From Politico written by Matt Lattimer:
Target: Your brother-in-law, the loyal Jeb! donor
Arrival: Emerge from a black stretch limousine with gold trim, undercarriage lights, license plate reading: NUMBER 1.
Cocktail hour: Bring your own wine, from your private vineyard—the greatest vineyard in the world. It puts Napa to shame, OK? Offer some to your Bush-loving brother-in-law, who is a teetotaler, and also the host. When he says no, pour the wine into his glass anyway. Say: “Maybe this’ll give you some energy.” Refer to him constantly by an emasculating nickname (Mr. Snooze, Four Percent, Hot Pants). Get the kids onboard with this early.
Dinner: Your over-the-top opinion is required on everything. The cranberry sauce is not good; it’s “fantastic.” The stuffing isn’t just bad; it’s “a total disaster.” Spice up your anecdotes with absurd claims. The White House was named after Betty White. You were the inspiration for the Terminator. If nobody takes the bait, quickly ratchet them up: Many leading rabbis have privately told you that Moses was a “really big Christian.” When anyone objects, deny you just said that, then repeat it as fact as soon as your brother-in-law tries to speak again.
After dinner: Turn the largest available TV to the football game and spend all your time alternately praising Tom Brady (who is not playing) and blasting every other player as a “no-talent loser.” Elbow the kids away from the Monopoly table to show them “how the game is really played.” Start with the Teamsters (you) skimming 10 percent of all rent on the hotels or else “there’s going to be some really ugly accidents.” Hand the 13-year-old banker a $50 under the table. When he notices it’s real, tell him, “There’s more where that came from, OK?” Regardless of actual results, declare victory.
I’ll be having Thanksgiving at my daughter’s, so the only turkey gracing my dining room table is this one.
It’s actually a hat I got at Walmart that I stretched over a ball belonging to my granddaughter. When you wear it as a hat, the legs hang down on either side of your face. Not as ridiculous as Donald Trump’s combover, but close.
There was an article in The New York Times today entitled,
“You Probably Don’t Want to Look in the Crisper.”
It features eleven of New York’s top chefs and what the insides of their refrigerators look like. Whether you’re a “foodie” or not, it’s worth a read: click here.
Here’s my cartoon of what Julia Child might have secretly kept in her fridge.
Note from the Eldercare Underground: Nutrition Nazi Edition
Went over to see my mother at the Hotel today after my Zumba class.
I figure if I can withstand 45 minutes of strenuous (but fun) dance routines to songs like Shakira’s “Rabiosa” and Arash’s “Boro Boro,” I can withstand 45 minutes of visiting with my mother. Fun not necessarily included.
Plus, the sound systems for Zumba and my mother’s TV share about the same decibel range for creating nerve deafness, give or take the loss of a few inner ear hair cells.
When I got there, she had just finished having her lunch in the dining room.
The Retirement Center (aka the Hotel, as I call it) has chef prepared meals that are nutritionally balanced. The noon meal is typically the largest one of the day, with the evening meal being lighter due to the elderly clientele’s general preference for that kind of thing.
When my mother and I go out anywhere for lunch, she always complains about the size of the portions of the meals, to which I always tell her she doesn’t have to eat it all if she doesn’t want to. Everybody has different appetite levels and not everyone eats like a sparrow like she does.
Being the Virgo that she is (laser-like in her observations of others), she has taken to commenting to me about the eating habits of her tablemates in the Hotel’s dining room. She observed that several of them usually left most of their vegetables untouched on their plates.
The other day she said that none of her friends had eaten their carrots, even though she’d told them “You’ll eat your carrots and like it!”
(Some of you may remember this is similar to what she’d told my brother at a family dinner years ago, right after he’d told her he couldn’t eat a particular Mexican dish because he was allergic to cilantro. Pay no attention to that man swelling up with anaphylactic shock over there.)
So today she launched into a critique of the lunch; its size being too big, its general fat content being too much, and the fact that the pumpkin pie they served for dessert had a huge mound of whipped topping on it that was just too much for words, so on and so forth ad infinitum.
