Archive for September, 2012

I think I’ve mentioned our childhood chore lists before. Mom had us washing dishes as soon as we could stand on chairs and reach the faucet. This may sound like child endangerment, but if you recall, Macaulay Culkin’s character “Miles” stood on a chair to wash dishes in the movie “Uncle Buck.” Of course he made it look fun—and probably had 13 stunt guys and stage hands around in case he began to fall off the chair.

Our dishwasher is currently broken, so I’ve been washing dishes by hand. Brings back fond memories of that nightly chore. Two of us girls were put in charge of dish duty: one to wash, one to dry. After years of dishwashing, we had to think of a way to entertain ourselves while we scrubbed and dried. I don’t know who started it, but we’d take turns playing “Bride.” (This is much safer than playing “Neighbor” which you may recall from my post a few weeks back.) One of us would grab a plate, put it on our head and place the cloth dish towel over it. Then we’d walk ‘gracefully’ across the floor pretending to be walking down the aisle. Apparently this thrilled us enough to do every night; well, with the exception of a few soap bubble fights.

Sometimes we’d be gliding around in our plate-towel veil and catch a glimpse of Dad leaning against the kitchen wall and staring at us with his arms crossed. Busted. He got sick of our time-wasting shenanigans, so he began setting the kitchen egg timer to 30 minutes. We had to be done within that time, or else. I can’t remember what “or else” was … I think we lost our Friday Night “Partridge Family” viewing rights. Well, those old egg timers were quite easy to manipulate. We must’ve re-set that thing at least another half hour every night. In fact, one night it took us almost three hours to do the dishes. I don’t know how Dad outsmarted us after that. Oh, I remember–that’s when we got our dishwasher.

Back to Mom’s chores list. She posted it up on the dining room wall. We had plenty of chores to keep us busy on a daily basis.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look at this note I found. It’s circa 1975, I think. So that would mean my sisters and I were ages 13, 12, 9 and 5.

I don’t remember why we didn’t have hot water; we weren’t that poor. Maybe the water heater was on the fritz. And Mom apparently had to emphasize my dish chore. Hmm. Maybe I was having trouble staying on task. She continues …

When Mom said to clean our room from top to bottom, she meant vacuuming, dusting, changing sheets and putting every shred of kid evidence away. Her note concludes…

Yeah, we had to take the bus. That’s a story for another time.

Well, I made out fairly well as far as the amount of chores went. Coleen certainly got the worst of it that day. On top of every other chore for this nine-year-old, she had to make dinner and prepare all the fancy weekly drinks. That’s right, the note said “fix milk” … I refer you to one of my original posts “Got Powdered Milk?” Poor Coleen.

Well, that was a busy summer day for us. Dad was enjoying himself at work and I guess Mom was going out for a spa day. Actually, I think she had just started a new job after being out of the work force for a while and apparently didn’t have time to update our usual chore list on the wall. I just wish I could remember what Coleen pulled together for dinner that night. Oh yeah … Friday Night Casserole.


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Chapter 3 – Holy French Fry, Batman

I haven’t made fun of Jay for a while, so I guess it’s time.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (you three know who you are), you know that Jay loves food. Loves it. He loves it so much that at holiday and dinner parties he goes around taking pictures of the food. For example, here’s one from Thanksgiving:

Those are Tracy’s homemade rolls. Not sure if she ever found out who had stuck their finger in one. Well, she knows now.

Sometimes I think Jay uses his “food picture-taking hobby” as an excuse to snag some of the food before everyone else.

Those are a few app platters from New Years. If you look closely, you’ll see that one of the chicken teriyaki skewers on the left is gone and one of the gyoza on the plate in the back is suspiciously missing.

Once we picked up fast food and Jay found this French fry on his plate:

Yes, it was shaped like a “J” and he couldn’t believe it. A “J” for Jay. He thought it was a miracle. So he took a picture of it. And another:

I’m not sure why he set it on the table; maybe just for a different perspective. The table was glass, and all I see is the metal table leg underneath. For Jay, seeing that “J” French fry was like seeing the likeness of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich.

He finally ate the “J” fry after admiring it for a while. Well, naturally.

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Koogle It!

You may think I made a typo and meant to write “Google It.” Nope. I meant to write “Koogle It.”

Like every other kid, I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches … especially when served with barbeque potato chips. We always had peanut butter in the house — it was an inexpensive staple. I even liked peanut butter and honey sandwiches. The King liked peanut butter and Miracle Whip sandwiches. It’s true. Oh, you thought I meant Elvis. No, Elvis liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My Dad liked peanut butter and Miracle Whip sandwiches. I think he still does. I tried them once. I think I made it through one bite.

I remember one fun-filled evening at the Coen homestead in Vallejo when all the aunts, uncles and cousins came over for a party. The uncles were playing pool in the garage and drinking Oly. The aunts were hanging out inside. I can’t remember what they were doing — maybe knitting, or crocheting, or churning butter … and drinking Oly. All of us cousins were running around crazy outside. Before we knew it, it was near midnight and our RC Cola sugar rushes were wearing off. We needed food. So my Mom, being as cool as she was, organized a peanut butter and jelly sandwich assembly line in the kitchen with the aunts. All of us kids lined up at the back kitchen door and they handed each of us a paper plate with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a stack of barbeque potato chips. It was kid heaven–staying up after ten o’clock AND getting more empty calories.

After our PBJ’s and BBQ chips, we all sprawled out on the living room floor to watch Creature Features. That living room floor was covered with a bright red shag carpet. I remember having to rake it. We had a bright red glass divider in the entry way, and red knick-knacks here and there. Apparently red was all the rage in 1972, but our living room looked like somebody opened the elevator doors from “The Shining” in there.

In the mid ‘70s, Mom discovered an exciting peanut butter concoction at the grocery store:  Koogle. This delicacy was a peanut butter spread mixed with chocolate — or vanilla, banana or cinnamon. Koogle was delicious, and it had an awesome label, too:


It was like the poor man’s Nutella®. I loved sneaking into the kitchen and eating a big spoonful of Koogle. If you know me well, you know which flavor was my favorite — the chocolate, obviously. My favorite treat today is still this:

“You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” Either way, who cares, I’ll take it.  And yes, I can hear a few of you responding, “That’s what she said.”

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