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Recess!

Wow, remember recess in the ’70s? That was crazy. As a kid who hadn’t reached double digits yet, I was dying to get out of my classroom and run around. Thinking back, there sure were lots of hazards out on that playground – a blank canvas of concrete for us to skin our knees and elbows on. In fact, I remember one specific recess in the spring of 1971 when I skinned my elbow righteously (not sure how) and some random school employee led me back to my classroom door where I had to wait, literally dripping blood, until the teacher came back from break. Nobody rushed me to the school nurse, or a hospital, and I certainly don’t remember any ambulances showing up. She just slapped some mercurochrome and a bandage on it and made me go in and finish my spelling lesson.

Sure, nowadays I imagine there are all kinds of safety measures set in place to protect little children from the horrors of the elementary school experience. But when I was a kid? Not so much. Oh, I’m not saying we didn’t look forward to those precious 15 minutes of respite from learning our ABC’s and smelling chalk dust. But there were certainly a million ways for us to maim ourselves out there.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Dodge Ball. As a bona fide shrimp of a kid, this was not my favorite recess activity. Not only was I always picked last, but I was also knocked out first … usually catching at least five feet of air in the process.

Next, the monkey bars. It wasn’t so much the monkey bars that were the problem; it was the HARD concrete below them that didn’t necessarily cushion your fall when you missed a rung. Last time I saw monkey bars at a school, I think they had those fancy cushion-y black puzzle-like pads under them. Today, I think they have feather-bed mattresses below them … or spotters from the US Olympic Team.

Let’s move on to that crazy spherical metal-climbing thing. You know the one. Kids would climb all over that thing, and at least one would fall through it, tumble over it, or get strangled in it … usually resulting in a lost front tooth. Or how about the merry-go-round? That was only fun until some kid puked on it … which was always within the first five minutes.

The slides always promised a little excitement, only our slides in the ’70s were glistening steel; on a hot, sunny day, you could get third-degree burns on those things – that was if you actually sled down the thing instead of running down it full speed.

Tetherball was fun. I played that all the time. Well, I stood there all the time while my taller opponent wrapped that ball around the pole again and again, often bopping the side of my head while they did.

If you didn’t care for the fancy playground equipment, you could always get a jump-rope, lasso some kid smaller than you, and make them be your “horse” so you could gallop around like an idiot.

Whatever Hunger Games-type of adventure we decided upon during recess, it was usually fun until the bell rang … signaling you only had about two minutes to get your ass back in your chair in your classroom. So you either had to choose to pee (and if you were a girl, get freaked out by crazy fourth-grade girls staring in the mirror and reciting that “Mary Worth, Mary Worth, I Believe in Mary Worth” creepy game) OR try to get some hydration at the water fountain. Usually I tried to get a drink of water. However, our elementary school drinking fountain had a protocol: it had four spickets, and they were unofficially designated as: Coffee, Tea, Soda Pop and Pee. Oh man, by the time recess was coming to a close, those lines were deep: Coffee had at least three kids – Tea had about four. And the Soda Pop line was a mile long … so, sometimes you went without water.

I Hate Buffets

It’s true, I hate buffets. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Yes, if I’m on vacation, or visiting family and they take us to a buffet, I indulge. I mean, I have to eat. But as a serious germaphobe, it’s a disgusting experience. I pour on hand sanitizer before, during and after filling my plate. I practice the “serve with the left, eat with the right” strategy (only touching serving utensils with my left hand) so if I have to pick up a roll or something, my right hand is clean (enough) to touch it. I literally watched a little kid stick his finger in a dessert the last time I was at a buffet. Then he licked it and stuck it back in again. I sometimes see people taking food using their own fork. Not to mention those who decide, “meh … I don’t want this after all” … and slide a serving of slop off their own plate back into the community pan. So I do what I have to do to survive at buffets. I look for the “chef” making omelets behind the serving area, or the “chef” making Mongolian-style dishes behind the serving area. When I have to get food from some community bowl or pan, I reach way in the back … after removing the top layer of cootie-exposed food.

