A Low-Carb, No Sweets Birthday

Posted by Kathy on August 31st, 2012

This is the sort of thing you get for your birthday when you’re watching your carbs and sweets.

You get a bacon-wrapped meatloaf cake and you love your husband for keeping you on the straight and narrow.

meatloaf cake

I’m back to the gym and losing all the weight I regained last year while I was nursing injuries to my knees. Down 7lbs so far. Go me!

As an aside, today my family got to make fun of me again for something I loudly proclaimed as a child when this day rolled around.

I’d run around screaming “My birthday’s the laaaaaast day!

For some reason, I thought it was a very special thing to have a birthday that landed at the end of a month.

As though millions of others weren’t having the same birthday as me. My last day is really something! It’s the LAST DAY, people!

My siblings would all roll their eyes and chime in with the month because you just can’t go around sounding so stupid.

And so, for the last several decades, whenever it’s my birthday, my family calls and leaves me messages: “My birthday’s the laaaaaast day!!!! …….. OF AUGUST!

And that is how my August 31st went and shall go forever more.

Thank you everyone for all the lovely Facebook birthday wishes. I did wind up getting cupcakes. I cheated, but not too much.

I’ll take care of that on the elliptical tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

My Life Has Been a Lie

Posted by Kathy on February 18th, 2012

Kraft mayoA part of me died today.

It happened at exactly 1:12PM.

I recall glancing at a digital clock in my mother’s apartment before announcing that I was hungry and would make a sandwich.

“Do you want me to make you some tuna fish?” Mom asked.

“Yeah! Would you mash it up good like you did when we were little?” I asked.  “And mix it with a ton of mayo?”

“Sure,” she replied.

And then it happened.

We went to the kitchen and she began to prepare the tuna fish.

I went to the fridge to grab the mayo.

‘Mom? What’s this?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” she replied.

“What do you mean what do I mean? What is this?” I asked, holding up a jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

“It’s mayo.”

“It is not mayo. It’s the wrong mayo. Where’s the Kraft?”

She gave me a shrug.

A shrug, from the woman who raised me on Kraft. Kraft, the best and only worthy mayo on the planet.

“Mom. Now you hear me and you hear me good. This isn’t mayo and I want to know when you started buying it,” I demanded. The inquisition begins.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she answered.

She scrunched up her nose and rolled her eyes. And then she gave me what she thought would be a conversation-ending Mom wave-off.

But no.

We’re not ending this conversation! Oh, no we’re not.

“How can you say that? You bought Kraft forever. You raised me on Kraft. I have Kraft in my bones for crying out loud. I don’t understand how you can do this,” I cried.

I’m sick about this discovery, trying to process it all. Meanwhile, my mother is still mashing away at the tuna, ignoring me completely.

“Mom, really? How can this be? Tracey used to always come over the house for the good sandwiches because we had the good mayo,” I reminded her.

See, my best friend Tracey lived in a Miracle Whip house, poor thing. Not even mayo. She was livin’ the high life at my house with tuna sandwiches made with real mayonnaise for years and secretly wished she lived in The House of Kraft.

“Stick with us. We’ll always have Kraft. We’ll take good care of you,” I assured her.

But evidently we won’t always have Kraft.

We’ll switch and we won’t tell anybody.

I’m still in a tizzy, as I set the Hellish mayo down on the counter, then walk away in utter bewilderment. Mom continues mashing the tuna.

I’m faint.

What will people say, Mom?

How can you even look at me?

How can I look at you?

The sad truth was sinking in. Mom was on the other side now. I don’t know what it’s like to be on that side. The world is all wrong and weird and backwards on that side.

I mull over when this could have happened. There was no announcement. No vetting of new mayo. No mayo caucus.

This is the stuff of family meetings. We should have had at least a phone conference about it. A newsletter. Something!

Maybe she’s been buying it for years and I never noticed. Maybe she switched when she had a coupon for ACK, BLEH, I can’t even say it – Hellmmm……..

