two somethings at you.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A strawberry jam — March 10, 2021

A strawberry jam

Last week, I found a good deal on strawberries and bought several quarts. Unfortunately, berries fall to ruin faster than even I, a known berry fiend, can eat them, so on Saturday morning, I decided to share the natural sweetness and prepare a cake for my loved ones.

I soon discovered two problems. Firstly, when I searched recipes, I realized I didn’t have all the ingredients for a made-from-scratch cake or even for an enhanced box cake. Indeed, I was taken aback to learn that uncooked gelatin comprises an ingredient in enhanced strawberry box cake recipes. Who would have thought of that? Secondly, I didn’t feel like getting dressed and going to the store to purchase said ingredients, including gelatin.

No worries, I said to self, I’ll just create my own recipe.

So, I capped and quartered berries and tossed them into a food processor that had languished in my cupboards for years. I had spied it in the cabinet, but I wasn’t sure what purpose it served, so it had never been used until December. Anyway, after processing the berries into pulp, I added them to the white cake mix, gave it a good stir, and then poured the batter into a rectangular cake pan.

I have to say that I had my worries about the cake from the beginning. The batter didn’t have that strawberry taste. What’s more, I had read that strawberries tend to turn cake mix gray, so I added color gel. But when it emerged from the oven, part of it looked pink and part of it looked…not pink or red or any natural color I have ever beheld.

Well, there was nothing I could do about the cake, so I turned my attention to creating the most amazing strawberry buttercream frosting in the history of the galaxy. As I whipped the cream cheese and butter, it wasn’t too runny or stiff. So far, so good. But then I added the powdered sugar and suddenly the frosting was so runny it almost leapt out of the bowl and smacked me in the face.

That’s not how life is supposed to work. Powdered sugar is supposed to make frosting stiffer. I researched the matter after the fact and learned I had probably beaten the cream cheese and butter too briskly before I added the sugar. And/or the temperature of my kitchen was too hot. I’ll have to keep those tidbits in mind.

Anyway, I added the strawberry pulp, which I had created with the loyal food processor, and finished the chore. When I arrived at the Goff Estate, I literally poured the frosting onto the cake.

After supper, a few brave souls sampled the cake. Here are their reviews:

“It’s okay.”

“It’s…good.”

“It’s not…bad.”

No one could find the right words to describe the cake. But I’m told the frosting, which had to be dipped out of the pan with spoons, had a good taste that, indeed, tasted like strawberries.

As the baker whose goal was to make a frosting that tasted like strawberries, I will take that as a win.

By the way, I ate a piece of cake, and you know what? It wasn’t okay, it wasn’t…good, it wasn’t not…bad.

It was expletive good.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Parenthetically speaking — March 3, 2021

Parenthetically speaking

It’s March!

Keep reading for more late breaking news from Captain Obvious such as grass is (generally) green, the sky is (sometimes) blue, and an artichoke is a vegetable (with a heart).

Seriously, I decided to inform you that March has blown into our lives because I needed a reminder. In spite of my advanced age, every year around, let’s say, Feb. 22, a similar scenario takes place. Someone – this someone can be me – will mention that a professional or personal deadline is looming in March. After reviewing the calendar, I will then exclaim, “Oh, my God! March is literally next week!”

This happens every expletive year. It’s not like I forget that February has only 28 or (occasionally) 29 days. Indeed, I find February’s length (generally) beneficial. Since it’s exactly four weeks long, it’s easy to count off and know what date certain events will occur in March. For example, I’m writing this on Feb. 28. Without consulting a calendar, I know that March 28 will also take place on a Sunday.

So, what’s the issue?

The heck if I know.

You would think that two or three days wouldn’t make much of a difference, but you would be wrong. On the other hand, on April 29, I don’t (usually) exclaim, “The day after tomorrow is May!”

So, why is February/March different?

Could it be tied to the season? Perhaps we (and by we, I mean me) are still in an extended post-holiday mode and not thinking clearly. It’s like we (me) just finished celebrating with Baby New Year and all of a sudden, we (me) realize it’s almost time to break out the green attire and hang out with St. Patrick.

Or could it have something to do with the weather? Perhaps we (again, I mean me) are covered in coats and blankets and worrying about the electric bill and ice storms, so we allow pesky little things like the month of the year to slip our shivering minds. Having never lived in Australia, I can only speculate as to whether March sneaks up on folks who live in a fiery February.

Or could it be none of the above? Perhaps I really do make similar exclamations about April and August, but they don’t make as much of an impact because by that point in the year I’m tired. Heck, I probably make similar exclamations dern-near every week of the year as in, “Oh, my, God! The day after tomorrow is Thursday!”

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

With a little help from my friends — February 17, 2021

With a little help from my friends

Well, I experienced another typical week – I accidentally bought six tubes of toothpaste, I accidentally tore up a kitchen sink strainer, and I sorta accidentally forced my mom and sister to share a six-piece chicken McNuggets.

Oh, and I also survived round one of Icepocalypse ’21.

By the time you read this-here column, we should be in the final throes of round two of Icepocalypse ’21. We’ll see if I survive that without succumbing to madness, hypothermia, and/or hunger.

