It's a dreary, rainy day


It’s a complicated and slightly worrisome week ahead. Miss Frankie isn’t well but then she isn’t sick either. She’ll be 17 soon and like all elders is getting a little frail. She drinks and pees, and occasionally doesn’t eat much and then eats like a little Hoover – it fluctuates. We know she won’t be with us all that much longer. She isn’t in any pain; when she’s up she marches around the apartment bitching and complaining like as always – she is a very chatty cat, always has been – a feline motormouth. 

I ordered some high protein/appetite enhancer gel from Chewy – they deliver faster than Amazon. I tried calling the mobile vet but they don’t have any appointments for 2 weeks and really what are they going to do – tell me she is old and fading? We know that but…who knows I may try them again.

We can’t get her to a local vet because they tell you to drive up and they will come out and get your pet. And then you can park somewhere and wait – in some cases for several hours. We don’t have a car; we are both disabled and walk with canes, so yes, a cab will take us there but then what do we do? There is no place to sit and wait. We can take a cab home and then just you know, go in circles, get home, turn around, go back. And then…what if they decide they want to keep her for some reason…No way I’m leaving my baby to spend her last days in a cage in a strange place –  

I did that with my first cat, Max. He was getting frail and fading, just wanted to sleep hidden in the closet. I took him to the vet who said his kidneys were failing and they would keep him and give him fluids – the next day they called me to say he had passed away. My beautiful boy, the love of my life, died in a cage, all by himself. NEVER AGAIN. I won’t let that happen ever again. Nope. Frankie is drinking water and peeing; she isn’t eating as much as I would like BUT she is still marching around, getting up on the bed, the couch, her cat perches. She is still walking and talking. So she stays with me – 

Thursday I have a string of doctor’s appointments at a facility other than my normal one – it’s about 6 miles away and I shall have to Uber but here’s the thing – I have to have a rapid Covid test which they do in a shed in the parking lot of the main building. It is a drive-through testing site! WTH? The nice lady said they would bring a chair out for me – let’s hope I don’t get run over. The testing site is appointment only and I plan to get there before they open and snag my place in line – Let’s hope I don’t get run over or something stupid! 

I don’t expect to get any comments about how we should buy a car or I should learn to drive because, not that it is any of anyone’s business but due to health and safety reasons, and because my husband and I are neither homicidal nor suicidal, we gave up the car two years ago and I turned in my driver’s license 20 years ago…

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Out of the loop and I guess I'm happy to be here…

 I’ve never been much of a television watcher despite having a tv since I was 3 or 4 years old. I can’t remember NOT having a tv (and I was born in 1946 so bear that in mind…)

While I absolutely lived in movie theaters when I was a kid and a teen I think the last time I saw a movie in a theater was the second Harry Potter film, that was 2002. I think I saw the rest of the Potter movies on television but I can’t be sure. 

This morning in the Washington Post was a story titled “Here are 29 pop culture blind spots you can stream to hide your shame.”  I have to admit, according to this list, I’m not just blind but quite possibly in a coma. 

I started to run down the whole list but that would turn this into a tl;dr post. But there were shows on there I had never even heard of, and super popular shows I’ve never seen and/or watched a few episodes and thought “WTH?” 

Some of the movies I’d never seen at all and a few I saw on television or via streaming. And a few I saw bits and pieces of but never the whole thing. There were some classic movies on the list that came out before my time, so of course I only saw those on tv. 

Currently I watch 45 minutes of tv a day – my husband never saw ER when it first ran so he is watching that via Hulu – I saw every episode when it was first on and I’m enjoying watching the series again. 

Oh wait, I also watch “This is Us” but that’s just 45 minutes once a week when it’s on and I occasionally sit through part of “A Million Little Things” – I mostly listen to that show as I wander around doing other things. 

Aside from the news, local news at 6pm, world news at 6:30pm, we watch everything via streaming – Hulu, Netflix, PBS, Britbox, and Acorn. (And again, I don’t watch the news, I listen to it as I do other things…)

I don’t understand tv watching – I don’t have the patience to just sit and stare at a screen and do nothing. If you point out that I spend an inordinate amount of time on my computer – well, you would be out of line because my computer time is interactive – I’m reading, or researching or writing – I’m DOING, not just sitting. So there – Pfft!


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 I’m trying to decide whether to start cooking today or do it all tomorrow. My grocery order should be delivered before Noon which leaves the afternoon free to start cooking. I could certainly put up the  gravy and meatballs today but that would mean re-heating tomorrow and then re-heating the leftovers at some time in the near future. How much re-heating do I want to do?

But – the gravy takes a good 3 hours, which means I will have to be up and cooking at 6am on Thursday – do I want to do that? You see we eat our main meal around Noon-ish, I simply can’t eat a big meal at night, it plays havoc with my stomach. The crepes for the manicotti could also be done today but I have a small fridge and I’m thinking there will be no place to put them.