Whatever the reason and whenever it happened, I know one undeniable fact.

My mother obviously never had a preference because once you have Kraft, you never switch. You just never switch!

Tonight I lick my wounds. My childhood will still be filled with Kraft memories, but I can never make a sandwich at my mother’s house.

Not unless I bring my own mayo.

And don’t think I won’t.

Mama Always Said

Posted by Kathy on January 7th, 2012

scolding Today my sister Marlene and her husband treated me to lunch at a place I’ve only ever gone to before for ice cream.

When we pulled up to the place, I asked Marlene if instead of a real meal, I could just have ice cream for lunch.

She shut me down before I could make my case for chocolate chip cookie dough as an entree. “No, not unless you eat something healthy first.”

Poop on you!

I said “Yeah, that’s like Mom always said when I wanted junk food. Remember? She’d say ‘First you have to have meat, cheese, tuna fish or egg.’” Apparently, protein buys you cookies later.

“No, I don’t remember and how specific is that? Geesh,” Marlene replied.

I told her I loved Mom’s stock answer for its nonsensical quality and if I ever wrote a book, that’s what I was going to call it. Meat, Cheese, Tuna Fish or Egg. It doesn’t make any sense without explanation and surely, anyone reading the title would be compelled to pick up my book and flip through its pages.

And then they would laugh themselves silly reading random portions of the gem in their hands, be in awe of all the rock star authors who gave it rave reviews and wonder why my creation was deep in the bowels of the bookstore, when it should be right at the front door all by itself on an easel, with a spotlight shining upon it and a velvet rope around it.

A dreamer I was.

What I want to know from those with mothers who say weird things…. let’s have it.

Tell us your favorite motherly sayings, admonishments, crazy rules or regulations that you remember to this day.

The less they made sense, the better.

Go!

Camping is For Other People

Posted by Kathy on June 10th, 2010

latrine When I was about ten years old, I went to a wilderness camp with my girl scout troop. Until then I was content with earning merit badges, singing hokey songs at after-school meetings and selling overpriced cookies once a year to my Thin Mint junkie friends and family.

As with everything else I did at that time in my life, I went with the crowd. Camping is not something I would have chosen to do for fun. Even then I knew I liked my creature comforts. Or rather, comforts without the creatures. I don’t need to get close to things in nature that have a thirst for blood, too many legs and a desire to get all up in my face.

I was OK when we all arrived at the camp site and got checked into the main building, which was nice and clean and looking every bit like the civilization I’d just left.

But as we made our way toward the cabins to drop off our backpacks and stuff, things got more and more rustic, and less and less civilized.

On approach to the cabins, wait. What? We’re cooking on a campfire? Sitting on logs? Eating? Here? My mind was spinning. And the cabins? Where are the lights? Those mattresses are funky. Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I have to pee in a hole in a shed?

I began plotting right then and there how to get back home where a warm bed would be missing me.

That day’s activities included ice-breaker games, gathering sticks for firewood, acquainting ourselves with the layout of camp, singing songs around a fire and then eating off dented metal plates on logs.

What I wanted was to be home watching Soul Train. What I got was dirty and gross and sweaty and can’t I eat in that nice clean building where we started?

That whole day all I could think about was having to sleep in the pitch black cabin. No lights. Cracks in the wooden ceiling. Creaky doors. The one thing I forgot to think about was how much water I drank during the day.

I shouldn’t have had anything because I realized I’d have to use the latrine, which is such a pretty-sounding word, right? [from French, from Latin latrina, shortened form of lavatrina bath, from lavare to wash]. Please. It’s a hole.

Just as we got settled into our cabins for the night, the rains came.

And then I had to pee.

I took a buddy with me, through now-sloppy grounds, up an incline to the ramshackle, bug-infested shed with a hole in it. The smell. The darkness. The fear. I positioned myself for the Infection Avoidance Crouch-and-Hover over the hole and OMG! Is there something touching me? What was that? Is it a rat?

