No good reason — July 28, 2021

No good reason

I promise you that I am not a hoarder

Indeed, I abhor clutter.

However, I have a couple areas of concern. That is why a box of allegedly important papers awaits my attention. I hang onto these important papers for weeks. Okay, months. Okay! Years! As I told the lady at Big Lots the other day, one never knows when one will need that receipt for Starbursts.

My biggest area of concern – vis-à-vis this topic – is that I have trouble replacing and/or discarding certain items. For example, I wear socks until they sport holes and thin spots that you can read through. Then, when I finally buy new socks, I keep the holey thin socks. Why? No good reason.

Of late, it became apparent that I needed to discard my frying pan. Actually, it wasn’t apparent to me. I blamed user error for the reason all the food I made in that frying pan burned. No. The coating had worn off, so I tossed the frying pan into the trash.

I shopped around for a frying pan and considered splurging on one that costs seven bucks. But my niece recommended another one that costs much more. That made me think that perhaps seven bucks didn’t represent the best use of my funds.

I continued shopping around and found a cookware set that contained three frying pans as well as two saucepans and a casserole pan. (Or as we call them at the Goff Estate – kettles.) Hmm. My kettles have seen better days. The inside of one looks jaundiced. And it would be kind of exciting to have more than one frying pan.

This set was kind of fancy, though, but it was on sale, and I had a coupon. My final cost would be less than half the original price, which I will not share unless you and Stefano Dimera administer a truth serum to me. I consulted the abacus and if I multiplied the cost of the frying pan my niece recommended by three and added in the price of three kettles, well, it would be more than this fancy cookware set. I know a deal when I see one.

So, I placed the order.

The cookware set arrived and, let me tell you, it is splendid. Per the directions, I washed the set in warm soapy water. Then, I cleared out a space in the cabinet for it.

Yeah, I had to clear out a space because I’m keeping the other kettles, including the one with chronic jaundice.

This reminds me of other kettles I held onto. I’m not sure how I came in possession of them. It could have been that someone in my circle was fixing to discard them, and I was like, “Hey, if you don’t want those, may I have them?”

Anyway, my parents subsequently gave me a cookware set for Christmas and the kettles I bummed subsequently rusted. One day, my dad, the late great Burton Goff, spotted a rusty kettle at my house and asked why I was using a kettle is such disrepair.

After I explained to him that I didn’t use it, he asked why I had a kettle in such disrepair.

No good reason.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Hot tip — July 21, 2021

Hot tip

From time to time, people in my orbit encourage me to share my housekeeping and life tips with you, my dear readers. (By the way, I believe some of these tips could be considered hacks. However, I use the term hack only when referring to the unauthorized access of technology or when trying to rid my throat of phlegm

Anyway, I’ve shared tips in this-here column in the past. For example, I consider best buy dates to be recommendations. While that’s actually more of a philosophy, it becomes a tip when I remind you to watch out for mold on bread and cheese.

I might have also shared my favorite housekeeping tip. If you see unexpected company pulling into the driveway – or if you have expected company headed your way – and you spot a tower of clutter in a room that will be viewed, simply scoop up that clutter and deposit it in a closet. Problem solved.

Here are a few more:

  • If you wash your clothes in cold water, you can wash all colors together, saving on detergent and water and electricity. I’m not sure who shared this life-changing nugget with me, but I hope I bought him or her a box of chocolates. As my family members frequently complain about sorting clothes and separating them by color, I doubt if the advice came from any of them. A note of caution: On occasion, a brightly colored article will bleed onto other articles, so be safe.
  • Speaking of washing…I have recently started tossing scrub sponges and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers into the wash. Although I haven’t conducted a scientific experiment, it appears that the cleaning supplies can only be washed once. Indeed, they fall apart after the second washing. But tossing them into the washer after one use instead of tossing them into the trash doubles their life expectancies.
  • Speaking of Magic Erasers…due to the COVID, I started dying my own hair. Although my technique has improved, I still get hair dye on my skin. Sometimes, I just let it go because it will eventually fade. But if I’m going to be around humans, I don’t want to be seen with dyed skin. After one dye job, I said to myself, “Self, I wonder if that Magic Eraser will bring this glob of hair dye off your forehead?” The good news is that it did. The bad news is that it also brought the skin off my head. So, this tip is don’t apply a Magic Eraser to your skin.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Straight to video — July 14, 2021

