One’s daily bread — July 29, 2020

One’s daily bread

Last week, on the anniversary of my birth, I found my favorite ice cream at the store. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but heretofore, I had been unable to find that flavor in my grocer’s freezer. Or, for that matter, in anyone’s freezer.

What’s more, it’s the only ice cream – with the exception of an occasional Oreo Blizzard – that I enjoy. So, you can imagine the unbridled joy I felt as I selected two containers – one for each hand – whilst humming the birthday song to myself.

Since my taste buds had been in the mood for ham subs, I also picked up the ingredients – ham, store brand provolone cheese, and steak buns – so that I could prepare a week’s worth of them. When I arrived home, I put away the groceries, sampled the ice cream – it tasted sinfully delicious – and went on with my life.

The following day, I retrieved the ingredients and set about assembling a ham sub. When I opened the six pack of steak buns, I gasped – the bag contained only five sets of buns!

Who had absconded with the missing bread?

As I made the sub, I considered the most logical answers to the question. Obviously, I put myself at the top of the list of suspects. But when I noted that the packs of ham and cheese remained opened, I ruled out myself as the culprit. Even I don’t like bread well enough to eat two plain buns.

Next, I turned to the cat army. At least one member of the army is known to lick plastic. Perhaps, she became too excited and licked and/or bit a hole in the bag and then treated the rest of the army to some fresh bread. But there were no holes in the plastic bag, so I told the army they were free to go back to sleep.

Then, I mulled over the possibility that a worker in the bread factory had gotten distracted – maybe by the thoughts of ice cream – and had accidentally shorted the bag of bread.

That didn’t seem realistic, so I decided on the only rationalexplanation. A person who wanted only one sub went into the store, opened the bag, and removed one set of buns. Perhaps a pack of ham and cheese is also missing a few slices. I’m just glad I didn’t purchase those hypothetical packs. As it was, I had enough ham, cheese, and buns to enjoy five subs.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “Self, did she contact the store about the missing bread? I’ll bet they would have refunded her 49 cents for those lost buns.”

I’ll admit, for a moment, I contemplated calling the store. But then I enjoyed a spoonful of sinfully delicious ice cream and all was forgiven.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Bad hair day — July 22, 2020

Bad hair day

If the old saying can be believed, then we learn something new every day. I’m not sure that’s true, but one day last week I did learn it’s not a good idea to color one’s hair whilst one suffers from a migraine.

Allow me to explain.

Pre-global pandemic, I paid professionals to color my hair. Sure, there was a period of time in my youth – I spotted the first gray when I was 21 – when I washed that gray right out of my own hair.

Or at least I attempted to do so. Truth be told, I wasn’t that good at the endeavor, which was a tad messy. Indeed, when I finished the task, it looked like a beaver had exploded inside the bathroom.

Eventually, I turned to the professionals and was pleased with the results.

But then the Coronavirus descended upon an unsuspecting world, leaving me with two options – give into the gray or buy a box of color.

So, I bought a box.

Although my technique had improved, the task remained a tad messy. Indeed, when I finished, brown blobs stained the sink, the walls, and my face. But at least the gray was gone and a box of color costs approximately eight dollars, including taxes.

With that in mind, once the salons opened, I decided to continue coloring my own hair.

That brings us to last Saturday. I had spent most of the day in bed, writhing in pain due to a migraine that had haunted me for a week. That evening, however, I experienced a burst of energy. I had plans for Sunday and Monday that would involve humans being exposed to my head, so I decided to color my hair. I opened the box, slipped on a pair plastic gloves, mixed the crème (number one) and the activator (number two), and applied the mixture to my hair.

When I checked my work, I was pleased because no medium brownish streams of color ran down my head. Perhaps, thought I, you’ve found your calling. Perhaps you were meant to color hair.

With the clock ticking, I relocated to the kitchen to wash dishes while the mixture did its work. When the time was up, I returned to the bathroom.

When I checked my work, I was stunned. The top of my head was white.

Thinking I had accidentally bought a box of platinum color, I checked the box. There, I saw my friend, the medium brown model. I couldn’t figure out what had gone so horribly wrong. While I washed the mixture out of my hair, I decided there must have been a mixup at the factory. I decided I would run to the dollar store the next morning and buy another box. Sure, I had wasted approximately eight dollars, including taxes, and my time, but nothing could recoup those losses.

But at least I had gotten a tube of conditioner (number three) for my troubles. But when I picked up the tube, I saw that it was emblazoned with a number one. Because it wasn’t conditioner. It was crème.

That’s right, I had picked up the wrong tube and had applied 55 milliliters of conditioner to my hair.