I would really like a nice big salad to go with dinner tomorrow but I really can’t depend on the grocery store shoppers to pick out the same fresh veggies I would – I’m sure asking for one large ripe tomato would be a waste of typing. I miss fresh veggies. 

We eat mostly frozen string beans and brussel sprouts, my husband is not a big veggie eater, tho he does like spinach, and quite frankly I’m not a huge fan. Of course he likes creamed spinach (yuk!) and I prefer spinach salad. Oddly enough my husband likes brussel sprouts and broccoli rabe but not broccoli – me,  I love broccoli any way you want to make it. Cauliflower will never enter my kitchen, there is no excuse for anything to smell that bad. I can’t remember what cauliflower tastes like since I haven’t eaten it in more than 50 years – and even then it was pickled – seems Italians pickle a lot of vegetables – or at least my relatives did. 

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I had a long conversation about holidays, families and other similar topics – understand that my husband and I met when we were in our 40’s so we don’t have any first hand experience with each other’s formative years. My husband has a bit more experience with my mother and brother than I have with his family (thank goodness for small blessings on my part, not so much for my poor, long suffering husband).  My husband is not much of a talker or sharer so when he’d had enough of talking he said “This was nice but I think I’m going to read my book.” End of conversation. 

Last night we played Scrabble, my husband has been keeping score for 30 years now, I won 334 to 209. I won last time, and the time before – he is becoming less enchanted with playing Scrabble these days.

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Big Whoop – So it's Monday

When you’re retired every day is pretty much like another, having a schedule, of sorts, is the only way to keep track of the day and date. We have a calendar on the fridge where we write in any appointments and they are mostly doctor stuff with the occasional board meeting for my husband and the occasional suspension of services in the building for repairs. So exciting.

My husband works part-time from home and he works 7 days a week, more hours than the 20 he gets paid for but there it is. My schedule revolves around laundry – Monday and Friday. Grocery shopping used to be on Thursdays, senior discount day and all, but we discovered that major food deliveries at the store are on Friday – Oho – so now we shop whenever we run out of stuff – usually once a week but sometimes less often. 

I’m not a morning person by nature but with our new ‘dining’ schedule it means my mornings are busy. Up at the crack of dawn, especially Mondays and Fridays (community laundry and all). Our main meal is around Noon, so after breakfast, cleaning out of the in-box, a little blog reading I’m in the shower and dressed, wash up the mornings dishes and then start to make lunch. That pretty much leaves the afternoons for whatever – housework, there’s always something that needs cleaning, reading, putzing around on the computer and internet and the occasional blog post.

I don’t ‘fluff’ the bed until late in the afternoon – my husband naps after lunch, sometimes for an hour, sometimes 3. With the cooler weather Frankie usually stays in the bed all afternoon and I don’t like to disturb her, and then, on rare occasions I will lie down to read and fall half asleep. 

Yeah, it’s a tough life. 

This week because of the holiday I was wondering when would be the best day to shop, I was thinking Wednesday would be a nightmare and Tuesday morning my husband has a board meeting and we wouldn’t be able to get to the store until late morning and I do have some odds and ends to get for dinner on Thursday and I need to start cooking on Wednesday. Plus I really hate leaving the apartment – paranoia runs deep. 

I put in a grocery order to be delivered Wednesday morning – usually I pick a weird time and save $3.00 off the delivery fee of $9.95 – this time I’m paying full price because I really need a few of the items by Wednesday afternoon. Add in a $5 tip for the driver and I’m in for $15 plus the cost of groceries. Still that is less than the $22 round trip cost of an Uber. 

I think Thanksgiving is stupid, along with any and all other quote/unquote holidays. Plus – yuk, the food! Turkey, mashed potatoes, brown gravy and what all else is traditional – what a bunch of tasteless, colorless items. Except for cranberry sauce. I like cranberry sauce, I like cranberry anything. I’ve made all of that nonsense in the past for my husband, the good ole Boston Irish boy, and it’s a boatload of work for just two people. If I’m going to spend hours and hours slaving over a hot stove then it’s going to be for something good to eat. 

Thankfully my husband is also an IBM, Italian By Marriage so this year I am making manicotti and meatballs. 

I’ll put up the gravy on Wednesday and probably make the crepes as well – that leaves Thursday just to make the filling and put the manicotti together and pop that in oven. We’ll still probably eat around Noon-ish and maybe if I’m not all the tired I’ll make some cocoa spice cake as a little treat – who knows. That’s an entire afternoon of washing dishes – not too sure if I’m up for that. 

Wow – I’ve just outlined my upcoming week, so unless something interesting happens I guess I won’t have anything to write about at all. 

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 I just went down to the lobby to pick up a package and several days worth of mail. Mostly what we’ve been getting in the mail are medical bills and notices from our insurance company regarding the medical bills. 