As long-time readers might suspect, I’m a tad concerned about a potential ice storm-themed power outage. I’ve detailed, in what some readers might describe as excruciating detail, my struggles with short-term outages. As I’ve said before, I was not meant for a “Little House on the Prairie” existence.

I have, however, planned for a potential outage. I have uploaded music so that I won’t be driven to madness by silence. In regard to an alternate heating source, I plan to dress in layers, ply multiple blankets atop me, and lie under those blankets for hours upon hours in the darkness, wondering how my life choices led me to such miserable moments in time. Then, as soon as the roads clear, I will throw off the blankets and drive until I find electricity.

As for sustenance, I have purchased enough chips and candy to get me through a few days.

Yes, I realize chips and candy aren’t exactly loaded with vitamins, but what else am I supposed to do? I’m something of an orchid and, thus, I have certain dietary needs. Chief among those is a need for warm food.

Whenever I share my power outage food plans with people, they always suggest I make sandwiches. Uh, no. I’ve never been a sandwich type of gal. Indeed, I don’t even own sliced bread.

Sure, I’ve been known to eat a cold ham sandwich in my day. But I prefer a ham sandwich that includes cheese and I’d prefer for the entire enterprise to be served on a toasted and/or heated sub bun, which I’m fairly sure can’t occur during an outage.

A couple times a year, I also get a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich, but you guessed it. That also can’t occur during an outage.

So, if I’m going to be miserable, I might as well make it a little more tolerable with help from my old friends – Chip and Candy.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Missing out — February 10, 2021

Missing out

Last Saturday, I accidentally left my phone at the house when I went to run errands. Luckily, I remembered my mask and my shopping list.

Although I vowed to never become one of those people, the truth is that I’ve grown accustomed to my phone. Indeed, I initially panicked when I realized I had left it charging. What if an emergency occurred? What if I happened upon an accident? I was going to be shopping for my mom and sister as well as for myself. What if they remembered an item they had forgotten to add to their list? How would they get this news of epic proportions to me?

Thus, I considered heading back to the house to retrieve the phone. But I had made plans to meet a masked personage in a parking lot to make a quick exchange – mind your own business – and I didn’t have the time to spare.

After the exchange, I made my way into the store and, well, I’m happy to report that I survived without a phone.

Sure, searching for one-minute oats, which was included on my mom and sister’s list, can only be described as perplexing. Although I combed over every shelf in the oats section, I did not find any that were timed. I did, however, find two-and-a-half-minute Cream of Wheat.

Anyway, I settled on a container of quick oats and I’m still unsure if I made the wise choice. I guess having a phone would have helped make that task a little easier, as I could have called them for advice.

Also, before I left the house, I sent messages to my sisters and niece, asking what they wanted for dessert (pronounced as zert at the Goff Estate). Again, since I didn’t have the phone with me, I couldn’t receive their responses. So, whilst at the store, I decided I would have to create another mouth-watering zert from ingredients I had on hand. (And that’s exactly what I did, whipping up a batch of my award-worthy chocolate chip cookies.)

Otherwise, only one glitch occurred. My sisters, nieces, and I play a scavenger hunt, of sorts. Basically, when we spot our find whilst out and about, we share the news with the others. Sometimes, we even include photographic evidence. (Relax, we don’t do so whilst driving.)

Well, I spotted a find, but since I didn’t have my phone, I couldn’t take a photo or even share the news semi-immediately.

Forget the timed oats.

Forget the zert.

It was then that I most missed my phone.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A case of the sads — February 3, 2021

A case of the sads

You know how some people proclaim the end of daylight saving time to be the worst day of the year?

Yeah, I’m not that person. Except for a meltdown I experienced as a wee lass one year when time either sprang forward or fell back, I’ve never really cared that much about the beginning and/or end of daylight saving time. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I don’t enjoy losing an hour’s worth of sleep when it begins in the spring.)

Anyway, the way I see it, we have the same amount of daylight in one 24-hour period no matter what time it is, so what’s with all the complaining?

I’m also not one of those people who proclaims the onset of winter to be the worst time of the year. After all, I enjoy cold weather and snow.

But you know what I consider to be the worst time of the year? Now, also known as the end of football season.

Of course, one NFL game remains to be played, but seeing as how He Who Shall Not Be Named will be playing in said game, football season ended for me last Sunday night. Since then, the world has seemed a little darker and a little sadder.

I’m not the only person in pain. A fellow football fan told me the end of football season upends her Sunday afternoon schedule. With a catch in her voice, she pleaded, “I nap during some of those games.”

See, the struggle is real. I’ve found myself reaching for the remote to turn the TV to a game or to the sports channels so I could listen to humans talk about a game, only to stop myself with a reminder that it no longer matters. It’s over.

Sure, a huge trade occurred this past weekend, but we have to wait seven agonizingly long months to see how the trade plays out on the field.

What are we supposed to do during those seven months? Not nap on Sundays?

Oh, you might be asking yourself, “Self, why did she have a meltdown when time changed?”

Who knows? I was a sensitive lass. Indeed, from what I’ve been told, the time change meltdown didn’t come close to approaching the meltdown I experienced whilst watching a movie called “A Girl Named Sooner.”

Or the one I had last week when my team lost to He Who Shall Not Be Named’s team.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.