Straight to video

Recently, I had the occasion to share music from my youth with a 20-something in my life I will call Pete. (Writer’s note: Pete is not this person’s name, but we have chosen this moniker because, apparently, Pete is ashamed by our association.)

I knew that despite Pete’s age, my young friend is a fan of music from the 1980s, especially Toto’s “Africa,” aka one of the greatest songs ever recorded, and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria.”

Herein contains part of my and Pete’s musical musings.

Me: “Back in the day there was a channel called MTV…”

Pete: “I know what MTV is. It’s still around.”

Me: “…and they used to play these things called videos. We should watch some of them.”

Me (as we start watching music videos from the ’80s): “Keep in mind that videos from the ’80s didn’t make sense. That’s what made them so, like, totally awesome.”

Pete (as we watch Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”): “Why is he in the water?”

Me: “Remember what I said about these videos not making sense?”

Pete (as we finish watching the guys in Duran Duran race through the streets and jungles of Sri Lanka): “I like the song, but I’m not so sure about the video.”

Me (as I choose another classic, Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield”): “So, she was like 30 years old and playing a teenager in this video. And something else I should have mentioned, videos usually had nothing to do with the songs. Oh, yeah, and a big lesson my generation learned from music videos in the ’80s is that dancing solved all problems.”

Pete (as we finish watching Benatar stand up to her gold-toothed pimp): “I like the song, but I’m not so sure about the video.”

Me: “Now let’s watch one of my all-time favorite videos. Forget what I said about videos not making sense. This one is filled with symbolism. And it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Well, maybe not the dancing ninjas. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to symbolize. Anyway, I wrote a paper on this video. It earned a well-deserved A.”

Pete (as we finish watching Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”): “I’m not sure about the song or the video.”

Me (as I remember that Pete likes Wham!, plays “Careless Whisper”): “This video actually matches the song.”

Pete: “This song is good except for that loud thing at the beginning and the middle.”

Me: “I think that thing is called a saxophone, but I’m not an expert on music. It could be a flute or a tambourine.”

I closed out the lesson by playing Def Leppard’s “Hysteria.” Pete expressed indifference to the video.

Me: “Did you know that Def Leppard’s drummer has only one arm?”

Pete, regarding me with raised eyebrows: “Really?”

As I told Pete the story of how the drummer ended up with only one arm, I said to myself, “Self, Pete will Google ‘Does Def Leppard have a one-armed drummer?’ as soon as you turn your head.”

As well as why was that dude from Duran Duran in the water and did dancing really solve problems in the ‘80s.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Blue plate special — July 7, 2021

Blue plate special

For the past several years, I have hosted an annual Fourth of July Jubilee at my hom

I’ll give it to you straight. I think I’m stretching the definition of jubilee. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines jubilee as “a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating 25 or 50 years of a reign or activity.”

Well, my annual cookout does celebrate a special anniversary of an event – the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

So, there.

Besides, as a writer, I couldn’t pass up the chance at using the phrase July Jubilee. Indeed, it might be literally illegal to evade alliteration.

Anyway, I have always served my guests on red, white, and blue paper plates and my cupcakes in red, white, and blue liners. In addition, I have purchased red, white, and blue platters on which the grillers have placed the burgers, dogs, and other meats. (Wait. You didn’t really think I performed grilling duties, did you?)

But this year when I stopped by the arts and crafts store, they offered a paltry selection of Fourth of July merchandise with nary a red, white, and blue plate in sight and no platters or cupcake liners. It seems the first of July is the optimal time to start selling fall supplies.

