Making do out of nothing at all

I’ve made some changes in my life and, frankly, I’m struggling to become accustomed to a few of them. For instance, I keep forgetting that I don’t have to use a knife to open the door that leads from my garage to my house.

Allow me to explain.

As is usually the case when things go wrong, this story stems from me just trying to make do. This time I continued to make do with a loose door knob. Every time I went in and/or out of that door, I said to myself, “Self, this door knob gets looser every day. Perhaps, you should be proactive and replace it before it just falls off.”

But then I would remind myself that it’s ineffective to fix something that’s not broken. And, technically, the door knob wasn’t broken.

Well, it wasn’t until the day off it fell into the floor.

At that point, I looked on the bright side. At least the dead bolt still worked.

Of course, on the not-so-bright-side, the latch remained intact. That meant I needed to figure out a way to rig the latch so I could get in and/or out of the door.

Luckily for me, I’ve learned a thing or two from making do over the years. For instance, I’ve learned that a butter knife serves as a multi-purpose tool. Thus, I retrieved one from the kitchen and inserted it into the latch until the lock opened. I realized that as long as I didn’t slam the door, said butter knife would stay in place, allowing me to open and/or close the door.

Except for forgetting to gently close the door on occasion, my invention and I co-existed peacefully for months.

At this point, you might be wondering why it took me months to pick up a door knob at the home improvement store. I’ll have you know that I was in possession of a new knob within days. Now, if you’re also wondering why I didn’t replace the knob within days, you’re obviously a first-time reader of this-here blog. I might be able to invent my own door knob out of a butter knife, but I don’t possess the skill set to install simple machines.

Thus, I had to wait until a certain somebody finally found the time to install it for me.

Thankfully, the time came, and my door now features a shiny new knob.

It’s lovely, but I had gotten so used to making do with the butter knife/latch that the sight of the knob continues to catch me by surprise.

As a side note, a certain somebody ripped off my towel rack in a fit of roid rage. So, my days of making do are not yet behind me.

 

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

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Getting salty

I recently bathed for the first time in at least 13 years.

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t walked around unclean in the ensuing years. Indeed, I’ve taken hundreds if not thousands of showers during that time.

You might also be wondering how I know for sure that it’s been 13 years and not 12 or 14 or 30. There’s an easy enough explanation for that as well. I moved into my house in 2004, yet I took my first bath in its tub only last week.

Why now?

There’s an easy enough explanation for that, too. I followed doctor’s orders.

In case I haven’t mentioned it 12 or 14 or 30 times, I suffer from migraines. Although they’re not nearly as bad as they used to be, the fact that I still have them means all is not well, either.

I also battle insomnia from time to time. By time to time I mean dern-near every week. So, a doctor advised me to soak in warm water infused with Epsom salts. The doctor even recommended I drape a wash cloth around my neck, warming it in the steaming water whenever it cools.

According to the doctor, the baths will help me relax, theoretically keeping migraines and insomnia at bay. What’s more, magnesium has been identified as a natural remedy for migraines. And what comprises Epsom salts? You guessed it. Magnesium sulfate.

As of this writing, I can’t be sure if this new prescription is working as I’ve taken only two baths. In fact, it took me two weeks to actually try the cure because, you guessed it, I had a days-long headache and I didn’t think the powerfully-smelling cleaner I use to scrub said tub would help matters. (Yeah, you read that right. I hadn’t scrubbed my tub in at least two weeks. We’ll leave it at that.)

Furthermore, I had to make myself take the time to bathe. As I told the doctor, I equate lounging around in a warm tub with wasting time. He countered by mentioning the time wasted when a migraine sets in. The migraine I experienced last Sunday only reinforced his advice. After lounging in the bed and on the couch all day, I realized lounging 20 minutes in the tub every day didn’t sound so wasteful.

Or, as the doctor all but said, an ounce (or a couple cups) of magnesium sulfate is worth a pound (or a few minutes) of cure.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Have you had your sprinkle today?

We held a shower for my great nephew, aka the world’s most adorable baby, last weekend.

At least I think we did.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, what kind of idiot doesn’t know if she helped throw a shower?”

Well, obviously, I know I helped with the shower. After all, I served on the all-important soda and ice duty. What’s more, I took a small portion of my pen and pencil stash to the event so guests could play the games. Don’t you worry, though, I returned home with the same amount – if not more – of pens and pencils I took with me.

My confusion concerns the nature of the event. Specifically, did we have a shower or a sprinkle?

If you’re like me, you had probably never heard tell of a sprinkle until a few years ago. Again, if you’re like me, upon hearing of a sprinkle, you probably asked, “What the expletive is a sprinkle?”

Someone answered my question by explaining that a sprinkle is like a shower, but for a second (or third or fourth or so on) child. That satisfied my curiosity, and I posed no further questions.

