Saturday 9: Buttered Popcorn

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This Saturday, the treat’s on Sam. Will you have buttered popcorn, caramel corn or cheese popcorn? Buttered is my favorite, but I haven’t had caramel in a while and it sounds appealing.

2) This record represents the Supremes as they are seldom heard. Florence Ballard is singing lead, with background vocals provided by Mary Wilson, Barbara Martin and Diane Ross. That’s right, “Diane.” Her parents meant for her to be named “Diane,” and that’s what old friends and family still call her, but the hospital mistakenly put her name down as “Diana.” Motown execs thought “Diana Ross” had a better sound and the rest, as they say, is history. Do you often make typos? Or are you careful and precise at the keyboard? I make them often enough.

3) Barbara Martin left the Supremes in 1962, before they reached stardom, because she was a new mom and wanted to stay home with her baby. Have you ever found yourself in the difficult position of having to choose between your personal and professional lives? Kind of? If I could quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom, I probably would, but we can’t afford it. So it wasn’t really a choice, I don’t think. I’d probably miss work eventually, but then again, I’d probably channel that time into writing instead.

4) Florence Ballard’s cousin, Hank, wrote the famous Chubby Checkers dance record, “The Twist.” When did you last get on your feet and dance? At my mom’s house a few weeks ago, my niece was dancing, so I danced with her.

5) Mary Wilson stayed with the group until it disbanded in 1977. She has said that one of her most memorable moments came in 1968, when the group performed for Princess Margaret. Mary recalled that the Princess loudly asked if Mary’s hair was real or a wig. Mary was shocked, expecting better behavior from a royal. Tell us a time when someone’s behavior shocked you. My mother-in-law and her way of just…being super rude and not thinking she’s rude. Also, anyone who says, “I’m just very honest with people” is rude, doesn’t know what tact is, and has just been getting away with it too long.

6) In 1961, when this song was released, the TV show Hazel premiered and was a top 5 hit for NBC. Oscar winner Shirley Booth played the title character, a very capable and lovable maid. If Crazy Sam could have a maid for just a few hours today, she’d love to have her refrigerator cleaned and kitchen cabinets organized. If you could have a pair of helping hands around your house this afternoon, what would you ask the maid to do?  Definitely clean the fridge. I’d say organize the bedroom closet, too, but that requires having a bigger closet. Can she maybe go buy a fancy closet system to increase our usable space?

7) Also in 1961, President John F. Kennedy appeared on the cover of Time as their Man of the Year. Are there any magazines in your home right now? If so, who is on the cover? There are some issues of Rolling Stone floating around. I know Taylor Swift is on the cover of one. There’s also a box of really old magazine back issues in my office that I need to get rid of somehow.

8) Ernest Hemingway died in 1961. Have you read any of his works? A couple. I do quite enjoy “A Moveable Feast.” People into art and literature will appreciate it for its look at what was happening in those circles in Paris.

9) Random question: How many pancakes are in the perfect stack? For me, two, three at most. Any more and I’m struggling to finish them.

Friday 5: Consumption

  1. What would you consider your most recent major purchase? Baby stuff–I’m not sure which is technically the most recent, but I bought a smart sock set that monitors the baby’s heart rate and also has a really nice, fancy monitor that even detects things like room temperature, and I bought a crib mattress that’s supposed to be super breathable. Both were a couple hundred bucks.
  2. On what are you hoping to spend a good chunk of change in the near future? At this point, probably just paying down debt from all areas–credit cards, mortgage, our financing from when we redid the siding last summer. At least for now, we’re done with major baby purchases. I would like to get a tankless water heater, but that hinges on COVID. I don’t want to install it ourselves, but I also don’t want someone in the house during a pandemic.
  3. When did you most recently resist the urge to splurge? One could argue, based on some recent purchases, that I have not. Although this morning was the first of a series of Record Store Day events after the original was canceled in April, and if I really wanted to, I could’ve gone but decided to sit this one out.
  4. When did you most recently experience buyer’s remorse? I bought a space-saving laundry drying rack that we really do need–anything I want to hang to dry has just been kind of randomly draped over something in our tiny laundry room. Our old drying rack is broken but still usable but also takes up a lot more space, and generally the best place for it is either the kitchen or living room. It gets in the way. This new one is curved and sits up against a wall, but I realized I’m not sure which wall space I can squeeze it into. Maybe one day we splurge on a new washer and dryer, get a stacking set, and squeeze the rack in next to them.
  5. What’s something interesting you consumed this past week? The Affair on Hulu and a parenting book from my cousin on the power of showing up for your kids, literally and metaphorically.

From Friday 5.