When the arts and crafts store failed me, I tried a couple dollar stores and another discount store, and also came up empty. That’s not entirely true. I did find a penny in a parking lot.

But I found no plates that suited my needs. At that point, with despair creeping in, I momentarily considered kicking my own rear end. After all, I had looked at some red, white, and blue plates in the Supercenter, but had decided against them because they were too small.

After the fourth store broke my heart, I said to myself, “Self, you could run back to the Supercenter. You have a pack of small plates from last year’s event. Your guests could double up on those as well as the ones from the Supercenter.”

Acknowledging that self had a point, I also acknowledged that I would cancel the jubilee before I would run into the Supercenter twice in the same day.

I’ll give it to you straight. I was despondent. My jubilee guests are accustomed to a sophisticated event, one at which they are asked to bring their own condiments, help clean the outdoor furniture, and drink from convenience store cups. I feared they would consider it gauche to eat from plain plates.

Apparently, they did not because my sister, Kathy, who must have received a telepathic message from me, delivered a pack of carryout food boxes to my house.

My refrigerator is full of said boxes, which are now full of leftover jubilee food.

I appreciate the boxes, which came in handy. But at least one person at the jubilee noticed that the cupcakes were served a little less festively this year.

No worries, Aubree. Next year I’ll purchase my Fourth of July supplies at Easter.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Alone on an island — June 23, 2021

Alone on an island

Two friends have recommended the documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. But as I’ve explained to said friends, if it’s not the NBA playoffs, the Olympic trials, an occasional MLB game, or a professional wrestling documentary, then it hasn’t been seen on my TV in weeks.

Unlike people who hate having fun, I enjoy the Bee Gees’ music. I’ve also long been a fan of the mane of hair Barry Gibb sported for decades. Barry, a singer-songwriter and producer, was one of the three brothers Gibb comprising the Bee Gees. Maurice and Robin were the other two members. Among oodles of other hits, the Bee Gees penned Islands in the Stream, which was released by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983.

The song was a humongous hit that topped every chart in the galaxy. There was no escaping it. Trust me. I tried.

Indeed, I’m sharing this moment in music history with you because whenever the Bee Gees come up in conversation, I tell folks (one of) my deepest darkest — that I don’t care for Dolly and Kenny’s version of the song.

As this is considered one of the greatest duets in recorded history, people respond by dern-near passing out.

They reach for the smelling salts when I add that I prefer the Bee Gees’ version of the song.

I mean no disrespect to Dolly, a national treasure who I rank up there with sunshine and puppy dogs, or the late great Kenny, a man whose hits I quote on a monthly basis. In fact, I play tunes from Dolly and Kenny’s Christmas album during the holiday season. I’m especially fond of a song called The Greatest Gift of All.

But when it comes to non-holiday duets, I prefer their work with others and will crank Kenny and Kim Carnes or Kenny and the late great Dottie West when I’m driving or doing something that resembles cleaning.

Back to Islands in the Stream…part of my issue with the song is that, even as a wee lass growing up on the Goff Estate, I had no idea what it meant. My surroundings weren’t populated by too many islands or streams. We had creeks and ditches and mud holes. Could Dolly and Kenny have been referring to the rocks in the ditches and mud holes when they sang of islands in streams? Or perhaps the trash that clung to the logs in the creeks?

Who knows? I just know that I sighed every time the song blared onto either the country or Top 40 radio station.

Because, like I said, there was no escaping it.

You know what would have made it more bearable? Barry Gibbs’ hair.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Inept search — June 16, 2021

Inept search

A couple years ago, I developed runner’s knee in both knees. Thus, I purchased wraparound knee braces. The knees eventually healed, and I stored the braces in an undisclosed area in my house.

By undisclosed, I mean undisclosed to my memory.

Fast-forward to this week, when one of the young runners in my family developed runner’s knee. As a kind and generous person, I offered to lend her my knee braces.

