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A new word

  • Posted on December 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Today, I learned a new word, one that I’m sure will never fade from memory or lose its significance to the English speaking world. What word is that, you ask, and how did I learn it?

Last week I purchased a package of Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Pie Bites to share with my writing group this afternoon. Opening the box to prepare the desserts and finding them in a molded to fit, flexible plastic tray, I read the baking instructions which followed the usual format with one exception. Next to “bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes” was this sentence in large, red letters. That means pay attention, so I prepared myself for significant information.

The information was, indeed, significant; I could bake the bites in their own container. However, the sentence was astounding.

It didn’t say to place tray on solid baking dish, which is obvious to anyone watching the tray flop side to side as I removed it from its secure cardboard box and cut away the cellophane.
It said, “Tray is ovenable.”

I’m guessing that means I can bake the bites in the tray without it melting or catching fire. Good news, of course.

However, as a writer I’m accustomed to learning new words from reading excellent literature, paging through a thesaurus or chatting with a teenager. Pastry boxes have never been my primary source for increasing my vocabulary prowess. Today I learned a valuable lesson. Be prepared to learn something new anywhere, anytime, even on pastry boxes.

Now I’m wracking my brain trying to decide where I can use this word to impress my friends and family. Do I tell my daughters that the holiday turkey is ovenable? Can I ask my friends if their new cookie sheet is ovenable?

That word just doesn’t want to settle into my aged brain. What shall I do?
Oh, I know. Back in the day, we told each other to take a long walk off a short pier or go to stick their head into an oven. Now I can say, “Your head is ovenable,” and let them worry about the meaning.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 8, 2011

Coffee virgin – no more

  • Posted on October 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

You probably won’t believe this but until a week ago (at age 65) I never drank a cup of coffee. True, I swear. My adult children will verify this.

Caffeine is another story, but still rare. Over the past five years I’ve occasionally indulged in a Java Chip Smoothie and in July a friend convinced me to try a cup of English Toffee Cappuccino. I loved it. Earlier this month I ordered a Starbucks pumpkin latte. What a jolt! I asked what was in it and was told, pumpkin flavoring, milk and two shots of espresso. OMG! After my blood pressure returned to normal I decided that if I could survive a double shot I could survive a cup of coffee. Added to this conviction were recent news articles about light coffee consumption being good for our health. Being tired of hunting for an alternative when only coffee was offered was another incentive.

So begins this tale.

As a child I tasted my mother’s coffee and decided it was foul and never took another sip. When I was a young wife my husband, who always made his own coffee, was caught in a scheduling conflict. It was his turn to fix coffee for our Sunday School class. He gave me detailed instructions about preparing a 40 cup urn. I followed them to the letter. Later our classmates asked me very kindly to never prepare coffee again. If my husband couldn’t do it, I was to call for a substitute. Husband, upon hearing this news, said “Leave my coffee pot alone!”

Many years later Husband#2, after being warned about my coffee making history, agreed to prepare his own. However, one day he was not feeling well and asked me to fix a pot. I whined that I didn’t know how and reminded him of my coffee making history. He gave me confidence building pep talk and detailed instructions. I followed each detail precisely and proudly served him a cup. His response, “Don’t ever touch my coffee pot again!”

More recently the main person to drink coffee at my house was my mother. I bought her a four-cup pot (actually makes two small mugs) and a small can each of regular and decaf. During her visits she’d arise each morning, make a pot of regular coffee and enjoy every warming sip. When that was gone she would make a pot of decaf to last the rest of the day. After she returned home I dutifully cleaned the pot with white vinegar and stored it in the cupboard.

From time to time Son visited and complained that it took three pots to fill his giant commuter mug. I’m not sure how he made his coffee but Daughters #1 and 2 could not tolerate it. However, Son-in-law#1’s father was grateful for “good” coffee.

All this brings me down to my new non-virgin status. Last week Friend and Sweetie were scheduled to visit. Knowing nothing about brands I asked another friend to purchase the coffee. Realizing that I didn’t know how they drank it, I went to buy creamer. Oh no, there were choices!