We’ve started a new walking routine, if doing something once on a weekend two weekends in a row counts as a routine. When I felt functional enough physically after Charlie was born, I’d wanted to start going out and walking in the park, especially since Paul and I were both home and could go whenever we wanted, but it was just so hot and still such an adjustment period (read: we napped a lot) that we never got around to it. And with me back at work now, there’s even less time–we’re limited to evenings, which are still hot. But Saturday or Sunday mornings? Perfect. So we put the stroller together, packed Charlie up, and hit the park last Sunday and this Saturday. Unfortunately, we got out of the house later than I wanted this week, so it was a warmer walk than we wanted, but hey.

It did knock me on my ass both times. The first time, I had to sit down on benches a lot and was hurting that evening and into the next day. The second time, I didn’t need to sit once, but I was dragging by the time we got to the car and was hurting again.

The verdict is still out on Charlie’s opinion. So far, he sleeps through about half of it and spends some time fussing to eat. He did look around some and seemed amazed by the concept of outside and trees–he’s been out in our yard, of course, but aside from one pine tree, he hasn’t seen something so tall and green up so close. Our hope is that he’ll grow up to enjoy nature and the outdoors and that by going on these walks now, we’re planting that seed early and won’t be those parents grumbling (much) about how kids these days just want to watch TV and play video games. As soon as I figure out where I put the carrier/wrap we were gifted, we’d like to take him to the mountains.

My mom happened to mention in a text that even though she saw him last weekend, she feels like it’s been longer, so without any other plans, I offered to take him over. I expected her to be nonchalant and say, “Oh, you don’t have to drive out,” but instead, I got an, “Ok!” Not that I cared. We’re happy to take him over and she’s happy to see him, even if he spit up horribly all over her and her Fleetwood Mac tour shirt. And a trip to Nini’s also means a trip to my in-laws’, so we essentially split our afternoon between the two.

This weekend, I’m venturing out of the house for a baby shower. It’s outdoors, so I figure it’s a lower risk.

Saturday 9: I See Love

Unfamiliar with this week’s song. Hear it here.

1) This is the theme from Mike and Molly, a TV show that ran from 2010 to 2016. Were you a fan? I never watched it.

2) Molly was played by Melissa McCarthy. Today she’s one of Hollywood’s best-paid actresses, but when she began her career, she was barely scraping by. She recently recalled the time when, as a struggling actress, she was rejected at the ATM because it only gave out $20s and she didn’t have even that much in her checking account. How often do you visit the ATM? Several times a week? Several times a month? Never? Very rarely–only if we know we’re gonna need cash, generally.

3) When she was broke, Melissa couldn’t afford blueberries and avocados.  Now she savors them. When you’re a few bucks ahead, what do you splurge on? I think our splurges have more to do with what’s available or on sale than our finances as a whole. My husband has some splurges with meat and seafood, but I mostly don’t.

4) Mike was played by Billy Gardell. He was working at a comedy club, cleaning the bathrooms and answering the phone. He used to crack jokes with other employees and finally one of his coworkers dared him to go onstage on “open mic night.” A comedy career was born. Tell us about someone who pushed you to make the right move. Ooh, I don’t know.

5) On the show, Mike’s best friend was his fellow officer, Carl McMillan. Carl was not especially motivated and still lived with his grandmother, well into his 30s. How old were you when you moved out of the house for good? About 22, I think? I was around six months after I got my job out of college. I moved in with my cousin and some friends and was there for six months before we got our own separate places.

6) Mike’s and Molly’s mothers are different as night and day and frequently did not get along. Have you ever had in-law trouble? It was an issue more when we were dating than it is now, but yes, I have a troublesome mother-in-law. We would’ve broken up because of her if I wasn’t so damn stubborn.

7) This week’s song was written by Keb Mo. He switches among several different guitars when he works — electric, acoustic and resonator. Can you play guitar? I can! I haven’t played in a long time, though, and keep meaning to get back into it.

8) In 2010, when this show premiered, Apple introduced the iPad. Do you use a tablet? No.

9) This week’s random question gives you an opportunity to brag: What’s something you do better than most people? Write, I think! I hope.

A friend/former coworker of my mom’s has a place down in Deep Creek in Maryland that he rents out, and he offered to let any of us use it for the cost of just the cleaning fee. For the last few summers, Brandon and Kelly have been taking him up on that offer. They invited us and my mom down to spend the day Saturday, and eager to get out, we took them up on it.

Another former coworker of hers has a boat down there, and he had offered to take us all out on the lake for the day. But damn if it wasn’t the one cold(-ish), rainy day out of the whole weekend. My mom asked if we still wanted to even make the drive down, but I was okay with even just hanging out in the condo if it came to it.