There was only one problem. I couldn’t find them.

I had a vague recollection of finding the knee braces one day whilst performing an activity that could be described as cleaning. On that day, I said to myself, “Self, what the heck are these things?” Then everything – the RICE, the limping, the pain – flooded back to my memory.

But when I needed to locate the braces this weekend, I couldn’t remember where I had seen them. I might have grown up on an estate, but I don’t live in a mansion. There are only so many places they could have been. I checked the obvious locations – my underwear drawer, my sweater drawer, my sock drawer – but I came up empty.

I also pulled out the washer and drawer and looked behind them and ran a yardstick under the appliances. I performed the latter task as that little voice in my head asked, “Dummy, explain to me how two knee braces, not one, but two, flattened themselves and scooted under the washer and/or dryer?”

I had no answer, of course, but I did have a handful of cat hair and dust for my efforts.

Next, I checked the closets…multiple times. I even checked the closet that contains my holiday decorations. I also looked through papers that I have needed to file and/or discard for a year. All that did was remind me that I need to file and/or discard that mess.

After I checked the closet that houses my clothes – for the fourth time – and the cabinets that hold my cleaning supplies – for the third time — I decided to go through the house on a room-by-room basis.

So, I started with my bedroom. I looked through every drawer (again), the closet (again), and the laundry basket. (Yes, it was in my room…for reasons.)

Then, I moved onto the master bath, which I hadn’t searched, because putting knee braces in a bathroom cabinet would have made too much sense. Especially when you could toss them into a closet with Christmas cards or underneath the washer and/or dryer.

Yeah, they were in the bathroom cabinet.  

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Tragically hip — June 9, 2021

Tragically hip

This here-post breaks two of my rules. For starters, it’s not news. Indeed, it details events that occurred from 2005 to 2011. Also, it veers from my usual lighthearted, nonsensical fare into something tragic. So, if you continue reading and regret your decision, don’t come crying to me. You’ve been warned.

This tragic event came to my attention as I scrolled through social media. A site that shares random facts decided the world needed to be reminded that a hippopotamus was rescued from a river in 2005. And that in 2011 the then-6-year-old two-ton hippo dragged the South African man who had rescued him into that same river and killed him.

I warned you that this tale would not uplift you!

Anyway, the tidbit I read only teased me. Afterward, I had oodles of questions. Firstly, how does one rescue a hippo? It’s not like rescuing a stray kitten that shows up on your porch or adopting a rescued dog from the shelter. Thankfully, a reader shared a link to a story, which answered this question and others.

The man who was dragged into the river and killed didn’t initially rescue the hippopotamus. Another couple rescued the hippo from a flood when it was a few months old. The man who was dragged into the river and killed adopted the hippo when the wild beast grew too large for the couple to care for.

I’m not sure why no one returned the baby hippo to the river before the situation got out of hand, but they didn’t ask my advice circa 2005.

Before we go further, here are some facts that I’ve unearthed about hippos. They’re huge — they can weigh up to 9,000 pounds. They have the largest mouths of all land animals. They can run as fast as humans over short distances. They’re basically herbivores, maintaining a diet of grass and fruit. They’re aggressive and not afraid of humans. They upend boats and have been known to attack motor vehicles.

Of course, unless you’re planning a trip to sub-Saharan Africa, you don’t have to worry about running into a hippo and its huge mouth. If you are heading that way, watch out. They kill an average of 500 humans a year.

As for this blended hippo-human family, well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d be watching a basketball game or cleaning house or scribbling one of my endless lists and, all of a sudden, I’d say to myself, “Self, who adopts a hippo?”

All I know is that he was a South African farmer. According to the aforementioned story, he referred to the father-son relationship he and the hippo had – allegedly — developed. His wife wasn’t as sold on the addition to the family.

Perhaps her apprehension could be attributed to the allegations that the hippo killed his “father’s” business partner’s calves. Or that he chased a couple locals, who had to seek shelter in a tree, until the hippo’s “father” lured the hippo away with an apple.