The way I saw it, I had two options – proceed to the dollar store the following morning or apply the color crème and see what transpired.

So, I applied the color crème.

Whilst this experience does not represent the best method of coloring one’s hair, it did the job. Except for a few strays I missed, the gray is gone. Of course, my head itched for days. What’s more, every time I scratched said head, I spotted medium brown blobs under my fingernails. And, thanks to the conditioner, my hair was so shiny that you could see your reflection in it.

But at least it’s not gray.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Mix and match — July 1, 2020

Mix and match

If you’ve learned anything about me, dear readers, then you should know that I’m a tad thrifty. Sure, sometimes I splurge. In fact, I’ve come to realize – at my advanced age – that potato chips taste better if they come out of smaller bags.

Thus, I’ve been splurging on those jumbo packs, which contain smaller bags that are made to fit inside a child’s lunch box. Buying the snack size has the added bonus of preventing me from splurging on an entire adult size bag of chips in one sitting. Sure, sometimes I realize I want and/or need a second bag of the snack size to feed my chip addiction, but generally one bag does the job.

Anyway, as you might have deduced, I’m one of those annoying thrifty people who enjoys telling everyone how much money she saved on various and sundry items. So, as I was putting away my groceries today, I said to myself, “Self, you must tell dear readers about Super Dollar’s amazing Pick 5 deal.”

Here’s the gist: Pick 5 allows shoppers to mix and match specially-marked meat items for only $19.95. According to the abacus, this means that shoppers pay only $3.99 for each item!

Yes, you read that right!

Although I’ve been taking advantage of this incredible deal for oodles of months (please forgive me for not mentioning it sooner), its mere existence never fails to surprise me. When I reach the check out, I always triple check the monitor and, later, my receipt to make sure it hasn’t been a cruel joke.

So far, it hasn’t. What’s more, several months ago, I happened to be shopping on a day when the Pick 5 deal allowed shoppers to mix and match specially-marked items for only $14.95! I’m not going to lie, I feared I’d be arrested for theft as I exited the store. I also feared I might pass out from excitement.

I usually mix and match chicken breasts, pork chops, and bacon. And since I cut the breasts into smaller tenders, which I then spread across two meals, I’m spending less than two bucks for a meal – of chicken!

Shoppers can also select from, among other items, certain roasts and steaks, ground beef, wieners, and, wait for it, non-meat items such as cheese sticks and microwave-ready/pre-packaged mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and pulled pork.

As great as this is, if they ever offer my brand of potato chips as part of Pick 5, I might never recover from the excitement.

Note: Super Dollar has locations in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Burn notice — June 24, 2020

Burn notice

Last Sunday, I decided to treat myself to hot dogs for dinner. Yes, hot dogs are included on my list of migraine-inducing-foods-to-avoid list. But since I develop migraines on days that end in the letter y and since Sunday does end in y, then odds were pretty high that I’d develop a headache no matter what I ate or did.

Surprisingly, though, I did not end up with a migraine. I did, however, end up with a boo-boo.

Although I prefer hot dogs prepared on the grill, I settled for boiled wieners. But with a functioning toaster oven in the house, I saw no reason to settle for microwaved buns. So, I tossed the buns into the toaster oven until they were toasted to something much less than perfection.

When I removed them from said toaster, the forefinger on my left hand grazed the top heating element. I felt next to no pain and quickly forgot the incident.

By the next day, a reddish, angry-looking raised blister on my finger had reminded me of the incident.

I ran cold water on the blister, treated it with boo-boo medicine, and covered it with a bandage. But every time I washed my hands – for something less than the recommended 20 seconds – the dern bandage came off. So, I decided to continue sans bandage. Besides, maybe the blister could benefit from some air.

Unfortunately, I kept hitting my hand on various objects, resulting in the blister’s bubble bursting and a smidgen of skin tearing loose. Even though the blister remained raised, red, and angry, I viewed this as potentially good news and a sign that the finger was healing itself.

By Thursday, however, part of the blister had turned yellow and green and it appeared to be oozing liquid. When I showed the blister to others, they recoiled in horror and advised me to wrap that thing up. When I explained that handwashing was adversely affecting my bandages, they screamed, “Quit washing it!”

I wasn’t really sure if, by that, they meant for me to quit washing that part of my finger, the entire finger, or the hand. I’m also unsure what to make of an adviser’s theory that burns don’t heal as fast as they used to. Regardless, I started using more powerful boo-boo medicine and I re-committed to bandages.