Today I got the notice about my hospital stay back at the end of September. 

Hospital Admission: $34,902.25

Plan Allowance:    $11,793.16

Medicare Paid:    $10,385.16

Private Insurance Paid: $1408.00

I paid:    Nothing at all

Difference between what hospital charged and what they got paid: $23,109.09

Wow! Does this mean that if someone didn’t have any kind of insurance they would be in the hole for $34,902.25? 

I’m still responsible for all other fees – doctors, radiology etc. Some of those fees, after insurance pays,  are less than $2.00 but others are in the $200+ range. 

I’m left wondering at medical billing systems…

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 Yesterday I was sort of whining on FB that I really wanted pie and that I had already been to the store that morning and hadn’t thought of it then. A friend asked what kind of pie I liked and I responded “Any kind of fruit pie…and yes, pumpkin, mincemeat, key lime without the whipped cream, I’m not a whipped cream fan..lemon meringue without the meringue LOL and on and on…”

Of course you are now thinking “Grace, why didn’t you just make yourself a pie?” Reasonable thought, I have flour and butter to make a pie crust BUT nothing to put IN the pie. Nothing, nada, ninguno…

Yes, yes – I make my pie crust with butter. You could do half butter/half Crisco, or all Crisco, or god help your arteries, lard. (Lard?!?) 

Still – nothing to put in it, not even Ritz crackers to make a *gag* mock apple pie. Mock apple pie, to my mind, is on par with with English muffin pizzas – Why in the name of all that is holy would you make and/or eat that stuff? Gahh…

You might notice I listed mincemeat pie, that should have been mince since there is no longer any meat in mince pie (the history of mincemeat pie).  Mince pie is not the most popular of pies, indeed I am the only person I know who likes it, nay, loves it. My mother, the woman who couldn’t cook but could bake like a pro, would always make one at holiday time and I would have it all to myself. Yes, mince pie filling does have booze in it and yes I was a kid eating boozy pie but hey…She didn’t make the filling herself but rather bought it ready made and I can’t remember the brand name, either Nonesuch or Cross & Blackwell. 

Anyway, that put me in mind of chopped meat versus ground beef versus minced meat. So I did a Google dive and it is so confusing. In the UK mince beef is not ground beef because it is produced from a mincing machine not a grinder. Further diving brought up that the British mincing machine is the same as the US meat grinder – What the heck? 

The deeper you dive the more likely you are to drown in the fine details distinguishing chopped meat, or as some prefer, chop meat and ground beef and minced beef or, wait for it, hamburger meat, which seems to be in a whole ‘nother category. (Something about additives such as the amount of fat or the type of beef used. You need a damn spreadsheet to sort this all out.)

This has me also wondering if calling it chop meat/chopped meat/ground beef is a regional thing. Then again, nowadays there is ground lamb, chicken, turkey, and pork. Hoo-boy!

But beef aside, and quite frankly I can easily put beef aside, now I am really craving pie, and in a perfect world it would be a homemade mince pie. 


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What the dickens…

 I was reading a book review this morning in the Washington Post and came across this word – gradgrindian. If you click the link you’ll see the meaning. Or I can make it easy for you and tell you – it means: “Having a soulless devotion to facts and figures; inflexibly utilitarian”. It derives from  Thomas Gradgrind, a fictional character, the proprietor of an experimental school where only facts are taught, in Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times. 

Now I have never read Hard Times, indeed I have read only one of Charles Dicken’s books – Oliver Twist and yet I have knowledge of many of his characters through cultural osmosis – many of his characters names have become eponymous – as a miserly person being called a scrooge (after Ebenezer Scrooge). 

Okay, more information than you want, or care about? Yeah, I get that. 

As for the title of this post? It has nothing at all to do with Charles Dickens – oho. I was going to do a long post about Dickens’ characters and how their names have become part of the language but as traits rather than people (See Scrooge above).  I thought it would be a cute title. 

My natural curiosity and admitted lack of knowledge led me to Google the phrase and guess what – nothing at all to do with Charles Dickens. Some sources say it is a euphemism for the devil, other say not. Some say it was first used by Shakespeare, some say Thomas Heywood (they were contemporaries). Some say this, and some say that but it hardly matters, does it? We all know what it means as we use it – “What the hell” “What the devil” or as the OED states ...“the dickens!” is “an interjectional exclamation expressing astonishment, impatience, irritation, etc.; usually with interrogative words, as what, where, how, why, etc.”

Here endeth today’s lesson.

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As an aside: ‘Here endeth today’s lesson’ is a church thing. Which makes me think of that rather bad joke we had as kids when referring to Catholic churches as “Our Lady of Perpetual Motion” which makes me think that if I had my own church perhaps it would be called “Grace’s Church of Perpetual Curiosity” or “The Church of Grace’s Brain in Perpetual Motion” I’m only just a little bit crazy, yeah? 

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