Since Charlie sometimes gets cranky in the car, I sat in the back with him. I’m not sure if that was what kept him calm almost the entire way, but hey, whatever. When we got in, we spent a good while just hanging out in the condo and gave the baby cousins some time to hang out. Charlie still sleeps most of the day, of course, but Eliana is a ham. She can’t say his name and just calls him “baby,” but she does know his name–if you talk about him, she says, “Baby,” and if you ask her where he is, she’ll point to him. She also likes touching his hands and head but has to be monitored, as the concept of being gentle with the baby is a bit lost on her.

Here’s where we seem to diverge on COVID and social distancing. Paul and I basically put a stop to eating out, unnecessary shopping, and any other activities out in the world where people are out and about. I’m a firm believer that basically the whole country has botched the response to COVID and that we ought to have shut everything down (and paid everyone, or almost everyone, to stay home, of course) and that people got bored and lonely (which is understandable!) and decided they just weren’t gonna stay home anymore. My family, on the other hand, is venturing out more, although it seems my mom has moved back to staying put more often. This doesn’t seem to be because they’re not taking it seriously but rather my theory is that because things have reopened, they figure it’s safe to partake. So we stopped in a couple stores and then went out for lunch.

It was nice to almost feel like it was a normal outing, at least.

We stopped for ice cream on the way back to the condo and hung out there into the evening, when my mom declared those of us down for the day best hit the road before it got dark so as to avoid deer. Charlie was fussier this time, so we stopped for gas and I breastfed in the backseat.

Sunday we stayed put, tackling laundry and Charlie’s feedings.

Saturday 9: Who Are You?

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song, originally recorded by The Who, was the theme of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which ran from 2000 to 2015. Did you watch it? Were you a fan? I dabbled because I’m a fan of crime shows, but it was never one I absolutely had to watch and tuned in to weekly.

2) When the show premiered, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) was the CSI team’s supervisor. Gil’s mother was deaf, and so he was fluent in American Sign Language. Can you communicate using ASL? I used to be able to spell my name and I know tiny bits of it because my toddler niece knows some–they recommend teaching it as babies because they can communicate that way earlier than they learn to talk. My workplace usually offers classes in it once a year or so, and I do think it’s super important to learn and would do it if I felt I had the time to commit to it.

3) His assistant is blood-splatter analyst Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger). Catherine’s family moved often, which made it hard for her to get traction in her studies. She finally just dropped out of high school. She later got her GED, and even graduated from college. Have you ever considered going back to school? I always say I’d go get a master’s if an employer would pay for it or if I could easily afford it (in which case, it would be more for learning than earnings potential).

4) Though set in Las Vegas, most of CSI was filmed in Santa Clarita, CA. Santa Clarita is also home to Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park. Do you enjoy roller coasters? Kind of. Basically, I get really nervous before I go on and end up loving it.

5) The vocalist on the CSI theme, Roger Daltry of the Who, made a cameo appearance on the show during season 7. Do you have a favorite Who song? Ooh, I just addressed this elsewhere. It was a top 5: 1. Baba O’Riley 2. You Better You Bet 3. Squeeze Box 4. Won’t Get Fooled Again 5. Love, Reign o’er Me

6) CSI became a franchise, followed by CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. If we could organize a Saturday 9 field trip, which of these CSI cities would you prefer we visit: Las Vegas, Miami or New York? My preference is for New York, but I would love a Vegas trip.

7) In 2000, the last original Peanuts comic strip was published. How many Peanuts characters can you name? My mother is a Peanuts devotee, so at least five. Dare I say even up to 10, including Snoopy’s siblings.

8) Also in 2000, media giant Time Warner merged with America Online, the email provider. It’s estimated that 74% of us check our email at least once/day. Are you one of the 74%? Yep. I check it on my phone occasionally, and then I have it up anytime I’m doing anything online and kind of half-ass going through it.

9) Random question — Did you more recently cut and paste, or delete? Cut and paste! I copied the Who songs from a tweet.