As of this writing, I am happy to report that the blister is smaller in size and pink in color and no longer angry or raised. It still throbs at times and the bandages are itchy. On an unrelated note, I’m also seeing auras and their arrival usually means a migraine is imminent. This day does end in y, so the odds are pretty high anyway.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Pest control — June 17, 2020

Pest control

Earlier this spring, as you might recall, I wrote about my lovely tulip bed. The perfect, colorful flowers brought beauty into my life during a global expletive pandemic. Axl Rose warned us, however, that nothin’ lasts forever, not even lovely tulips. Watching the tulips wilt gave me a case of the sads, but I was comforted by the knowledge that they’re perennials and, thus, will return next year.

But that was before something – or someone – romped through the garden, eating several of the tulip bulbs in the process. I’m no horticulturalist, but I believe it’s dern-near impossible for a tulip to bloom without a bulb.

Anyway, a bear has been spotted in the neighborhood and I frequently spy rabbits and birds in one or more of my yards as well. It’s also been brought to my attention that a certain chipmunk could be responsible for snacking on the bulbs. As you might recall, I recently devoted this-here space to a certain chipmunk who has been hanging around like he/she owns the place.

Come to think of it, though, neither the cat army nor I have spied the chipmunk in a few days. I hope the chipmunk hasn’t run into any bears.

In other news, I’ve also been battling gnats and/or fruit flies. I’ve killed at least a half dozen in recent days. That might not seem like many to you, but gnats and/or fruit flies annoy the expletive out of me and turn my stomach. One evening, I became so vigorous in my pursuit of a flying pest that I slapped the eyeglasses off my face.

Random ants also show up occasionally and, as you might recall, I’ve encountered dead mice and a live snake in my garage in recent weeks. This led to the initiation of what I refer to as the steel wool project. An expert in the field of extermination cautioned me that vermin can fit into holes that are equal to or larger in size than a nickel and he advised stuffing those holes with steel wool.

I’ve purchased more supplies, and I’m prepared to resume the steel wool project. I also must admit that this experience has caused me to constantly be on the lookout for nickel-sized holes. So, if we should be engaged in a conversation and if my eyes should wander above your head or to the side of your face, then I’ve probably spied a hole and I’m probably estimating the size of said hole.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A … her name was Alice — June 10, 2020

A … her name was Alice

93004098_227775398576073_309184473616875520_nAlice, the youngest member of my cat army, died two weeks ago.

She was a kitten when she showed up on my front porch in spring 2010. She was black and white in color, long-haired, and beautiful. She wore a flea collar, so I kept her in my garage while I looked for her humans. I asked around, ran an ad in the paper, and rolled my eyes when friends and family predicted that I’d keep her.

Truth be told, though, I was relieved when nobody claimed her.

She moved into the main house and I named her Alice Aurora in honor of Alice Horton, the “Days of Our Lives” matriarch who had recently died on screen, and Aurora Greenway, the strong-willed character from “Terms of Endearment.”

Alice settled into the household, but she never bonded with her feline siblings. Although I encouraged her to form an alliance with her canine sister, the lovely and talented, Mia Frances, that relationship never came to fruition, either.

Instead, Alice kept to herself. Like most cats, she slept approximately 23 and a half hours a day. She was as soft as a pillow, stood low to the ground and didn’t have much of a vertical leap. When she was younger, I started noticing that my bedroom light was on every evening when I arrived home. I couldn’t figure out why that was happening until I saw her jumping on the bed and swatting the ceiling fan cords. She had madder hops than I had thought.

She also enjoyed chewing strings. She chewed the strings on the shorts I’m currently wearing and once chewed through a bra strap. As recently as last month, I had to shoo her away from my pile of workout clothes. I think she was also drawn to the smell of sweat.

Unlike the rest of the cat army, Alice also enjoyed human food and would climb into the trash can and scavenge for scraps. I eventually tired of keeping the can behind closed doors and replaced it with a taller, lidded trash can. On the day of its arrival, she scurried to where the trash can sat, only to find the fancy new version. She turned and gave me a look that was tinged with sadness and disappointment.

Alice began her mornings by meowing until I emerged from the bedroom. After I’d break my fast with some hearty oatmeal, I’d put the bowl in the floor and she’d clean it for me. The last video I made of her showed her licking mashed potatoes from my dinner plate. (If you think this is gross, then perhaps you should BYOB – bring your own bowl – if you come for a meal.)

She also enjoyed cuddling with me before bedtime – and sometimes during the day — and lounging under the Christmas tree. Indeed, it seemed like I no more draped the skirt around the tree before she had settled underneath it.