That’s it. I’m outta here.

This is the part where my parents, who read my blog, will find out the Big Lie of 1975.

I feigned sickness.

While heading over to the scout leader’s cabin, I tried to work up a good puke, or at the very least, appear as pathetic and pasty white as possible. It’s very hard to puke at will, so all I could muster was a whiney “I don’t feeeeeel so good.”

The wheels were set in motion and a call would be made to my parents early the next morning.

I’d be free in T-minus twelve hours.

I didn’t care that my fellow scouts would probably talk about me after I left. What a weenie she is. Yeah, can’t even make it one day. I didn’t care that I truncated what should have been a neat experience. For most people.

I’m not most people. As a girl scout you’re supposed to learn “skills for success in the real world” and know your potential. I did. I learned that I’d always be a room service, crisp bed sheet, luxury hotel kind of girl.

The real world is full of luxury hotels.

The Walk of 1977

Posted by Kathy on May 30th, 2010

hottie Back in 1977 I took part in a charity walk to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. Here I am in all my glory on the day of the event. Let’s set aside the outfit for a moment. In fact, let’s set it aside all together, because it’s hideous and scary and it makes me sad.

Seriously, stop looking at it.

OK. So prior to “The Walk,” as it was known around town, I dutifully knocked on neighbors’ doors asking for donations. I gave them my spiel that I planned to walk the entire route and asked if they’d make a pledge of some increment, say $.50 per mile. Even a pledge of $.20 a mile was something I was glad to record on my pledge sheet.

The course was a whopping 26 miles, a damn lot of miles for a 12 year old, now that I think about it. Some neighbors doubted I could finish.

I told all the nice donors that I’d come back to collect their money a day or two after I completed the walk. I would get a card punched every couple of miles to show that I’d hit all the checkpoints and they’d know how much to pay me.

I remember the walk being a blast. Motoring along with my friends and a mass of other people, it had a party feel to it. But my body really took a beating. We walked at a decent pace, didn’t kill ourselves, but considering how many miles I logged I was one sloppy mess at the finish line.

The walk route ended at a local high school. As soon as I got there, I headed straight for the ladies room for a potty break and to make an attempt to look human again.

The bathroom was jam-packed with other walkers, so there wasn’t room or time to freshen up much. I just wanted to get out, get home and take a shower.

I called my brother to come pick me up and when I got home, I made a beeline to my pledge sheet to calculate how much money I raised and to staple my punch card to it.

Reaching into my light blue, white-belted hot pants with apparently very shallow pockets, I pulled out nothing.

The card wasn’t there.

The card that showed I had slogged 26 miles in the hot sun. The card that would explain to anyone who asked why my feet had blown up to twice their size. The card I carried so far and so long and was so careful to get punched at the checkpoints.

Gone.

Fini.

I’d either dropped it after the last checkpoint, lost it somewhere in that mess of a bathroom, or anywhere else I’d been on the school grounds.

I had no way to prove to all my donors that I’d done something incredible that day. Something even I wasn’t sure I could do. No way to collect money for a good cause. Not. One. Penny.

We drove back to the high school to look for it wherever I remembered I’d been. But nothing.

I resigned myself to the fact that I was careless and stupid and an idiot. I wasn’t right for days. I decided I didn’t want to revisit the donors and try to explain with pleading eyes that “Really! I swear I walked the whole thing!”

I blame my outfit. Evil from head to toe. Really, one look at it and I should have known I’d be doomed from the start.

Kids and Fire: A Bad Match

Posted by Kathy on May 23rd, 2010

I read a very funny, yet scary, post over at Redhead Ranting called How Did We Survive? Jen takes a trip down memory lane, showing pictures of ways in which she and her brother should never have survived as children, given the absence of current day safety recommendations.

Check it out, if for no other reason than to see what a child’s car seat looked like in 1964. It’s simply medieval.

Her post reminded me of an at-home craft project my classmates and I were assigned in Catholic grade school.

