As For The Rest Of Us …

I hope that you realize that America’s misbegotten fascination with balsamic vinegar has pushed Red Wine Vinegar and Oil salad dressing right off the shelves?

rwYes, you can still sometimes find it on Amazon for nine bucks a bottle but you can’t find it in a supermarket. Go ahead and look. Anything with “vinaigrette” on the label is immediately preceded by “balsamic”. Don’t get me started with the burial of oil and vinegar as a descriptive phrase for a simple thing in favor of the more exotic (or possibly more expensive? definitely more snobby) vinaigrette. Likewise do not get me started about the popularity of olive oil. Olive oil is fine and I have no objection to it, it’s just that sometimes a girl wants a little Wessonality on her plate.

I know it’s easy to make your own red wine vinegar and oil dressing, but sometimes I like or liked past tense to pour a little from the bottle and then supplement with pure red wine vinegar then salt the whole thing up. Usually, when I start out making  my own RWV&O dressing, it morphs into the house Italian I used to get from a local Italian lunch place in NJ – red wine vinegar, oil, salt and a ton of minced garlic and oregano.

I want to hope that the balsamic craze will be short lived and out of my hair sooner rather than later but I’ve been wrong before about popular but aggravating food trends, namely overly decorated dessert plates and garlic mashed potatoes. They will not die.

In other grocery store news: there’s a big, blond and brawny manly man who works the early shift in the meat department* of the local Winn-Dixie. I’m an 8 am kind of grocery shopper so there is rarely anyone else around when he sees me rolling down the aisle towards the meat case. He always says “Mornin’, darlin’. Let me know what y’all want” in a very friendly manner. I wonder if he ever played football? I’m going to ask him next time. The only men I ever knew that used the term darlin’ were Talk Show Joe (Namath) and my cousin Ray  who at one time played for the Minnesota Vikings. And the only person that I heard Ray address as darlin’ was my old Aunt Natalie when he asked her for another beer.

*I originally typed meet department. Calling Dr. Freud!

Anyway. You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’. Is that why I can’t stop singing this song?

 

 

When Life Gives You Lemons Make Marmalade

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Gby4evr! The last password I created for work. Although my work was very satisfying and I  am thankful for the experiences and opportunities I’ve had there, it gave me great pleasure type this into the corporate login page  several times a day for my last three weeks of employment.

Dudes! I have got the citrus marmalade thing down pat now. Here’s my production so far:

  • Grapefruit Vermouth verdict: overcooked, bitter, very firm. Has the consistency of a gum drop.
  • Lemon Lime verdict: exquisitely tart, loose set – possibly undercooked.
  • Lemon Orange verdict: perfect!

[Sidebar: I am very happily retired and do not miss work at all except for one little habit that I find very hard to break: I can’t stop communicating in bullets. I realize that I’ve used bullets aplenty here before but now it’s my only outlet to use them at all. Thanks for understanding! Just be glad I’m not that attached to PowerPoint presentations.]

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MINIMALISM I was always a minimalist when it came to PowerPoint design. Just a few clues on the slide and the information delivered in the voice over. Try to imagine my lilting voice here convincing you that you too should be making your grocery lists using bullet points.

 

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I’m really enjoying the wonder of this transition time. Remember when I was complaining that I can’t keep track of the days of the week and I needed an Alzheimer’s clock to help me? Well, please cancel that complaint – now EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY. And when I said I was looking to add some structure and commitment to my life , such as church attendance or a regular go out to dinner night? Not yet, please. Every day is Saturday and THEY’RE ALL GOOF OFF SATURDAYS. I’m waiting for the boredom hammer to fall on me like everyone cautions that it will unless I develop some new activity to replace working but it hasn’t happened. That might be in the future but for now I revel in the goofing off.

I’m not entirely without ambition, though. I’m throwing myself into the domestic pleasures that I haven’t had time for as an employed person. No set plan, really and certainly not anything that actually needs doing (like cleaning). I’m just an unemployed butterfly flitting from making marmalade to producing homemade bread, which if truth be told is not yet a success. Except for the Irish soda bread which doesn’t count because it has no yeast in it. Yeast is my nemesis.