So, when my family and I began discussing the etiquette of throwing a shower for a second baby (you know, because my family and I are known for adhering to etiquette), I pointed out that that’s the purpose of a sprinkle.

My niece told me I was wrong. According to her, a sprinkle is for a second (or third or fourth or so on) child of a different gender.

I turned to the Internet for guidance, but that great beacon of knowledge finally failed me. Indeed, some sites I visited backed up my claim while others confirmed my niece’s assertion. Still other sites maintained that a sprinkle is actually a low key shower attended by only a few people, regardless of the baby’s birth order or gender.

Nevertheless, showers and/or sprinkles have changed over the years. Take the games, for example. Nowadays, we play games that demand us to match the names of adult animals to their babies. Back in the day, we tried to see how many clothespins we could drop into a jar.

I also remember a shower game that consisted of putting balloons in a clothes basket using nothing but a yard stick and persistence. Then again, maybe I didn’t play that at a shower. Maybe I played that in the living room with my cousin. But I guess that’s another column for another day.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

It’s how you play the game

One recent summer day, my three-year-old great niece handed me her pad and told me it was my turn to play. Nearly moved to tears by the child’s capacity for sharing, I took hold of the pad.

My happiness turned to disappointment when I realized we were playing a version of Super Mario Bros. In case you’re unfamiliar with the video game, Mario, a plumber by trade, runs through several worlds, encountering mushrooms, coins, and some sort of creature that resembles a flying goose, on his quest to save a princess.

The plot reminds me of some migraine-induced nightmares I’ve endured and, in spite of my older nieces’ repeated attempts over the past two decades to school me in the art of Mario, I’ve never gotten the hang of playing the game.

There was no need for both my newer niece and me to be disappointed, though, so I gave it my best. Mercifully, Mario was running on his own accord, so all I had to do was make him jump. The game even prompted me – with instructions – when it was time for Mario to jump.

I tapped that screen whenever Mario came across a mushroom or had opportunities to obtain coins. Nonetheless, Mario kept falling off the course and/or getting himself minimized by objects the flying goose threw at him. Not wanting to give up, I suggested we find an easier version of the game. That’s when the other adults in the room informed me that we were playing the easy version.

Sighing, I told her, “I can’t do it,” and immediately regretted my words. Whenever she informs me that she can’t, for example, slide open my closet doors, I remind her that “can’t never could.” So, there I sat, basically telling her to do as I say and not as I do. (Or would that be do as I say and not as I say?)

But to my credit (or would that be discredit?), I can’t play video games. What’s more, other than Ms. Pac-Man, I’ve never had an interest in learning to play them. (Don’t even get me started on my comedic attempts at Mario Kart.) And, since I’m being honest, I’m not an exceptional Ms. Pac-Man player, either. In fact, I’m probably not even good.

So it didn’t take long for my niece to pick up on my lack of video game-playing skills. After I had led Mario to yet another death, she eased the pad away from me and gave it to my  sister. When I asked her who played better, my sister or me, she pointed at my sister.

The child’s capacity for telling the truth nearly moved me to tears.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Stop fidgeting around

You might have heard about a contraption called the fidget spinner, which was all the rage amongst youngsters earlier this year. The three-pronged toy is flat and contains a bearing in the center. When you want the fidget spinner to spin, you place a finger on the center and give one of the prongs a good twirl.

Then you watch and/or listen to it spin.

That’s the gist of it.

Try as I might, I couldn’t understand the appeal of this fad. But kids played with the fidget spinner so much that many schools and colleges banned the toy. Obviously, I’m not included in the manufacturer’s target population, so I decided I was simply too old for fidgeting fun.

That was before I came upon two ladies – one of whom is the same age as I and the other of whom is just a few years younger – spinning the fidget spinner like their very lives depended on the toy’s constant movement. The ladies implored me – practically in unison – to join in the “addictive” activity.

Although it didn’t look like something I would enjoy, I said to myself, “Self, you didn’t think you would enjoy ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ either, and now you can’t get enough of that.”

So, I picked up a fidget spinner and gave it a twirl.

I didn’t feel an immediate need to keep giving it a twirl, but I’m known for my stubbornness. I was determined to become addicted to twirling that fidget spinner, so I persevered. Thinking that any second I would become overwhelmed with an urge that would ultimately destroy my life and ruin my relationships, I kept giving it a good twirl.

In spite of my persistence, I failed to develop a dependence on the fidget spinner. Indeed, several times it fell victim to the volcano of papers, books, and gadgets that dominate my life. Every time I found it lying under something, it looked so out of place that I had to remind myself that it was supposed to have taken over my life.