A crucifix made out of burnt match sticks. Here is an example:

matchstick cross 

At the age of eight, we were told to take a box of thick match sticks, light them all afire and blow them out when the tips were charred just right.

Line them up neatly in the shape of a cross and glue them down.

I remember doing all of my match strikes outside, thanks to the one ounce of sense I had acquired by then.

My projects before this mostly involved gluing pebbles, elbow macaroni or cotton balls (and requisite pipe cleaners) to empty milk cartons and turning them into assorted sad-looking creations only a mother could love.

Never anything with fire. Fire kinda bad. It just occurred to me that perhaps we were supposed to get supervision. Oops.

Still, I can’t imagine any school today assigning such a project. And I can’t imagine boys being sent home with matches and told to “Go ahead, fire ‘em up!” by a teacher.

What’s sad is I heard about someone through an acquaintance whose son burned down his house because he lit a cloud of hair spray on fire in the garage. Girls would never think to light hair spray on fire.

But we would build a small bonfire if it made Jesus happy.

Kids’ Toys: Do They Really Need Brand Name?

Posted by Kathy on April 8th, 2010

Barbie_Dream_House My employer has an electronic sale board where people can post items for sale or giveaway.

Here is part of a recent entry:

Laptop: SONY VAIO CS36H

I bought it this summer. It’s a pink laptop in good condition, very suitable for girls. I also bought the screen and keyboard protective film, which are free for you!

I forwarded it to my blog buddy JD at I Do Things and said “Very suitable for girls? Ya think?”

To which she replied: “Uh, yeah. Don’t see too many men walking around with a pink laptop.”

And then I confessed: “I would totally want a pink laptop! It’d make up for the Barbie Dream House I never had as a kid.”

JD should have left it at that, because I got intensely jealous when she reported “Tell me about it. Though I did have the Barbie Carousel Kitchen, which was the BOMB!”

Why was I so jealous?

I didn’t have a single Barbie or anything to put her in. I got my Barbie fix over at my best friend’s house. She had everyone and everything. The Barbie yacht, the hotel, the dream house, the cars, Ken, accessories, clothing, shoes, the works.

What did I have? A bean bag doll who slept on a fake bed I made out of cereal boxes. Her blankets were tissues. I built her furniture out of …. more cereal boxes.

But you know what? When I think back, I didn’t really need all that Barbie stuff. I was pretty happy with the homestead I crafted for my no-name brand dolls. I used my imagination, mad creative skillz and safety scissors.

So let’s hear it. Did you tend to have the latest, greatest name brand toys? Create your own stuff? Some mixture of both?

I’d love to hear about the toys you might have made yourself out of stuff lying around your house.

Sometimes the things that make the best toys were never toys to begin with!

Boys Will Be Boys and Sometimes Colossal Jerks

Posted by Kathy on January 20th, 2010

school_bus My last post about a childhood embarrassment got me thinking about how dreadful grade school and high school can be. Girls had it bad, but I think sometimes boys had it worse.

I rode a school bus to high school with about thirty other kids. At the start of every school year, senior boys took it upon themselves to haze the freshman boys by making them prove their physical capabilities.

The hazing went like this:

When our school bus was on approach to our bus stop, all of the freshman victims were told to get off the bus about four blocks ahead. Their challenge was to run as fast as they could to the bus stop and if they beat the bus there, they were rewarded by not getting the crap kicked out of them by the senior boys.

Nice, huh?

You might ask why the bus driver, a woman, would even let those poor souls off the bus ahead of time, since that wasn’t an assigned drop off point.

When everyone heard murmurings that the hazing was about to take place, we’d yell up to the front of the bus and beg the driver not to let them off.

But she did.

I wonder if today she regrets it. She should. She knew why the senior boys were demanding it.

But one thing she did do was drive the bus as slow as possible to the stop so the freshman had some chance of making it back before she did.

