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.

May the fourth be with you — May 4, 2021

May the fourth be with you

Unlike other Star Wars galaxy fans of my generation, I didn’t grow up watching the movies. Indeed, I didn’t view my first Star Wars flick until a few years after the original trilogy had made history in movie theaters. What’s more, until that fateful Labor Day weekend when I happened across the first Star Wars movie on the TV, I had never had a scintilla of interest in the franchise.

But after that first viewing, I was hooked.

All these years later, on this Star Wars Day – May the Fourth – I’m still hooked. I have watched the prequel trilogy and the sequel trilogy and both standalone films, Solo and Rogue One. I enjoyed the former and loved the latter. Depending on my mood, I might make the bold statement that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie ever. If you disagree, we can duel with lightsabers.

Although my feelings for Star Wars lore have not led me to sample any of the cartoons, oops, I mean animated series, I have read three books detailing the rise of Darth Vader as well as one focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi, aka my favorite Star Wars character. Thus, I’m beyond pumped about the upcoming Obi-Wan series and, of course, I am a faithful viewer of The Mandalorian.

Other than the fact that today is May the Fourth – a play on the Star Wars phrase “May the force be with you” – why am I reminiscing about Star Wars?

Because I’ve reflected on the fact that, for the most part, I’m not a blockbuster kind of gal. I’ve consulted the abacus and, unless the math is wrong, I have seen exactly one Marvel movie and maybe one Justice League movie. That’s a maybe because I’m not sure if the Superman flick I saw falls under the Justice League umbrella. I’m not even sure I know what the Justice League is.

Furthermore, I tried to watch the X-Men movies back in the day, and I made it through two or three before giving up after I realized it’s the exact same movie with different dialogue.

Before any of my friends and family members remind me, yes, I remain a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and yes, I recognize those movies were blockbusters.

Otherwise, I’m sort of a film snob, so why am I a Star Wars fangirl? It’s not due to nostalgia because, as aforementioned, I didn’t watch the movies until I had exited childhood.

I used to think my interest stemmed from the Darth Vader character and his frenemyship with Obi-Wan, but neither of those characters are in The Mandalorian. And while Darth Vader’s – and Leia’s – appearance at the end of Rogue One elevates that movie from good to great, the film was already giving me chills before Vader and his red lightsaber showed up.

The best answer I can give myself is that the original trilogy featured a group of scrappy guys and one awesome gal who not only took on the evil empire, but defeated it in the face of overwhelming odds. Those other blockbusters feature superheroes or mutants with special powers. Sure, you can make an argument about Luke Skywalker’s DNA and The Force being super powers, but I can also make an argument that he was just a whiny kid.

So, maybe I’m just a sucker for underdogs who defeat fascists.

Happy Star Wars Day!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Word of the week — April 28, 2021

Word of the week

This space is brought to you by the word exsanguination.

This bloody tale began a couple weeks ago when Cady, a member of my cat army, started acting weirder than usual. She pranced around the house, looking toward the ceilings and emitting a strange noise that sounded like something between a cry and a moan.

I initially suspected she was trying to tell me a poltergeist had settled into the attic. Or, worse, that one or more vermin had breached the perimeter. Such concerns worsened when she repeatedly acted like a lunatic in the kitchen. Longtime readers might recall that rodents have tested my resolve over the years by sneaking in behind the stove. And that one rodent lost its life last year in said stove after being injured by and then chased by the cat army.

Anyway, due to Cady’s antics, I pulled out the stove and opened all the cabinets and drawers, but I saw no rodents or evidence of their presence. So, I went on with my life.

That’s what I was doing last Wednesday night, going on with my life, when suddenly, Cady bolted from the living room and sprinted into the kitchen.

When I joined Cady, I found her sniffing around the stove, which was still pulled out from the wall, like she was a detection dog looking for drugs. She also sniffed around the wall, the floor, and the side of the cabinet that leads to the countertop. I knew she was hot on the trail of something. But I checked and it didn’t look as if any of the steel wool that I had plugged into the small hole behind the stove – don’t ask – had come dislodged.