Actually, the only thing the fidget spinner did was remind me of when the air conditioning in my first car quit working. It would have cost more to fix the AC than the car was worth, so even though it was summer, I drove that car with only a 99-cent hand-held fan to keep me “cool.”

Every time I gave the fidget spinner a good twirl, the spinning reminded me of that fan. At least the fan had a purpose.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

April fools

Near the end of February, a live stream of a pregnant giraffe caught the Internet’s collective attention. Since then, dern-near everyone on the planet has been watching April, the pregnant giraffe, hang out in her stall at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y. Apparently, they’ve been waiting for April, who’s been pregnant forever, to finally birth a baby giraffe.

Through a combination of determination and lack of interest, I managed to ignore the dozens of references to April that popped up in my news feed. At least I did until a certain meme caught my eye.

This particular meme accused April of faking her pregnancy.

Oh, now she had my attention.

I was raised on soap operas. I still can’t resist soapy goodness, so my mind immediately recalled the lessons I learned from the pregnancy-faking characters who populated my favorite soaps.

I imagined April fooling everyone by wearing a well-placed pillow under her clothes. All the other lady giraffes would say to her, “You’re so lucky to only be gaining weight in your stomach. When I was pregnant, I gained weight all over. My face was so swollen it looked like I had just lost a UFC fight and my butt was so big I was mistaken for an elephant.”

Even April’s man, Oliver, would be none the wiser. One can only assume that he, like all the clueless male soap characters who came before him, would never ask to feel the baby kick, to accompany the mother of his child to the gender-reveal ultrasound, or to request some loving.

Of course, April, like all the pillow-wearing female soap characters who came before her, would eventually need to produce a calf. Obviously, she would have to find a young giraffe who had fallen in love with the bad boy of the savannah only to end up with a broken heart and a baby in her belly. With nowhere to forge for food, she would accept April’s generous offer to adopt her baby. Sure, she would wonder why she had to spend her 13-to-15-month pregnancy hidden in April’s attic, but April would reassure her that the peace, quiet, and low ceilings were good for the baby.

It all made sense to me. But just to be sure, I did minimal research on April, the pregnant giraffe. It turns out that the zookeepers are now saying she might be past due. Uh-huh. Any fan of afternoon soaps has heard that one before.

What’s more, Oliver is allowed only minimal contact with April, allegedly, to prevent him from fighting her or stealing her food. But I think we all know the real reason April is avoiding Oliver.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

One word: Plastics

From time to time, we all board the struggle bus. In fact, for some of us, it’s dern-near impossible to parallel park, make gravy, or strike a match.

But the other day, as I engaged in a battle of wills with one of my longtime nemesis, I said to myself, “Self, surely you’re not the only idiot who struggles to open a plastic bag.”

In case you’re wondering, at that moment I was referring to those plastic bags supermarkets provide for the transportation of fruit and veggies. Oh, there have been times when I’ve won a skirmish with my foe. I’ve then confidently strode to the apples and oranges, dropping them into the open bag with the aplomb of a basketball player who has just dropped a buzzer-beating three into the basket.

Usually, though, the bag wins. Indeed, I have difficulty differentiating the top of the bag from the bottom. What’s more, the plastic clings to my hands. I attribute the latter problem to the static electricity surging through my body.

In case you’re wondering, it also takes me minutes to open a trash bag and I never use Saran Wrap. Never. I tried when I was younger and more adventurous, but the result was always the same. Instead of covering my food, the plastic wrapped around my hand before I formed it into a ball and tossed it in the trash.

Plastic bags (and wrap) aren’t the only things that own me. I also cannot fold a fitted sheet. If you’re saying to yourself, “Self, that’s not so bad. No one can fold a fitted sheet,” then you need to peek inside my mother’s linen cabinet. There, you will find fitted sheets folded so perfectly that you’d swear they had just come out of the package.

Mother tried to impart her sheet-folding perfection to me. I remember her telling me to punch the corners together. I do that. Then, I continue punching until the sheet resembles a pile of used towels discarded on the bathroom floor.

In addition to plastic and sheets, I also have difficulty with those online tests that make you prove you’re not a robot. When I encounter one that’s populated by numbers and letters, I squint and ask myself, “Self, is that an uppercase B or an 8? And is that next letter a lowercase c or an e?”

It always takes multiple attempts before I’m allowed to download the artwork or order the free pack of flowers. So, imagine my happiness when some websites switched to images instead of numbers and letters.

And then imagine my frustration when I repeatedly failed to select the photos featuring road signs. After a recent poor showing, I’ve decided websites are probably programmed to allow admission after a certain number of tries. After all, the programmers most likely realize it wouldn’t take a robot several attempts to click on the pictures of lawn chairs.

I’ll bet a robot can also open a plastic bag, use Saran Wrap, and fold a fitted sheet.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.