I don’t remember anything about the boys who didn’t make it in time. I’m certain I rushed off the bus and high-tailed it out of there. After all, if the seniors treated boys that way, what might they do to humiliate the girls?

My fleeing the scene was an act of self-preservation.

To this day, I imagine the horror-filled days of the freshman boys. How must they have survived the hours at school, knowing that at any time on the bus ride from hell they’d have to prove their worth to some jackasses who held such power over them?

I only hope that today, something like that would never happen. I hope if it did, the bus driver would be fired. The senior boys would get detention. And the freshman boys would be saved.

Hope.

What Was Your Very First Memory?

Posted by Kathy on December 14th, 2009

negatives OK, peeps. Some of you might remember when I wrote a post asking you about your firsts (first kiss, first car, first job, etc).

I had such a blast reading your responses. And now I’m going to ask you to dig deeper. I mean really deep.

Here goes. What was your very first memory?

I doubt any of you can remember when you were babies. I’m guessing the earliest age where one can remember anything clearly enough was around two or three years old.

Maybe your first memory was clear as day, or maybe it was only a hazy recollection. Maybe what you remember stuck with you for its seriousness or for it being funny. Whatever it was, think back and tell us!

As for me, my very first memory is of sitting in the living room, playing with toys, and looking at little dust particles dancing around in strong sunlight. My mother’s probably going to worry you’ll think I lived in a pig sty, but trust me, our house was antiseptic clean. I expect I was jumping around on the couches stirring up the dust bunnies.

I don’t know why I remember that. I do know I felt content at that moment, and curious about the fuzzy air I was seeing.

So let’s have it. What was your very first memory?

Careful Where You Stick That

Posted by Kathy on November 21st, 2009

door_cracked_open mo·ron  (môr?n’, m?r-): idiot: a person of subnormal intelligence.

The date: Circa 1971.

The location: Family doctor’s office.

The injury: Smashed fingertip.

My mother had taken three of us kids for an annual checkup at our family doctor. After my sister and I were checked out, we retreated to the waiting room while my mom stayed with my brother and the doctor.

With nothing to do and time to kill, little Kathy Simpleton became mesmerized by the opening and closing of the front door as other patients came and went.

Every time the door opened, a one inch crack opened between the door and its hinges, revealing bright rays of sunlight.

Open, sun, close. Open, sun, close. Mesmerizing indeed.

Curiosity set in. Kathy wondered if she could stick her finger into that sunshine-filled crack and …. do what? See if it fit? And then what? Cheer and bet her sister couldn’t do the same thing?

We will never know why. Asking why just makes it worse.

What we do know is that stupid is as stupid does.

When that two hundred pound metal door came to rest in its closed position on the finger of the dumbest child ever born east of the Mississippi, she learned in an instant that sometimes it’s best to be satisfied with imagining instead of doing.

Yeah.

Of course, one might think this qualifies as my most moronic kid moment, and yet, if you think about it at least I had the sense to do it right in a doctor’s office.

It is unclear whether my mother asked the doctor to examine not only the crushed finger of her whimpering child, but the brain that thunk up such a senseless idea.

Care to share the least thought-out stunts of your kiddom? Extra points if you needed a cast, crutches or a wheelchair as a result.

Do You Write Cursive Anymore?

Posted by Kathy on September 30th, 2009

Is cursive handwriting dead?

Ah, I remember fondly learning how to write cursive in grade school. My teacher used a funky metal contraption that held three pieces of chalk in alignment and then she dragged it across the blackboard to prepare for our lessons.

The first step produced this:

three_lines

The second step was to go back and erase part of the middle line to form dashes. This way, you learned where your lower and upper case cursive writing went in relation to the dotted line.

three_lines_dotted

I barely write in cursive anymore, mostly because most everything I write, save grocery lists, is on a PC.

When I do, something strange happens. I tend to mix printed letters with cursive ones. Why? No idea.

Here’s an example:

mixed_cursive

I don’t know if schools even teach cursive writing anymore. If you have kids in grade school, do they come home with practice lessons in handwriting? Someone please tell me it’s not dead yet.