Jay freakin’ loves buffets. He could give a rat’s ass about cooties. He loves to eat and buffets are his Disneyland. I even watch him eat rolls and cookies with either hand, and lick his fingers. Shudder. I make him stay away from me for a week after we eat at buffets.

Anyway, I had to pour through the infamous Good Housekeeping’s Casserole Cook Book for blog inspiration this week. Always disgusting, yet always accommodating. This is the precious gem I found to ridicule. It was easy — “Buffet” was in the recipe title:

buffet recipe

I’m not sure if you read all of those ingredients, but this is certainly something I’d expect to find in a buffet … in the ’70s … in hell. These fancy Good Housekeeping recipes always try to pull me in with the onions and garlic, and then BAM!! Frankfurters, olives, kidney beans and hominy. You know that stuff will look just the same in the casserole dish as it will when it’s thrown up into the toilet.

I’m a Mess

I’m not kidding when I say I watch Hoarders to feel better about myself.

Well, I’m not a hoarder, and I feel really bad for anyone struggling with that issue. See, I have a big fear of filth, dirt and cooties. I am one of the biggest germaphobes there is. I apply hand sanitizer with an antibacterial wipe. You should see it when I stay at a hotel – man, I hit that place like Hazmat. However, I am guilty of “cluttering.” Yeah, I make mini-tornados all around my house.

I definitely am a messmaker. In fact, that’s one of Jay’s nicknames for me … typically used when I’m cooking. I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. But look out. When I’m in the kitchen, there is stuff flying everywhere – measuring cups landing here, sauces flung there, vegetable peels stuck to the wall, flour poofing all over the place. I don’t know what happens. I always start out organized. I neatly put out my cutting board, bowls, whisks, measuring cups, whatever; and, of course, a garbage bowl like Rachael Ray taught us. Though I don’t have a fancy $35 dollar garbage bowl; I use a plastic grocery bag (Mom would be proud).

It’s the same thing when I make jewelry or other crafts. I have stuff everywhere. Plus, if I set a tool or component down to get back to later, when I need it, I can’t remember where I put it. When I used to work for The Man I’d do the same thing with my pen. Doesn’t matter that I just wrote something with it five minutes prior; I could never find that thing on my desk.

So as for my clutter issue, me thinks it’s just subconscious adult rebellion from growing up under the watchful eye of Mary Ann. That woman ran our house like a well-oiled machine. We had to make our beds every day (Um, what? We’re just going to sleep in them again in 16 hours. Ask me if I make my bed today …) Once, she even did the “dime test.” She bounced a dime off our sheets like they did in the military to see if they were stretched tight enough. I can’t remember if she was joking then or not. Probably not. So she wasn’t too proud when my dime hit the sheet and stuck like glue. Mom was cleaning our house 24/7. And my sisters and I had to help clean it. We had serious chore lists, people. Maybe you’ve seen that post. Along with vacuuming, dusting, floor-scrubbing, dish-washing, lunch-making and yard work, Mom would always have special tasks for us to complete. We actually had to clean the leaves of fake house plants with vinegar. We polished and shined my Dad’s work shoes. We cleaned our combs with old toothbrushes. We soaked and scrubbed shoe laces. Holy crap, I’m not sure if I’m still talking about my childhood or summarizing the film, Mommie Dearest.

I actually like having a clean, uncluttered house. I work on it every time we’re expecting company. But I will likely never file everything in my office stack of papers which is now seven inches high. I will probably never sort through my box of photos and get them in fancy little frames to put on the wall. I will probably never organize the pantry. I will probably never sort the random jewelry-making components piled all over my work desk. I will probably never go through all the random flower pots on the side of the house and paint them and plant something in them like I planned. I will probably never go through the crap stuck in the seat pockets in my car.

But that’s cool. It doesn’t matter. I’ve got better things to do. The truth is, I probably will eventually file that stack of paper (at least by April 15, 2015), and sort through the photos, and maybe even organize the pantry. But I’m pretty sure the mess-making will continue in the kitchen.

“Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”

I love that quote. Not sure who should be given credit for it … Harriet Van Horne … the Dalai Lama … Life’s Little Instruction Book. Maybe my Mom.

messy

Today’s Jay’s birthday. The big one. Well, the big one until the next decade rolls around. Jay is in a class by himself: he has so much personality, and is always coming up with the funniest things. And I’m not just talking about his famous food concoctions. No, one of his latest goals is to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. If you asked me, I’d say he was trying to break the world record for the most Selfies and Photo Bombs. I think Jay created Selfies. Here’s a picture below, taken by Jay somewhere around 2001 with a Kodak camera, when no one really knew what a Selfie was:

SAMSUNG

I remember thinking what a weirdo he was. Cute, but weird. Who takes pictures of themselves? Of course, then I saw Dave Attell take pictures of himself on “Insomniac With Dave Attell” when he was pub crawling with complete strangers. Now that was funny.

Here’s another Selfie Jay took circa 2003:

jay selfie mirror

Now that’s a fancy version of a Selfie. Taking a picture into a mirror? Somebody loves himself.  I also remember all the times in the past Jay would sneak into staged photos right when they were being snapped – which is now known as photo-bombing. Guess he invented that, too. Jay’s photo-bombing rubbed off on my Dad. Here’s Papa Don photo-bombing us. Jay was taking another Selfie and I just happened to be in it:

selfie with dad photobombing

Actually I guess Jay’s quite the revolutionary. So back to the Guinness Book of World Records. He got my attention with the word “Guinness.” Jay has many talents, and the one he’s working on now should result in, as he claims, making him the guy who can catch a grape in his mouth thrown from the farthest distance. He’ll often ask nieces and nephews to throw a grape, peanut or M&M at him so he can practice catching. Sometimes it lands in his mouth. If it doesn’t, he eats it anyway.

You know before the Guinness Book of World Records was established, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! was the world authority on oddities, extraordinary feats and weirdness. I should know; this is my Uncle:

Uncle Gardner

Yep, that’s my Great, Great Uncle Gardner Taylor. He was a blacksmith with very strong ears (“cauliflower ears” as my Dad called them) who fashioned hooks to an anvil and lifted said anvil up by his ears: 150-something pounds of anvil. He made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Not! When I was a little kid, I remember my Grandma showing me an old postcard Uncle Gardner sent her featuring him doing the same thing. That’s when I realized I came from fancy lineage. Let’s see if I married into it.

I’m amazed by all the electronic devices and handheld toys kids have these days. I mean, Portable NES, PSP, Retro Duo, tablet, Kindle Fire, iPad, portable DVD player,  laptop, smart phone … just to name a few. I’m not even sure I’ve got those names right.

You know what kind of fancy electronic device my sisters and I played with as kids? A calculator. Oh yeah, that would entertain us for hours. It was a huge step up from writing on foggy car windows with our fingers during long car rides. You remember these clever calculator combinations, right?

Naturally:

hello

And the ever popular:

hell

And the more fancy ever popular:

ohhell

Not to mention a few other words I shouldn’t list here. I tried to recreate this amazing number/word phenomenon on my smart phone, but when I turned it upside down, the display just went sideways and turned into some crazy Albert Einstein-worthy display of symbols I’ve never seen before in my life.

Besides the calculator, we had just as much fun playing on the phone back then … a rotary phone nailed to the kitchen wall with a long cord that we could barely wrap into the adjoining family room to have some privacy during our allotted 30 minutes of talk time. I can’t remember it now, but there was a number we could call to make the house phone ring. My sisters and I would dial the number … dragging one number around the dial, then another, until finally all seven digits were dialed. When the phone rang, we’d pick it up fast and say “Hey, so-and-so, your boyfriend’s on the phone!” Then so-and-so (one of the sisters who wasn’t in on the prank that particular day) would pick it up … and hear that loud whistle that escalated and escalated then dimmed, and escalated and escalated and dimmed. It was hysterical. Unless my older sister Tracy was the unwilling victim, cuz then she’d beat the crap out of me.

Sometimes my Mom would get trapped at the front door talking to the gardener for a half hour, and she was too nice to dismiss him, so we’d have to pull that phone trick to save her. Wait a minute, we had a gardener???! But I had to eat Friday Night Casserole???!