I started to say that she didn’t have to eat all the dishes of the main course if she wasn’t that hungry and that she could always scrape off some of the offending topping if she so desired, but I was quickly cut off when she casually remarked:
“But, I ate it.”
Ah. I see.
And I’m sure she liked it, too.
All of the hoopla surrounding the Royal Wedding in England and the subsequent extreme scrutiny of the attendees’ attire and figures reminded me of my own first encounter with a body image critic at the young age of twelve or thirteen and what it meant to be a girl in the late 1950’s.
Here’s a post I wrote about it in this blog’s infancy:
“Does This Teacher Make My Butt Look Big?”
The phantom of Miss Elwell still follows me about, even after fifty years.
It was 1959 and I had just entered junior high school. In those days, a girl’s highest aspiration was to become a wife and mother. This may not have been stated outright, but it certainly was implied by society and the general culture of the times.
The curricula for seventh-grade girls included a year of “Home Economics.” This entailed a semester of cooking instruction and a semester of sewing. Having just come from a previous school year where I had excelled at touch football with the boys at recess, this was not welcome news. I could kick and pass a perfect spiral and, because the boys were still on the shrimpy side at that age, I had reigned supreme. Now I was supposed to be a lady? I was completely thrown for a loop.
The Home Ec. teacher was a rather portly woman in her 50′s by the name of Miss Frances Elwell. She was charged with the formidable task of trying to whip all this green talent into some kind of reasonably feminine shape by year’s end.
I never did quite figure out why this domestic onslaught had to be imposed on the seventh graders and not the more “mature” (relatively speaking) ninth graders. I guess the school board felt that we were more malleable at that age, before we got any further into the smart-ass teen years where it would be next to impossible to get any kind of response out of us beyond a sneer.
By the luck of the draw, I had been assigned the cooking section for my first semester. We were divided up into groups and given our own little versions of the Happy Homemaker kitchen. No Easy-Bake ovens here. This was the real deal.
Thinking back, I was so oblivious to everything of a domestic nature at that age. My Mother didn’t make me do any housework at home under the assumption that ”You’ll be doing it for the rest of your life” so why bother with it now? The fallacy in all that was how will you know what to do when the time comes if nobody shows you how to do it beforehand?
Consequently, my Mother did quite a bit of my homework for me for cooking class. Make that just about all. One important assignment was to create a place setting for an imaginary individual whom Miss Elwell had randomly chosen for each of us. My Mother and I slaved over every detail. Well, she slaved and I watched her slave.
When I presented the setting to Miss Elwell, I closely watched her face for some sign of benevolence. She critically observed the place setting before her and looked at me with twinkling eyes. Then she said, “Do you really think an elderly bachelor would want a pink paper parasol in his juice glass?”
If I knew then what I know now, I would have responded with:
“Yes, if he were Truman Capote.”
The actual cooking assignments in class were ones that I had to wing on my own. Only one of those stands out in my memory. (There may have been successes, but I doubt it.) We had to bake muffins, which sounds easy but can be very tricky. You’re not supposed to over beat the batter because that can cause too much air to become incorporated into the mix, creating all manner of havoc and the end of the world, apparently.
After my batch came out of the oven, I nervously took my burnt offering up to the altar of Miss Elwell and waited for the verdict. She broke one open and studied it like an oracle examining the entrails of a goat. Then she pronounced,
“These have tunnels so large you could drive a truck through them.”
I mentally made a note to look for a husband who was wheat intolerant.
Having gone down in flames in the cooking department (figuratively, not literally) I had the sewing semester to redeem myself. It turns out I was even less adept at this than I was in the culinary arts.
My Mother, of course, was a veritable whiz at sewing. She made most of my clothes for school and really knew her way around a sewing machine. I viewed it as an instrument of torture. So, again, my Mother commandeered my sewing projects while I wandered off and watched American Bandstand on t.v.
The main project for the semester was a circle skirt or full skirt. It should have been a fairly straight-forward task but, again, nothing came easy for me in Miss Elwell’s bastion of the feminine arts. I couldn’t find a pattern that fit me. My Mother had to do a lot of cutting and pinning and sweating to get the thing to correspond to my dimensions. All those years of being a tomboy had given me an athletic build. Not good in the world of Elwell.