Friday 5: 家

  1. In what forms of housing have you resided? A small rented house as a toddler, my grandfather’s big, old house through my childhood, a one-story ranch in my teen years, four dorm rooms in college, an old house on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh for six months with three housemates when I was 22 in my first year working and out of college, a one-bedroom apartment from ages 23 to 29, and our house now, where we’ve been for two years.
  2. What are the best and worst things about the location of your home? The best is we have a nice-sized yard, it’s a quiet residential area, the neighbors are great, it’s just rural enough that we have woods at the back of the property and plenty of animals stopping by to visit but still very close to town, and I feel totally comfortable raising our kid here. The worst is this part of the state in general, which struggles with drugs and building an economy that doesn’t rely on coal anymore, and not just for environmental reasons–the industry left a long time ago, and parts of the state have just never moved on.
  3. Where would you keep a second home if you could have one? I always said I wanted to move back up to Mt. Washington, but to one of the expensive houses that has a view of the city below and that it would be a summer home so I didn’t have to worry about getting around up there in the winter. I got lucky the one winter I lived up there with a pretty mild season. But I also want to run off to the proper mountains closer to where my mom lives.
  4. How well would you adapt to permanent RV life? I would love the ability to travel almost anywhere whenever I wanted, but the lack of space would kill me. I’d have too difficult a time downsizing, and while I don’t need (or have) a huge house, I definitely need more space than that.
  5. What’s the prettiest thing to look at within five miles of your residence? My own backyard! I really do love it. Previous owners planted a Japanese maple tree and a few other pretty flowering bushes that I don’t know what they are, but aside from that, it’s just really peaceful to me. There’s the tree line at the very back, the animals that come hang, and this time of year, the whole thing is just green and lively.

From Friday 5.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of my dad’s death.

It was also my first day back at work after six weeks of FMLA.

This wasn’t as dumb an idea as one might think. I think going back to work distracted me. It was kind of nice, although if Paul got a job tomorrow that brought in enough, I’d quit. It’s funny how even though I’m working from home, I miss Charlie–Paul pops into my office with him on occasion, but suddenly Paul’s his primary caretaker for eight hours and I barely see him in that time.

To mark the anniversary of my dad’s death, Brandon, Kelly, Eliana, and my mom came over here, we cooked for dinner, and then we headed out to the grave.

I’m having a hard time putting it into words–I tried to describe it to Paul and he got the gist of it, but I didn’t quite nail it down–but I was struck by the passage of time, especially watching Eliana walk around and put pennies on graves. Maybe what I had a hard time putting my finger on was describing the way things change, what my dad is missing out on, and how life moves on without our loved ones. Because one year ago, Eliana was just a few months old and Charlie was barely a thought. In fact, I had two thoughts regarding starting a family while my dad was essentially dying. The first was that maybe I ought to rush things so at least he could share in the excitement, maybe even meet the baby. The second was that he’d never actually meet my kids, and that’s what I came to terms with. Despite feeling overwhelmed when I did get pregnant, I was kind of frustrated that it hadn’t happened yet, but the part of my brain that believes everything happens for a reason thought about how much more difficult last year would’ve been if I’d have gotten pregnant sooner, especially now knowing what it did to me physically. I was exhausted and struggled to get around; just going from one end of our small house to the other had me out of breath. Bradon and Kelly had baby Eliana, and I, being the oldest and without kids at the time, was free to do things dog sit and help my mom get my dad settled in when he chose hospice care at home.

You can tell we’re new parents in the age of COVID because we were antsy to extend our time out by just a little bit, so we went through a nearby Sonic for ice cream. Charlie’s mood in the car is unpredictable–sometimes, he’ll sleep through the hour to my mom’s house, and sometimes, he’ll scream after 20 minutes. At first, I thought it was a matter of bad timing and that we were on the road when he was due to eat and so he was hungry and therefore threw a fit, but Paul has a theory that it’s because he can’t see us. There’s probably something to that. It’s one thing when Mom and Dad put you in the car and you promptly fall asleep, but it’s another when you wake up, you’re moving, and you don’t know where Mom and Dad are because you haven’t mastered the concept of object permanence. We have discovered he doesn’t like being stopped, so Sonic was taking a risk. And damn it if it wasn’t the one time someone orders two big bags of food and we have to sit and wait. And wait. I’m convinced that if we’d beaten that car there, Charlie would’ve been silent until we made it home.

So why are we driving an hour and a half down to Deep Creep on Saturday? Because we’re idiots!

Saturday 9: Mad About You

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) Mad About You was a sitcom that ran from 1992 to 1999. Are you familiar with the show? Were you a fan? I watched it a little bit. My mom was a fan when I was a kid.

2) The show was rebooted in 2019/2020 on the Spectrum streaming service. Do you have any streaming services? If so, which ones? We have a Roku, so I add a lot of free channels through that, but we also have Hulu and Netflix right now. To avoid paying too much money and being bombarded with content, we take it one at a time, so before our next Hulu charge, I’ll put that on hold and probably reactivate the CBS streaming service for more Twilight Zone.