Or the fact that he was a huge expletive wild beast with a huge expletive jaw who shouldn’t have been living around humans.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Touch of gray — June 2, 2021

Touch of gray

Before you read this and get the wrong idea, let me make one thing clear. Unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing so, you should always push your shopping cart to a corral after you have loaded your groceries and sundries into your car.

I don’t want to hear any yapping about how the store employees get paid to retrieve the carts from the parking lot. You know what? They don’t get paid to keep stray carts from banging into unsuspecting cars and causing damage. They don’t get paid to immediately sprint from the store every time some expletive leaves a cart in an otherwise empty parking spot.

Just be a decent human being and push the cart to the corral.

Now I’m going to step down from my soap box and stroll into a gray area because I don’t know what shopping cart etiquette dictates about returning the cart into the store. Allow me to explain.

I’ve been placing online orders with the Supercenter for the past few months. Back in the day, however, the sisters, nieces, and I used to engage in girls’ days trips to the store. Once the shopping was complete, I would pull up to the store and we would fill the trunk with groceries and sundries. Then I would push the shopping cart to the side of the store, and one sister and one niece would lose their minds.

They argued that I was as bad as the expletives who left carts in the parking lots. I countered that I had pushed the cart away from cars and literally so close to the store that customers entering said store would have a fresh cart waiting for them. This explanation never placated Sister nor Niece, so even when they were not around, I made sure I returned the cart into the confines of the store. It’s as if I could feel their eyes watching me.

Shopping cart etiquette entered my mind again last week when, on a trip to the Food City, I parked on the side of the store. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, it’s not in the store’s regular parking lot. No corrals reside out there in the hinterlands, which is so far away that I feel sure you could make an Olympic sport out of running from the lot to the store.

I don’t always park in that lot when I visit the store. What’s more, I usually purchase only a bag or two of groceries at the City, so I don’t have to worry about whether I’m going to disappoint Sister and Niece if I decide to leave the cart on the side of the store. Of course, I’m proud to say that on the rare occasion that I have bought more than a couple bags of groceries and have parked on the side, I’ve pushed the cart all the way back into the confines of the store.

Yes, I have not been an expletive…until last week.

Here’s what happened. I found a five-for sale item. And just as I finished putting the groceries – no sundries were purchased — into my car, the rain started falling. I scrambled into my car and decided to listen to Waylon Jennings as I waited for the rain to slacken, but it only rained harder. Then I noticed that another cart was already on the sidewalk.

So, you know what Sister and Niece? An employee would have had to come out there and retrieve that cart anyway. So quit looking at me like that! It’s a gray area!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Pick a fight — May 19, 2021

Pick a fight

Last week, the market research and data analytics firm YouGov released a poll that attempted to answer a question we’ve all asked – what animals do Americans think they could beat in an unarmed fight?

Here’s a list of the animals provided in the poll as well as the percent of Americans who feel confident they would emerge victorious in hand-to-hand combat:

  • Rat 72 percent
  • House cat 69 percent
  • Goose 61 percent
  • Medium-sized dog 49 percent
  • Eagle 30 percent
  • Large dog 23 percent
  • Chimpanzee 17 percent
  • King cobra 15 percent
  • Kangaroo 14 percent
  • Wolf 12 percent
  • Crocodile 9 percent
  • Gorilla 8 percent
  • Elephant 8 percent
  • Lion 8 percent
  • Grizzly bear 6 percent

Here’s what leapt out at me like a rat out of a trash can – 17 percent of my fellow Americans are delusional enough to believe they could take on a chimpanzee and live to tell the tale. Those animals have been known to rip off people’s faces. Their faces!

And who are the 15 percent of folks who think they could defeat a king cobra without a weapon? It’s a snake…that can stand up and look you in the eyes before it kills you. But, sure, you’re going to subdue it with what? Your personality?