Alice was afraid of thunder storms, but not of heavy winds, and acted shy around most humans. On occasion, her eyes made her look evil, but she was the sanest member of my cat army and rarely caused me concern. Well, there was the day she sneaked out of the door to the garage and then through the open garage door. That was during Memorial Day weekend 2016. She died during Memorial Day weekend 2020. I’m so grateful a neighbor helped me find her four years ago – she was hiding under a house – and that I was able to enjoy hundreds more breakfasts and thousands more cuddles with her.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Common ground — June 3, 2020

Common ground

As I finished a recent work day, I noticed that something in the back yard had captured the attention of Cady, the leader of my cat army. With wide eyes, she paced at the French door, moving her head to follow the action. From the way she was acting, I knew that whatever had captured her attention had to be more exciting than a bird or a bug.

So, I joined her at the door, hoping I wouldn’t spy a snake.

I didn’t.

96772544_188395462296916_5362753069807304704_nBut I did find a small critter sitting on the back step like it had a clear deed for the property. I grabbed my phone and took photos and shot videos of the critter, which was nibbling on the remnants of a raspberry. (Don’t ask.) I then shared the evidence with others and asked them to identify the critter’s species.

My sisters and niece agreed that the critter was a ground squirrel, which made sense to me because whilst I recorded it enjoying its supper, I had said to myself, “Self, it looks like a miniature red-ish squirrel.”

Besides, I also recalled hearing my dad refer to scurrying critters as ground squirrels. Of course, I had never been up close and personal with those critters.

Anyway, I posted the video to Facebook, where it proved to be one of my most popular posts of all time. However, several of the dozens of commenters called the cute little critter a chipmunk.

Huh. A quick search indicated that those little critters I had spied scurrying over lawns my entire life had not, in fact, been ground squirrels. That means that, unbeknownst to me, I had been in the presence of chipmunks for my aforementioned entire life.

Even as a wee lass, I was never a big fan of cartoons, but I made exceptions for certain shows including “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” So, I should be forgiven if the cartoon skewed my idea of what real-life chipmunks look like. For the record, I did not think chipmunks wore glasses, walked upright, and/or sang. Well, at least not all of them. But I did figure they were larger in size and had chubbier cheeks that the critter I spied on the on my step.

Regardless, after I studied various photos of chipmunks and ground squirrels, I came to the realization that I’ve probably never seen a ground squirrel scurrying across the lawn or anywhere for that matter.

I have, however, repeatedly seen my resident chipmunk, which continues to demand Cady’s attention. She frequently sprints from window to door to monitor its activities. Of course, I’m not sure if she spied it this morning as it relaxed in the shade like it had a clear deed for the property.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Steel yourself — May 27, 2020

Steel yourself

As you might recall, dear readers, I recently devote this space to the saga of a mouse that had chosen the back of my stove as his/her final resting place. Well, a few weeks later, I opened the door that leads from the house to the garage, only to be greeted by an odor that I recognized as dead vermin.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to find the dead mouse, which had chosen an aging, blue plastic trash can as his/her final resting place. I held a private service for the departed vermin and, in the ensuing days, I wondered about the mouse’s cause of death. It couldn’t have died at the hands of the cat army. They’re not allowed out of the main house. Had it suffered a heart attack? Do mice have heart attacks?

Regardless, I eventually quit thinking about the matter. That is, I did until the morning I found another dead mouse in the aging, blue plastic trash can.

Of course, I didn’t have much time to consider that two mice had chosen that particular household item as their final resting place. Why’s that? Because a few hours later, I found a snake sleeping in my garage.

I reacted as any sensible person would – I screamed, jumped into my car, and fled the garage. As I did so, I could hear words of wisdom spoken by my mom – “If a mouse can get in, a snake can get in.”

Vowing to avoid the garage until I had backup, I returned the next day with an expert who pointed out a few holes and advised that I fill those holes with steel wool and foam.

After I procured the supplies, a few helpers and I braved the garage. Luckily, we found no vermin or snakes, dead or alive. We did find remnants of vermin visits as well as additional holes. We spent dozens of minutes plugging holes in that scorching garage.

We eventually finished our task – or so we had thought – and my helpers left. As I was collecting my supplies, I decided to gaze upward. There, I spied several holes around the garage door brackets. I also spied two fractured electrical outlets – one on the ceiling and one on the wall – that needed to be replaced.

I eventually finished my task, but not before learning a valuable lesson – it’s not a good idea to mix steel wool and electricity. Let’s just say sparks flew.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

There’s an app for that for a reason — May 26, 2020

There’s an app for that for a reason

If you read this-here space last week, you might remember that I left you with a cliffhanger. Due to my own actions, I had lost my Walmart Grocery Pickup timeslot. Thus, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to procure a Barbie for my great-niece’s kindergarten graduation or bananas for a nanner pudding.