I love Friday the 13th. I don’t care what all you big babies think; there’s nothing unlucky about it. Friday’s my favorite day of the week, and 13 is my favorite number. So what’s not to love? Well, I guess the movie Friday the 13th. And I’m not talking about one of the 1,400 remakes. I’m talking about the original 1980 version I saw in the theater when slasher flicks were just gaining momentum. The thought of Jason still scares the crap out of me when I’m camping near a lake. Which is every summer at my Dad’s. The original Friday the 13th was pretty cheesy now that I think about it; but back in the day, sitting in a dark movie theater and seeing that stuff on the big screen, along with the crazy “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ah-Ah-Ah” sound effects, was much scarier than renting a copy of Freddy vs. Jason and watching it on TV while texting and tweeting.

 

Fri 13th

My high school boyfriend took me to see the original in the theater when it came out. He thought for sure I’d be the one to freak out. I was fine. Until the end of the movie when you think it’s over and (Spoiler Alert!) suddenly What’s-Her-Face was lying in the boat in the middle of the lake with her hand in the water like an idiot, and Decomposed Jason jumped up from the watery depths and grabbed her. Holy sh*t! That was the precise moment when my boyfriend was pulling on his jacket sleeve, and he flailed back like a little girl, slamming his arm into my face. It was like Decomposed Jason was actually attacking me. Yeah, that freaked me out.

Then I went and saw Friday the 13th- Part II the next year with my bro Dave. Dave was sure I’d be trembling or freaking out throughout the massacre, so he told me he better hold my large Dr. Pepper drink during the movie. Um, the first time Jason jumped out at one of the dumb-ass camp counselors, Dave shot that Dr. Pepper in the air, and it landed on me.

So regardless of the movies, I love Friday the 13th. Of course, those movies aren’t half as traumatic as what I saw in the store the other day. I was in one of those big box grocery stores, which shall remain nameless, and something caught my eye on the top shelf. I don’t know why. I hardly ever walk down that particular aisle, and I rarely look up. But I was searching for the good tuna in a can – you know, solid white albacore, not the chunky, regurgitated bottom-feeder fish stuff that probably contains some of Jason’s soggy skin cells. And shudder, up on that shelf … there they were … together:

 

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Really?? Deviled Ham AND Spam — no, Spam SPREAD??  Throwing up in my mouth again.

A Wee Irish Tale

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today I thought I ‘d treat you to … no, not recipes involving Guinness … and not another recipe for Shepherd’s Pie … and certainly not a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage (that’s disgusting). Not all Irish people eat that. But you’d be correct in assuming we all loves potatoes … and drink like fish.

No, I thought I’d treat you to a little Irish Tale – based mostly on facts researched by one of my relatives. A wee story about my ancestors. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away (Ireland) there were these “Coens.”  The name Coen was originally derived from something like Comgahn, which apparently means “twin,” and which would explain the two-fisted drinking. Not sure how the name got shortened to Coen; probably just lazy.

I imagine these Coens were potato farmers, or sheep-herders, or something else as exciting. They tended their land and animals when they weren’t at the local pub. I’m not sure what happened back then in Ireland, but at some point there was trouble. Maybe religion. Maybe fighting. Maybe gambling. But, my guess is the Coens were moonshiners. Whatever happened, that Coen clan was kicked out of Ireland. But I know a lot of them are still there, my Dad visited the Emerald Isle once and saw about 250 Coens in the yellow pages (or green pages, whatever Ireland has). Anyways, way back then, Australia had a penal colony, where all the criminals from Ireland, Great Britain and other fancy places were sent. And that’s where that handful of Coens were sent. Some of them must’ve done their time, and then established their own little drinking towns down under. If you look on a map of Australia, you’ll see a little town named “Coen” on the northeastern tip. Really! Look it up. Or look here (just squint really hard):

australiahttp://www.australia.edu

The bustling town of Coen, Australia is in the outback, and apparently the only way to get there is by four-wheel drive motorhomes. Well, if you know my family, you’ll know that’s the white trash luxury way to travel anyways, so a true Coen family reunion isn’t completely out of the question. Put another whiskey jug on the barbie! You’re all invited.

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