3) The series revolved around Manhattan newlyweds Paul and Jamie Buchman. They met at a newsstand, where they were both purchasing The New York Times. With so many publications online, newsstands are now uncommon. When you want to purchase a printed newspaper or magazine, where do you go? Probably the closest book store. I think there are a couple convenience stores down in town, too, that would be promising.

4) Paul is played by Paul Reiser. He created the series because he believes marriage is a tough but satisfying adventure. He and real-life wife Paula have been married for more than 30 years. They met when she was a waitress at the comedy club where he was performing. Have you ever waited tables? Nope.

5) Helen Hunt won four Emmy Awards as Jamie. Over 10 million people watch the Emmys each year. She also won an Oscar, which has an annual viewership of twice that. Therefore huge audiences witnessed Helen’s acceptance speeches. Are you comfortable speaking in public? I get really nervous, so I guess technically, no, but I do a decent job of it. I don’t know how evident my nerves are, but I did ace my public-speaking class in college and I work up the nerve for it sometimes. I’ve done a couple readings at my alma mater, and I spoke at my dad’s funeral last year.

6) During the opening credits, Paul and Jamie are sharing an ice cream bar. When did you most recently have ice cream? Yesterday, I think? Definitely within the last two days.

7) Paul and Jamie’s best friends were another couple, Fran and Mark. Eventually Fran and Mark divorced, and Paul and Jamie worked at being friends with both of them. Have you been friends with a couple who split? Did you manage to stay friends with both of them? I think of the couples we’ve been friends with who did split, we kind of took the side of whoever we were friends with first, and generally, their significant other kind of sucked anyway–they were unlikeable and difficult or cheated or something. There was a never a desire to even try to remain friends with both. It was kind of like, “Good riddance.” There have been a few people over the years I would’ve liked to have stayed in touch with, though, but I think when someone dates someone in your friend group, you feel like you can’t.

8) In 1992, when Paul and Jamie were playing New Yorkers, real New Yorkers were following the trial of mobster John Gotti. Mr. Gotti acquired many nicknames, including The Teflon Don, The Dapper Don and Black John. Is there anyone in your life that you call by a pet name or nickname? We call our newborn baby Baby Bear because of how he kind of grumbles and growls when he breastfeeds. My mom calls my niece, Eliana, Miss Ellie.

9) Random question  — What subject do you wish you knew more about? Either science or math. With science, my brain just doesn’t retain it and my husband and his co-workers are in science fields, so it would be nice to be able to keep up with work talk a little better. But to their credit, they’re always willing to explain something so I understand what they’re talking about. With math, I’m capable but go slow. And in both cases, certain types of people tend to treat you like you don’t know anything at all if you’re not great at it.

Friday 5: Polarity

  1. What are the dumbest and smartest things you did this week? Dumbest was probably skipping a round of breastfeeding and opting to have my husband give the baby formula instead, dumb mostly because while the formula keeps him fed and happy just fine, skipping can mess with my milk supply and can get uncomfortable. But it was also the smartest thing I did, because I was exhausted and needed the sleep. I’m no good to any of us if I’m struggling.
  2. What are the worst and best things you ate this week? In terms of health, the best was salad and the worst was a Primanti’s sandwich, which for those who have never seen a food-related TV show about Pittsburgh is piled with fries and coleslaw. In terms of quality, Paul experimented with trying to put mango in a pie and although it tasted good, the mango texture was like mush and I was not a fan. But the blackberry pie turned out great.
  3. When this week were you unhappiest and when were you happiest? Unhappiest was probably late at night in the depths of breastfeeding–everyone who told me you have to be committed wasn’t kidding, because getting up every three hours to nurse isn’t easy. But the tradeoff is the happiest moments of the week were baby snuggles and the moments that he’s flashing tiny smiles. We’re trying to tease more out of him, but he’s only just starting to do it.
  4. What did you have too much of this week, and what did you have not enough of? I hesitate to say we have too many blackberries because the result is homemade jam and pie, but damn, we have a lot of blackberries. Maybe too many dirty diapers. I definitely haven’t had enough sleep, though. That’s a given.
  5. What are you dreading in the next seven days, and what are you eagerly anticipating? I go back to work on Monday and I wouldn’t say I’m dreading it, but I’m definitely not looking forward to it. At least I work from home. Monday also happens to be the first anniversary of my dad’s death, and my brother and his family plus my mom are coming over, he’s making us something to eat, and then we’re visiting the grave. I guess I’m anticipating the weekend already–my brother and his family are getting a condo in Deep Creek, Maryland, for the weekend, and on Saturday, we’re going down, as well as my mom and my sister-in-law’s siblings, and we’re spending the day together. Weather permitting, an old co-worker of my mom’s is taking us out on his boat.

From Friday 5.