There’s a notable gender gap with the king cobra result. Twenty-three percent of men are foolish enough to believe they could beat one of the world’s most venomous snakes whilst only eight percent of women considered the matter and thought, “I stepped on a baby garter snake once, so sure, why not?”

By the way, I know the people surveyed could have fibbed or had some fun with the pollsters, but would you please allow me a few minutes of mirth?

Anyway, when it comes to the big beasts – crocodile, gorilla, elephant, lion, grizzly bear – there’s not much difference in the percent of delusional men or women who think they could win one of those matches.

Now let’s look at the smaller animals – medium-sized dog, goose, house cat, rat. According to the Google, hounds, terriers, and beagles are examples of medium-sized dogs. Whilst I’m sure nearly half my fellow Americans could defeat such a canine in a fair fight, I am equally sure I could not. Those dogs would turn me into a chew toy.

I’m also not so sure about my chances against a goose. My Mommaw Jettie and Poppaw Rufus owned geese and I have flashbacks to the day one chased my sister out of the yard. Then again, if I could get my hands on the goose’s neck…

Rodents carry diseases, so I’d rather not engage a rat…unless I’m wearing boots.

I’ve saved house cats for last. I’m not bragging, but I’m undefeated against house cats. However, I’ve had the advantage of rumbling with cats who’ve considered me their master. One member of my cat army terrified my dearly departed large-sized dog. Also, as he reached under the bed for this infamous member of the cat army, my dad, the late, great Burton Goff, boasted that he had dealt with bulls and biting sows and, thus, he was not afraid of her. He quickly pulled back his bloody hand and retreated from the room.

So, yeah, I’m not volunteering to fight with a house cat. Or any of these animals, especially the chimpanzee or the king cobra or the kangaroo…

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Men in tights — May 12, 2021

Men in tights

As I might have mentioned, I’m a recovering professional wrestling fan. As I also might have mentioned, my former fascination with wrestling — pronounced rasslin’ at the Goff Estate – used to surprise certain people.

I never understood why. After all, wrestling is a soap opera, featuring men in singlets and shorts. And if there’s one thing I’ve always loved, it’s a good soap opera, especially one featuring men in singlets and shorts.

Of course, the professional wrestling my siblings and I grew up watching on WTBS didn’t feature the over-the-top storylines that came to dominate the genre. It did have storylines, though. Not that I can remember any of them, but I can remember being heartbroken by the turn of a heel or when one of my favorites lost an important match.

I can also remember watching wrestling with my poppaw, the late, great Rufus Goff, but not with my dad, the late, great Burton Goff. Daddy was not a fan. He never let an opportunity pass to tell his children that the entire enterprise was fake and ridiculous and not worth our time. He’d cross his unibrow and say, “You know it’s not real.” Well, yeah. “Then why are you watching it?” Because.

Later, when we were adults and wrestling had morphed into a dazzling display of loud music and rude behavior, he would shake his head, sigh, and glance sideways at his children and grandchildren whenever he had to so much as endure a 10-second clip of a show. He must have been wondering where it had all gone wrong for him.

Perhaps I should have suggested to Daddy, a serious soap opera fan, that it was like a soap and the wrestlers were simply characters. Then again, in my analogy, I’m not sure which one would have been the Undertaker — John Black or Stefano. So, maybe it’s just as well that I kept that to myself.

Anyway, although I’m not a prude, over time, I started wincing more and more whilst watching wrestling. One night, I legit said to myself, “Self, I can’t do this anymore,” and I turned the channel. I haven’t watched in years, but I have tuned into A&E’s “Biography: WWE Legends.” They’re profiling eight legends — Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and The Ultimate Warrior. If you’ve missed the original airings and you’re so inclined, check your local listings for the reruns.

The bios have given me a chance to discuss wrestling with my niece, Valerie, who alerted me to their existence, and to reminisce about my days as an active wrestling fan. It’s also given me the insight that if John Black and Stefano had solved their problems with a cage match, it would have spared a lot of people a lot of pain and heartache.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.