That’s when I thought I saw movement on the countertop. Surely, it must have been my reflection, right?

Wrong. Upon closer inspection, I saw a mouse scurrying across the countertop.

The mouse had no reason to fear me, so I picked up Cady and placed her within inches from the mouse. She didn’t hiss, she didn’t swat, she didn’t acknowledge its existence. Thus, the mouse scurried across the countertop and down the wall.

I assumed it left the way it came in. Noting there was space between the wall and the baseboard, I plugged the seams with steel wool – I should own stock in the product – and then turned around and exclaimed, “Expletive!”

The stove!

What if that mouse was biding its time in the stove?!?!

I don’t have the type of tool needed to remove the back of the stove, so I had to leave it for the night, well, morning because by this point it was past midnight. I had also noticed that the mouse had been feasting on the season’s last Cadbury egg, which had been waiting for me on the countertop. As you can expect, this last turn of events pushed me over the edge.

So, I left the kitchen light on for Cady, who would not leave her post beside the stove, and went to bed. Simon, the other member of my cat army, wanted no part of this adventure. To his defense, he is 14, and Cady is 16. They’re seniors. Besides, maybe the departed member of the army, the late great Alice Aurora Goff, was the rodent slayer.

These thoughts weighed on my mind and I didn’t sleep much. When I emerged bleary-eyed from my bedroom the following morning, I feared I’d find a family of mice living it up. I was prepared to shake their hands, give them the deed to the house, and vacate the premises.

Well, I did find one mouse in the house.

It was lying in the living floor, beside my rocking chair. I pronounced it dead by exsanguination.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Make use of — April 21, 2021

Make use of

Approximately six weeks ago – after months of deliberation – I cut the cable cord and switched to a streaming service that offers live TV as well as access to a library of shows and movies.

I can’t describe the process as painless. Indeed, there are aspects of cable that I miss including their handy onscreen guide and the old people TV stations. Otherwise, streaming and I were getting along fabulously until last Sunday night.

With a baseball game on the TV and the laptop in my lap, I was living the dream. Suddenly, an alert popped up on said laptop. It seems my Internet company was warning that I was danger of reaching the limits of my Internet usage.

Oops!

The company offered an upgrade – for a price – but any longtime reader of this-here space can predict my reaction to that offer. As soon as the game concluded, I stopped streaming and did not resume until my next billing cycle began six days later.

Yes, that means I missed Aaron Rodgers’ second week as guest host on Jeopardy!

At this point, you might be asking yourself two questions, “Self, didn’t she realize all that extra streaming would result in more Internet usage? Also, self, doesn’t she have unlimited usage?”

As for the first question, apparently, I hadn’t realized it.

As for the second question, I’m assuming you’re new around here. On the other hand, one of my besties, a person who has known me since college, asked the same question. As if I would pony up the money for unlimited usage.

For the final week of the billing cycle, I checked my usage obsessively. Thankfully, regular net usage doesn’t utilize many bytes. To be on the safe side, though, I didn’t watch any social media videos of cats and only accidentally shared gifs last week.

But I can’t live in a silent house. The over-usage was caused, in part, because I had been utilizing streaming music services during work days instead of listening to my music. I will not make that mistake again.

A bigger problem is that I was streaming nonstop the rest of the time. In fact, occasionally I streamed on the TV in the living room whilst simultaneously streaming music on my iPad as I walked on the treadmill in the evenings. I also streamed on the TV whilst reading. And cleaning. And cooking. And weed eating. And showering. And, well, you get the point. Such is my need for background noise that one weekend I streamed a lacrosse game. Or was it a match? Beats me because I know nothing about lacrosse.

I did have the good sense to turn off the TV and the streaming device when I left the house or who knows when I would have received the alert from the company.

Thanks to that alert, I didn’t go over. But if I had gone over because of, let’s say Aaron Rodgers, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But if I had gone over because of a lacrosse game/match that I didn’t even watch? Oh, I would have kicked my own expletive for that.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.