In a panic I called Daughter#1 for advice. She suggested a flavor. I bought it then drove to the airport to retrieve my friends. While driving home I explained that I had a pot, coffee and creamer and hoped that they were satisfactory. The next morning when Friend made coffee I asked if she’d pour me a half-cup. I added flavored creamer and took a sip. Not bad but not good either. I added a teaspoon of sugar and was happy. The next day she asked if I wanted some coffee in my cream and sugar. Before leaving she showed me how to make what most would call “weak” coffee. It worked this time. So began my career as a ½-cup-a-day coffee drinker.

I know, some of you are laughing and still consider me coffee virgin. Son will get a big laugh when he arrives next month for a short visit and learns about my new habit. That’s okay. We all have to start somewhere. BTW, I wrote down the coffee brand and creamer flavor

Meet you at the coffee bar.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 27, 2011

It’s all perspective

  • Posted on September 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Recently I had a political “discussion” with a friend. He was adamant in his opinions and I was firm in mine. For two days afterward I fumed over the thought that he was so pig-headed that he couldn’t see my point of view. After all, I offered well-reasoned talking points and knew that my opinions were correct. We both held firm to our opinions and nothing was solved, except a retreat from the topic.

Then it hit me like a 2×4 across the face. I was just as pig-headed as he was. This took me down Memory Lane to a job held in my distant past. My supervisor was somewhat of a nutcase, but she was kind hearted and provided occasional glimpses of wisdom. One of those was perspective.

Her examples included:
You’re pig-headed. I’m determined.
You’re ugly. My face has character.
You’re stingy. I’m thrifty.
You’re sloppy. I’m casual.
You’re lazy. I’m relaxed.
You’re old. I’m mature.
As you can see, this list could go on and on. Please feel free to add to it.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, September 27, 2011

I Love my Doctor

  • Posted on September 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Like most of us, I have a love-hate relationship with my doctor, well more of a like-dislike relationship. She’s a kind, caring woman with a good sense of humor and a real concern for her patients.

I like her when she tells me my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are good.

I don’t like her so much when she tells me to undress and put on a paper gown and the room temperature is about 55 degrees. The like-scale goes down even more when she tells the nurse to take various measurements that involve encasing my upper arm in a vice-grip, otherwise known as a blood pressure cuff, or to take blood samples by finger pricks or drawing larger amounts with a needle.
I like my doctor even less when she hands me a cup and tells me to go fill it. The disconcerting gymnastics involved are exacerbated by a nurse standing outside the door calling, “Just relax and let it flow.”

When she tells me to go to the imaging center and get a test innocently called a mammogram, I actively despise my physician. This involves standing in an even colder room partially covered with a tissue thin cotton gown and exposing body parts, one at a time, to be lifted, shifted and shaped to fit a plastic vise that flattens each body part to the thickness of a pancake. Standing on tiptoe and holding my breath while said squashing takes place adds to the discomfort. The rating on my like-dislike scale takes another plunge when the radiologist cheerfully chirps, “Let’s do that one again. It was a little blurry.”

Occasionally, my doctor kindly reminds me it’s time to go for a colonoscopy. I’ll not go into detail here. Suffice it to say, I’m still having nightmares from the last one.

However, a day comes when all this dislike turns to love. This happened recently when I told my doctor that I was beginning to grow old-lady toe nails and could no longer clip them easily. I said I was going to have to go buy a pair of those clippers that look like wire snips. After a quick check to assure the nails were fungus free, she smiled and said, “Get a pedicure. They’ll cut your nails for you.” My worried look began to change, at first slightly, then became a full-fledge grin. A pedicure! On doctor’s orders!

Saturday evening a friend drove me to a local nail salon where a young woman asked me to sit in a massage chair and immersed my feet in warm, bubbling water. After a few minutes of this delight she began to massage my lower legs and feet. Soon she was removing calluses and trimming nails with enthusiasm. She ended by painting my toe nails a shimmering copper color and putting my feet under an ultra violet light to dry the polish. What a treat! Less costly and more fun than a trip to a podiatrist. My doctor is really a wonderful woman! I love her! Oh, my friend? She’s still smiling too.

Now, my question is: How can I persuade my doctor to prescribe a full day-spa treatment?

© by Sharon D. Dillon, September 22, 2011