Recently, I got the idea to crochet dishcloths. Don’t laugh! #1. I’ve never made one before and #2. do you know that they now have yarn called “scrubby” that is specifically made for this application AND some of it is sparkly!

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So be warned, anyone who comes to visit me. Everyone gets a door prize of an 8 oz. jar of artisan marmalade and a hand crafted dishcloth (also recommended for facial exfoliation).  ←seriously. Maybe I can learn to weave some little baskets for a nice presentation?

Check In: Day 10

How’s the retirement going, Suzette? VERY WELL, THANKS.

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                                                                        If I had a big Alzheimer’s clock like this I could hang it on the wall next to my bedroom doorway and then I would see it on my way out to start the day in full and confident knowledge of what day it actually is.

Benefit: I am no longer counting by business days. Now I count in calendar days, like a person.

Little wrinkle:   I have already lost track of what day it is since every day feels like Saturday now. I’m trying to talk Sami into getting one of those Alzheimer’s clocks that not only displays but announces in a human-like voice: TODAY IS TUESDAY. Sami, however, is not yet ready to accept demented people as his peer group. I don’t care I just want to know for sure what day it is. I’m still pretty good about remembering what month it is but as I say, it’s Day 10 of retirement so we’ll see how long that lasts.

[Edited to add: I know I can look at my cell phone, my iPad, the desktop computer or any one of the TVs and find out the day and date but I need something immediately available so that I can refresh without too much effort on my part. The thing is sometimes I don’t think about what day it is when I get up in the morning. Then later I make a cockeyed assumption about what day it is and that’s quite often wrong. This results in frantic conversations with Sami about things like getting the garbage can to the curb in a big hurry until he tells me what day it really is. Hint: not garbage day. So apparently the demented are NOT his peer group after all but it looks more and more to me mine. 😦  ]

We should probably establish some kind of routine around here. That would help. We went out for breakfast today – Pancake Tuesday, you know –  so we could start out by agreeing to go out to breakfast every Tuesday. We should probably start showing up in a church every now and then.  Pancakes every Tuesday, church every Sunday. Or every 4th Sunday. We’ve been in our Florida home for 2 1/2 years and haven’t set foot in a local church yet. Don’t judge! We did go to a funeral mass in Jacksonville once, so it’s not like we’re complete heathens.

I started my retired life in a frenzy of kitchen activity – bread baking, marmalade making, producing a lunch and a supper on the same day – but frankly I’m  not into that kind of predictability. This week, I’ve been visiting all the Walmarts within a 30 mile radius to find more of the really great yellow Ixora that they had here in my local one. (3 gallon pot, 11.98!)  I need 8 and so far have found 7.

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The River City Walmart had 2 of what I was looking for, plus some smaller ones in the right color. I grabbed them in case the 8th one eludes me.

I’ll have to go deep into the heart of Jacksonville to complete my plan. Maybe tomorrow. Today I made a fruitless trip to the Walmart Supercenter in southeastern Georgia and that’s enough roaming around. It threw off my whole napping schedule! I’m probably going to have to shorten cocktail hour to get everything back on track. This is what constitutes a tough choice these days. Hmm, not entirely accurate. I did struggle with the decision between orange or yellow ixora as well.

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I’ll probably have to get them planted soon too but that would involve finding (or being) someone who likes digging more than they like napping.

I was going to invite some neighbors over this evening to celebrate Fat Tuesday but #1 I already had pancakes* today and #2 I missed my nap. Also #3 drifting balls of dog hair. You’ll notice that housecleaning has not yet appeared on my Schedule of Retirement Events.   I had to can the party plan.

To sum up: eating, gardening shopping , taking naps. Perhaps those “active seniors” in the Celebrex commercials would be bored, but for us it’s not a bad way to pass the time.

*  They have this thing they call “diner-style” pancakes around here. God bless me if anyone can find an actual diner, but diner -style pancakes, yes. They are enormous, on the sweet side and a little bit stretchy. Not sure if regular pancakes are an option around here?

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VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE! I forgot that during my week as a housewife, I used some zip ties to lash down 2 lid organizer racks in the pantry to corral my big trays, pizza pans, pasta serving bowls and kabob baskets. No wonder I need so many naps!