So when I went before her with the finished product, it was pretty obvious that my Mother had cranked it out. I couldn’t do work like that and Miss Elwell knew it. She gave it a cursory glance and said simply “C,” for my grade. Which was fine with me because I just wanted the ordeal over with.
But when I said something about not being able to find a pattern to fit me, Miss Elwell uttered the words that have stuck with me to this very day, some fifty years later. Words that have haunted me in every dressing room of any clothing store I’ve ever been in and before every mirror where I have stood and contemplated my visage.
Sitting at her desk she looked up at me with those twinkling eyes and said,
“You have an oddball shape.”
This was spoken by a woman who was as wide as she was tall.
There was one happy memory from that year of living femininely. I had to sew a shank button on a piece of fabric, which meant sewing the button on loosely and then wrapping the thread many times around the bottom of the button to make it more secure. I tentatively placed it in Miss Elwell’s hands and waited for the usual. Instead, she looked at me with those twinkling eyes, smiled and said “A.”
I may be an oddball, but I wouldn’t be an old maid after all.
More fun from the Eldercare Underground:
Another week, another trip to the grocery store with my 91 year-old mother.
For those of you who have been keeping up with this saga, you’ll remember we last left our heroine in a pitched battle with the Mother of All Mothers over why the grocery list was tossed out after the last trip to the store and the brouhaha (I’ve always wanted to use that word) that ensued.
You’ll also recall that there were no winners in that one. There never is.
All my mother has to do is claim that I never told her what it is we’re “discussing” and that pretty much leaves me with no rhetorical ammunition with which to fire back.
You can’t argue with “You never told me that.” I may as well be shadow boxing.
So today I went over to her house to pick her up to go grocery shopping and found that she wasn’t ready for me. She insisted that I had told her we were going tomorrow.
I had last spoken with her just the day before to suggest we go today, but it was my duty (or will be from now on) to call her in the morning and confirm our appointment. And you know if I’d done just that she would have been miffed that I doubted her memory. Again, you can’t win.
While I waited for her to change her clothes, I washed her breakfast dishes and surreptitiously tossed out some really wizened up tomatoes she had left on the kitchen counter, along with some anemic looking cooked squash she had in the fridge. I also checked the expiration dates on some of the stuff in there because I never know how long she’s been hanging on to things.
She has no concept about expiration dates and never has, so this is not something that’s surfaced in her old age. I don’t know if it’s a Depression era thing or what. Food doesn’t get thrown out no matter how awful it looks.
Last month I tossed a half of a head of cabbage that resembled a science project despite her objection of “that’s still good!”
My mother-in-law, who’s 92, is also notorious for saving little dribs and drabs of food in Tupperware containers in her freezer.
A tablespoon of some unrecognizable foodstuff here, a dollop of what we used to jokingly call “pre-digested” food there.
Finally my mother was ready to go. As I walked out the door ahead of her she barked “Pull your shirt down in back!”
This, and the poke in the back to “stand up straight,” has been the bane of my existence with her. I’m short-waisted. Things ride up on me.
I replied that it would be nice if she didn’t start out the day by criticizing me right off the bat.
She said “Well, you were adjusting my clothes.”
To which I responded:
“That’s only because you asked me if you’d put your pants on backward!”
I guess I should count myself as fortunate.
At least at the grocery store she didn’t say “get your hand off the cart” this time.
I saw an old New Yorker cartoon the other day where some people are sitting around in a living room. The host comes out carrying a tray with a smiling cat on it and asks the guests, “Cat, anyone?”
When I saw my cat, Neferkitty, lying on a towel on top of my cutting board on the kitchen counter, that cartoon immediately came to mind.
She likes to sit in a patch of sun that shines into the kitchen in the winter on that part of the counter. Today it’s cloudy and rainy (hurrah! we need it) so she’s doing her “nesting chicken” impersonation on a towel that she assumes was put there just for her use. Cat, anyone?
“You lied to me about high fructose corn syrup, Arthur.”