Making an Ass Out of, Uh, Me and Me

You’ve heard that saying “Never assume. It makes an ASS out of U and ME.” Lately, I’ve been making an ass out of me and me. Let me explain:

Last year, I covered my kitchen floor with cookbook pages.

Kitchen floor

It took a long time to finish, so I didn’t use my garbage disposal for months. The next time I did try to use it, I flipped the switch and heard…nothing. Since it was almost 15 years old, I assumed it had reached the end of its life and would have to be replaced. OK, I thought, I’ll replace it one of these days. Then the sink stopped draining. Now there was no putting off replacing the garbage disposal.

I was talking to Bossman Mike about it, and he asked if I had pushed the reset button. Of course not! Since there was no sound when I turned on the switch, I had assumed it was dead. He said, “Push the reset button and use the little allen wrench to turn the blades before you go out and buy a new disposal.” He’s the boss ,so I went home and tried it. Guess what? It totally worked. I had forgotten that the pit from an olive or date had fallen down the drain a while back and I decided to leave it there rather than risk reaching down and feeling around for it. I like my fingers, you know? Now that the blade is unjammed, the disposal works just fine. Go figure.

You would think I had learned my lesson, but then you’d be assuming, too. When I got home from work Wednesday, the house felt chilly, so I went to the thermostat to bump up the heat a bit. The display was blank. Nothing. Nada. I tried pressing the Reset button. Nope. Did the thermostat die, or did the furnace die? I turned the fan setting from Auto to On, and the furnace started up, but the air it was blowing wasn’t very warm. Of course I assumed the worst: I would have to spend thousands of dollars that I didn’t have to replace my furnace, and do it over Thanksgiving weekend.

I called my handy-dandy neighbor, who suggested replacing the thermostat first to see if that was the problem. So off I went to Home Depot. I picked out a thermostat and read the features on the back. OK, it had everything I needed, but wait a minute. What’s this at the bottom about needing a battery? I didn’t know thermostats used batteries! I bought the thermostat in case I needed it and picked up a package of batteries. When I got home, I opened the old thermostat, and sure enough, there were two AA batteries. I changed the batteries and put the cover back on, and presto! A working display and a warm house, all for the price of two batteries.

All of this has taught me that when something goes wrong around the house, I need to step back, take a few deep breaths, and take a minute to think logically about what the problem could be before I freak out and assume the worst. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Home Depot. I have a thermostat to return.

When have you assumed the worst and had it turn out OK? Share it in the comments!

Always Use the Right Tools

Everyone has a story about their Thanksgiving disaster. Mine happened about 20 years ago. I was making a cranberry cheesecake to take for dessert, and the recipe said to blend the ingredients in a food processor.  I didn’t have a food processor, but I thought a blender would work well enough. After all, I was just mixing a few things together.

I put the cream cheese in the blender jar, followed by the eggs, vanilla, and other ingredients, and turned the blender on High. After it ran for a few seconds, the blender bogged down because the cream cheese was too thick. No problem, I thought, I’ll just grab a spatula and push some of the liquid down by the blades.

Did you notice that I didn’t say anything about turning off the blender? Yeah, I forgot that part. As I pushed the spatula down through the layers of liquid and cream cheese, the blades came unjammed and began spinning. One of the blades caught the spatula and started it spinning, too. Then VWOOM! a volcano erupted out of the blender, splattering batter over everything. There was even batter dripping from the ceiling.

After I wiped the ceiling and cabinets clean, I poured the remaining batter into the pan and baked it. Nobody asked why the cheesecake was so small, and I certainly wasn’t telling.

That Monday, I put a food processor on my Christmas list.

Share your own Thanksgiving disaster in the comments!

WIP Wednesday

(Yes, this is getting posted on Thursday, but I didn’t have enough light to get a decent picture last night.)

This week’s WIP is the start of my Christmas knitting. As usual, I’m starting later than I should, but I don’t have a lot planned this year. My cousin’s son has been having a rough time lately, so even though he’s not within the knit-worthy inner circle, I wanted to give him something a little special this year.

2014-11-20 14.42.04The pattern is my go-to hat pattern, Turn A Square by Jared Flood. The decreases make a square pattern on the crown, which I like. The blue yarn is Berocco Vintage, and the green is Classic Elite Liberty Wool. The colors are subtle, but I didn’t want to use anything too crazy for a 16-year-old!

I won’t see that part of the family until around New Year’s, so the hat will be put on the back burner while I work on a gift for my nephew. Stay tuned for next week’s WIP Wednesday for a peek at that one!

You Can’t Go Back

I grew up in the house my great-grandfather built when he and my great-grandmother moved from the city to “the country.” My great-grandmother didn’t want to leave her Baltimore rowhouse, so my great-grandfather built one for her on 12 acres in Essex. My grandmother and father both grew up there, and I lived there with my parents until I was 10. Everybody knew our house; how could you miss a rowhouse without the rest of its row?

(It’s funny; I only lived there 10 years, yet I consider it the place I grew up. How long do you have to live somewhere for it to count as the place you grew up?)

After my grandmother died, my dad and my aunt sold the property to a developer, and the house was torn down a few years later. I hadn’t been there since before the house was torn down, so when I was near Essex this summer, I decided to drive over and see what things looked like. I wasn’t quite prepared to see this:

2014-08-16 19.17.34    2014-08-16 19.17.41

2014-08-16 19.19.27See that blue dumpster? That’s about where my house used to be. I hadn’t lived there for 40 years, and I had never considered moving back to Essex, but seeing such a radical change was a shock. I stood for several minutes, remembering the days I had spent playing in the yard with my friend Patty. The day my grandparents pulled into the driveway with my new Dalmatian puppy. The smell of the gigantic lilac bush that had a secret hiding place in the center. The taste of the tomatoes I’d eat straight from the vine. The distant booms coming from Aberdeen Proving Ground that I’d thought were the footsteps of giants coming to squash me. The dank, dimly-lit basement that has left me with a lifelong fear of basements. All of those memories came flooding back as I stood there in the gathering darkness. They are what made me who I am. They are part of me, even though the house where they took place is gone. Slowly, I turned away, got in my car, and headed home.

It Really Is the Thought that Counts

Today’s Daily Prompt email from WordPress asked us to write about pie. I’m not going to write about pie per se, other than to say that my favorite pie is pecan, followed closely by peach. What I am going to write about is one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received and why it was such a great gift. And yes, it involves pie.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had trouble with any kind of baking that involved rolling out dough: sugar cookies folded up like an accordion when I tried to get a spatula under them, pie crusts wound up the wrong size and an uneven thickness, you get the idea. Being from Cape Cod, one of my ex-husband’s comfort foods was sea clam pie. The clams, known as quahogs, are ground up in the blender, mixed with some other ingredients, and baked in a double-crust pie. His mother would often send us back from visits with containers of ground sea clams so I could make the pies all year. There was only one obstacle-the crust. Yes, I could buy premade pie crusts, but there really is nothing like homemade.

Enter my ex-sister in law. As a perennially broke college student, she had a miniscule Christmas budget, so she had to get creative. Her gift to me one year was a box of homemade pie crusts, already formed in foil pans, for me to keep in the freezer until I needed them. Yes, the gift probably cost her about $7, but you know what? It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever got.

Some people would turn their nose up at a gift like that because it wasn’t the latest electronic gadget or designer label whatever. Not me. The fact that she paid attention and made me something I wouldn’t or couldn’t make for myself meant more to me than any amount of money she could have spent. I couldn’t tell you any of the other gifts I got that year, but 20 years later, I remember those pie crusts. She showed me that it really is the thought that counts.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given or received?