So, other than signing your name on paperwork, do you write cursive anymore?

Fresh Baked Memories

Posted by Kathy on September 12th, 2009

fresh_bread Go ahead, Miss Kathy. Take your pick.

One of my fondest memories from childhood involved Sunday morning visits to a bread bakery. Not really a bakery, but a factory, where bread was baked and packaged up for delivery to grocery stores and other outlets.

My Dad owned a tire service business and one of his customers was Leone’s Bakery in Easton, Pennsylvania. His company serviced their fleet of delivery trucks and my Dad was good friends with the owner.

One of the perks of that friendship was being invited to come in on Sunday and buy fresh bread that came right out of the ovens. A six-year-old Kathy always got to join him.

The things I remember most after I stepped into the factory were the heat, the noise and the aroma of delicious fresh bread that wrapped its arms around you and wouldn’t let go. It was intoxicating.

It could have been freezing cold outside, but the moment you walked into the factory, you were in a flour-dusted Sahara. The bakers wore thin white uniforms, always short-sleeved, no matter what the temperature outside. I pitied them in summer months.

And the noise! The machinery that processed the dough and then sent it through an open-ended oven was massive and LOUD. Clang, click, SHHHH. Clang, click, SHHHH. At the start of the assembly line, little chunks of dough were cut and dropped onto the belt where metal ice cream scoop-like arms would come down upon them, grab them and give a vigorous shake, until they formed little balls of goodness.

In perfect formation, the bread balls would move down the conveyer and into the oven, where they would bake up and fall out on the other side as crispy, delicious Kaiser rolls.

My Dad’s friend would hand me a bag and tell me to go pick out a dozen of the best rolls in the bin. I know it sounds silly, but getting to handpick seconds-old, piping hot rolls out of that bin made me feel special. It was something my friends didn’t get to do because their Dads didn’t have an “in” with a bread guy. Score!

You can probably gather by now that I was happy with the simple things in life, still am. Two more things were about to happen that were such big deals to me in my young life.

After my Dad and I said our good-byes, we got in the car and my Dad would let me turn the ignition to start it. Me! Making this big machine start up all by myself! CH-CH-CH-CH-CH-VROOOOOM!

Good job, Kathy. Good job.

When we got home with our bread loot, some Kaisers and some French bread loaves, my next little excitement was to deliver one of the loaves to our neighbor Mrs. Meyers.

A sweet old lady, she would greet me at the door with a smile. Morning, Mrs. Meyers! I have your bread! She’d take the crispy loaf from my tiny hands and deposit back two shiny quarters for my trouble. My Dad would never let Mrs. Meyers pay for the bread, but he did let her pay me for delivering it.

Thank you, Kathy. You have a good day now, OK?

I will, Mrs. Meyers!

And off I ran to my house to drop the quarters in my piggy bank and then rip into our own loot. Nothing better than still-warm, crispy rolls broken apart and slathered with butter or stuffed with cheeses or meats.

Another Bread Sunday under my belt. I don’t remember when we stopped going together, but those trips with my Dad were some of the best in my kid memory.

Thanks, Dad, for making me feel like a big girl in my six-year-old head.

Fall Fashions of 1974

Posted by Kathy on September 1st, 2009

A good friend of mine sent her kids off to public school yesterday. This year her school district implemented a uniform policy that the kids understandably hate.

I can guarantee it’s not as bad as the fashion dictated by my Catholic grade school.

The requirements?

Green and gold plaid jumper no higher than an inch above the knee, preferably below.

A choice from a wide selection of either white or green socks.

Shoes judged to be sensible by a panel of nuns.

Failure to comply resulted in death.

school_uniforms

The upside is I never had to worry about what to wear any day of the week. For 18 years. The downside? Plaid is dead to me.

If you have school-aged kids, do they wear uniforms? What do the styles look like nowadays? Do your kids hate it? Tolerate it? Maybe even like it?