As it turns out, my sister had scheduled a pickup time (no surprise there), so she added the Barbie to her order and my great-niece squealed with delight when she received her surprise. And as it turns out, I had already scheduled a trip to the Food City, so I added bananas to that list.

But what of the third part of my cliffhanger? Did I obtain a replacement time slot?

Yes.

You might be saying to yourself, “Self, I wonder how it went?”

Wonder no longer. Overall, I had a pleasant pickup experience and plan to use the service again. Indeed, I still can’t believe that all I had to do was zip into a parking space, wait a few minutes, and then leave with a backseat full of groceries and supplies.

Of course, I do have a couple quibbles. For starters, if they don’t have an item, they make substitutions. I had no problem with three of their four substitutions. But my taste buds had been looking forward to enjoying the Supercenter’s bakery fresh shortbread cookies. So, imagine their disappointment when they received sugar cookies.

We live to learn, and I learned that we can refuse substitutions. (By the way, I found a good home for the sugar cookies.)

My other quibble involves cereal. One of my first tasks was to add two boxes of generic cereal to my cart. But when I checked the cart a few days later, I saw that the cereal was no longer available. So, I added one box of brand cereal.

So, imagine my surprise when I spied three boxes of cereal in my car. (On an unrelated topic…I also ended up with enough spaghetti to feed a family of 12 for a year, but that’s on me.)

Anyway, I close with a few words on the Grocery Pickup app. When I announced my pickup plans to my family, I received a message from my niece. Knowing that my slight paranoia prevents me from embracing too many apps, she asked how I planned to proceed with my order.

“Through the website,” answered I.

“Hmm,” responded she.

On the morning of my pickup, I received an email from the Supercenter, advising me that my order was ready and asking me to let them know when I was on my way.

It took me about three seconds to realize I would need to download the app to proceed with my order. I sent my niece a message that read, in part, “I have to install that expletive app. Are you happy?”

She must have been overjoyed because she sent me a laughing-until-you-cry emoji. So, my pickup experience was pleasant for her, too.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Pickup line — May 13, 2020

Pickup line

I have been borderline obsessed with Walmart’s grocery pickup since it came into existence last year. Firstly, I couldn’t understand why the company considered it good business sense to pay someone to shop for customers. (I eventually learned that the service represents another way they’re trying to stay competitive with Amazon.) Secondly, I’ve been on the verge of placing a pickup order too many times to count, only to  waller on the idea for so long that I eventually ran out of time and supplies, necessitating trips to the store.

Of course, my needs dictate that I go to the Supercenter only once every six weeks. So, it’s not like the grocery pickup would save me dozens of hours. Besides, I enjoy my occasional treks to the store.

But that was before the coronavirus. Nowadays, entering buildings not my own generates too much stress. Thus, it seemed like the perfect time to place my first pickup order.

Before doing so, I consulted my sister and nieces for advice. After all, they are grocery pickup experts and keep those associates busy. Then, I logged on, selected a pickup time, and started adding to my shopping cart.

Let’s start with the good news. I appreciate that I can instantly learn which items are on the shelves and instantly see the total of my selected items. You might be thinking to yourself, “Self, has she never before done ‘online’ shopping? Is she not familiar with the process?”

No, this is not my first foray into online shopping. But I’ve never before purchased groceries via a device. And as I saw the order total rise, I asked myself questions like, “Do I really need food?”

Anyway, here’s the not as good news. I’m not sure this process has saved time. That is not meant as a criticism of the Supercenter. It’s my fault for wallering over which box of lens wipes to add to the cart and comparing and contrasting the merits of various brands and sizes of crushed pineapples. Besides, at least I was able to do my shopping from the comfort of my home whilst watching TV and wearing pajamas.

Regardless, the grocery pickup did save me from outfitting myself with clothing, mask, and gloves/old socks, so all’s well. Right?

Not so fast.

I started my grocery shopping on a Sunday and selected a pickup time for the following Saturday. But I misunderstood my sister’s instructions. I thought she said I didn’t have to check out until a few hours before my selected time.

Wrong.

So, imagine my surprise when I clicked checkout Friday evening and received a message that I had lost my pickup time.

Questions flooded my confused mind: Would I be able to select another time that fit my schedule? How would I get bananas for the nanner pudding I had planned to make? And, most importantly, how would I procure the Barbie I had ordered for my great-niece’s kindergarten “graduation?”

Tune in next week for the answers to those questions and more.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.