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I never had a pantry before. I’m not too good at keeping it orderly, which I believe is a basic requirement for housewives. I would rate myself a 3, which is “meets expectations but does not excel.” (Maybe I’m not 100% divorced from the workplace just yet?) Also, “expectations” in this case means the door can still close.

 

Bloodied, But Unbowed

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HELLO SUNSHINE.   Undaunted, she set about in search of her mandoline.

I could tell you about my loaf of bread that was both underbaked and a doorstop at the same time. Or maybe about the Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade that you could use as weed killer. I might even have time to regale you about the reception of a one-pan chicken and rice dinner that was Not. Good.  Undaunted by the less than stellar results of my return to the kitchen,  today I attempted to make lime marmalade by using a mandoline to slice the whole limes and I could tell you all about that, too. But right now I’m looking for the bandaids.

Suzette At Rest

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SUZETTE AT REST Announcement: I have retired from work. Whatever shall I do to fill my time? #retired #retiredlife #notworking #outofoffice #atliberty #free
     It happened. As I sit here beginning this blog post, I see by the clock that I’ve been retired for 24 hours and 2 minutes.  I believe it’s going well so far.
     The first thing I did this morning while the coffee was brewing was pick up a screwdriver and go outside to the front lawn to look for weeds to uproot. I have never intentionally done this before in my life. If I had happened to be passing by a particularly annoying  weed, I might have stooped to yank it out. Might even have  gone to get a screwdriver if I was sufficiently annoyed by its refusal to surrender to me. But this morning, I just casually thought it would be a good use of my time while I waited for the coffee.
     Apparently, my body automatically reset itself to retirement mode and I was acting from pure instinct. In the same way that newborn babies instinctively turn their mouths in the direction of the nipple, newly minted retirees must have the instinct to fret about their lawns. I have no other explanation.
     But I’m glad it happened, even though its not what the youngs would call hip. Or cool.  Or whatever the term is now. To me, it is a signal that I’m going to have an easy adjustment to a life of leisure.
     On the other hand, I find myself in an EXTREMELY ANNOYED state, which is entirely consistent with my pre-retirement attitude.  See that picture and caption up there? I posted them on Facebook and Instagram and no one even mentioned the hat. I’ve been saving that hat for more than a year for exactly this occasion. I admit that I got it for the impact I imagined when my coworkers saw the, so probably not meaningful to people who didn’t live and die by email. But still, you would think that it would generate a few remarks, wouldn’t you? But no.
      Also, it’s gone unnoticed that the bolded title of the posting is a reference to the John Updike book Rabbit At Rest. Harry Angstrom and I are both retired to Florida and are unable to “stop nibbling corn chips, macadamia nuts and other junk food.” That’s a joke. And it’s not true, she said while eyeing the pile of pistachio shells next to the keyboard. I just thought the phase would evoke the memory of the very famous Pultizer-prize winning novel.
     But it doesn’t bode well, does it, for me to be utterly and completely irritated by the fact that total strangers (for the most part)  who cannot read my body language or see my facial expressions would not immediately get the admittedly obscure references that are so clear to me in my head. It might be a sign that the road to retirement contentment is going to be rocky.
     But I forge ahead. Now that I’m no longer a High Powered Executive Business Woman, I feel like it would be appropriate for me to be doing something kitchen-y. One of my Ponderosa lemons is ready to be plucked, but I’m a little afraid of it. Not sure I can face even a thin slice of it’s reported “extreme tartness” floating on top of a cup of tea or perhaps a tankard of gin, so I do have a plan to make Lemon Marmalade out of it.
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The small one in my hand is a red grapefruit. The big ones on the plant are Ponderosa Lemons.
    Wrinkle in the plan: I have never made marmalade before. So rather than taking a chance on ruining my lovely giant lemon which took about 8 months to mature, I’m going to make some sacrificial Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade as a practice run. I just saw the recipe on the webs this week so it seems predestined, especially since I had the ingredients on hand. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am married to Mr. Sweet Rob Roy and we positively swim in sweet vermouth around here so all I needed to buy was 4 grapefruit. And some sugar.

 

     There we have it. I’m retired.